A benefit of the government shutdown may be that it slows the stream of waste and bad behavior flowing from the federal bureaucracy. Catching up on my reading, I noticed these items in just the last few days of the Washington Post:
- The maximize their budgets over time, federal agencies drain their bank accounts on often wasteful items at the end of every fiscal year. The rule is “use it or lose it.”
- A high-level EPA official ripped-off taxpayers $900,000 over two decades, apparently duping administrators, supervisors, and auditors over many years.
- About $800,000 of federal unemployment insurance benefits were bilked by employed D.C. government workers.
- The availability of federal subsidies for dredging may induce Key West to destroy an area of unique coral and other sea life. Historically, the Army Corps of Engineers has been an environment-destruction machine, so residents should think twice before going that route.
- The Department of Commerce has kicked out the National Aquarium from its building after 80 years. There is no bad behavior here, just a sad story since the aquarium is an example of successful privatization. Federal funding was eliminated in 1982, and the aquarium was converted into a nonprofit corporation and supported by admission fees, donations, and volunteer efforts.
- The FHA is asking for a $1.7 billion taxpayer bailout.
- Environmentalists are concerned that grasslands and wetlands are being turned into farmland at a rapid pace across the northern prairies. This story mentions the effect of ethanol subsidies, but another cause of the change is the $30 billion of farm subsidies pumped out each year.
- The central figure in the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner, was finally pushed out. It is pretty obvious that a political and ideological agenda was at work in the targeting of conservative groups, but it has been very difficult to squeeze even an apology out of IRS officials and the Obama administration. Bart Simpson’s line “I didn’t do it” has long been the approach taken by government officials caught violating the public trust.
- A recent Washington Post article by Joe Davidson—the paper’s advocate for federal workers—was headlined “Shutdown Would Corrode Our View of Government.” I don’t think we need a shutdown for that.
Michael F. CannonMSNBC Forced To Abandon ObamaCare Exchange Demonstration After Glitches
CNN Tries & Fails To Use ObamaCare Exchange: This Isn’t Like The iPhone
If you’ve tried to reach a government site today, you may have noticed that the “shutdown” applies to the virtual homes and social media accounts of federal agencies no less than their brick-and-mortar offices… at least some them. It’s a bit hard to make sense of why some sites remain up (some with a “no new updates” banner) while others are redirected to a shutdown notice page—and in many cases it’s puzzling why a shutdown would be necessary at all. With the offices closed, you might not have personnel on hand to add new content or other updates, but is pulling the existing content down strictly necessary?
For agencies that directly run their own Web sites on in-house servers, shutting down might make sense if the agency’s “essential” and “inessential” systems are suitably segregated. Running the site in those cases eats up electricity and bandwidth that the agency is paying for, not to mention the IT and security personnel who need to monitor the site for attacks and other problems. Fair enough in those cases. But those functions are, at least in the private sector, often outsourced and paid for up front: if you’ve contracted with an outside firm to host your site, shutting it down for a few days or weeks may not save any money at all. And that might indeed explain why some goverment sites remain operational, even though they don’t exactly seem “essential,” while others have been pulled down.
That doesn’t seem to account for some of the weird patterns we see, however. The main page at NASA.gov redirects to a page saying the site is unavailable, but lots of subdomains that, however cool, seem “inessential” remain up and running: the “Solar System Exploration” page at solarsystem.nasa.gov; the Climate Kids website at climatekids.nasa.gov; and the large photo archive at images.jsc.nasa.gov, to name a few. There are any number of good reasons some of those subdomains might be hosted separately, and therefore unaffected by the shutdown—but it seems odd they can keep all of these running without additional expenditures, yet aren’t able to redirect to a co-located mirror of the landing page.
Still weirder is the status of the Federal Trade Commission’s site. Browse to any of their pages and you’ll see, for a split second, the full content of the page you want—only to be redirected to a shutdown notice page also hosted at FTC.gov. But that means… their servers are still up and running and actually serving all the same content. In fact they’re serving more content: first the real page, then the shutdown notice page. If you’re using Firefox or Chrome and don’t mind browsing in HTML-cluttered text, you can even use this link to navigate to the FTC site map and navigate from page to page in source-code view without triggering the redirect. Again, it’s entirely possible I’m missing something, but if the full site is actually still running, it’s hard to see how a redirect after the real page is served could be avoiding any expenditures.
One possible answer can be found in the policy governing shuttering of government Web sites—which, as blogger Jon Christian noted, stipulates that:
The determination of which services continue during an appropriations lapse is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services.
It’s easy to imagine how this might often be the case: if the “inessential” public-facing Web pages are hosted on the same systems you’ve got to keep up and running for other “essential” back-end purposes—meaning you don’t get to save the security or electricity overhead— then the cost of having IT go through and disable public access to the “inessential” sites could easily be higher than any marginal cost of actually serving the content. But the guidance here seems to require agencies to pull down “inessential” public-facing content even when this requires spending more money than leaving it up would. In the extreme case, you get the bizarre solution implemented on the FTC site: serve the content, then prevent the user from seeing it!
I don’t know enough about the rules of government shutdowns to say whether this strange result is a bit of Washington Monument Syndrome in action or a perverse but unavoidable consequence of the Antideficiency Act, but either way it seems like an awfully strange approach.
The Labor Management Relations Act (a.k.a. the Taft-Hartley Act) was passed in 1947 in order to curb the tide of unfair labor practices that had arisen since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed in 1935. The NLRA established a legal regime that was friendly to unions and unfriendly to the rights of workers who dissented from attempts to unionize workplaces. Unions have many tools at their disposal to ease the path to unionization, but the government should not prefer the rights of those who wish to be unionized at the expense of those who do not.
One part of Taft-Hartley, Section 302, addresses the problem of corruption between unions and employers by prohibiting employers from giving “any money or thing of value” to a union seeking to represent its employees. Martin Mulhall is a 40-year employee for the Mardi Gras greyhound racetrack and casino in Hollywood, Florida, and he opposes the efforts of Local 355 to unionize Mardi Gras’s employees. Mr. Mulhall’s desire not to be unionized is no less valid or constitutionally protected than those who push for unionization, and thus he is a perfect example of an employee for whom the Taft-Hartley Act passed to protect.
