Today in Liberty: Rand Paul targets nominee over drones memo, young Millennials offer hope for GOP

— Busy week on Capitol Hill: Republicans will hold a vote on a contempt resolution against disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner as well as hold a vote to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups. The lower-chamber may also vote on a measure to establish a select committee on Benghazi. The Senate, however, is likely to vote on some sort of measure to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the only question of which is whether it’ll be binding or a nonbinding “Sense of the Senate” resolution.

— Rand Paul to block appellate court nominee: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is making drones an issue again in the upper chamber. “Paul, the junior Republican senator from Kentucky, has informed Reid he will object to David Barron’s nomination to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals unless the Justice Department makes public the memos he authored justifying the killing of an American citizen in Yemen,” The Hill reports. “Barron, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, penned at least one secret legal memo approving the Sept. 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric whom intelligence officials accused of planning terrorist attacks against the United States.” Paul filibustered John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA for nearly 13 hours in March 2013 because of the Obama administration’s lack of transparency on drones as well as the assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that the White Housecould conduct drone strikes against American citizens inside the United States. Holder backed down from that stance in a letter to Paul the day after his filibuster.

— Republican establishment may have a successful May: And they’re going to completely misread what happens this month. Politico notes that Republican establishment candidates are poised to have a good month, likely emerging from key Senate primaries on top. “Republicans in Washington have been pushed around by grass-roots activists for two straight elections. The infighting helped produced poor nominees and cost the party control of the Senate, as some tea party-backed candidates couldn’t win general elections and other establishment-backed contenders floundered,” writes Manu Raju. “This year, the national party has shifted tactics. The GOP’s Senate campaign committee has aggressively courted critics on the right while other establishment-aligned groups have sought to prop up their preferred candidates. Republican officials have trained candidates of all stripes, even putting them through “campaign schools” to gird them for the stresses of the trail. And national party officials have stood up to outside groups targeting sitting GOP senators, at times suggesting they’re more interested in raising money from activists than helping the broader party’s cause.” If Republicans win these primaries over grassroots candidates and go on to take control of the Senate, they’re going to completely misread what voters are telling them.

— Chris Christie should explain himself: Remember that time Chris Christie slammed Congress for holding up federal aid for Hurricane Sandy because fiscal conservatives wanted pay-fors? Well, fast-forward around 18 months later, and the state has doled out just 25 percent of the $1.8 billion that New Jersey has received. Oh, and they’re getting another $1.46 billion. The cost of this bill was made worse by an amendment to fund long-term disaster mitigation projects on the East Coast, adding $33.7 billion to the cost of the relief bill. Thanks to Christie’s verbal lashing, House Republicans were pressured to pass a terrible bill without any spending offsets, only to find 18 months later that this “emergency” spending hasn’t been spent.

— Signs of hope in the Millennial generation: Through data in the recent Harvard Institute of Politics survey of young people, Michael Barone noticed that younger Millennials have stronger Republican leanings than those who grew up during the Bush years. “Among those 21 and 22, it’s 44 percent Democratic and 32 percent Republican. But those 18 to 20 are Democratic over Republican by only a 41 to 38 percent margin. That seems likely to be at the edge of statistical significance. And it’s a big difference from the older millennials,” Barone writes. “The older millennials age 23 to 27 turned 18 between 2003 and 2009, the Bush years. The youngest Millennials age 18 to 20 turned 18 between 2012 and this year, the later Obama years.” If only Republicans would take it upon themselves to message to Millennials.

— Seattle looks to destroy opportunities for workers: The city’s leaders are seriously thinking about enacting a gradual $15 minimum wage increase, which, if passed, could force some businesses out of town. “The move is especially risky for a single city, where businesses can easily choose to open or relocate in the suburbs,” Jordan Weissman explains. “If [businesses can’t adjust] the impact could be vast. Researchers at the University of Washington have estimated that 102,000 workers in Seattle make $15 or less, meaning they would be directly affected by the hike. Murray is running his experiment with a quarter of his city’s workforce.” That’s a helluva gamble to take with a city’s economy, and it may be one that Seattle comes to regret.

— Defense hawks refuse to recognize reality: At some point down the road, defense hawks will have to realize that Congress can’t keep shelling out billions of dollars each year that it doesn’t have to keep funding their pet defense spending. The mentality of “sending cuts for thee, but not for me” absolutely has to change, especially in the long-term when the cost entitlements, which are the main drivers of spending, begin to add up.

— Obama’s presidential library costs add up: Illinois legislators are pondering $100 million for Barack Obama’s presidential library, money that the state doesn’t have to spend, to ensure that its built in the state, rather than Hawaii or some other location. “It’s always possible that Obama will choose some other city for his library. But his alternatives are not that great. Honolulu? No one would fly to Hawaii just to visit a presidential library. And once they arrived in that tropical paradise, most tourists would content themselves with other pleasures as they always have,” Steve Chapman explains. “Chicago has more to offer the Obama library than the Obama library has to offer Chicago. So the state would be wise to save its money and take its chances. If the price of luring the 44th president is $100 million, let someone else pay it.”

— $27 billion in regulations published last week: Sam Batkins of American Action Forum went through the Federal Register so you didn’t have to. “It was a record week for regulatory burdens, as the administration published more than $27 billion in total costs. Annualized costs were $2.8 billion, compared to $14.1 billion in annualized benefits,” Batkins writes. “This is the first time that benefits exceed costs for the year. This week’s regulatory cost equates to a per person burden of $88.16.”

— Rest in peace: Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate and free market economist, passed away on Saturday. “Gary Becker did pathbreaking work on numerous issues, including the economics of discrimination, criminal behavior, the family, and the dynamics of political interest groups,” Ilya Somin writes at the Volokh Conspiracy. “Becker pioneered the application of economic analysis to questions that were previously considered the exclusive domain of sociology, law, and political science. He had an enormous influence on scholars in other fields, as well as economists. Several of his books and articles are foundational works for the field of law and economics.”

Reason and The West Wing: So, I started rewatching The West Wing on Saturday night and noticed a copy of Reason magazine in the holder outside of Sam Seaborn’s office. You can catch when he comes out of his office with C.J. Cregg, in the first 10 minutes of “Mr. Willis of Ohio” (S01/E06) when they’re talking about the Census. It looks like the November 1999 issue, before the redesign. Anyway, just thought that was neat. Also, the April 2014 issue of Reason is now available online. Head over and check it out.

Other items we’re reading this morning:

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