Today in Liberty: Liberty Republican Raul Labrador considering a run for House Majority Leader, Obamacare heads back to court

“We must have government, but we must watch them like a hawk.” — Millicent Fenwick

— House Republican leadership race update: It looks like Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is close to sealing up the nod for House Majority Leader. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) decided not to run for the post. Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-TX) also bowed out. Word is that Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), who is part of the libertarian-conservative faction in the chamber, is considering a run against McCarthy. “Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said in a brief interview Thursday night that he is considering running for majority leader and hopes to make a decision on Friday,” the Washington Post reports. “Labrador said many of his colleagues were urging him to run on Thursday and that he is doing his due diligence to weigh the pros and cons of a bid challenging McCarthy.” Labrador would be the better choice, from a limited government perspective, but he faces an uphill battle.

Get government out of the way: Ending subsidies and bailouts for crony industries will lower consumers’ costs

all the things

From dire warnings about imminent hyperinflation to the leftist dismissal of the risk of any inflation at all to Internet memes showing near-empty grocery carts now costing ONE BILLION dollars, the debate over rising prices won’t be settled anytime soon. Some prices have gone up, some have gone down, yet government measure of inflation hasn’t budged much in the last few years.

There has been a graph floating around for a few months now showing the difference in price increases and decreases for consumers over the last 10 years. It appeared first in an April New York Times story about how we define poverty. It then showed up on Twitter this morning with some annotations highlighting government’s role in those increases or decreases. Here’s a slightly better looking version:


At the very least this shows a clear correlation between government subsidies and tax credits and consumer price increases.

College tuition is paid for largely by student loans, which were absorbed by the federal government in early 2010. State governments also provide funding for the schools themselves. Tuition has subsequently increased over 40% over the last 10 years, and in some places has doubled.

Reagan was right! The Ex-Im Bank subsidizes cronies on the backs of taxpayers, and that’s why Congress should end it

Cronyists in big business are ramping up their efforts to save Export-Import Bank from extinction. They’ve begun a big PR campaign months ahead of a vote in Congress to reauthorize the Bank and are trying to appeal to Republicans by invoking Ronald Reagan in their messaging.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has trotted out a 1984 letter signed by Ronald Reagan congratulating the Export-Import Bank on its 50th anniversary, in which he wrote that the New Deal-era agency “continues to be a valuable part of the international financial structure.”

Reagan is revered by conservatives and Republicans and the Chamber is, obviously, trying to play this letter up to win support in Congress to keep one of its favor factories around. The Bank’s supporters are feverishly trying to set a narrative that reauthorization “is good for business.” But that line isn’t working.

Cronyism — the collusion between big business and big government — has come under greater scrutiny. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Jeb Hensarling, and many other conservatives and Congress understand that free enterprise doesn’t mean taxpayer-funded handouts that allow the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace — it means creating an atmosphere in which businesses can succeed on their own.

Try as they may to invoke Reagan, the Export-Import Bank’s crony friends would like conservatives to ignore that the Great Communicator criticized the Bank on various occasions.

Cronyists are freaking out that conservatives in Congress may kill the Export-Import Bank

The “face of cronyism” is staffing up as it faces intense scrutiny from conservatives in both chambers of Congress. The Export-Import Bank — which really cares about what the Internet says, according to our Google Analytics reports (hey, guys!) — has made two new communications hires ahead of a reauthorization vote:

The bank announced two new hires Friday for its communications team, including an official who most recently headed press relations for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council.

Brad Carroll joins the independent federal agency from the Obama administration as a senior vice president. The bank also announced it had hired Dolline Hatchett as a vice president in its communications office.

Hatchett comes from a nuclear energy provider, and previously put in stints at the Energy Department and the Labor Department.
The hires, which are filling existing vacancies at the bank, come as its existence is under increasing danger from the right. Congress needs to pass legislation extending the bank by the end of September. Business groups are pushing for another extension, arguing it provides critical loan guarantees to foreign purchasers of U.S. exports.

Today in Liberty: NSA reform at front and center of American politics, GOP Senate candidates won’t back McConnell

“The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” —  Robert A. Heinlein

— House could take up the USA FREEDOM Act this week: The Washington Examiner reports this morning that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has “tentatively placed” the USA FREEDOM Act on the calendar for consideration this week. The weekly floor schedule notes that the bill is “subject to a rule,” which means that amendments could be limited and vetted by the House Rules Committee in advance. The USA FREEDOM Act is the best of the reform proposals introduced in recent weeks. Normally we’d use the “it’s happening” gif to express our glee, but we have a story about the latest developments on this issue later today that is causing us to hold back.

Export-Import Bank seeks billions more to fund cronyist operations

The Export-Import Bank has formerly requested reauthorization from Congress, and the controversial agency is seeking more money at a time when its ties to politically connected businesses are facing scrutiny from conservatives.

The reauthorization bill that has been presented to the House Financial Services Committee seeks to raise the Ex-Im Bank’s lending cap to $160 billion by 2018.