Mr. Mulhall alleges that, in violation of Section 302, Local 355 and Mardi Gras exchanged “things of value” in order to smooth the path to unionization. In exchange for the union agreeing not to picket, boycott, or strike against Mardi Gras, as well as for financially supporting a ballot initiative that legalized slot machine gambling, Mardi Gras agreed to support Local 355’s efforts to organize its employees. Specifically, Mardi Gras gave the union access to employee records and to its facilities in order to engage in organizing efforts during non-working hours. Additionally, and most crucially, Mardi Gras agreed to waive its right to a secret-ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board as well as its right to contest any unfair labor practices committed by the union during the process of organizing the workers.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether these are “things of value” exchanged in violation of Section 302. Cato, joined by the National Federation for Independent Business, has filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Mulhall. We argue that, not only are Mardi Gras’s concessions clearly “things of value,” they are the types of exchanges that the Taft-Hartley Act was passed to prohibit. The union exchanged a promise of “peace” from strikes and boycotts for concessions from the casino that compromised Mr. Mulhall’s right to dissent from unionization. The “exchange” was little better than extortion. Allowing such transactions would enable unions to coerce business owners into waiving protected constitutional rights—including the First Amendment right to voice opposition to unionization efforts and the fundamental right to exclude the public from private property. Moreover, this is a particularly serious concern for small business owners because they are especially vulnerable to coercive union demands. Small businesses generally lack the resources to survive a targeted corporate campaign when a union threatens economic war.
Unions are free to try to organize employees, but they should not be allowed to override the rights of dissenters in the process.
Aaron Ross Powell
Need something to read during the shutdown? You’re in luck, because Students for Liberty and the Atlas Network have released a new book of original essays on the question, “Why Liberty?” It includes a piece on the humble case for liberty by yours truly, and is packed with great stuff. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the book’s editor, Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer:Why Liberty - feat. Tom Palmer
Eric Holder has been busy playing his racial games. Not only did his Justice Department issue a joint guidance with the Education Department on how best to ignore the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action ruling, but yesterday the attorney general announced a new lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s new election laws, which include voter-identification requirements. This action follows on the heels of lawsuits already filed against the Tarheel State by such groups as the ACLU and NAACP.
Never mind that the Supreme Court approved the constitutionality of voter-ID as recently as 2008 in the case of Crawford v. Marion County (Indiana) Election Board – in a 6-3 opinion written by the liberal Justice John Paul Stevens – but just last year Holder had to back off a similar suit in South Carolina. The formula for valid voter-ID laws is clear: don’t put obstacles (be they monetary or geographical) in the way of someone’s ability to get an approved form of identification and you’ll sail through the courts.
These regulations simply shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Requirements to show proof of identity before voting have been around for decades in all parts of the country. There’s no constitutional right to early voting – many states, including blue ones like New York, don’t have it at all – and North Carolina kept total hours constant anyway, just reducing the number of days of early voting.
And forget partisan divides; the DOJ’s argument that voter-ID laws and other attempts at orderly election administration disproportionately hurt minorities – on top of being offensive – don’t even seem to make sense to those they purport to support. For example, a Washington Post poll last year found that 65 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Latinos support voter-ID.
In our TSA-NSA-show-ID-to-get-into-an-Eric-Holder-speech world, shouldn’t we the most basic safeguards for the machinery of democracy? And even if most voter fraud comes in through absentee and other mail-in ballots rather than in-person, shouldn’t we at least put in simple measures that demonstrably increase confidence in elections?
While too many so-called civil rights leaders are stuck in the 196Os – memo to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson: Jim Crow is dead and he ain’t coming back – elected officials should know better. It’s shameful to fan the flames of racial division for personal and political gain.
Two months ago I wrote about the University of Texas’s attempts to delay the final reckoning from the Supreme Court’s near-unanimous ruling in the Fisher case that public institutions must overcome a high constitutional bar when they use race in admissions decisions. Courts must make “a careful judicial inquiry into whether a university could achieve sufficient diversity without using racial classifications.”
“The university must prove,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the 7-justice majority, “that the means chosen by the university to attain diversity are narrowly tailored.” Far from attempting to prove that, however, UT-Austin is playing lawyer games and trying to re-litigate previously decided procedural issues.
But at least UT-Austin recognizes that its back is against the wall. The Obama administration, for its part, is pretending that nothing has changed, that colleges can continue discriminating based on skin color to achieve their elusive “diversity.”
On Friday, the federal Justice and Education Departments issued a joint “guidance” on the meaning of Fisher v. UT-Austin. This advice, consisting of a platitudinal cover letter and a superficial Q & A. The government’s position, remarkably, is that Fisher simply reaffirmed 2003’s ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that educational diversity could be a compelling interest that justified racial preferences at the University of Michigan. “Run along, nothing to see here,” the various civil-rights-division bureaucrats seem to say, “the Supreme Court just vacated the lower court’s decision because it didn’t check all the procedural boxes.
To say that the government is being disingenuous here would be like saying that Ted Cruz has a mild distaste for Obamacare. As Richard Kahlenberg comments at the blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education:
This reading of the two Supreme Court cases as essentially identical would presumably be surprising to the justices of the court. Five Supreme Court justices participated in both Grutter and Fisher, yet four of them switched sides in the two cases. Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas dissented in Grutter, in part because universities were not made to demonstrate that race-neutral strategies were insufficient to produce racial diversity, yet those justices were in the majority in Fisher.
Meanwhile, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg switched in the other direction, from the majority in Grutter to the dissent in Fisher. Her dissent complained that the majority would push universities to adopt race-neutral strategies like Texas’ top 10-percent plan, which she viewed as disingenuous. (Justice Stephen G. Breyer, alone, was in the majority in both cases.)
Moreover, the government is green-lighting any and all diversity initiatives rather than giving actual guidance about how to survive the legal minefield that administrators now inhabit. As Roger Clegg put it at National Review Online:
The fact is that this guidance is designed not to help schools follow the law, but to push them to adopt dubious race-based policies that the Supreme Court has warned against, and that have prompted lawsuits in the past, but that the Obama administration and its political allies stubbornly support. The whole tone of the new guidance is to offer encouragement to schools that want to engage in racial and ethnic discrimination: The administration promises that it “will continue to be a resource” for such schools.
