limited government

Inverted Federalism: How Washington bribes and shackles your state with your own tax dollars

http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/wp-content/uploads/FreeLunch-c-c.jpg

Conservatives and libertarians complain about the perversion of American federalism over the last 75-100 years. Everything has become a national issue, and federal tax dollars support even the smallest local projects, either directly through grants or indirectly by subsidizing some projects, which frees up local funds for others. Since the source is far removed from the recipient, often this funding is wasteful, not really needed, or dubiously requested. We don’t usually get to see this problem up close, but I did today.

This morning my wife and I brought my eldest child to school for the first time for testing and registration. There were a stack of forms to fill out about the handbook, riding the bus, behavior, school lunches, and residency. The last two were the focus of the registrant’s particular attention. We explained to her that while we are selling our house and planning to build a new one we are living with relatives temporarily. “Oh!”, she said. In that case, we should apply for a federal homeless student program “because it will bring in more federal money.”

Oh?

We’re not actually homeless, though. Not even close. We live in a very nice home while its owners are out of town on business most of the time and until we build our own. But when confronted with this situation, a public school official’s first instinct was to turn it into a hardship case to take advantage of federal largesse.

Sorry, Washington Republicans, but it’s absolutely acceptable to criticize candidates who want grow the federal government

Voters are often told that conservatives should not challenge Washington-backed big government Republicans, because doing so could lead to Republican defeat. Yet it often seems that Washington Republicans don’t follow their own advice. It prompts the question, when does the Washington class really view it as appropriate to criticize Republican candidates?

Mississippi is one example. Washington Republicans asked Democratic voters to support their candidate, Sen. Thad Cochran, in his primary election. This was a violation of Mississippi law, so conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging the result.

This prompted Ann Coulter to write that Chris McDaniel was a “sore loser” whose supporters “don’t care that they’re gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate.”

This is not the first time Ann Coulter has complained about conservatives from the South or other locations around Middle America. Last October, she complained that conservatives in Minnesota had not done enough to help Sen. Norm Coleman win re-election against Sen. Al Franken, writing, “The inability to distinguish Coleman and McConnell… from Obamacare-ratifying Democrats is…insane.”

Ted Cruz releases report on the 20 times the Supreme Court unanimously slapped down an Obama power grab

President Obama’s frequent referrals to executive orders may not materialize as often as they have in other stances in history, but his thirst for presidential overreach has caused enough concern amongst defenders of the Constitution.

What puts President Obama at the top of the list of statesmen who happen to have shown disposition in seeking more power than what is given to them is not only related to executive orders. Obama’s appointed officials, who are hand-picked by the president to run powerful cabinet offices and often bypass Senate confirmation, are also great examples of how Obama can use his presidency to stretch the power of the executive, creating thus menacing precedents.

According to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Supreme Court has rejected at least 20 cases involving personal freedom. In order to ensure the public is aware of the many instances President Obama’s opinion was reportedly struck down, Cruz released reports on the administration’s efforts to expand federal government.

His latest, and fifth, report covers most of everything.

According to Cruz, the consequences that would have taken place in case President Obama’s arguments had passed could result in substantial changes to the U.S. law system. Cruz’s team has released a report on the matter, and it carries a list of power overreach stories.

While the Supreme Court has rejected Obama’s arguments, which could have been easily used against you and me if he had had his way, the release offers a look into what the U.S. could like in the future if the rulings had been different.

There is reason to feel optimistic on this Constitution Day

Back in 2004, Congress passed an amendment offered by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to an omnibus spending bill to commemorate the signing of the Constitution and declare September 17, the day on which the document was signed by its framers, to be “Constitution Day.”

It’s ironic that a legislative body that frequently steps outside it’s limitations would pass a measure recognizing a document for which they have little regard. In the years preceding the creation of Constitution Day, Congress passed a number of measures that fly in the face of the intent and spirit of the Constitution and the rights protected therein.

But Constitution Day means a little more this year than in the past, given the renaissance the document has seen, particularly in just the past few months.

There are several examples from which we could choose to highlight the rebirth of the Constitution, such as Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster back in March or the defeat of onerous gun control measures, including expanded background checks and a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” that would have further infringed upon Second Amendment rights. But recent developments concerning the NSA and Syria are, arguably, in the back of most Americans’ minds.

The New Republican Party: Libertarian Fusionism in Virginia

The rise of the so-called “liberty movement,” which sprang out of the early days of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, and of the tea party movement, which was a reaction to the one-party Democrat rule in Washington after the 2008 elections (with Obama’s victory being the likely spark) has forced the Republican Party to wrestle with warring factions in an attempt to establish a winning coalition.

