Libertarian Party:”Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill lets foreign governments and foreign special interests control American medical care, banking, the Internet, and even civil liberties”

Republicans howled when Nancy Pelosi famously said, “We have to pass [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.” Now GOP lawmakers, who control the U.S. House, are following suit in their passage of a new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bill.

After rejecting an earlier version of the bill last week, the House passed a new TPP bill on June 18 which gives President Obama carte blanche to negotiate and sign a massive anti-American trade treaty with eleven other Pacific nations without public oversight or news coverage. They’ll have a short period of time, after the hundreds-of-pages-long treaty is finally published, to cast an up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it vote.

Although Congress will get to see the text of the final treaty before the final vote, they and the American public will have insufficient time to review it. Congress will be under intense pressure to pass it, and serious objections will likely be given short shrift. This appears to be their plan, allowing them to avoid public scrutiny of TPP’s provisions until after it is passed and the heat is off.

“The two old parties will happily work together to get special favors for particular industries and interests, even if they have to hide the specifics from the American people to do so,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.

While the current version of the treaty remains hidden from public view, portions of it have been released by WikiLeaks. They already show that it betrays and trumps the U.S. Constitution, sells out American freedoms, and grants foreign governments vast control over American medicine, the Internet, banking services, intellectual property, and civil liberties. It also grants multi-national corporations the right to sue the U.S. government where domestic companies are forbidden to do so.

“The Libertarian Party opposes TPP and other secretive pacts being negotiated between the U.S. and countries worldwide, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA),” said Sarwark. “The Libertarian Party supports free trade with all people and countries around the world. Real free trade is the reduction of barriers and the de-escalation of trade wars — not secret negotiations over winners and losers.”

“The vast majority of job losses in America did not result from trade agreements,” he continued. “The real culprits are the politicians and special interests who push for onerous government regulations, high taxes, and trade barriers that weaken American companies and which also prohibit American families from openly and freely shopping for the best buys for their families.”

“To actually help the American economy, we should simply repeal laws and withdraw from trade agreements that violate the Constitution or restrict free and open trade. This will stimulate the American economy, preserve and expand our diminishing freedoms, and maintain our sovereignty as a nation,” said Sarwark.
Source: The Libertarian Party @ http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/secretive-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-bill-lets-foreign-governments-and

Drug Policy Alliance releases report on Asset Forfeiture Abuse in California

Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law. Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.

What emerges in the new report is a picture of a handful of relatively small cities clustered in Los Angeles County that lead the state in per capita seizures (Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Gardena, Irwindale, La Verne, Pomona, South Gate, Vernon and West Covina). The report’s analysis of fiscal records finds that many of these cities were providing false or inconsistent reports to the Justice Department, while some other cities appeared to be engaged in budgeting future forfeiture revenue, despite this being explicitly illegal under federal law.
Full Report by Drug Policy Alliance @ http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug_Policy_Alliance_Above_the_Law_Civil_Asset_Forfeiture_in_California.pdf

Rahn:”Abolish the IRS”

Abolish the Internal Revenue Service? IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said the government must have an IRS to collect the taxes to fund the government. Mr. Koskinen is right that no matter what kind of tax system we have, there needs to be a tax collection bureau. But those in favor of abolishing the present IRS are correct in that the United States certainly can get along perfectly well without the politicized, abusive and rights-trampling tax agency the IRS has become.

Mr. Koskinen and others who defend the IRS claim the problem is with the tax law, which is written by Congress. A tax system ought to be designed to obtain the necessary revenue with the least amount of damage to the economy and the civil liberties of the citizens. The present tax system gets a failing grade on both accounts. Promising special provisions to those who will provide campaign funds is a temptation that some politicians seem not to be able to resist.
Full Commentary by Richard Rahn @ Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/abolish-irs

Scotland and North Sea Oil:Forbes blogger exposes secret report

For some years, the prospect of reclaiming control of North Sea oil deposits has been a cause among Scottish nationalists. The issue of North Sea oil was a factor in the push for regional autonomy in the 1970s and is a factor in the forthcoming vote on independence for Scotland. With revenues from North Sea oil, an independent Scotland would be wealthier than the region is now as a part of the United Kingdom.

