Archive for October, 2013
October 31st, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Trick!!!
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 31st, 2013 at 2:22 pm
Your Tax Dollars Fund Bus Art and a Video of a Man Yelling into a Woman’s Vagina

Earlier this year, the National Endowment for the Arts announced it was giving away almost $4 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash to artists, museum, theaters and other arts organizations it deemed particularly deserving.

One of the groups that snagged a federal handout was Freewaves, a Los Angeles-based outfit that creates media art using video, the Internet and mobile devices. The NEA gave Freewaves $25,000 to make two-minute art videos to play on buses in L.A. County. The unfortunate bus riders are subjected to ridiculous clips such as “Streaming (Tautological Transmissions),” which shows a loop of a ping pong ball floating in a stream and “Can You See Me,” a video of a girl’s blinking eye.

It’s hard to imagine that taxpayers are getting any value at all out of paying to screen videos such as these on public transportation.

Regrettably, the taxpayer-funded handouts to Freewaves didn’t stop with the NEA’s $25,000 grant. The California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Pasadena Art Alliance all gave Freewaves lumps of cash recently – and all four of those organizations are partially funded by federal tax dollars.

When it’s not assaulting the senses of L.A. bus riders, Freewaves uses tax dollars to feature controversial videos such as “Between,” which is currently on the home page of the group’s website. The clip, which would offend many of the taxpayers who helped to subsidize its creation, shows blurry close-ups of various body parts over a bed of muffled talking and electronic whirs, until it concludes with a man yelling repeatedly into a nude woman’s vagina.

The NEA is a communist-style program that allows government to dictate what constitutes art, as well as what art is worthy of funding, then rips money from the pockets of Americans to fund the art preferred by a few well-placed bureaucrats.

Despite the best efforts of many limited government lawmakers to defund the scheme, the NEA still devours $154.5 million in taxpayers’ money annually.

Rather than having the government take our tax dollars to support the art lawmakers and bureaucrats like, why not just let us keep our money to support the art we personally value? The reality is that if the federal government announced tomorrow that it would no longer fund the NEA, Individuals, foundations and charitable organizations would step up to support art – and more styles and kinds of arts would emerge as a result.

Even without the NEA, Freewaves would still be funded if the organization could find enough donors willing to support its unique brand of “art” in the marketplace.

October 31st, 2013 at 1:44 pm
What the Government Giveth …
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We’ve spent virtually the entire month of October hearing about the practical defects of Obamacare—everything from the failures of the exchange website to the widespread cancellation of insurance plans that don’t comply with the health mandates. Apart from those functional considerations, however, there’s another major drawback to the law: it places America’s health care providers into a Faustian bargain with Washington.

Recall that in order to get many health insurance companies onboard to support Obamacare, the White House made what was essentially a quid pro quo deal: in order to cover the increased costs of covering the chronically ill that the plan would bring into the system, the individual mandate would ensure that young, healthy, actuarially sound Americans would be swept into the system too (the failure of the exchanges, however, is already steering this arrangement towards being upside down financially).

One of the downsides, however, of putting the industry at the government’s mercy is that the feds hold the whip hand when they fail to follow the party line. From CNN:

White House officials have pressured insurance industry executives to keep quiet amid mounting criticism over Obamacare’s rollout, insurance industry sources told CNN.

After insurance officials publicly criticized the implementation, White House staffers contacted insurers to express their displeasure, industry insiders said.

Multiple sources declined to speak publicly about the push back because they fear retribution.

But Bob Laszewski, who heads a consulting firm for big insurance companies, did talk on the record.

“The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet,” he said.

Laszewski, who’s been a vocal critic of Obamacare, said he’s been asked by insurance executives to speak out because they feel defenseless against an administration that is regulating their business — and a big customer.

Government-backed plans accounted for about half of health care policies last year, a number that is expected to grow over the years.

He who has the gold makes the rules, as the saying goes. It turns out there was an additional cost to Obamacare that the insurance companies didn’t factor in: their autonomy.

October 31st, 2013 at 1:21 pm
37% of Americans Believe Zombies Could Run U.S. Better Than Congress

How scary is Congress? According to a survey released by Rasmussen, 37% of American adults believe zombies would do a better job running the country than our federal lawmakers.

The Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey revealed that another 26% of Americans can’t decide if zombies or D.C. policymakers would be worse for America.

In total, 63% of the 1,000 Americans polled believed that zombies would govern at least as well as President Obama and the members of Congress.

The Halloween-inspired poll also found that “only six percent of all Americans anticipate a zombie apocalypse,” but “Among those who expect an apocalypse, 74% say they are at ‘least somewhat prepared’, with 53% who are ‘very prepared’.”

October 31st, 2013 at 12:16 pm
GSE Reform Bills Fail to Sufficiently Protect Taxpayers and Private Investors

In an op-ed published yesterday on The Hill’s Congress Blog, CFIF Sr. Vice President Timothy Lee writes how legislation advancing in the House and Senate to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fail to sufficiently protect taxpayers and private investors.

Specifically, Lee focuses on the PATH Act, sponsored by Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) in the House, and the Housing Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013, sponsored by Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) in the Senate.  Not only could both pieces of legislation “end up putting taxpayers at even greater future risk,” Lee writes, but in addition:

[B]oth proposed bills fall terribly short in terms of protecting the rights of private investors in Fannie and Freddie, many of whom were actively encouraged by federal regulators to take their risk.  Not only would it be inherently unfair for the federal government to undercut their bargained-for investment rights, it would also send a terrible signal to future investors.  When even Ralph Nader laments that the federal government unfairly threatens to turn those private investors into “zombies,” the impropriety of the government’s proposed course becomes even more obvious.

Accordingly, if Congress seeks to eliminate both GSEs, then using something approximating the existing bankruptcy process would be a far better option for all involved.  Under that process, the government, taxpayers and creditors would be treated more fairly, and taxpayers would not be stuck with trillions in liability.   While not ideal, at least that would constitute an orderly and transparent process, one that more closely adhered to the rule of law on which our society is ostensibly based.

Lee concludes by warning, “unless and until the bills are significantly revised, American taxpayers and private market investors stand to lose.”

Read the entire piece here.

October 30th, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Silicon Valley May Do Better Without America

Balaji S. Srinivasan, a computer scientist and co-founder of the genomics company Counsyl who also serves as a Stanford University lecturer, made waves earlier this month when he told an audience of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that they should secede from the United States. Wisely, Srinivasan didn’t call for Silicon Valley braniacs to attempt to form an independent state. He did, however, encourage his audience to look for ways to work around, or beyond, America’s suffocating government.

His speech became a rallying cry for innovators frustrated at America’s tax laws, regulatory burdens and other bureaucratic barriers to creativity. Since  Srinivasan essentially called for the creation of physical and virtual libertarian cities, his speech crossed over from Silicon Valley’s tech crowd into websites and email lists consumed by those of us who champion individual freedom and free market economic policies.

Because of government policies and social factors, the U.S. has become obsolete according to Srinivasan.

The logical conclusion of Srinivasan’s philosophy are free states and free cities, or perhaps seasteading. But Srinivasan recommends a number of more viable options in the near term.  The New York Times points out that it’s already possible utilize technology to opt-out of government oversight, intervention and taxation by “spending unregulated digital currency, sleeping in unregulated hotels and manufacturing unregulated guns.”

Srinivasan’s speech should be a wake-up call to entrepreneurs, innovators and employers hampered by government interference. The speech should be taken even more seriously by the federal government.  Technology has created opportunities for clever individuals to live outside of government, and the more damage taxes and regulations cause to individuals and businesses, the more taxpayers and job creators will choose to avoid the government.

October 30th, 2013 at 9:21 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Knows Nothing!?!
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 29th, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Obamacare Subsidies Could be Illegal

If you think Obamacare-approved insurance is expensive now, imagine how high it could go if the Supreme Court rules federal subsidies illegal.

Currently, there are four lawsuits making their way through the federal judiciary. I’ve profiled one from Oklahoma previously, and its arguments are essentially the same as the others.

In a nutshell, the text of Obamacare makes federal subsidies available to people buying health insurance on state-run exchanges created under Section 1311 of the law. The law says nothing about subsidies being available for insurance bought through federally-run exchanges created under Section 1321.

