Reform

Broad Coalition of Groups, Companies Team Up for Privacy

The outrage over the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs has motivated a broad coalition of advocacy groups and Internet companies to come together in an effort to bring it to an end. This coalition — which includes the EFF, FreedomWorks, ACLU, Daily Kos, Reddit, and Mozilla — has sent a letter to members of Congress to end the surveillance and launched a website, StopWatching.us, where concerned citizens can sign a petition supporting the principles of the letter to be delivered to lawmakers.

“The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by a career intelligence officer showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments,” noted the coalition. “As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.”

Young Americans Should Support Social Security Reform

Social Security

Since last fall’s election, Republicans have been trying to figure out ways to reach out to young voters. President Barack Obama was successful in courting them by using certain wedge issues that appeal to millennials. To this point, Republicans are unwilling to back away from some of these stances to their own detriment.

Despite their support of President Obama, many of the economic policies he’s managed to push through Congress, including ObamaCare, leave them on the short end of the stick. And his inaction on entitlements — and yes, they are entitlements — leaves them at risk of substantial economic problems down the road.

For example, Veronique de Rugy recently highlighted the long-term funding shortfalls and eventual insolvency of the Social Security system. Here’s the chart she posted that shows the significant fiscal issues that will eventually have to be addressed (click to enlarge):

Social Security Funding

“In 2010, the deficit was $46 billion, and in 2012 the deficits amounted to $49 billion,” de Rudy notes. “To fill the gap, the program is drawing from the trust-fund balances (first using interest, then the principal) to keep payments to retirees going (light red section).”

Federal appellate court upholds Wisconsin collective bargaining reforms

Scott Walker

Since its passage in 2011, Big Labor has been working through the court system to undo the collective bargaining reform law signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in early 2011. Despite the Wisconsin Supreme Court upholding the law in June 2011, Big Labor won a reprieve after a federal district court struck down part of the law.

But the these much needed reforms were given new life today thanks to a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the law in its entirety:

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Act 10, Wisconsin’s controversial reform law that guts collective bargaining for most public employees in the state.

The decision strikes a blow to public-sector unions that gained a temporary victory in September, when a Dane County Circuit Court Judge ruled parts of the law unconstitutional.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down key provisions of a separate federal court’s ruling, writing, “The district court invalidated Act 10′s recertification and payroll deduction provisions, but upheld the statute’s limitation on collective bargaining. We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety.”

Voters not buying Democrats Medicare scare tactics

It has been conventional wisdom that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan hurts Republicans and gives Democrats an advantage in the 2012 election. However, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll suggests otherwise:

Wall Street Journal/NBC poll asks Americans whether they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who “supports changing Medicare for those under 55 to a system where people choose their insurance from a list of private health plans and the government pays a fixed amount, sometimes called a voucher, towards that cost.”

The results: 38% are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Ryan’s Medicare reform, 37% are less likely to vote for that candidate, while 18% say it makes “no difference” in determining their vote, and 7% are not sure.

If that number stands, that’s pretty great news for Republicans.

And one could even quibble with the question wording. It uses the much feared “voucher” word, which Ryan’s reform technically isn’t. And it simply says future beneficiaries could put their voucher toward “private health plans,” potentially leaving the wrong impression that some seniors could be denied coverage in the open marketplace. The private plans would be regulated by the government and required to offer coverage to all beneficiaries.

Social Security and the price we pay

Social Security.  The name conjures feelings almost immediately.  My mother recently started on Social Security.  Now, it such troubled financial times, it’s being looked at as a source of much of our problems.  In reality, it’s part of a whole other problem that has little to do with the national budget.

Social Security was originally designed to be a trust fund system where money went in and, when you retired, you got your money back out.  It would have worked, especially in those days, because a lot of people paid in via taxation, but died before they reached retirement age.  This would created a bit of a cushion for those who actually drew out more than they paid in.

However, over time that trust fund looked mighty tempting to the folks in DC.  Money got tight, and like a parent raiding their kid’s piggy bank in the dark of night, they took money from it to pay for other pet projects.  This depleted the trust fund and its cushion so severely that it became a Ponzi scheme.  We today pay into the system so that other can draw it out. The understanding is that we will get our money back from future generations.

However, more and more of us are coming to believe that Social Security won’t be there when we reach retirement age.

The left goes nuts whenever anyone mentions privatizing social security, despite evidence that it would actually benefit retirees far more than the current system ever has.  Some studies suggest that we could be a nation of millionaires, while fears percolate that the stock market would wipe out retirees income in short order.

That’s Some Loophole…

President Obama is poised to take on a whole host of issues in the coming months, including reforming federal regulation of the financial sector, campaign-finance law and increasing federal involvement in education, Politico reports.

We’ll save policy analysis for another day. For now let’s focus on the way Politico reported the news.The story reads:

Obama now will push Congress to close campaign-finance loopholes opened by the Citizens United case, adopt his overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education bill, and perhaps even tackle a clean-energy bill.

Wait, what? “Loopholes”? Since when do we consider the First Amendment, you know, that “Congress shall make no law” stuff, a “loophole” that can (or should) be closed if it gets in the way of Congress?

That’s some loophole.

And in case anyone forgets what the Citizens United case was really about, here’s your primer:


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.