Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint Gets Milton Friedman’s Immigration Views Wrong

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, immigration, and land-use policy.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to defend his institution’s latest report on immigration, in which the ludicrous claim that “amnesty” would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion is made.

I’ll leave analysis of the study itself to others (and boy, are they really piling on), but I take exception to the very first sentence of DeMint’s op-ed:  ”The economist Milton Friedman warned that the United States cannot have open borders and an extensive welfare state.”

Every now and again a particular clip from a larger Milton Friedman speech is brought up, and this debate is rehashed in libertarian circles. In it, Friedman says, “it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.” This is what DeMint is referencing, and he seems to think it supports either his general point of view or his immigration policy prescriptions. I believe that either is unlikely.

A note to the Liberty Movement: This is our defining moment

Obama and Romney debate

Mitt Romney had his clock cleaned on Tuesday night. There is no getting around it. People can talk about his campaign couldn’t have done any better. There isn’t much disagreement on this end. Many conservatives are understandably frustrated with how the election turned out.

Romney ran this race in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet, he still lost. This didn’t happen because of a lack of GOTV efforts and phone-banking. Romney lost because he failed to run on big ideas that would have made the choice before voters more clear.

Republicans didn’t win because they nominated a guy who passed a law in Massachusetts that would later serve as a blueprint for ObamaCare. When he was on the campaign trail, Romney and his surrogates played up his “experience” on the issue. There was no real distinction.

Throughout the course of the campaign Romney said that that the United States is facing long-term economic problems. However, Romney never put forward a substantive plan that would actually get spending under control.

Taxing Internet Purchases is a Bad Idea

Amazon.com

We’re seeing more and more efforts to push for taxes to be collected on Internet purchases. Articles on this topic have been popping up all over the place lately (here, here, and here). The push makes sense in some minds. States with revenue issues need more revenue, and the Internet is the great untaxed frontier. (States with revenue issues more likely need a better fiscal policy more than they need added revenue, but that’s a huge topic for another post.)

You probably don’t have to wonder too much about whether or not I’d support the idea of taxing internet purchases. I’d oppose it primarily on the grounds that taxes are already too high, but there are other considerations as well. South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint addressed the issue recently and made the point that taxing Internet purchases would be unconstitutional:

Make no mistake: the online sales tax would be another unconstitutional mandate. If MFA [the Marketplace Fairness Act] becomes law, politicians in Washington would give California the right to force a business in another state to collect and pay California sales taxes.

On Allies and Enemies

The recent discussion on Jim DeMint got me to thinking.  I can’t help but look around at libertarianism, and how far we’ve come in just a few short years.  We have become more a part of the political landscape than I thought we would be.  We have seen more and more activism for libertarian causes and candidates than I ever thought I would see.

And yet, we still manage to shoot ourselves in the foot.  Part of that stems from our choices of enemies and allies, and the idea that someone must be one or the other.

Take, for example, Jim DeMint.  Yes, he seems to say he likes libertarians.  He generally seems to like fiscal responsibility.  He generally seems like he wants small government.  We libertarians should love him…

…but a lot of us don’t.

You see, DeMint is not a fan of gay marriage.  He is a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act.  He also famously said that he didn’t see how you could be a fiscal conservative and not a social conservative.

Yeah, a lot of libertarians don’t like the guy.  Others, however, do.  Either is really fine with me.  I honestly don’t have an opinion on DeMint, though I have opinions on his positions. Maybe, that’s the way libertarians need to start viewing politicians from other parties.

Even though you may not like the guy, can’t we stand with him as an ally on shrinking the national debt?  We can then side with someone else on gay marriage.  We’re talking politics here, not a long-term romantic relationship.  There’s no need to be “faithful” to anyone here.

The Tea Party has been hijacked by unprincipled conservatives

Music is a passion of mine. In finding the music that most interests me, I’ve found Derek Webb. His album “Stockholm Syndrome” (one of my favorites) is a must have for anyone who has ever thought that maybe Christians were entirely missing the point on some current political and social issues. One of the songs on “Stockholm Syndrome” is a catchy little tune called “Jena & Jimmy.” It’s about date rape.

Well, kind of. ”Jena & Jimmy” is a political metaphor for the way grassroots movements often get intoxicated with power – power that ultimately brings the demise of the movement.

I often wonder if the Tea Party movement will become like Jena in this song. I certainly hope not, but I get concerned when I see so many Tea Party leaders working to spread their influence rather than working to advance the principles they claim to value.

For example, look at the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska. A candidate (Deb Fischer) won the election last night, largely because she was sporting endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. Meanwhile, somebody like Don Stenberg (endorsed by Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth) goes home a loser.

We really can’t fault Fischer for seeking out endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain; they certainly have sway with voters, and in a tight race, you need every edge you can get. The real issue here is the lack of vetting candidates by the people perceived as leaders in the Tea Party movement.

