Category: campaignforliberty.org

The Revolution at Ten

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul’s new book, The Revolution at Ten, is a great read.  One can learn more about economics, politics, history, and the philosophy of liberty from this 130-page book than from most lengthy academic works.

Starting with the early legal codes protecting individual rights to the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, and the movement toward liberty in the 19th century,  Dr. Paul discusses how America abandoned the philosophy of limited government, free markets, and non-interventionist foreign policy in the 20th century.  Dr. Paul explains  how liberty was lost as progressives gained control over the government, began constructing a welfare state at home and a warfare state abroad. The progressive’s crusade to use state power to “perfect” America and the world was facilitated by the twin mistakes of 1913 – the creation of the income tax and the Federal Reserve.

Dr. Paul then recounts the rise of the rEVOLution in 2008 and 2012. While the media proclaims it is dead, Dr. Paul sees it as still growing as support for the ideas of Liberty continue to grow and the failures of progressivism become more obvious.

The unifying theme of the book is that we are in the last stages of the progressive era and what replaces it depends in large part on how successful we are in getting a critical mass of people to embrace liberty and join our movement.

Dr. Paul covers the major challenges facing us, including foreign policy, civil liberties, the “deep state,” climate change hysteria, and, of course, monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. My favorite chapter is on cultural marxism. Dr. Paul ties the “social justice warrior” crusade to censor all speech they deem offensive to the progressive goal of destroying civil society in order to use government power to exercise total control over individuals.

The last two chapters of the book compare the libertarian society with one governed  by “progressive” values and looks at the chaos that could come from the collapse of the Keynesian welfare-warfare state. Dr. Paul is optimistic that a free society can emerge after the next crisis. I share Dr. Paul’s optimism. Dr. Paul’s predictions should inspire us to redouble our efforts to work to grow the liberty movement and force the plot and to change course before an economic crisis leaves us no other choice.

This is one of those books you likely will want to buy multiple copies of — one to keep for yourself and several to give to both those in need of a quick introduction to the ideas of  liberty, and those already involved in the movement who could use something to inspire them to get up the fight.

Remember, if you join Campaign for Liberty’s Patriot Club before October 24, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of ten autographed copies of Dr. Paul’s new book. You can join here.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2grMPGM

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Fly the Friendly Skies

One of the perks of being an elected official (or a staffer for an elected official) is taxpayer, or special interest, funded travel to exotic locations on fact-finding missions. While recent changes in the Congressional ethics rules have limited the amount of such travel, members of Congress and their staffs still fly around the world on trips paid for by private “educational foundations.”

Once, when I was working on Capitol Hill, I asked a friend with more Hill experience if he thought we would really be in session until Christmas. My friend laughed and said “No, if you want to know when we will adjourn, find out when leadership and leadership staffers are supposed to leave for their trips. We will adjourn two days before that.”

Privately-funded and taxpayer-funded trips are not just a problem at the federal level. State lawmakers also take these trips. For example, just a few months ago there was a meeting held in Paris, France. This meeting was so important that Pennsylvania State Senate President Joe Scarnati attended, even though it meant leaving the state in the midst of a budget crisis that resulted in the state receiving a credit downgrade.

Pennsylvania still has not resolved the crisis. One good thing that may come out of this is that revenue-hungry politicians may do the right thing (for the wrong reason) and legalize online gaming in the Keystone State.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2ysZaFt

This Week in Congress Update

The Senate’s debate on the budget is heating up as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are working to increase military spending by busting the spending caps that limit spending. Fortunately, Senator Rand Paul is fighting to preserve the caps. Unfortunately, he is fighting a lonely battle as most Republicans are either siding with McCain and Graham over spending or are perfectly happy to increase spending as long as they get “tax reform.”

Some even say that the failure to cur spending makes it more important to have “pro-growth” tax reform. Of course the truth is that increased spending cancels out the benefits of pro-growth tax reform.

Matt Welch of Reason Magazine elaborates:

While the Angry Birds vs. Wacko Birds angle is probably too irresistible, the biggest ongoing story here might be just how isolated Paul’s views about actually cutting government have become now that Republicans control the levers of power. In a Politico article about tax reform yesterday, Paul said something that would have been routine for a Republican in 2011-2014, but vanishingly rare in 2017: “I’m a huge deficit hawk. My opinion has always been that you pay for a tax cut with spending cuts….And everybody else up here thinks you should pay for a tax cut by increasing somebody else’s taxes.”

What are all of those deficit hawks doing now? Vigorously waving the white flag.

ReasonAs mentioned here two weeks ago, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who just 30 months ago was excoriating GOP deficit spenders by saying such things as “There is no honest way to justify not paying for spending, no matter how often my fellow Republicans try,” has now completely flipped the script, arguing that “We need to have new deficits.” In the Politico tax-reform article, Mulvaney was even more clear:

“They simply do not have the political will on the Hill to solve this through the spending side of the equation,” he said. “So we have to move to the revenue side.”

This is a remarkable admission. The Tea Party wave of legislators came to Washington beginning in 2010 on explicit promises to cut spending and debt, and roll back Obamacare. They did a decent job using their House majority to restrain spending from 2011-2014, but beginning with Republicans re-taking the Senate in November 2014, fiscal conservatism has waned while GOP power has waxed. As Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) complained to me in an early 2016 interview,

They’re always promising that next time we’ll be better. “We need the House,” then “we need the Senate,” then “we need the White House,” then “we need a supermajority”—it seems like they’re never really interested in actually doing anything in the present. The excuse is usually that we don’t have the votes or we don’t have the right president to sign the bill, but that highlights the problem with their thinking. They’re not interested in persuading people. They’re interested in waiting.