It is as if the FBI offered eager encouragement to state and local police that wanted to engage in racial profiling without violating the law. Whether such discrimination may sometimes be legally permissible or not, why should the federal government issue a document the tone of which is not a stern warning about the many legal pitfalls, but cheerful encouragement to the police to do as much of it as they can get away with? Why urge schools to get as close to the legal line as they can, when it is unnecessary and bad policy for them to approach it at all?
In short, the government not only pretends that the Supreme Court didn’t mean what it said, but is encouraging college officials in their massive resistance to yet another Supreme Court ruling on civil rights. These actions enable the type of “holistic” racial balancing that results in greater racial-achievement gaps than illegal quotas ever did. Racial preferences today, racial preferences tomorrow, racial preferences forever.
It would be comical if it weren’t so sad – and if it weren’t backed by the full force of the nation’s chief law enforcement officers.
All eyes are on the government shutdown battle over Obamacare. Here are a few thoughts:
- House Republicans had six months to strategize since the last budget battle, so why did they leave it until the last minute to figure out what to do? They seem to have been unified in recent votes to defund and delay Obamacare. So why didn’t they announce their strategy months ago, draw a hard line, and then spend the summer building public support for their plan? The Democrats have a stronger hand because they have been giving a consistent message.
- The lack of leadership from the House created a void that Senator Cruz filled. Some House members didn’t like Cruz getting the spotlight and telling them what to do, but they should have had their act together.
- Obamacare opposition has been rising steadily this year. Even if Republicans don’t succeed with defunding Obamacare at this point, the polls may convince them to try again later. This battle could have been just a warm-up for a future battle if the polls get even worse for Obamacare.
- Why might the polls get worse? Some reasons are: more employers dropping health benefits, more employers cutting worker hours, more insurers cutting doctors out of their plans, premiums continuing to rise, individuals rebelling against the mandates and penalties, health exchanges suffering glitches and meltdowns, rising privacy concerns from the massive government data grab created by the law, etc, etc. See Mike and Mike for more.
- Obama and the Democrats brought the Obamacare backlash onto themselves, not only by imposing a very bad law, but also by slamming it through Congress in a very partisan manner. No Republican voted for it in either the House or the Senate. If you want a law to garner sustained political support, it is much better to pass it in a bipartisan manner, as was the case with welfare reform in 1996 and tax reform in 1986.
- The 2001 Bush tax cuts garnered 28 House Democratic votes and 12 Senate Democratic votes. Yet even with that bipartisanship, Democratic leaders spent the subsequent decade relentlessly demonizing the law and trying to repeal parts of it. So for Democrats to say that it is unfair for Republicans to try and repeal Obamacare just because the president was reelected is ridiculous.
- Democrats say that it is irresponsible to hold the economy and budget “hostage” to Obamacare repeal efforts. I don’t think so. Unless repealed, Obamacare is a huge issue for the nation’s health care system and the economy in coming years, so any short-term unpleasantness is a trifle compared to what’s at stake. As for the economy, the stock market rose during the last shutdown period in 1995/1996.
- It is not fair for media stories to say that it is just a few “extremists” who want to delay or defund Obamacare. The House delay vote garnered all the Republicans except two, which made for a substantial majority in the people’s chamber. Indeed, Republicans probably wouldn’t be trying to defund Obamacare without the people’s strong and consistent opposition.
- The way to limit Washington’s battles from harming the economy is to untether the economy from Washington. We should, for example, privatize many of the national parks or hand them over to the states and privatize air traffic control. Washington budget battles will likely get even more disruptive in the years ahead, so let’s start privatizing and devolving as many federal activities as we can right now. The problem isn’t the GOP taking the budget “hostage” to repeal Obamacare, it is the government taking hostage far too much of the American economy.
- So I favor government shut-downs. That is, permanent shut-downs of federal activities that ought to be funded by state governments, the private sector, or nobody at all.
Michael F. CannonRemy: Obamacare Video Contest Song
What’s hated by unions
has businesses wary
and dropping coverage
like the ‘Skins secondary?
Causing thousands of layoffs
taking it’s toll?
What’s so good for people
that they’re forced to enroll?
What’s a law that’s so good
folks who passed and defended it
see it and got waivers
to be exempted? It’s
like Olestra, at first
it sounded hip
but we quickly found ourselves
dealing with a whole lot of sh…
Unions and businesses both in despair
So to recap, young people,
your hours get cut
and your income goes down
and your premium’s up
and the taxes you pay
with the cash you have left
go to pay for a stupid
video contest, touting
Unions and businesses both in despair
It’s hated by doctors and unions are mad.
Not since Billy Ray Cyrus
has someone made something this bad.
Ted Galen Carpenter
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime announced last week that the production of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, has shifted away from Colombia toward Peru. Observers of the war on drugs are not surprised by that development. During the early and mid-1990s, drug warriors hailed the decline of coca production in Peru and neighboring Bolivia, thanks to a crackdown that Washington heavily funded through aid programs to Lima and La Paz, as a great victory in the crusade against illegal drugs. They ignored the inconvenient fact that cultivation and production had merely moved from Peru and Bolivia into Colombia–and to a lesser extent into nearby countries such as Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil.
That phenomenon is known as the “balloon” or “push down, pop up” effect. Strenuous efforts to dampen the supply of illicit drugs in one locale simply cause traffickers to move their production to other locations where the pressure is weaker for the moment. When Washington and Bogotá launched Plan Colombia in 2000, the multi-billion-dollar, multi-year program to attack the coca industry in that country, cultivation and production gradually began to shift back to Peru and Bolivia. The latest UN report confirms that trend. As Ricardo Soberón, the former heard of Peru’s drug policy office, put it: “The carousel has come full circle.” Adam Isacson, an expert on Latin American drug issues with the Washington Office on Latin America, noted that the new map of coca production “looks an awful lot like the old” map from the early 1990s.
