Tom McClintock

Chatting with Igor Birman

Igor Birman

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman

Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.

When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror”  to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”

Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”

GAO: ObamaCare could add $6.2 trillion to national debt

There is some more bad news for ObamaCare. According to a recently released report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement — could cost taxpayers dearly in the long-term if cost-savings measures don’t work as intended.

The report, which was requested by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, explains that the “effect of PPACA on the long-term fiscal outlook depends largely on whether elements designed to control cost growth are sustained.”

“Overall, there was notable improvement in the longer-term outlook after the enactment of PPACA under our Fall 2010 Baseline Extended simulation, which, consistent with federal law at the time the simulation was run, assumed the full implementation and effectiveness of the costcontainment provisions over the entire 75-year simulation period,” noted the GAO. “In contrast, the long-term outlook in the Fall 2010 Alternative simulation worsened slightly compared to our January 2010 simulation. This is largely due to the fact that cost-containment mechanisms specified in PPACA are assumed to phase out over time while the additional costs associated with expanding federal health care coverage remain.”

The baseline scenario is used by the government budget officials to determine the the cost effects of current law. However, the alternative scenario gauges budget implications based on past behavior of Congress, such as its proclivity for bypassing scheduled Medicare payments to doctors (also known as the “doc fix”).

United Liberty Podcast: Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Tom McClintock

“Congress should be cutting spending, reducing the regulatory burdens that are crushing the economy — freedom works, and it is time we put it back to work.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Just a couple of days after President Barack Obama laid out his agenda for the next year in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents California’s Fourth Congressional District, to get his thoughts on the proposals being pushed by the White House, the Senate’s refusal to pass a budget, ObamaCare, and a few other issues.

On the State of the Union, Rep. McClintock, who has been among the staunchest defenders of economic freedom and the Constitution in Congress, was dismissive of President Obama’s agenda. “[W]e heard this song before,” he noted. “I think that his words have to be measured against the last four years of his deeds.”

He rhetorically asked, “What have been his policies? Higher taxes, much higher spending, out of control deficits, crushing business regulations. And what have those policies produced? Family take home pay has declined over these past four years, the unemployment rate is higher than when we started — it would be much higher except for the millions of Americans who have given up even looking for work.”

“What did he propose? More of the same,” Rep. McClintock stated. “Taking bad policy and doubling down on it doesn’t make it good policy.”

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.).

SOPA: Freedom and the Internet, Victorious

Yesterday, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives about the massive online protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) and the PROTECT IP Act (“PIPA”), legislation that poses a dire threat to the Internet and to liberties that our enshrined in our Bill of Rights.

You can watch my speech and read the transcript below:

Long ago, Jefferson warned, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” The exceptions to that rule have been few and far between recently, and ought to be celebrated when they occur.

One did this past week with the announcement that supporters of the so-called “Stop On-Line Privacy Act” and the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” have indefinitely postponed their measures after an unprecedented protest across the Internet.

SOPA and PIPA pose a crippling danger to the Internet because they use the legitimate concern over copy-right infringement as an excuse for government to intrude upon and regulate the very essence of the Internet - the unrestricted and absolutely free association that links site to site, providing infinite pathways for commerce, discourse and learning.

Drop the SOPA: Protect the Internet from censorship

I’m kind of a rare breed of libertarian.  I actually believe in the concept of intellectual property.  As such, some might be under the belief that folks like me would be in favor of something like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

Of course, they would be horribly, horribly wrong.

Regardless of ones feelings on IP, the reality is that SOPA is nothing less than a NDAA or PATRIOT Act for the internet.

You see, the internet is the last bastion of freedom anywhere in the world.  While it’s entirely possible to render something illegal in one country, it’s virtually impossible to stamp it out.  Laws and regulations become meaningless as physical borders mean nothing on a cyberscape free from such lines.

The kick in the butt with this bill, as with many similar bills, is that it really won’t do a whole heck of a lot to combat piracy.  Of course, there are some that will argue that what SOPA seeks to do is crush that freedom. That ideas breed in such freedom, and such ideas can not be allowed to incubate.

I don’t know if I would go that far, but what is clear is that SOPA is nothing more than a powergrab.  Those that are supposed to support and defend the Constitution have instead decided to just ignore the document completely.

SOPA seeks to require your ISP to spy on you.  It seeks to hurt companies like Mozilla that haven’t done what the powerful want it to do.  It seeks to rewrite the current laws regarding the internet and remake it into a place where innovation no longer happens.

Now, SOPA may not be all bad.  After all, plenty of companies will love to open up their nations to the off-shore dollars that are bound to flee the United States after a SOPA-like bill is passed.  While I’m not an opponent of out sourcing per se, I’d prefer it not to be encouraged through idiotic legislation.

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is common sense legislation

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, a piece of common sense legislation that protects the rights of gun owners in states that have concealed carry laws. Below is the speech I have on the House floor in support of the measure (transcript below):

Today the House will consider HR 822, a long-overdue measure to assure that states recognize the concealed weapons permits issued by other states.

This very simple measure has unleashed a firestorm of protests from the political left. I noted one polemicist, who obviously has not read the Constitution, fumed that this is a Constitutional violation of states’ rights enshrined in the tenth amendment.

What nonsense. Article IV of the Constitution could not possibly be more clear: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

The Cruise Control Act of 2011

Federal spending has ballooned 28 percent during the Obama Presidency while the government has amassed more debt than it acquired from the first day of George Washington’s administration to the last day of George H. W. Bush’s.

Our nation is racing toward a fiscal cliff. Yet, as Sen. Jim DeMint noted, instead of hitting the brakes, Congress and the President just set the cruise control. “The Budget Control Act of 2011” offers an object lesson in exactly the sort of empty compromise that has gotten our nation into its present mess. Faced with the devastating consequences of unprecedented and unsustainable federal spending, both parties agreed on only one thing: to lock in that spending for at least the next two years. Bypassing the normal legislative process, the deal was written behind closed doors and dumped it into the laps of both houses under the threat that failing to pay the government’s bills would jeopardize the nation’s triple-A credit.

Unfortunately, the deal didn’t just pay our current bills – it gave the most spendthrift administration in history an open credit line to continue its spending spree beyond 2012. Ironically, it ended up costing the United States its triple-A credit rating by failing to rein in spending significantly. Indeed, Standard and Poor’s had explicitly warned for the last two months that $4 trillion had to be cut from the projected ten-year deficit to preserve the nation’s credit. Even if the plan works perfectly, it doesn’t come close.

Yet the same politicians who ignored these warnings were shocked-just-shocked when Standard and Poor’s lowered the boom four days later. Instead, they blamed the “Tea Party” that has been sounding the same alarm for more than two years.

Congress raiding our Oil: About to require the sale of U.S. SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) to fund additional spending

Today, as part of H.R. 2354, Congress is requiring the sale of $500 million of Strategic Oil Reserves - and then requiring any money from those reserve sales be used to fund additional spending as part of the general treasury.

This sets a terrible precedent, threatens our national security and is in all likelihood not entirely legal.

On the floor of the house today Congressman McClintock called it a scandal - and we agree. This is nothing more than accounting tricks and blatant disregard for the very idea behind the Strategic Oil Reserve.

The vote is tomorrow, spread the word.


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