President Barack Obama, who has overseen four consecutive years of $1 trillion budget deficits and $6 trillion added to the national debt in a little more than four years, issued a proclamation last week designating April as “National Financial Capability Month”:
President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April “National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
“Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges—from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account,” he said.
Do you live in a free state? This question would receive a variety of answers because, after all, the 50 states make up our Union each have their own versions and views on freedom.
Politicians on the “left coast” view freedom as “freedom from want,” which is why they have set in place a vast — and costly — welfare state and burdensome regulatory policies. The north isn’t too dissimilar, especially with its emphasis on nanny state policies.
States that comprise the “libertarian west” and the south tend to have fiscally conservative-leanings and the approach toward personal liberty is, while not great on every issue, generally much less regulated.
So how do you determine if you live in a free state? The Mercatus Center has released its annual report, Freedom in the 50 States, which serves as a guide to weigh various aspects of freedom — fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom.
The authors of the report, William Ruger and Jason Sorens, explained their findings yesterday and concluded that states that clamp down on freedoms are seeing people leave for states with more freedom.
“The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave,” wrote the authors of the report. “And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.”
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, I was surprised that nobody had access to 4G mobile Internet services. How could Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and host to the “world’s premier mobile industry event,” lack access to 4G? In the opening day keynote session, Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s CEO, said Europe has only 6% of the world’s LTE connections, and Telefónica’s CEO, César Alierta, said only 17% of European mobile subscribers have smartphones. European mobile operators agreed they are lagging the world in 4G deployment and penetration due to existing price regulations that discourage new infrastructure investments.
Europe now stands at a crossroads: Does it adopt the modern, investment-based approach toward wireless markets that made the US the world’s 4G leader, or does it further increase regulation and impose new obligations on “over the top” (e.g., Skype) services? Our history with the regulation of rural telephone companies demonstrates the perils of the second option. Yet European mobile operators appear ready to embrace new regulations as a means to enhance their business and create a “balanced relationship” with “US companies” that provide over the top (OTT) services.
The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.
The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.
“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”
So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.
Best of the Best in the House of Representatives
I’m a hunter. A lot of folks are. I don’t get a lot of opportunity to hunt, however, so I struggle to meet my own needs with deer meat. But there are a lot of hunters who are far more fortunate donated their extra meet to feed poor folks in Louisiana, and they just got a slap across the face for their troubles:
The Dept. of Health and Hospitals ordered the staff at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission to throw 1,600 pounds of donated venison in garbage bins – and then ordered then to douse the meat with Clorox – so other animals would not eat the meat.
“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” said a Health Dept. official in an email to Fox News. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”
The meat came via a group called “Hunters for the Hungry.” This group enables hunters to donate entire deer to help feed poor people by dropping off whole deer at participating processors. In short, the meat is controlled from that point on.
Louisiana doesn’t have any laws against doing something like this. However, 1,600 pounds of the meat was destroyed. Hunters for the Hungry wasn’t even allowed to take the meat back and give it to others who are in need.
As for the safety, not only is the meat controlled, but venison is one of the leanest forms of meat you can find. In short, it’s hard to beat it from a health perspective. It is as safe as you’re going to find.
Much hash has been made lately over Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform. The Pledge forces anyone who signs it to not vote for tax increases, unless there is reduction in taxes elsewhere (for instance, voting to raise excise taxes but cutting income taxes, though don’t quote me on that.) It’s also been in the news because some Republicans have backed away from the pledge, not wanting to be feel like they’re in a straight jacket while engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, writes in National Review that while Grover’s push is admirable, it’s not entirely sufficient:
For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.
Back in August, John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, noted that his company would have to raise prices in order to cover the cost of ObamaCare and have to scale back hours for workers. This is pretty basic economics. When a expenses rise, either for the cost of raw materials or employing workers, a business will be forced to pass the buck on the consumer or reduce costs elsewhere.
Papa John’s isn’t alone. Last month, Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Longhorn, and Red Lobster, announced that it would move hourly workers to part-time schedules because of mandates in ObamaCare requiring businesses to offer health insurance coverage to employees working over 30 hours a week. A Florida-based restaurant owner has said that he’ll add a 5% surcharge to customers to makeup the cost of the mandates from ObamaCare.
Schnatter’s comment, while entirely understandable from a business perspective, stirred controversy on the Left, as activists called for a boycott of Papa John’s. This has caused opponents of ObamaCare to organize “National Papa John’s Appreciation Day” which is being organized by Reboot USA.
Written by Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Borrowing the title from a Stephen Colbert segment, this blog post is going to be about trade disputes not involving America. Given recent trade rhetoric, you might think that all trade disputes are about the U.S. and China, but that’s not the case. Other countries have disputes, too, and some of them are very interesting, getting into the core issue of what international trade rules should be about.
First up is a complaint by Canada and Norway against the EU related to a ban on “seal products.” According to the EU regulation at issue, seal products means “all products, either processed or unprocessed, deriving or obtained from seals, including meat, oil, blubber, organs, raw fur skins and fur skins, tanned or dressed, including fur skins assembled in plates, crosses and similar forms, and articles made from fur skins.” Under the regulation, with limited exceptions, seal products may not be imported or sold in the EU.
While most mainstream pundits believe the fight over ObamaCare is over after the Supreme Court’s decision during the summer, polls still show that the law is still unpopular with Americans.
Health insurance premiums are still on the rise, companies are dropping coverage or cutting hours to skirt the law’s mandates, and the cost of ObamaCare has skyrocketed. The law has also been a jobs killer. According to a recent study, ObamaCare’s regulations have killed some 30,000 jobs and cost $27.6 billion.
If these reasons weren’t enough to do away with the law and start over, a new compendium put together by Dean Clancy, Vice President of Health Care Policy at FreedomWorks, goes over the top 10 reasons to repeal ObamaCare.
In addition to some of the points already made, Clancy explains that ObamaCare is a bureaucratic mess that will force many Americans to lose their current health insurance, pushing them into buy government-controlled plans. He explains that taxes imposed as part of the law will hit all areas of the health care system. Clancy also notes that the law will lead to rationing of health care.
More importantly, as Clancy explains, “there is a better way.” After repealing ObamaCare, Congress could start over again by crafting legislation that focuses on the needs of patients, not bureaucrats.
I’ve explained on many occasions that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was bad news for the economy. The same can be said of Herbert Hoover’s policies, since he also expanded the burden of federal spending, raised tax rates, and increased government intervention.
So when I was specifically asked to take part in a symposium on Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, and the New Deal, I quickly said yes.
I was asked to respond to this question: “Was that an FDR-Sized Stimulus?” Here’s some of what I wrote.