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Cruz plans 'major announcement' for Wednesday afternoon

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 09:29
With an eye toward recovering lost momentum after bruising losses in the five Tuesday primaries, Ted Cruz is making what the campaign calls a “major announcement” in Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon.

GOP wants off primary carnival ride

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 09:27
With Trump's victories Tuesday the GOP signals that they're ready for the end.

US targets 11 countries for lax copyright protection

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:40
China, Russia and India are among 11 countries targeted by the Obama administration for leaving American producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material open to rampant piracy.

What About Hillary’s Coughing Fits?

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:35
Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton had a coughing fit on The Breakfast Club, one of New Yorks top-rated radio shows among African Americans. 2016-04-26T10:42:00-04:00 2016-04-27T13:34:54Z Ed Klein

Yes Prince Faisal, We Need to 'Recalibrate' Our Relationship

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:35
For decades the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have shared a peculiar relationship: the Saudis sell relatively cheap oil to the United States for which they accept our fiat currency. 2016-04-26T09:51:00-04:00 2016-04-27T13:34:54Z Ron Paul

If God Is Dead...

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:35
In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T13:34:54Z Pat Buchanan

Ending Welfare as We Know It

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:09

Michael D. Tanner

On June 5, Swiss voters will go to the polls to decide whether to eliminate many of the nation’s social-welfare programs and replace them with a guaranteed national income for all citizens. Not long after the Swiss vote, Finland will embark on a similar though partial experiment, replacing welfare benefits with a guaranteed income for both national and regional sample populations. In the Netherlands, at least four cities, Utrecht, Tilberg, Groningen, and Wageningen, are in the process of designing their own experiments. And in Canada, the latest provincial budget in Ontario promised to work with researchers this year to come up with a design for a pilot program. Great Britain is also actively debating the concept.

Most conservatives and libertarians in the United States would dismiss the idea of a guaranteed national income (GNI) out of hand. Typical European socialism, would be the reaction. The fevered brainchild of Bernie Sanders.

Actually, though, free-market thinkers from F. A. Hayek and Robert Nozick to Milton Friedman and Charles Murray have long been open to some form of GNI.

Americans need to watch closely some promising experiments in Europe and Canada.

Instead of tinkering around the edges of the welfare state, trimming a billion dollars here, adding a work requirement there, why not simply abolish the entire thing? Get rid of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, unemployment insurance, and all the rest. Murray would even throw in Medicare and Social Security. Replace it all with a simple cash grant to every American whose income falls below the stipulated level, and then leave the recipients alone to manage their own lives free from government interference.

Such a program would be simpler and far more transparent than the hodgepodge of existing anti-poverty programs. The federal government alone, for instance, currently funds more than 100 separate anti-poverty programs, overseen by nine different cabinet departments and six independent agencies. With different, often contradictory, eligibility levels, work requirements, and other restrictions, our current welfare system is a nightmare of unaccountability that fails to effectively help people transition out of these programs and escape poverty.

A GNI would also treat poor people as adults, expecting them to budget and manage their money like everyone else. Currently, most welfare programs parcel out payments, not to the poor themselves, but to those who provide services to the poor, such as landlords or health-care providers. But shouldn’t the poor decide for themselves how much of their income should be allocated to rent or food or education or transportation? Perhaps they may even choose to save more or invest in learning new skills that will help them earn more in the future. You can’t expect the poor to behave responsibly if they are never given any responsibility.

Moreover, giving the poor responsibility for managing their own lives will mean more choices and opportunities. That, in turn, will break up geographic concentrations of poverty that can isolate the poor from the rest of society and reinforce the worst aspects of the poverty culture. And, by taking the money away from the special interests that support the welfare industry, it would break up the coalitions that inevitably push for greater spending.

A GNI would also provide far better incentives when it comes to work, marriage, and savings. Because current welfare benefits are phased out as income increases, they in effect create high marginal tax rates that can discourage work or marriage. Studies have shown that a person on welfare who takes a job can lose as much as 95 cents out of every dollar he earns, through taxes and forgone benefits. Poor people, by and large, are not lazy, but they also aren’t stupid. If they can’t earn more through work than from welfare, many will choose to remain on welfare. In contrast, a guaranteed national income would not penalize someone who left welfare for work.

And a guaranteed national income would also do away with much of the government’s excuse for regulating the economy. Minimum-wage laws would instantly become obsolete, to cite just one example. Moreover, a GNI could minimize the economic disruptions that occur from automation and free trade. There would be less opportunity for demagoguery on the American political scene and less resistance to liberalizing the economy.

A no-brainer, right? Well, maybe not.

As with most government programs, what sounds good in theory tends to break down when one looks at practical questions of implementation. There are serious trade-offs among cost, simplicity, and incentive structure. Attempts to solve problems in one area would raise questions in others.

If everyone in the United States were to receive a benefit sufficient to bring him above the poverty threshold, it would cost roughly $4 trillion, more than our entire current federal budget. Clearly that’s not affordable, so some limit would have to be put on who could receive the benefit. And it would likely be distributed through some form of negative income tax, as Friedman advocated.