The Internal Revenue Service tried to paper-over the problem by issuing a regulation that made subsidies available on both sets of exchanges, but that’s being vigorously challenged as an illegal affront to the plain meaning of the Obamacare statute.

As Sean Trende notes, this challenge to Obamacare, if successful, wouldn’t kill the law outright. That might make voting against the IRS’s power grab more palatable for Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the crucial fifth vote to uphold the individual mandate last year.

Of course, if the subsidies aren’t available to people in the 34 states where HHS is operating an exchange, then the system will implode. Even with subsidies many people are struggling to pay for the higher costs. Take them away and a huge political backlash will be unleashed.

If any of these cases gets to the Supremes, let’s hope they stick to the law and leave the politics for Election Day.

October 29th, 2013 at 4:38 pm
GOP Attacks Obamacare in Awesome/Outrageously Dated New Ads

The Republican National Committee has launched a humorous and biting four-part commercial series to “expose the deep flaws of Obamacare.”

In keeping with its long tradition of being on the cutting edge, the clips parody Apple’s 7-year-old “Get a Mac” ad campaign. (Apparently the GOP couldn’t figure out a way to look even more out-of-touch by criticizing Obamacare by spoofing “Where’s the beef?,” or by dusting off Spuds MacKenzie or Max Headroom to make the point.)

In the RNC’s commercials, two guys representing “The Private Sector” and “Obamacare” square off much in the same way Justin Long and John Hodgman did as Mac and PC back in the good old days when Obamacare was just a bewildering scheme floating in the vacant expanse between Barack Obama’s goofy ears.

The first commercial, “Down” will air during tonight’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central.

The ads will appear primarily in the Washington, D.C. market. If you’re fortunate enough not to live in the greater Baltimore-Washington Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, have no fear. The videos are available online here, here, here and here.

Hopefully the ads will help spread distrust of Obamacare and represent another step in building the critical mass necessary to eliminate the program.

There is a bit of irony that the RNC is spending millions on ads trying to overturn – or, at least, overhaul – Obamacare when, if the organization had done its job in years past, Obamacare would’ve never been created in the first place.

October 28th, 2013 at 7:11 pm
HHS: No, You Can’t Keep Your Insurance

President Barack Obama lied. NBC News says so.

In 2009, President Obama went around the country saying “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan.” After Obamacare passed, he persisted: “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

But in between, the Health and Human Services department gutted that guarantee.

“The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be ‘grandfathered,’ meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law,” reports NBC.

“But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date – the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example – the policy would not be grandfathered.”

See the game? Obama can claim that so long as insurance companies freeze a plan in time, the consumer won’t be bothered. But change any part of a product – including making it cheaper – and the grandfather clause no longer applies.

In other words, insurance companies can either ignore their market’s price signals and lose money, or respond and get blamed for forfeiting their clients’ health plan.

The worse part: “[T]he administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

That’s because HHS put that estimate in a federal regulation in July 2010.

Looks like President Obama has about as much respect for the American people as he does for the rule of law: Zilch.

October 25th, 2013 at 1:10 pm
DOJ Steps Up Thuggishness in Louisiana School Choice Case
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The idea that this disservice to poor, primarily African-American children is is the product of the nation’s first black Attorney General, serving at the pleasure of its first black president is appalling. From Elizabeth Harrington at the Washington Free Beacon:

The Justice Department is attempting to block parents from defending the Louisiana school voucher program in court, according to a brief filed Tuesday.

… The DOJ is seeking a permanent injunction against the school choice program, which would block access to vouchers beginning in 2014 unless a federal judge approves them. The lawsuit claims the vouchers are “impeding desegregation” because some recipients were in the racial minority at their failing school. Vouchers are awarded randomly by lottery.

The DOJ said in a motion filed Tuesday that parents whose kids have benefited from the program have no legal standing to become defendants in the case.

The racial bean-counting is (A) a fig leaf for the Administration’s real goal of scoring a win against school choice and (B) a window into the collectivist’s soul: they care more about the amalgamation of pigment in any given classroom than the lives of the children living within that skin. Now add to that injury the insult of being told by your government that you have no right to defend your child’s right to a decent education.