The latest development underscores how proclamations of victory in the international war on drugs invariably prove to be ephemeral. Trying to suppress the supply of a product that is in high demand is a classic case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The illegal drug trade is conservatively estimated to be a $350 billion per year industry, and global consumer demand is growing. Even if a new crackdown in Peru causes a temporary disruption of the supply coming out of that country, all that we will see is a new “balloon” episode in neighboring states. Indeed, there are indications that Brazil and Argentina already are becoming far more prominent participants in drug trafficking, in part because they are convenient transshipment points for sending drugs to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, where consumption is on the rise.
We have ample evidence over the course of many decades that drug prohibition does not work; a prohibition policy merely guarantees that violent criminal elements instead of legitimate business enterprises will control the trade. Focusing on which countries are supplying most of the drugs at a particular moment, and cheering about a temporary victory in one arena, is an exercise in futility.
John Cochrane, who is an adjunct scholar at Cato as well as a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, had a nice post on the evolving nature of modern regulation earlier this month. He starts by quoting a Wall Street Journal account:
Your No. 1 client is the government,” John J. Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chairman and chief executive from 2005 to 2009, told current CEO James Gorman in a recent phone call. Mr. Gorman, who was visiting Washington that day, agreed…
….regulators prowl the office floor looking for land mines, and Mr. Gorman phones Washington before making major decisions…
About 50 full-time government regulators are now stationed at Morgan Stanley. There were none before 2008, when it was regulated as a brokerage firm instead of a bank.
Cochrane adds that this is “a useful anecdote to remind people what ‘regulation’ means.” People often imagine, he says, that it means something like enacting a knowable, impartial equivalent of a speed limit and enforcing it by putting more cops on the road.
No, we put 50 cops in your car. And how long can this possibly go on before the cops start asking where you’re going and why? How long can 50 regulators sit in the bank approving every decision, before “you know, you haven’t made any green energy loans in a long time” starts coming up? But contrariwise, how long before those 50 regulators come to the view that Morgan Stanley’s survival and prosperity is their job? 50 full-time government employees calling the shots on every deal at a supposedly private bank is a good picture to keep in mind of what “regulation” means.
And it isn’t just banking. On-site government inspectors are becoming more common in other lines of business, especially when a company has copped a deal to some earlier charge of regulatory violations – and few big companies have not been hit with charges of that sort. Notre Dame law professor Veronica Root explains what happens next:
…the corporation and the government often enter into an agreement stating that the corporation will retain a “monitor.” … A monitor, unlike the probation officer, is not solely charged with ensuring that the corporation complies with a previously determined set of requirements. Instead, a corporate compliance monitor is responsible for (i) investigating the extent of the wrongdoing already detected and reported to the government, (ii) discovering the cause of the corporation’s compliance failure, and (iii) analyzing the corporation’s business needs against the appropriate legal and regulatory requirements. A monitor then provides recommendations to the corporation and the government meant to assist the corporation in its efforts to improve its legal and regulatory compliance — the monitor engages in legal counseling.
Something to keep in mind next time you wonder why government officials and the leadership of big business so often seem to be working in harness, on issues where you might expect them to oppose each other.
Maybe the Real Lesson Is That It’s Best to Shut Down the Federal Government Before a New Fiscal Year Begins
Daniel J. Mitchell
The politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and interest groups in Washington are hyperventilating that the federal gravy train may get sidetracked for a day or two by a shutdown fight between Republicans and Democrats.
I’m not sure why they’re so agitated. After all, the shutdown is really just a slowdown since only non-essential bureaucrats are sent home. And everyone winds up getting paid for those unplanned vacations, which is why the bureaucrats I know are crossing their fingers for a lengthy confrontation.
But that describes what may happen when the new fiscal year begins tomorrow. What’s been happening in recent days, culminating today, is a feeding frenzy of end-of-the-fiscal-year wasteful spending.
Here are some details from a Washington Post expose.
This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork. In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges. And, in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “Cubicle Furniture Rehab.” …All week, while Congress fought over next year’s budget, federal workers were immersed in a separate frantic drama. They were trying to spend the rest of this year’s budget before it is too late. …If they don’t, the money becomes worthless to them on Oct. 1. And — even worse — if they fail to spend the money now, Congress could dock their funding in future years. The incentive, as always, is to spend. So they spent.
If you’re a taxpayer, you’ll be especially delighted to know that the “use it or lose it” spending orgy is so intense that federal contractors have to cater lunches for their sales staff. Can’t have them away from their desks, after all!
It was the return of one of Washington’s oldest bad habits: a blitz of expensive decisions, made by agencies with little incentive to save. Private contractors — worried that sequestration would result in a smaller spending rush this year — brought in food to keep salespeople at their desks. Federal workers quizzed harried colleagues in the hallways, asking if they had spent it all yet. …“Use it or lose it” season is not marked on any official government calendars. But in Washington, it is as real as Christmas. And as lucrative. …In 2012, for instance, the government spent $45 billion on contracts in the last week of September, according to calculations by the fiscal-conservative group Public Notice. That was more than any other week — 9 percent of the year’s contract spending money, spent in 2 percent of the year.
In 2010, for instance, the Internal Revenue Service had millions left over in an account to hire new personnel. The money would expire at year’s end. Its solution was not a smart one. The IRS spent the money on a lavish conference. Which included a “Star Trek” parody video starring IRS managers. Which was filmed on a “Star Trek” set that the IRS paid to build. (Sample dialogue: “We’ve received a distress call from the planet NoTax.”)
But it’s not just tax collectors who flush our money down the toilet in creative ways.
One recent study, for instance, found that information technology contracts signed at year’s end often produced noticeably worse results than those signed in calmer times. …they listed dumb things they had seen bought: three years’ worth of staples. Portable generators that never got used. One said the National Guard bought so much ammunition that firing it all became a chore. “When you get BORED from shooting MACHINE GUNS, there is a problem,” an anonymous employee wrote.
Impressive examples of waste, though I confess I’m curious about the part about ammo and the National Guard. Does this mean bullets are like milk and have to be fired before an expiration date?
Beats me, but at least someone in the government acknowledged that (at least up to a point) it’s cool to fire a machine gun. Maybe that person should hook up with the Texas cop who likes tanks.
Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that spendaholic bureaucrats and crafty interest groups keep track of time zones so they can squander money until the very last second.
On Monday, Richer’s people will sell until midnight. Then they will keep selling. “Money rolls across the continent,” the feds say. Cash not spent in Washington might be spent by federal offices in California in the three hours before it is midnight there. When it is midnight in California — 3 a.m. in Washington — they will keep on. There are federal offices in Hawaii, after all. And it will still be three hours until midnight there.
Makes me think that we may need a slogan for the bureaucracy. Perhaps this modification of the Postal Service’s unofficial motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night - nor even different time zones - stays these bureaucrats from spending every possible penny of other people’s money.”
But let’s close on an upbeat note. Whether you give credit to the Tea Party, to Republicans, to gridlock, or to Obama, the good news is that the federal government in the past two years has been wasting money at a slower rate.
So taxpayers can smile…or at least not frown as much. The bureaucracy and contractors may be throwing a party today, but not with the same reckless abandon they displayed a between 2001 and 2010.
Michael F. Cannon
Word on the street is that today House Republicans will pass a bill that would keep non-essential government functions open until mid-December, delay ObamaCare for one year, but not block the illegal ObamaCare exemption President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management granted to members of Congress and their staff. If Republicans fail to include language blocking that exemption, they truly deserve the moniker of The Stupid Party.
ObamaCare blocks members of Congress and their staffs from participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program where most of them now purchase health insurance, and thereby denies them the “contribution” the federal government had been making toward their premiums. Starting in 2014, members and staff must obtain coverage either through an ObamaCare Exchange or whatever other options that can scrape together. The purpose of this provision was to ensure that members and staff would experience ObamaCare the same way the rest of the country does – so that just in case the law is a disaster, Congress will have to suffer just like everybody else. Since ObamaCare is throwing lots of Americans out of their prior health coverage, and causing lots of people to take pay cuts due to job losses and reduced hours, so far, so good.
Naturally, members don’t like the way ObamaCare is treating them and people about whom they care. By all accounts, members are extremely agitated about the impact on their staffs. But because Democrats don’t want to repeal the entire law, and neither Republicans nor Democrats want to get caught giving themselves an ObamaCare exemption that others don’t get, a coalition of Republican and Democratic members begged the president for a special exemption. For his part, President Obama didn’t want Congress to reopen the law, so he obliged. His administration announced that OPM will make the same “contribution” to each member and staffer’s Exchange premiums that it made to their FEHBP premiums, despite having absolutely no statutory authority to do so. And thus the political class set itself above the people it governs. The administration’s defenders, like Uwe Reinhardt, note that ObamaCare says “absolutely nothing” about whether OPM can continue to make those payments. Exactly. If Congress has not authorized those payments, OPM cannot make them. Moreover, no one else who works for a large employer may receive a tax-free “contribution” from their employer toward their Exchange premiums. Why should members and staff enjoy such privilege, when the law doesn’t provide for it and allowing it would fly in the face of this provision’s purpose?
This issue gives ObamaCare opponents tremendous leverage, if they are willing to use it. Senate Democrats are likely to strip a one-year delay of ObamaCare’s major provisions from the House Republicans’ “continuing resolution.” But few Democrats would dare to strike a provision blocking the OPM rule. Heather Higgins and Bill Pascoe write, “92 percent of the public does not think it is right that Congress and their staff are letting the Obama administration exempt them from the costs of Obamacare.” Moreover, “with a minimal push, the issue makes inroads even [against incumbents] most analysts thought beyond reach.” In other words, if the House Republicans’ CR blocks Congress’ ObamaCare exemption, then either vulnerable Senate Democrats will vote to preserve it, or they will be turned out by voters. If the Senate preserves it, which is likely, then even more Senate Democrats will be accept a one-year delay so that Congress can work out some arrangement that eliminates this pay cut for members and staff while providing equivalent relief to average Americans.
Unfortunately, House Republicans appear unwilling to tap their greatest source of leverage. I wish I could say that failure is inexplicable. But the reason is obvious. House Republicans got their ObamaCare fix, and (for now) that is more important to them than saving the rest of the country from this law. President Obama’s “OPM rule” is an attempt to buy their votes, and it appears those votes are for sale. They must not be thinking about what their base will do to them.
It’s great that House Republicans are sending the Senate a bill delaying ObamaCare for a year. Why don’t they want it to pass?
My recent paper on the rising cost of Social Security Disability Insurance is proving to be timely.
First, the Washington Post’s Michael Fletcher provides a good overview of SSDI’s “issues.” Fletcher highlights a Maine county where the disability rolls have jumped as the local paper mills have shed jobs. That’s because the program has become a quasi-unemployment program, a problem that’s been exacerbated by the economic downturn. One former mill worker who said that he would rather be working now collects disability and “spends a lot of his free time riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to bike rallies around New England.”
Second, The Economist points to research that suggests that SSDI is contributing to a reduction in the labor force participation rate:
These results suggest that if it were not for people receiving disability insurance, reported unemployment would be far higher. Although DI recipients may initially have climbed because the economy was weak, their numbers will almost certainly not decline when it strengthens again; only 4% of beneficiaries return to work within ten years. The proportion of working-age adults on DI has risen from 1.3% in 1970 to 4.6% in 2013. The impact on participation rates may be cyclical at first and then become structural.
Third, a new Government Accountability Office report estimates that the Social Security Administration paid out $1.3 billion in benefits over two years to individuals who probably shouldn’t have received them. I should caution, however, that although fraud is an inherent problem with federal disability programs (and an improper payment doesn’t necessarily mean fraud was involved), it’s abuse of the system that is the bigger problem–i.e., people legally qualifying for benefits who arguably shouldn’t.
But yes, fraud certainly exists and that leads to the fourth story. In June, a former Democratic state representative in Missouri pled guilty “to illegally taking $58,816 in federal disability payments while he was working as a state legislator earning $30,000 a year.” Ah, there are so many wisecracks to be made here, but I’ll just go with one: A politician stealing taxpayer money is illegal? Who knew!