But that would re-create many of the same incentive problems we see in the current welfare systems. Phasing out the benefit would, as in the current system, impose high effective marginal tax rates, which discourage work. A negative income tax would also import all the complexity, fraud, and abuse of the current U.S. tax code. Say goodbye to simple and transparent.

Once we’ve established the principle of guaranteeing people money, we will still be constantly haggling over the amount.

Moreover, as with other government programs, there would be constant pressure to expand benefits. How long would it be before we heard that no one can live on whatever benefit the GNI provides? Once we’ve established the principle of guaranteeing people money, we will still be constantly haggling over the amount. Already many on the left call for a GNI, not to replace the welfare state, but as an additional benefit on top of existing programs. Grafting a guaranteed income on top of the current failed system would simply double down on welfare dependency.

Those things which make the GNI look so good on the drawing board fade away when you consider how to put it into practice.

Still, advocates of free markets and welfare reform should not dismiss the idea out of hand. Rather, we should watch the experiments in Europe and Canada with a wary but open mind. In the meantime, there are small steps that can move welfare policy in the right direction. Programs should be consolidated, in-kind benefits should be de-emphasized, and outcome measures should focus more squarely on whether this system actually helps people attain some level of prosperity through hard work.

The current welfare state is a clear failure. A guaranteed national income may or may not provide a better alternative. Either way, it’s a debate whose time should be coming.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis.

Obama admin withholding details of 'potentially illegal' deal to buy Iranian nuke materials

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 07:47
Obama administration officials are declining to provide specific details about an unprecedented upcoming purchase of Iranian nuclear materials, an $8.6 million exchange that is likely to be funded using American taxpayer dollars, according to conversations with multiple administration officials and sources in Congress.

Trump looks ahead after 5-state sweep

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 06:32
Donald Trump wasted no time basking in Tuesday’s five-state sweep, preparing for a highly-anticipated foreign policy speech Wednesday he hopes will bolster his credentials as the self-proclaimed “presumptive nominee” heads into next week’s crucial Indiana contest.

Paychecks for Illinois elected officials delayed, amid budget stalemate

Fox News (Politics) - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 23:15
The latest budget impasse in Illinois is about to hit elected officials in their wallets, with the state comptroller planning to delay their paychecks amid nearly $6.5 billion in past-due bills.

Kamala Harris Couldn't Lose Senatorial Debate

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
Purely as an act of political mischief, this Republican has toyed with the idea of voting in June for Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., in the race to fill Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Debra J. Saunders

Mr. Trump, Call Off Your Mad Dogs

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
Donald Trump and his henchmen are very worried that his delegates will jump the Trump train after the first ballot in a contested Republican convention and support another candidate when they are free to vote their conscience on the second ballot. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Joy Overbeck

Keeping the Northeastern Primary in Perspective

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
Tuesday should be a very good day for Donald Trump. Voters in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania will take part in selecting 172 delegates to the Republican national convention. Trump is widely expected to win all five contests and win between 98 and 123 of the 172 delegates at stake. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Scott Rasmussen

The GOP Divide

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
Washington halls are alive with the sound of musings about a coming GOP crackup. That may come, but lets admit that the Republican Party from its start has had a crack that never disappeared. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Marvin Olasky

EU, US Gang Up on Google

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
European Union bureaucrats declared war last week on Google. Europe can't compete with Google, so, instead, Brussels will sue it for being too successful. Furthermore, the U.S. government is threatening the same punitive process of harassment, lawsuits and fines. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Stephen Moore

Obama's Legacy Tour

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
President Obama quietly slipped out of the country last week for a world tour intended to enhance his "legacy" as a globalist. His first stop was Saudi Arabia to reassure King Salman of America's continued support for that brutal absolute monarchy, where Christians are forbidden to worship openly. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Phyllis Schlafly

Response to 9/11 Victims Claims Reflects an Impending Shift in the U.S.-Saudi Relationship

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
On September 11, 2001, at least 19 men 15 of them Saudi citizens- boarded several commercial flights in Boston and set off what was to become the largest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. That event set off a major war in the middle east, a war that continues today; and it signaled a new age in American foreign policy in which the U.S. is increasingly focused on deterring state-sponsors of global Islamic terrorism. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Armstrong Williams

6 Reasons Donald Trump Isn’t Fit To Be President

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
When my friends who love Donald Trump tell me they support him, I understand the reasons they find him attractive as a candidate. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z John Hawkins

No Need to Change Gun Manufacturers Liability

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
The Democratic primary has become increasingly antagonistic over the past few months, with Hillary Clinton continually lambasting Bernie Sanders for his support of immunity for gun manufacturers. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Young Voices Advocates

Conservatives for Trump?

TownHall Latest columns - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:35
The sudden appearance of Donald Trump on the political horizon last year may have been surprising, but not nearly as surprising as seeing some conservatives supporting him. 2016-04-26T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-27T03:34:53Z Thomas Sowell


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