Shameful and wrong. Let us hope that the DOJ is defeated—and that the courts treat it with the scorn it so richly deserves,

October 25th, 2013 at 12:18 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  The Infomercial President
Lee:  A Stunning New Court Defeat for ObamaCare
Hillyer:  Room on the Right for Middle Ground

Podcast:  Excuses Won’t Fix Problems with ObamaCare
Jester’s Courtroom:  Plaintiff Didn’t “Like” This Prank

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

October 24th, 2013 at 10:59 am
Taxpayers Get More Tricks Than Treats at Halloween

Last Halloween, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance released a publication listing some of the frightening ways government spends money to subsidize pumpkin growers, pumpkin tossing competitions, corn mazes and other fall festivities.

Among the finds:

  • Federal taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to underwrite pumpkin growers and subsidize the cost of federal pumpkin crop insurance programs .
  • An agritourism grant scheme in Tennessee forces state taxpayers to fund handouts to pumpkin patches, hayrides and haunted houses.
  • Each October, taxpayers in Aurora, Colo., shell out over $100,000 to bankroll “Punkin’ Chunkin’ Colorado,” an event where competitors use homemade machines to launch pumpkins hundreds of feet through the air.

Now that Halloween is upon us again, the same wasteful programs – and many others – have come back to life like money-devouring zombies. We’d all be better off if we could bury these pork projects and silly subsidies once and for all.

October 23rd, 2013 at 10:16 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The ObamaCare Launch
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 22nd, 2013 at 5:16 pm
Company Behind Failed Obamacare Website Wins Award for Steering People Away From Obamacare

Generation Opportunity, a national organization of young people focused on promoting liberty, presented the main contractor behind – the Obamacare website – with the first ever Youth Defender Award.

In a deliciously tongue-in-cheek press announcement released on Monday, Generation Opportunity noted that CGI Federal, the American subsidiary of the Canadian multinational CGI Group, has done “more than anyone to date to save young people from the increased costs and privacy invasions of Obamacare.”

Generation Opportunity continues:

“Sure, CGI is billing the government over 300% of their original contract, and taxpayers could be on the hook for $292 million dollars for the healthcare equivalent of Project ORCA. But no cost is too much to bear to help young people avoid this expensive and creepy law.

Generation Opportunity congratulates all the worthy candidates, including the runner-up, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who reminded young people on The Daily Show that they can get the same exemption from Obamacare as businesses by opting out and paying the penalty. After all, Sebelius had the foresight to hire CGI knowing they had a track record of protecting patients from government-run health care. The Canadian government had previously fired CGI’s parent company for failing to create a functioning website for Ontario’s medical registry.

Generation Opportunity developed the awesomely sardonic award in order to promote its website, which encourages young Americans to choose health insurance plans outside of the Obamacare exchanges.

The young folks at Generation Opportunity deserve an award themselves – for providing those of us who despise Obamacare with a big laugh.

October 21st, 2013 at 3:56 pm
CFIF Technotes
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(1)  Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Representatives Fred Upton (R – Texas) and Greg Walden (R – Oregon) on how the Obama Administration continues to “put the brakes on business,” including FCC red tape and regulatory uncertainty:

On Sept. 26, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining potential new media-ownership rules that eliminate the so-called UHF discount.  The change would affect how the FCC determines whether a station owner has approached a 39% cap on nationwide audience that can be reached by a single owner.  The proposed FCC rules aren’t just complicated.  They won’t even be final until next year at the earliest because the FCC can take however long it sees fit—sometimes more than a decade—to promulgate rules.  Even worse, the commission says whatever rules the FCC dreams up in the future will be applied retroactively.  So between now and when the new guidelines become final, no one knows the rules of the game.  And companies have to be prepared at all times to adhere to a new set of regulations that are still a glimmer in the FCC’s eye.  This leaves one of the economy’s only flourishing industries at the mercy of bureaucrats in Washington.”

