Today in Liberty: Get ready for a post-election regulatory onslaught, Audit the Fed may be moving closer to a vote in the House

“America started with a concept of limited government, designed to protect and improve the life, liberty and property of citizens, and has ended with a concept of unlimited government, capable of restricting our life, liberty and property in the name of protecting us from ourselves. America started with a concept of residual individual sovereignty, designed to respect the autonomy and equality of citizens, and has ended with a concept of limited liberty, presumptively unavailable and parsed out reluctantly by an all-powerful sovereign. America started with a concept of federalism, designed to better protect individual liberty, and has ended with a concept of nationalism, exercised vigorously to stifle controversial liberties recognized by the state. We have done all of this, experienced these foundational changes, without the benefit of a constitutional amendment. We have allowed mere legislative majorities, often motivated by morality, passion, and prejudice, to take away our most precious liberties. We should be ashamed.” Elizabeth Price Foley

— Get ready for a post-election regulatory onslaught: The White House is continuing its nasty habit of suppressing the publication of major rules until after federal elections. Because transparency. “After reviewing the administration’s most recent agenda of federal rulemakings, it appears there are at least 15 major regulations scheduled for release after the upcoming midterms,” writes Sam Batkins of American Action Forum. ”Combined, just six of these rules could impose more than $34 billion in costs.” The most expensive, at $20.3 billion, is the EPA’s is the Coal Combustion Residuals (coal ash) rule. But, as Batkins notes, the most notable rule on the list “actually does not have an attached cost.” He’s referring to the EPA’s ground level ozone standards. “In 2011, the White House formally vetoed the initial standards, partly in an effort to ‘minimize regulatory costs and burdens, particularly in this economically challenging time,’” Batkins explains. “Commenters assumed that the potential $90 billion price tag played a role in the delay of the regulation.” The Obama administration rolled out more than $100 billion worth of regulations in the first six months of the year.

— It’s pretty easy to be labeled a “terrorist” by this administration: Journalists Jeremy Scahill (Dirty Wars) and Ryan Devereaux dropped a bombshell report yesterday at The Intercept on the expansion of the terrorist watchlist system. “The ‘March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,’ a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings,” Scahill and Devereaux report. “The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place ‘entire categories’ of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to ‘nominate’ people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as ‘fragmentary information.’” The list of actions that could trigger inclusion aren’t limited to the suspected activity one would normally use to define terrorism, and that could put innocent people in the government’s crosshairs. What’s more, as Scahill and Devereaux explain, it spreads the government’s resources, making it easier for, you know, actual threats to the United States to slip through the cracks.

— Audit the Fed is moving in the House: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will begin marking up the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 24), according to Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty. “After gaining a majority of the House as cosponsors for the third Congress in a row,” Campaign for Liberty says, “this markup is an important step toward Audit the Fed getting a vote on the House floor as a standalone bill.” Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the bill’s lead sponsor, and 21 other House members sent a letter last week to incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) asking that he bring Audit the Fed to the floor for a vote. In 2012, the House overwhelmingly passed the Audit the Fed bill, then-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who made the Federal Reserve the centerpiece of his legislative career and presidential campaigns.

— Yeah, it’s ridiculously easy to get around Obamacare’s eligibility verification: The Government Accountability Office has released study with some very concerning findings. Simply put, Obamacare’s eligibility verification doesn’t work. “For 12 applicant scenarios, GAO tested ‘front-end’ controls for verifying an applicant’s identity orcitizenship/immigration status. Marketplace applications require attestations that information provided is neither false nor untrue. In its applications, GAO also stated income at a level to qualify for income-based subsidies to offset premium costs and reduce cost sharing,” the GAO states in its findings. “For 11 of these 12 applications, which were made by phone and online using fictitious identities, GAO obtained subsidized coverage. For one application, the marketplace denied coverage because GAO’s fictitious applicant did not provide a Social Security number as part of the test.” You’re shocked, right? The study, which the GAO conducted in secret, was prepared for the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

— Obama snubs the press…again: If the White House wants to know why just about everyone laughs at claims that the Obama administration is the most transparent ever, it need only look at its actions this week. Reporters were denied access to fundraisers on Wednesday for Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC. “We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature,” WHCA President Christi Parsons said, according to Politico. “Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.” This is the same week in which the White House denied reporters access to President Obama at an event commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing.

— Teachers unions are staying politically active: Yeah, they may be struggling with declining membership, but labor unions — especially teachers unions — are still pounding the pavement for Democratic candidates. “Backed by tens of millions in cash and new data mining tools that let them personalize pitches to voters, the unions are sending armies of educators to run a huge get-out-the-vote effort aimed at reversing the red tide that swept Republicans into power across the country in 2010,” Politico reports. “The unions have plenty of money: They spent $69 million on state races in 2010 and are likely to top that this year. But as they gear up for the most intense and focused mobilization efforts they have ever attempted, they believe it’s their members who will give them an edge. Americans may be frustrated with public schools and wary of unions, but polls still show respect and admiration for teachers.” Politico points to several gubernatorial races to emphasize how this could be a problem for Republicans. But it’s not like the GOP is going to let teachers unions dominate the narrative on education. The Republican Governors Association has a substantial war chest and outside super PACs will play a big role for governors targeted by teachers unions. Governors are also playing up education policy initiatives to fight back against attacks from teachers unions.