At Forbes, Brett Arends notes that in the 1970s the English establishment scoffed at such arguments, claiming North Sea oil reserves were less than the Scots believed, and they disputed claims that Scotland should have control over the oil.

Mr Arends has found a report based on a secret study done in 1974 by economics professor Gavin McCrone which points out that the reserves are substantial, and an independent Scotland would “become one of the most prosperous countries in the world, comparable to Switzerland or Norway”

report can be read @ http://www.oilofscotland.org/mccronereport.pdf

Mr Arends quotes the report as noting “The full significance of North Sea oil… remains in large measure disguised from the Scottish public,” and has done a public service publicizing this report in the lead-up to the vote September 18 on independence for Scotland.

Read Mr Arend’s post @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettarends/2014/09/12/scottish-independence-englands-shameful-secret/

Shikha Dalmia:”Republicans Should Convert Obamacare Into a Free-Market System”

Many liberals have been not-so-secretly hoping to use Obamacare as a Trojan horse for implementing a Canadian-style single-payer health care system. But Republicans could slip in market-based reforms that they’ve always wanted into this horse if they’d stop playing hotheaded rebels—a la Sen. Ted Cruz—and wasting time on futile budget battles.

The very fact that Presidents Obama and Clinton last week thought it fit to have an hour-long tete-a-tete on TV to put a happy face on the law suggests that it might be in trouble.

The latest evidence is Health and Human Services figures showing that, thanks to all the onerous new regulations on insurers, young people—whose participation is crucial for the law’s success—will face massive premium increases when the much anticipated insurance exchanges are rolled out across the country today.

Men under 27 would see their premiums rise nearly 100 percent on average and women 62 percent. Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy notes that even Obamacare’s generous subsidies won’t be enough to cover these added costs.

The upshot will be that many young people—who are two-thirds of the roughly 40 million uninsured—will prefer to pay the penalty ($96 in the first year) rather than buy coverage, especially since they can always do so when they fall sick. That’s because Obamacare bans insurance companies from turning away patients with pre-existing condition or charging them rates much above what others pay—the so-called community rating mandate.

After pointing out problems with the new healthcare system, Ms Dalmia proposes a reform strategy:

However, if Republicans play smart, they can use the moment of Obamacare’s reckoning to erect a market-based, patient-centered system that they’ve long advocated. How?

One big obstacle to this goal has been the lack of options for individuals to purchase coverage independently of their employers. Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, essentially on-line shopping malls where consumers can compare plans and prices, could overcome that, if they were properly constructed. But currently they are not.

They are larded with excessive mandates and regulations that’ll inflate premiums and limit coverage options for individuals. Republicans should start focusing on deregulating the exchanges so that insurers can offer more customized packages that genuinely serve customer needs at affordable prices.

Full column by Shikha Dalmia @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2013/10/01/republicans-should-convert-obamacare-int

Veronique de Rugy on “Bipartisan Corporate Welfare”

On June 7, the Senate Banking Committee voted to back Fred Hochberg’s second term as president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank without bothering to ask the Obama administration about the future of that expensive, inefficient New Deal–era agency. The vote, in which 28 Republicans joined 54 Democrats in supporting Hochberg, was not a good sign for anyone hoping that the GOP’s latest promises of fiscal restraint would prove more trustworthy than all the broken promises before.

The bank, also known as “Ex-Im,” provides taxpayer-backed loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to foreign companies, such as Air China, to buy products from some of the richest U.S. exporters, such as Boeing. It is a textbook example of Washington’s bipartisan corporate welfare. Yet only two Republicans, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), voted against Hochberg. In an online statement Toomey explained his reasons for withholding support. “I opposed his nomination due to serious concerns that the Ex-Im Bank is using taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help some companies at the expense of other U.S. companies,” he said. “The way to help U.S. exports is to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on businesses, not to pick winners and losers.”
Full column by Veronique de Rugy @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2013/09/23/bipartisan-corporate-welfare