Why do people like Cain and Palin latch on to candidates who aren’t really great? Is it the attention they get? Is it the way people swoon at the site of them behind a microphone? Are they just looking for a way to extend their political influence?

2012 Elections: Forget the President, It’s Congress That Matters

It appears that the 2012 race for President is all but set. Mitt Romney will very likely win the Republican nomination and he will face Barack Obama in November. For those of us concerned about restoring liberty, the rule of law and the  Constitution, and getting a grips on our debt and economic crisis; this is not a joyous prospect. Neither man has a record of leadership on those issues and in fact, both men have proven time and time again to be advocates of more government, more spending, and more debt. No matter who is elected President, I’m not optimistic that our serious issues, especially concerning the debt and the economy will be addressed. We need to look elsewhere to at least hold the tide against more spending and more debt. We need to really pour our energies into the Congressional elections and electing more Constitutional conservatives and libertarians.

Every even numbered year, we have the chance to change the entire makeup of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Imagine what kind of difference we can make if we elected Constituional conservative majority in the House and give Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee some more company in the Senate this go around. The only way to do that is get involved. Find a Constitutional conservative candidate in the primaries and back them and volunteer for them. If there isn’t one in your district, consider running yourself. Granted, it maybe too late in many states to do this for 2012, but consider it for 2014.

Mitt Romney Will Have to Work for Libertarian Support

It’s become pretty clear that Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) isn’t going to win the GOP presidential nomination. Following his fourth place showing in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Paul’s campaign announced that it would concentrate its efforts on the fourteen remaining caucus states. Even in the unlikely event that Paul sweeps the caucus states, he will receive no more than 500 delegates* — far short of the 1,144 needed to win the nomination. The best Paul can hope to accomplish through this strategy is a brokered convention at which he would unquestionably be rejected as the GOP nominee by the party establishment. Even this outcome is unlikely. Like it or not, it’s time to face reality: Ron Paul will not be the Republican candidate for president.

This leaves libertarians with a choice. We can choose to support either former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), or former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N. Mex.).

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted the GOP Presidential Power Rankings. Honestly, I needed a break from the race. But with the first votes being cast on January 3rd in Iowa, we need to crank it up again.

The News

The Rankings

CPAC 2011 (So Far…)

It’s been an interesting CPAC this year. Before the conference even started it was embroiled in controversy over the participation of gay conservative group GOProud. Several organizations pulled out of the conference, but few of them were regular participants anyway. The most high profile and only real loss was The Heritage Foundation. Rumors are that their refusal to participate this year was not over GOProud, but due to a financial dispute with the American Conservative Union—the organization behind CPAC. Regardless of the dispute before then conference, GOProud seems to be getting a good reception from attendees.

The big surprise yesterday was Donald Trump. Trump showed up yesterday afternoon to a fairly responsive crowd, but quickly digressed into a fight over Ron Paul with a heckler. Considering the room was stacked with Paulie’s waiting to hear Rand Paul, that was NOT a smart move. No one seems to be taking Trump for President seriously. Rand Paul did a really good job. He seems to have more charisma than his father.

Speaking of presidential candidates, Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, looks like he’s gearing up for a run. Johnson has a booth and professional campaign consultants wandering around. He actually gave a good speech yesterday, but is still considered a long, long, long shot candidate. Johnson’s biggest obstacle is his drug policy (he supports the legalization of marijuana) and he will have a hard time getting traditional Republican primary voters to buy into him because of it.

Mitt Romney spoke earlier today and got a very tepid response from the crowd. The ballroom was only three quarters of the way full, and he largely skipped over the health care issue which did not go unnoticed. The fake Sarah Palin was a bigger hit than Mitt.

Counter-Point: The fight against earmarks is the opening shot in a much larger battle

This is part two in a debate between Doug Mataconis, a contributor at Outside the Beltway and United Liberty, and Jason Pye, editor of United Liberty, over whether the current debate over earmarks is distraction from the larger fiscal issues facing the nation.

Over the last several years, there has been much debate in Congress over earmarking, which is the process of designating funds for a specific purpose in a spending bill. Critics of the practice call most of these earmarks “pork barrel projects.”

Earmarks are an issue for several reasons. They can distort the marketplace, allowing the government to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the cost of an earmark is greater than the benefit, a point that is especially true with mass transit projects. And there is almost no sunlight on how they are inserted into appropriations bill.

There also is not much public support for the practice. According to a CBS News poll conducted in 2007, 67 percent of the public viewed earmarks as “not acceptable.”

Members of Congress use the practice in order to secure funds for their districts and proudly point them out during their next campaign to prove they are in Washington to “bring home the bacon.” Leadership of parties in Congress will often use earmarks to entice members to vote a certain position on legislation. The 2003 expansion of Medicare and the 2007 emergency spending bill for Iraq are both examples of this practice.


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