(2) From The Washington Post, encouraging analysis entitled “How the FCC Plans to Clear the Air for More Mobile Data”:

To fix the coming crunch, federal regulators think they’ve come up with the right solution: Give companies like Verizon and AT&T a lot more frequencies on the wireless spectrum to play with. But where will all those extra channels come from? That’s where the television industry comes in. If all goes according to plan, next year hundreds of TV stations will get a big check to shut down operations and give up their spectrum. Then the agency will turn around and sell that invisible treasure to the wireless companies so that when you fire up your data connection, you won’t get caught in an online traffic jam. All told, the FCC hopes to take about 20 channels worth of spectrum that are currently licensed to various TV stations across the country and auction them off to the wireless companies in various local markets.”

(3) From Jim Kohlenberger writing at GigaOM, a clarion call to free much-needed spectrum for commercial wireless use:

To advance the emerging connected device revolution, we need to continue to free up spectrum for commercial wireless use, and accelerate the transition to IP networks.  At GigaOM’s Mobilize conference on October 16, I’ll be talking about some of the ways we can do this.  President Obama has already taken important steps to make more spectrum available and accelerate the transition to faster and more capable next-generation IP-based wireless LTE networks.  It is absolutely essential that we continue to invest and upgrade our next-generation networks today in order to keep pace with innovation and meet the wireless demands of consumers and businesses tomorrow.”

(4) From Bloomberg, a report on FCC observers’ recommendations for quick action if and when its new commissioners are confirmed:

Once confirmed, the new chairman of the FCC should spell out the agency’s perspective on the issues facing the modern telecommunications sector, industry analysts said Oct. 15 at a panel hosted by the Technology Policy Institute.  The FCC should ‘take a look at where the industry is today, [ask] what are the challenges ahead, is there a role for regulation in that, what is it and how should we, in fact, plan for that?’  Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, said Oct. 15.  This requires the FCC to ‘modernize its approach and its outlook and, frankly, modernize some of its regulations,’ he said. Cicconi said he believes the FCC has an oversight role as telecommunications companies and customers migrate from wired copper telephone networks to IP-based networks.  AT&T has a pending proposal with the commission to coordinate tests at wireline facilities which would replace their time-division multiplexed facilities with IP-based alternatives.

Cicconi urged the FCC to avoid setting spectrum caps that would prevent larger carriers from bidding on certain bands in the upcoming incentive auction. ‘The notion of setting artificial limits seem purely designed to advantage one set of companies and disadvantage another,’ he said. AT&T isn’t against ‘something that is set up to be even-handed,’ Cicconi said.  ‘I think it is possible to do that with the current spectrum screen.'”

(5) From the State Telephone Regulation Report, a story on calls for fewer obstructive regulation from the FCC as we move forward in the IP transition:

Fewer regulations are needed by states and the FCC to promote competition and to move the IP transition forward, said speakers at the Telecommunications Summit at Murray State University in Kentucky Oct. 9.  The deregulation of telecom services by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission helped to spread investment and innovation in the state by AT&T and Comcast, said Commissioner Larry Landis.  State commissions have the opportunity to work with the FCC to change policies in the states, said Landis:  ‘States have a unique perspective to bring to the process, and they understand the need to share a vision as well as each having their own.’  The IP transition is a multi-year change that doesn’t need to be hampered by FCC regulation before the technologies are fully developed, said Hank Hultquist, AT&T vice president-federal regulatory.  ‘IP is a remarkably flexible protocol that allows you to operate different technologies on the same network.’  IP does provide some solutions to old technologies that will take time to adopt, said Hultquist.  Some customers were upset that Verizon deployed Voice Link as the sole service in Fire Island, N.Y., because it did not have faxing capability, he said.  ‘You can do faxing with scanning, but I’m skeptical that this should be handled in the transition or the network,’ because increasingly scanning can take the place of sending faxes, he said.  It will also take time to make sure IP interconnection works, said Hultquist.  ‘We don’t want to replicate problems.’  Rural providers are concerned about the IP transition because they base revenue on long-distance calls, which would cost them money on IP networks, said Hultquist.  ‘The revenue flow would go away and these providers want a way to resolve that.'”

