In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

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How to Win the Next Budgetary Fight Print
By Quin Hillyer
Wednesday, December 18 2013
With regard to the debt ceiling, Republicans in Congress should not wait until mere days before the deadline.

When fighting budget-related battles during Fiscal Year 2014, can conservatives have any hopes that the third time is the charm?

Yes, but only if they are willing to play “small ball.”

The “third time,” in this case, will involve the next confrontation with the federal debt ceiling, expected in early February. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is trying to make up for his weak negotiating on this month’s spending deal by promising to take a tough line then. But, after bitter defeats in the Ryan negotiations and in the “shutdown” fight in October, it may be an idle promise.

Already, the nastiest of fulminators on the left is belittling Ryan’s promise/threat, as is one of the most active participants in the right’s internal wars, Erick Erickson. (My always-astute colleague Ashton Ellis also has eminently justifiable doubts.) They say conservatives have little leverage, few political motives to make a real battle of it, and too pronounced a record of caving under political pressure.

The doubters raise good points. But that doesn’t mean conservatives should completely give up on using the debt ceiling to force some limits on government. It’s just that this time we need to avoid brinksmanship over huge ultimatums (such as repealing ObamaCare), in favor of smaller demands that Democrats would look horrible for refusing.

The key goals are threefold. First, re-establish, after abandoning it in October, the principle that the debt ceiling should never be raised without at least some new, substantive limit on government. Second, re-establish in the public mind the idea that conservatives/Republicans are fighting not just for political advantage but instead for sensible, achievable, thoughtful savings for taxpayers. Third, create a situation where the Democrats/liberals, not those on the right, feel the political heat.

The key to achieving these three goals is to identify proposed savings that are easy to explain and understand, that are eminently reasonable without any hint of Scrooge-like tendencies, and that particularly highlight the idiocy of big government. For a past example, consider the political efficacy of the fight against the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska: With identifiable, concrete targets to shoot at, fiscal conservatives can win the battle of public opinion even against the forces of the liberal media.

With regard to the debt ceiling, Republicans in Congress should not wait until mere days before the deadline. The public right now is sick of brinksmanship. Instead, very early in the new year, the GOP leadership should lay out its markers and very publicly – and not confrontationally – ask Democrats to work with them to achieve their modest aims before the debt limit is directly imminent.

And what should those markers be? Well, start with selected items from the just-released “Wastebook” compiled by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Of the $28 billion in potential savings identified by Coburn, surely the Republicans can highlight, say, $5 billion for which to fight. Start with the $17.5 million in tax credits for brothels for breast implants and the like, move on to the $325 thousand for studies of marital arguments, and continue with the $1.5 million spent by the FBI to coach Hollywood on how to portray the agency in movies. And so on.

Next, insist on at least one of the “pay-fors” offered this week by Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama or Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to replace the cost of pension cuts for military personnel. Surely, for example, $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits for illegal aliens – identified even by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General as unwarranted waste – should be eliminated before it adds further to the debt and necessitates a debt ceiling hike.

Finally, consider another attempt to eliminate the exemption from ObamaCare that Barack Obama, via an arguably illegal executive diktat, provided for congressional and White House staff.

If Republicans tie the debt ceiling hike to spending (or “tax subsidies”) that are almost impossible politically to defend, they make it clear that it is Democrats in opposition, not the GOP, who are being intransigent and risking government default for no good reason.

Of course, conservatives will want to win much bigger battles – as well they should. But the way to win political battles is to get the public on one’s side. And the first step to winning the public’s favor for big changes is to gain the public’s confidence on smaller matters without scaring the heck out of anybody. Perception really does matter in politics, and right now Republicans and conservatives must change the perception that they are radical, cynical and mean-spirited.

A small-scale debt ceiling fight can start building confidence in conservative aims and judgment, while making clear that new debt will never be allowed without at least some savings. Incrementalism works. It’s time to try it.

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
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Notable Quote   
 
"The trial of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann crossed a critical threshold Friday when a key witness uttered the name 'Hillary Clinton' in conjunction with a plan to spread the false Alfa Bank Russian collusion claim before the 2016 presidential election.For Democrats and many in the media, Hillary Clinton has long held a Voldemort-like status as 'She who must not be named' in scandals…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
— Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
 
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Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?