Did you know that the song “Happy Birthday” was under copyright? If you read my colleague Walter Olson’s Overlawyered blog, you did. Back in June, he reported on a lawsuit to put an end to the claim of copyright:
Warner/Chappell Music continues to demand and collect royalties for public performance of the ditty, although its melody was first published more than 120 years ago and the familiar celebratory words have been sung to it for more than a century. A new lawsuit seeks a judicial ruling that the song is in the public domain and asks a return of wrongfully collected royalties.
I used this lawsuit as a hook for a piece in the National Interest that expands on an earlier blog post I wrote on the subject. The basic point is this: The Happy Birthday copyright claim may sound absurd, but given the current length of U.S. copyright terms, it’s actually not implausible for such an old song to be under copyright. For individual authors, life of the author plus 70 years is now the standard. That’s a long time!
And through trade negotiations, the United States is pushing these terms on other countries. In my view, this is bad for copyright and also bad for trade policy:
The appropriate focus of copyright policy right now should not be on using international trade agreements to extend copyright terms abroad. Rather, there needs to be a debate that focuses on how long copyright terms should be. Including provisions on copyright terms in trade agreements without first having that debate, and with ever-longer terms, is pushing intellectual property policy in the wrong direction and at the same time undermining the goal of free trade by bringing in unnecessary controversies.
Trade agreements are much broader than they used to be, and they cover a lot of different issues. Much of the mainstream coverage of trade agreements takes a simple “pro” or “con” view. But it’s more complicated than that; it’s worth picking them apart, seeing what all they do, and having a debate on each particular aspect. Copyright terms would be a great place to start.
The world’s most watched elections occur in America. The world’s most boring election just occurred in Germany. As expected, Chancellor Angela Merkel was effectively reelected.
The Federal Republic of Germany is the world’s most admired nation and possesses Europe’s largest economy. Berlin’s political and economic stability is the envy of the European Union.
Merkel has served as chancellor for eight years. A skilled political infighter, she exudes confidence and competence.
Germans rewarded her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), with 41.5 percent of the vote, well ahead of the more left-wing Social Democratic Party. However, the CDU/CSU fell five seats short of a parliamentary majority. And Merkel current coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, failed to receive the 5 percent of the vote necessary to be represented in the Bundestag.
Commentary on the election has focused on Merkel’s triumph. There is little doubt that she will remain chancellor. The only question is the identity of her coalition partner–and what price she will have to pay for that party’s support.
Ironically, policy isn’t likely to change very much as a result of the election. Merkel has steadily pulled her party leftward. Cem Ozdemir, co-chair of the Green Party, complained that the chancellor “becomes Green when it helps her and becomes a Social Democrat when that’s beneficial too.”
Alas, her policies helped wreck Germany’s liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). The Free Democrats were created in 1949 and have served in the Bundestag ever since. In 2009 they made their best showing ever, 14.6 percent. Now, with just 4.8 percent of the vote, they are out of the Bundestag.
The Free Democrats are liberals in a classical sense: supporting free markets and social tolerance. However, as their conservative partners embraced the welfare and regulatory state, the FDP has enjoyed less policy impact.
In 2009 the Free Democrats campaigned for tax cuts and a freer economy and supported Merkel as chancellor. Within a year, the FDP’s political support had hemorrhaged, with the party’s poll rating dropping by two-thirds.
The Free Democrats failed to deliver policy change. There were no tax cuts, but big Euro bail-outs, nuclear plant closures, and a range of other actions inconsistent with their program. At the same time, Chancellor Merkel claimed credit for economic prosperity and stability. Germans could be forgiven wondering, what was the purpose of the FDP?
The party’s political fortunes collapsed. As the September 22 vote loomed, the FDP was reduced to begging for the second vote (for party, as opposed to for specific candidates) from CDU/CSU supporters. It turned out to be a less than compelling political appeal.
While it is premature to write the FDP’s obituary, its future looks dim. The FDP now faces a principled competitor, the Alternative for Germany (AFD), which is more likely to shake up the existing power structure. The newly created AFD, which campaigned against the euro, the common European currency, matched the FDP’s vote total, falling just short of the magic 5 percent.
The AFD has the field to itself in resisting Berlin’s ever more expensive commitment to the euro, and the party could broaden its appeal–its economist founder appears to hold a classical liberal philosophy. If so, the Alternative could become the most effective challenge to the CDU/CSU’s slide to the left.
The big winner in Sunday’s German election was Angela Merkel. But the German people are losers; their government seems destined to grow more expensive and intrusive. And the one party that traditionally advocated free markets and individual liberty will disappear not only from government, but also from parliament. The consequences could be serious and long-lasting.
Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today released the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the physical science volume of its Fifth Assessment Report. The SPM is the most widely-read section of the IPCC reports and purports to summarize and highlight the contents of the thousand-odd pages of the full report. The SPM is agreed to word by word by the international attendees of the IPCC’s final editorial meeting which concluded as the SPM was released.
The Humpty Dumpty-esque report once claiming to represent the “consensus of scientists” has fallen from its exalted wall and cracked to pieces under the burdensome weight of its own cumbersome and self-serving processes, which is why all the governments’ scientists and all the governments’ men cannot put the IPCC report together again.
The pace of climate science far surpasses the glacial movements of large, cumbersome international efforts at consensus building, such as the IPCC, which is why the new report has experienced such a disastrous crack-up.
For example, just this past May, a blockbuster finding was published that the climate sensitivity—how much the earth’s average surface temperature increases as a response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations—is some 40% less than the average value characteristic of the collection of climate models that the IPCC used to produce the projections of future climate change—projections which are at the heart of the IPCC reports. But by the time this paper was published (and several others with similar conclusions), it was far too late to go back and try to fix the climate models and then rerun the projections.
The fact is that the IPCC’s climate models need fixing. Prima facie evidence is that they cannot even track the evolution of broadest measure of climate, the earth’s average temperature, for the last 10-20 years. Despite this being widely obvious to everyone, it didn’t find its way into the scientific literature (although not without trying) until earlier this month.
As a result, the latest science on two key issues: how much the earth will warm as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions, and how well climate models perform in projecting the warming, are largely not incorporated in the new IPCC report.