(6) From The Hill, an update on confirmation hearings for FCC and FTC nominees ready to proceed:

The Senate could confirm President Obama’s nominees to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission as early as Wednesday night.  Tom Wheeler, President Obama’s pick for FCC chairman, and Michael O’Rielly, a nominee for a Republican commission seat, have been placed on a fast track for Senate approval, according to a document circulated on Capitol Hill Wednesday.  The confirmations would likely come after the Senate votes on a deal to lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown on Wednesday night.  The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved Wheeler’s nomination by a voice vote in July.  O’Rielly and McSweeny testified before the panel last month, but the committee hasn’t voted on either nomination.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has indicated he might block Wheeler’s nomination unless he promised not to require more disclosure about the groups paying for political advertisements.”

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October 21st, 2013 at 3:45 pm
RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Troy Senik, CFIF Fellow and Senior Editor at Ricochet – Infighting in the GOP in the wake of the shutdown and the disastrous ObamaCare rollout;

4:30 CDT/5:30 EDT:  Romina Boccia, Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs at The Heritage Foundation – How Federal Spending and Government Waste Affect Economic Growth;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security – Cybersecurity Vulnerabilties; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Sam Kazman, General Counsel of Competitive Enterprise Institute and Head of Death by Regulation Project – ObamaCare in Federal Court over Illegitimate IRS Penalties.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

October 21st, 2013 at 11:38 am
The Federal Government Bribes Mexican Male Prostitutes with Your Tax Dollars

If you bribe male prostitutes in Mexico City to wear condoms, will they remain free of sexually transmitted infections?

The federal government is using your tax dollars to find out.

Sadly, I’m not kidding.

Since 2011, the taxpayer-funded National Institutes of Health has squandered $398,213 on giveaways to Brown University to determine whether male prostitutes in Mexico are less likely to obtain a sexually transmitted infection if they receive a cash handout for remaining infection-free.

The study takes 300 male prostitutes in Mexico City, ages 18-25, and divides them into three groups. The first group receives a bonus of 500 pesos every six months if they test negative for sexually transmitted infections, the second group snags 200 pesos and the third group gets no incentive for testing clean (but it would seem that not having a sexually transmitted infection would be incentive enough).

All 300 prostitutes receive 170 pesos a year just for being in the study.

If the study finds that bribing male prostitutes in Mexico is effective at increasing condom usage and reducing sexually transmitted infections, then what? Will U.S. taxpayers be on the hook for regular incentive payments to all Mexican prostitutes?

At a time when the federal government is hiking taxes, raising its debt ceiling and drowning in ever-deepening debt, the last thing Washington needs to do is ship our money to Mexico City to give a cash reward to prostitutes for not catching Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. But that’s not stopping them.

October 21st, 2013 at 10:59 am
Obamacare Takes Teachers From Special-Needs Students

A school district in Oconomowoc, Wis., recently celebrated the achievements of a new program for special-needs students. Unfortunately, the staff responsible for helping those special-needs students succeed are seeing their hours cut dramatically thanks to Obamacare.

Investor’s Business Daily reports the school district would face a $1.5 million hit due to the Affordable Care Act’s employer insurance requirements if it didn’t slash the work hours of the paraprofessional staff.

“Instead of one full-time paraprofessional working a full day; one part-time paraprofessional would work the morning half of the day, while a second part-time paraprofessional would work the afternoon portion of the day,” the district told parents.

More than 100 school districts across America have already cut support such as teacher aides, bus drivers and cafeteria workers to avoid massive Obamacare-related costs, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

We already knew that Obamacare harms the economy, reduces the quality of available healthcare and limits choice. Sadly, the scheme also interferes with the ability of school districts to provide a quality education to our children.

October 21st, 2013 at 10:28 am
Federal Employees Run Up High Tab During Vegas Jaunt

A Denver news station uncovered that six Colorado-based employees from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue spent more than $13,000 in Las Vegas “to attend a fraud investigators conference in June even though a similar conference offered by the Colorado fraud investigator’s chapter was planned for Denver.”

The federal employees claimed they stuck taxpayers with the bill for their pricey Las Vegas getaway because they needed continuing education credits offered at the event. However, NBC affiliate 9News found that the continuing education credits could have been attained at the Colorado conference for a small fraction of the cost of the Vegas vacation.

But what fun is staying in Colorado when you can force taxpayers to send you to Vegas?

The cost to taxpayers skyrocketed because many of the attendees waited until the last minute to book their flights and insisted on staying in Vegas an extra day to vacation after the conference ended – all using tax dollars.