Those in the media love to paint the GOP’s internal struggle as evidence of a party in the throes of extinction; as a party out-of-touch with mainstream America. But I think the “growing pains” the GOP are experiencing could potentially strengthen the Republican Party.

I am of the opinion that we have two political parties in our first-past-the-post electoral system. Few candidates have won major office in recent history under the banner of any party other than the Republican or Democrat parties. There are exceptions, but they’re rare, and those candidates usually win because of their personality, rather than a set of ideals on which a party platform could be constructed. Think Maine’s Angus King or Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman.

It is with that understanding that many within the “liberty movement” in Virginia have begun working within the Republican Party to move it in a more (small-L) libertarian direction. Our reasoning is that political parties do not hold a certain philosophy; they are vessels through which their members advance a set of ideas and beliefs. As the GOP looks for a path forward, it should look to the way the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has embraced liberty activists.

Is The American Dream Dead?

American flag

The American Dream—the idea that any American has the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, work hard, make good decisions, and lift themselves from even abject poverty to extreme wealth—is what has always made America different from any other nation on earth.  Only in the United States’ free market capitalist economic system has this level of economic mobility been possible, which is why people from around the world have flocked to the United States throughout its history.  But is the American Dream still possible?

According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that it is impossible for any individual American to work hard and get rich, the highest level ever.  Not only that, only 48% believe that it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty, while 39% disagree.  Rasmussen also shows that pessimism is at an all-time high, with only 25% of Americans believing that the economy will be better a year from now than it is today.  Given the sorry state of the American economy, that’s a very sad statement.

How Can Limited Government Ideas Win Elections?

I was intrigued by the question posed by Jim Geraghty at National Review Online yesterday, “Do We on the Right Still Trust the People?” My first instinct was to respond “yes, of course we do,” because after all the idea that we as individuals can take care of ourselves better than the government can is one of the reasons we believe in limited government.  The problem is, the American people have not been voting as though they really believe that themselves.  So really, this question is two questions:

  1. Do we trust the American people to take care of themselves?; and
  2. Do we trust the American people to vote in ways that allow them to take care of themselves?

The answer to the first is obvious, as I’ve already mentioned.  We do believe that the people are better at taking care of themselves than the government is.  When left alone by government, individuals will be more empowered to make a living for themselves and pursue happiness as they wish.  Society as a whole would be happier and more prosperous under a limited government than it currently is under big government.

The second question is much more difficult, because the American people have not voted for liberty.  Instead, they have voted for the much easier relative security of the cradle-to-grave welfare/entitlement state and the nurturing of big government statism.  Clearly the American electorate has not given us reason to have faith in them to vote against the largesse, as the welfare state has continued to grow.  The question is:  Why?  And as a secondary question, how do we reach out to voters to get them to understand that they will be better off under smaller government than they are under big government?

Rand Paul gives a solid, substantive response to the State of the Union

Rand Paul gives the Tea Party response

President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new.  The President continued the same leftist rhetoric he used during his inaugural address, calling for even more spending and government.  As Jason wrote, he absurdly claimed that he has CUT spending, attacked the sequestration plan that he himself proposed, and called for an increase in the minimum wage would would prove disastrous to job creation.  In short, it was more of the same - big government, high taxes, and spending money we don’t have.

The official Republican response was fairly lackluster.  Marco Rubio is a gifted speaker, but his speech was big on platitudes and slogans and small on substance. The real response came from Senator Rand Paul.  It’s no secret that Senator Paul is a favorite of mine and of many libertarian-leaning folks, so there was much anticipation that he would offer a clear vision apart from both Obama and Rubio.  For the most part, he did just that.

To begin, Paul went strongly after the President and laid out a clear idea of what he believes America is really all about:

Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.

What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.

What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.

The Sequester May Not Be ‘Fair,’ but It’s Real and It Would Slow the Growth of Government

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Much to the horror of various interest groups, it appears that there will be a “sequester” on March 1.

This means an automatic reduction in spending authority for selected programs (interest payments are exempt, as are most entitlement outlays).

Just about everybody in Washington is frantic about the sequester, which supposedly will mean “savage” and “draconian” budget cuts.

If only. That would be like porn for libertarians.

In reality, the sequester merely means a reduction in the growth of federal spending. Even if we have the sequester, the burden of government spending will still be about $2 trillion higher in 10 years.

The other common argument against the sequester is that it represents an unthinking “meat-ax” approach to the federal budget.

But a former congressional staffer and White House appointee says this is much better than doing nothing.

Here’s some of what Professor Jeff Bergner wrote for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Common Sense After a Close Election

“Now let’s pull up our socks, wipe our noses and get back in this fight.”

After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense.  I suggest we all take it to heart.

He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.

First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.

Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.

Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California.  But capitulation is not one of them.


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