— Joe Manchin is wrong: The West Virginia Democrat’s daughter, the CEO of a drug company, renounced her firm’s U.S. citizenship to escape the country’s onerous corporate tax climate. And Joe Manchin says that should be illegal. He’s wrong. The is a reaction to a problem that does absolutely nothing to address the root cause. As we explained last week when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew invoked the term “economic patriotism,” the U.S. has the highest marginal effect corporate income tax rate of any of the 33 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the Tax Foundation. That’s the reason why businesses, like the one Manchin’s daughter runs, are moving overseas. The problem isn’t businesses, the problem is the absolutely nightmarish, punitive tax climate.

— Ex-Im supporters also defended earmarks: Cronies gonna crony. And the some of the biggest supporters of the Export-Import Bank were also the biggest defenders of the pernicious practice of earmarking. “I was surprised to find that many on the supposedly populist Left are siding with the big corporations. liberals who paid lip service to Occupy Wall Street protestors are now defending Ex-Im cronyism from conservative reformers who want to end the subsidies. Yet, I’ve been even more surprised to find some on the right are also cheerleading for Ex-Im,” writes Heritage Foundation President Sen. Jim DeMint. “But when I realized that this is the same odd mix of people who defended pork barrel earmarks a few years back, it all started to make sense.” DeMint explains that Ex-Im, like earmarks, serves the interest of the politically-connected and, even though it represents a small share of federal spending, killing the Bank would send a message to Big Business that it needs to ween itself off welfare.

-- Ex-Im is backing a project to build in the world’s largest aquarium: In Brazil. The Bank is picking up roughly two-thirds of the cost of the project in the Brazilian state of Ceará. “The Export-Import Bank of the United States is financing the aquarium’s construction through a $105 million direct loan, claiming that the transaction will support 700 jobs in the U.S., with most of the work going to small businesses,” City Lab reports. “But the project—for which construction and fabrication work kicked off today—is not without controversy.” That controversy revolves around Ceará’s status as one of Brazil’s poorest states. City Lab quotes the research of Elizabeth Duffield, a fellow at the SIT Graduate Institute, who says that the city in which the aquarium will be built lacks “cultural infrastructure” for tourist traffic. She also believes that the project will worsen income inequality because it will pull resources away from surrounding communities.

— VA nominee clears first hurdle: The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Robert McDonald to serve at the next VA secretary, clearing the path for what should be an easy final confirmation by the upper chamber. McDonald, the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, was nominated to the post last month by President Obama. The committee’s vote comes as a House-Senate conference tries to work out the details on compromise legislation to reform the scandal-plagued agency. The legislation, Politico notes, “will likely give the secretary broad new powers to fire senior officials accused of mismanagement and give veterans the ability to seek private medical treatment if they have faced delays in the VA system.”

— Let the market decide: A Tennessee restaurant owner has seen a boost in business after she posted a sign welcoming armed guests to drop in and have a bite to eat. “As the owner, I wanted to stand my ground. I have that constitutional right,” Sharma Floyd, owner of Shiloh Brew & Chew, told a local television station. ”If you like it, that’s great, if you don’t, I’m sorry for you. I can’t change who I am.” Awesome. The next time we’re in Maryville, Tennessee, we’re going to stop in and order a round.

— Cato to host book forum on the Republican civil war: The Cato Institute will host a book forum on Tuesday, July 29, featuring Edward Hudgins, author of The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win? Here’s a snippet from the event’s description: “Ed Hudgins believes a turn toward libertarian ideas and policies would bring the party philosophical coherence and sustained electoral success. Others doubt liberty should dominate the GOP’s policies or argue libertarianism has little electoral appeal to traditional Republican voters.” The forum will be moderated by Cato Institute Vice President John Samples. Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, will also offer comments. More details are available here.

— YAL convention will feature anti-death penalty conservatives: Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty hopes to keep building momentum as they head into next week’s Young Americans for Liberty’s national convention. “We come into this year’s national convention with incredible momentum among young conservatives and libertarians,” said Marc Hyden, national coordinator of CCATDP, in a press release. “Having Dr. Ron Paul publicly support our efforts immediately following last year’s convention, and then becoming a YAL Strategic Partner, has accelerated our efforts to change the national narrative regarding the death penalty.” Hyden will make a presentation on behalf of CCATDP at the YAL convention. “Conservative and libertarian student activists are increasingly getting involved once they learn more about the death penalty system’s many pitfalls,” said Hyden, “like the real risk of executing innocent people and the fact it costs far more than life without parole.”

Other stories we’re reading this morning:

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