Which renders the new IPCC report, and its “four years’ work by hundreds of experts” not only obsolete on its release, but completely useless as a basis to form opinions (or policy) related to human energy choices and their influence on the climate.
The IPCC report should be torn up and tossed out, and with it, the entire IPCC process which produced such a misleading (and potentially dangerous) document.
We review the problems with the new IPCC report and the political consequences of relying on it in a couple of recent op-eds, one in the National Review (“The IPCC Political Suicide Pill”) and the other planned for Fox News, as well as a myriad of blog posts.
Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Mike Lee (UT) and a few others have proposed that all Obamacare funding be cut off by a legislative “rider,” ostensibly forbidding funding of the 2010 law. They argued that public opinion polls trump mere laws enacted by Congress and vetted by the Supreme Court–an idea that sounds more like populism than conservatism.
Even if such “defunding” could have magically attracted the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto, it would not have undone the mandate to buy insurance, premium subsidies through refundable tax credits, planned cuts in payments to Medicare providers, or any of Obamacare’s numerous new 2013 taxes–including the extra 0.9 percent payroll tax and 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for couples earning more than $250,000. Rhetorical opposition to “funding” did not even include opposing Obamacare taxes.
The Senate Conservative Fund’s “dontfundobamacare” website, which features photos of Cruz and Lee, exhorted: “Tell the Republicans to OPPOSE cloture to stop Harry Reid’s plan to fund Obamacare. Tell them a vote for cloture is a vote to fund Obamacare!” Nine senators who the SCF websites claims opposed cloture nevertheless voted for cloture on September 25.
“Mr. Cruz’s ‘yes’ vote … confused conservative activists who had mobilized to stand with him against any procedural step forward,” reports the New York Times. Politically innocent people are often easily confused because they fail to notice that “funds” is the key word in all political action funds. As a fundraiser, this theatrical show was great television. And groups that raise funds for political campaigns don’t offer refunds.
With the cloture vote demonstrating the questionable sincerity and unquestionable futility of the mobilization to “defund Obamacare,” efforts were instantly diverted to a Plan B to delay the individual mandate in a continuing resolution that funds the government. Plan B would allow favored groups to enjoy new refundable tax credits and Medicaid entitlements for a year or two before less-favored citizens face fines (starting at 1 percent of marginal income) to help pay for Obamacare’s redistribution of health.
Ironically, this Republican plan to delay any such unpleasant aspects of Obamacare would be especially helpful to Democrats, who would then face fewer irate voters in the 2014 election. Being fully aware of this, however the Obama administration has largely preempted Republicans by seizing another opportunity to postpone unpopular features of Obamacare through delay or exemptions. As of September 5, “The IRS has delayed compliance with the proposed regulations for one year under Notice 2013-45, 2013-31 I.R.B. 116. The reporting requirements are now effective for tax years beginning in 2015, with the first report due in 2016 for 2015 coverage.”
Subsidies, tax credits, and Medicaid handouts still begin on January 1, 2014. But the individual mandate cannot be enforced until tax returns are filed on April 15, 2016–with or without the Republicans Plan B–because insurers and employers no longer have to provide coverage information for 2014. The effective delay of mandate enforcement tilts the electoral balance toward those receiving taxpayer-subsidized benefits in 2014 as opposed to those who will face the burden of buying costly insurance in 2015 or paying fines in 2016. The de facto delay of the individual mandate, thanks to an IRS decree, will keep voters largely unaware of Obamacare’s full burden in 2014, making subsidies appear temporarily less costly than they are.
Such delay in the individual mandate and fines is great news for Democrats facing reelection in 2014. So why do Republicans imagine this is their clever idea?
CHARLESTON, SC — On Thursday evening, the South Carolina Republican Party unanimously approved a resolution to support efforts by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to defund ObamaCare.
Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, for nearly an entire day, Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor to urge his Republican colleagues to block the funding of ObamaCare while funding the rest of government. When beginning his day-long speech, Cruz said he would speak “until I am no longer able to stand.”
McCain takes issue with Cruz’s intentions to insist that a continuing resolution funding the government not move forward if a provision to defund ObamaCare is taken out the bill. If united, Republicans could block removal of that provision because Senate rules require 60 votes to close debate and move the resolution to final passage and Democrats only have 52 seats.
“We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost,” McCain said while suggesting that Democrats be able to strip funding from ObamaCare by a simple majority vote. “One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation.”
McCain has close — almost inseparable — ties to South Carolina’s senior Senator, Lindsey Graham. Graham also took issue with Ted Cruz’s strategy saying, “I don’t think it would be smart of the Senate to shut down the government if we don’t get [Democrats] to bend to our will before we take the vote.”
The South Carolina Republican Party responded Thursday evening by calling on both Sen. Graham and South Carolina’s other Republican Senator, Tim Scott, to oppose efforts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to remove the defund ObamaCare provision.
Later this week, a procedural vote pushed by Reid called “cloture” will take place. Voting in favor of cloture on the continuing resolution would end debate and allow Democrats to remove the defund ObamaCare provisions by a simple majority vote rather than 60 votes.
A vote in favor of cloture essentially permits ObamaCare’s implementation to move forward as Democrats demand.