The bank’s activities have made passage of reauthorization an uphill battle. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) seems poised to bury the agency, which, he says, is the “face of cronyism.”

“I have always believed that re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank is a bad idea. In many respects, it’s the face of cronyism. So I was surprised, but not shocked, to see the bank ask Congress to raise its lending cap by $20 billion, to $160 billion,” Hensarling said in a statement on Friday. “Only in Washington can a taxpayer-subsidized program whose only purpose is to pick winners and losers ‘fail upward’ by requesting more money.”

What the Ex-Im Bank Does is Immoral

Many of us understand that what’s seen as the current reasoning behind the very existence of Export-Import Bank makes it very difficult for proponents of the agency to make the case for keeping the agency running.

There aren’t any major market failures that can only be addressed by a government-regulated agency offering extra stimulus to foreigners to purchase American, and if there are any major failures that must be addressed, a government-run agency will simply not be enough to respond it, due to the government’s inherently incompetent nature.

Because all cases have already been made against the agency but one, Veronique de Rugy decided to contribute by making the case that the insistence in keeping the Ex-Im bank running is not only a simply incoherent and inefficient solution to an imaginary problem, it is also immoral.

According to her column at the National Review, the Ex-Im Bank uses its tactics to coerce governments of very poor countries to purchase Boeing aeroplanes from America.

This is the case with Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government owns Ethiopian Airlines. According to recent statistics on Ethiopia, 78 percent of its population makes less than $2 a day, making it one of the poorest countries in the world.

What the Ex-Im Bank does to Ethiopians is to force their government to purchase their planes by encouraging officials to spend the little means they have on purchasing products they don’t need, all in the name of the eventual economic boost that some of us use as an excuse to justify the agency’s immoral exercise of their power.

Mike Lee: Republicans must take on corporate welfare

One of the biggest, most crucial tests facing the Republican Party are its ties to big business and unwillingness to, for example, end taxpayer-funded subsidies to favored industries. After all, most GOP politicians say, “it’s good for business,” all while cashing checks from lobbyists for their campaigns.

These policies, part of a $1.2 trillion corporate welfare culture, distort the market, allowing the government pick winners and losers. It gives Republicans the unfortunate, though not undeserved image of being in the tank for rich special interests. Sorry, but the “Democrats do it, too!” line doesn’t work, though it is very true.

In an editorial yesterday at National Review, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explained that Republicans have an opportunity to take a step toward shedding this image when the reauthorization for the Export-Import Bank comes up for a vote.

“The Ex-Im Bank exists to dole out taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help American exporters,” Lee wrote. “Most of the benefits go to large corporations that are perfectly capable of securing private financing anywhere in the world.”

“Whether the beneficiaries of particular Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees are respected, successful companies like Boeing or crony basket cases like Solyndra is irrelevant,” he explained. “Twisting policy to benefit any business at the expense of others is unfair and anti-growth.”

Yes, Jay Carney, Obamacare is a government program

Facing questions from reporters on Monday about Obamacare enrollments, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended the administration’s inability to come up with the number of paid premiums. But there was one particular part of his comments that stood out.

“We are talking about private insurance. This is not a government program,” Carney told reporters. “The contract that you sign if you get health insurance through or through a state marketplace is a private contract between you and an insurance company.”

PolitiFact named statements that Obamacare is “a government takeover of healthcare” as its “Lie of the Year” for 2010. The fact checker, however, only examined the statement through the most basic lens.

“‘Government takeover’ conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees,” Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan wrote in December 2010. “But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market.”

It’s true that the Obamacare relies on private insurance companies participation in the state and federal exchanges. It’s also true that enrollees are entering into private contracts with insurers for coverage. But that doesn’t mean that Obamacare isn’t a government program.

Individual mandate: In a true free market, individuals decide for themselves if a product or service best suites their needs. Taking the politically convenient loopholes out of the equation, the individual mandate exists to coerce Americans into purchasing health plans.

Taxpayers on the hook for $1.2 trillion in corporate welfare since 2000

When we think about welfare, most of us think about government programs aimed at reducing poverty. While we point out that the poverty rate has remained virtually unchanged since the “war on poverty” began in 1964, despite spending $12 trillion, we tend to ignore the money spent on corporate welfare.

Most Republicans turn a blind eye to corporate welfare, after all, they say, it’s “good for business.” But what’s good for business isn’t always good for taxpayers. Writing at National Review, Stephen Moore points us to a study showing that the federal government has doled out $1.2 trillion in corporate welfare over since 2000, a figure that doesn’t even scratch the surface given the pervasiveness of bailouts and subsidies for favored, politically-connected industries:

This week an Illinois-based watchdog group, Open the Books, issued a new report that scrupulously tallies up all federal grants, loans, direct payments, and insurance subsidies flowing to individuals and companies. It examined all accounts from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Transportation and found that corporate-welfare payments from the federal government to the Fortune 100 companies, from 2000 to 2012, amounted to $1.2 trillion. I recommend a visit to the website, if you can stomach it.

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