A RESOLUTION OF
THE SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY STATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
SUPPORTING SENATOR TED CRUZ AND HIS EFFORTS IN THE U.S. SENATE TO DEFUND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, ALSO KNOWN AS OBAMACARE, AND RESPECTFULLY APPEALING TO SOUTH CAROLINA’S SENIOR SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM AND SOUTH CAROLINA’S JUNIOR SENATOR TIM SCOTT, TO ACTIVELY AND ENTHUSIASTICALLY SUPPORT THE EFFORTS OF SENATOR CRUZ
WHEREAS the South Carolina Republican Party Platform has been consistent for many years that health care should remain in the hands of citizens, not bureaucrats; and,
WHEREAS the South Carolina Republican Party platform has been consistent for many years in its support of smaller government; and,
WHEREAS ObamaCare will result in the IRS alone hiring more than 12,000 new agents to “ensure compliance,” while more and more regular Americans lose full-time work by the day; and,
WHEREAS the implementation of ObamaCare has already prompted large corporations like UPS, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and others to dramatically revamp or eliminate their employee health care plans, and reduce workers to part-time status to avoid ObamaCare’s draconian mandates, causing great suffering for middle-class American families; and,
WHEREAS the average family of four will spend an additional $4,000 annually in health care costs by 2016 if ObamaCare is implemented; and,
WHEREAS government will collect more than $1.3 TRILLION in new taxes over the next decade on everything from prescription drugs and private insurance plans to medical device manufacturers; and,
WHEREAS there are other options to provide the underprivileged with cost-effective health care; namely, the Republican Study Committee’s “American Health Care Reform Act,” which, according to Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, committee chairman, “dramatically opens up options for families, and dramatically lowers costs” compared to ObamaCare; and,
WHEREAS ObamaCare should more correctly be called the health care insurance profit protection act, as the federal government forces free people, under the cover of a convoluted Supreme Court decision, to buy a product from a private company – which is fundamentally un-American, unconstitutional, and anathema to a country that was built on free market principles; and,
WHEREAS many candidates campaigned on the premise that ObamaCare could be “repealed and replaced.” With that option having been exhausted, now every possible measure to derail this now commonly called “train-wreck” needs to be explored, including defunding. If government shutting down for a period of time results in the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, that is a price the majority of Americans are willing to pay; now therefore be it
RESOLVED that the South Carolina Republican Party State Executive Committee extends its gratitude to the Republican members of the U.S. House delegation from South Carolina, which stood together in unity to vote for a continuing resolution that did not commit taxpayers to fund the budget-busting provisions of ObamaCare; and be it further
RESOLVED that the South Carolina Republican Party State Executive Committee respectfully appeals to Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Tim Scott, asking them to actively and enthusiastically support the efforts of Senator Ted Cruz and block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with their actions in the U.S. Senate. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to present an amendment to the House Continuing Resolution (CR) to remove House language to defund ObamaCare; and be it further
RESOLVED that the South Carolina Republican Party State Executive Committee calls upon Senators Graham and Scott, as well as all members of the United States Senate, to vote to adopt a budget which fully funds our nation’s key spending priorities without providing funding for provisions of ObamaCare, as well as to take all actions necessary achieve this outcome; and be it further
RESOLVED that the South Carolina Republican Party State Executive Committee calls upon Senators Graham and Scott to continue to voice their positions on this issue at the soonest possible opportunity for the benefit of their constituents and work to achieve maximum transparency in the legislative process with regard to the Continuing Resolution, so actions both in support of and opposition to the Continuing Resolution are fully known and all members of Congress can be held accountable for their actions.
The post SCGOP Officially Supports Ted Cruz’s Efforts to Defund ObamaCare appeared first on Republican Liberty Caucus of South Carolina.
During his Ironman 21-hour speech, Sen. Ted Cruz read excerpts from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, name-dropped “libertarians” at least six times, and yielded to Sen. Rand Paul, who invoked Frederic Bastiat’s “What is Seen and Unseen,” a favorite among libertarians.
Ted Cruz, who retained remarkable composure over the long night, seems in all things deliberate. Political leaders seem to have become more comfortable talking about libertarians, even identifying themselves as such. Libertarians may have reached a tipping point within the Republican Party.
Last week, a FreedomWorks study on public opinion found that libertarian views within the Republican Party are at the highest point in a decade, today representing 41 percent of Republican voters. This is a strong claim. It’s worth explaining the methodology behind the study, as libertarian views gain more and more attention in the press.
As David Boaz and I have noted in our two studies on the Libertarian Vote, and ebook with Emily Ekins, Gallup has tracked “libertarian” beliefs since 1993 using a combination of two questions on the role of government:
- Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?
- Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?
Gallup defines libertarians as those who think government is doing “too many things” and should not “promote traditional values.”
In the chart below, Gallup data show a 19 percentage point increase in libertarian views among Republicans and Republican leaning independents in the decade between 2002 and 2012. In 2002, libertarians represented 15 percent of Republicans; in 2012, 34 percent.
Using American National Election Studies (ANES) data, a stalwart in political science, we duplicated Gallup’s methodology, using two questions on the role of government:
- Some people say the less government the better, others say that there are more things that government should be doing. Which comes closer to your view?
- Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, neither agree nor disagree, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with this statement? We should be more tolerant of people who choose to live according to their own moral standards, even if they are very different from our own.
We define libertarians as those who say the “less government the better” and who “agree” we should be “tolerant” of moral standards “different from our own.”
In the chart below, ANES data show a nine percentage point increase in libertarian views among Republicans and Republican leaning independents between 2000 and 2012. In 2000, libertarians represented 26 percent of Republicans; in 2012, 35 percent.
Finally, we added similar questions to a national poll FreedomWorks commissioned in August to see what percentage of Republicans hold libertarian views today. (Note: FreedomWorks surveyed only registered voters, whereas calculations for Gallup and ANES are for all Americans).
- Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?
- Generally speaking, would you favor a smaller government with fewer services or a larger government which provides more services?
We define libertarians as those who favor “smaller government” and think government should not promote “traditional values.” Using this method, FreedomWorks data show that 41 percent of Republicans and Republican leaning independents are libertarian today.
Two separate data sources, Gallup and ANES, show the same trend: that libertarian views are at the highest point in a decade. And three point estimates for libertarians in 2012 and 2013—Gallup, ANES, and FreedomWorks—find a similar level of libertarian views between 34 and 41 percent.
Of course, as I’ve have noted previously, not all these libertarians self-identify as such and many don’t know the word. But even that seems to be changing, and it’s not just Ted Cruz.
Sen. Rand Paul calls himself a “libertarian-leaning Republican.” Glenn Beck now considers himself libertarian, saying “I’m a lot closer to Penn Jillette than I am to Chuck Hagel.” Matt Drudge recently tweeted his frustration with Republicans on Syria, saying it’s now “authoritarian vs. libertarian.” According to FreedomWorks’ poll, only 10 percent of Republicans “don’t know” the word libertarian, compared to 27 percent nationally.
The data confirm that libertarian views may well have reached a tipping point in the Republican Party.