Another putative fiscal conservative offering shrug emojis to spending cuts is Amash’s own close colleague Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), chair of the House Freedom Caucus. From the Politico article:

Meadows…predicted Republicans will never have the nerve to cut spending, so they have to pass steep tax cuts to spur growth: “What you have to do is you have to mitigate the damage by being as aggressive as you can be on tax rates, which would lessen the damage of our lack of fiscal responsibility over time.”

Funny, I don’t remember that particular Tea Party slogan: We’re too chicken to cut spending, so at least we’ll blow up the debt!

This is a far, far cry from where Meadows was in February 2013, when, just after coming into office, he co-sponsored the Require a PLAN Act, mandating that “if the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget does not achieve balance in a fiscal year covered by such budget, the President shall submit a supplemental unified budget by April 1, 2013, which identifies a fiscal year in which balance is achieved.” In other words, then-president Barack Obama would be required to explain exactly when and how he would eventually balance the budget.

“It’s time for the federal government to do what Americans—hardworking, taxpaying, Americans and small business owners across the country have to do: balance a budget and live within our means,” Meadows said on the House floor. “The time is now.”

Read the whole article here.

Campaign for Liberty members should call their Senators and tell them to stand with Rand and oppose busting the budget caps.

At least most of the GOP is rejecting Senator Lamar Alexander’s bipartisan health insurance compromise. The compromise is a bailout of the insurance companies combined with a watered down version of the Obamacare renewal bill that failed to pass the Senate this summer. The plan would:

— Continue federal payments for two years to insurers for reducing out-of-pocket costs like co-payments and deductibles for lower-income consumers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the government will spend around $20 billion on the so-called cost-sharing reductions over the next two years. Trump blocked the payments last week.

—Provide $106 million in grants to states to pay for outreach and enrollment programs for encouraging people to sign up for health care coverage. Trump cut spending for the programs. The money comes from already collected taxes.

—Let states get federal waivers from some requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law if their proposed new programs are of “comparable affordability” for consumers to existing programs. That gives states more flexibility than the existing requirements that replacement must be “at least as affordable” as the current one. Language protects low-income populations, vulnerable populations and people with serious health conditions.

–Increases flexibility by requiring states’ proposed changes to not increase federal deficit over the multi-year life of waivers, not each individual year.

—Shortens from 180 days to 90 days the time the federal government has to review state waiver applications. Speeds reviews for states seeking same changes as other states and for emergencies. Lets governors approve a state’s waiver without requiring legislature’s consent.

—States could not get waivers from covering services required by Obama’s law, or from the statute’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

—Lets people of any age buy some low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans. Obama’s statute limits those policies to people under 30 and those who are older who qualify due to economic hardship.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2yxSsNz

This Week in Congress

The House is not in session this week. The Senate will be in session and will be considering the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Like the House-passed budget, the Senate provides for the use of “reconciliation” for tax relief. The budget slows for $1.5 trillion in tax reform. It also provides for the use of reconciliation to consider $1 billion in cuts from programs under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The budget claims to reduce spending by $632 billion, but of course most of those cuts are not real cuts but cuts in the rate of growth.

The Senate bill claims to balance in ten years, but it relies on optimistic predictions of economic growth. The truth is the US economy is more likely to  suffer a downturn than uninterrupted growth.

One good point of the bill is it allows a Senator to raise a point of order striking “Overseas Contingency Operations Funding” (OCO). OCO is the Pentagon’s “slush fund” that allows the defense hawks to boost the Pentagon’s budget without the funding counting toward the official spending limitations.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is expected to offer an amendment to strike this provision. Campaign for Liberty members should call their Senators and tell them to oppose the Graham amendment.

Here is a collation letter co-signed by Campaign for Liberty that provides more examination of the issue:

Dear Senator:

On behalf of our organizations and our combined memberships, we urge you to vote against Senator Graham’s (R-SC) amendment to strike Section 4104 of the Senate Budget Resolution. This section is a commonsense provision aimed at curbing abuses of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for the Pentagon.

Our organizations are on record as opposing the continued, profligate use of the OCO account to hike Pentagon spending by the expedient of taking it “off-budget” to avoid the caps set by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. We believe that every dollar of Pentagon spending should have strict Congressional oversight. The OCO budget should not be used by Congress as “free” money. This has led to the original purpose of the fund, to cover the unexpected and unbudgeted costs of overseas contingencies, being overridden by a desire to add more money to the Pentagon while avoiding the BCA caps.

Section 4104 establishes a Point of Order against designating funds as OCO spending. It would treat OCO the same way as emergency funding designations. The Point of Order may be suspended by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the members of the Senate.

We agree with Senator Corker’s (R-TN) belief that OCO, “has been repeatedly abused to fund normal operations at the Departments of Defense and State in order to avoid exceeding statutory spending caps.”

We strongly believe Section 4104 provides additional tools for Senators to challenge this use of the OCO gimmick and instill additional oversight and accountability to this largely unchallenged category of Pentagon spending.

We urge you to vote against the Graham amendment.

Campaign for Liberty
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Defense Priorities Initiative
National Taxpayers Union
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

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President Trump Beats War Drums for Iran

President Trump has been notoriously inconsistent in his foreign policy. He campaigned on and won the presidency with promises to repair relations with Russia, pull out of no-win wars like Afghanistan, and end the failed US policy of nation-building overseas. Once in office he pursued policies exactly the opposite of what he campaigned on. Unfortunately Iran is one of the few areas where the president has been very consistent. And consistently wrong.

In the president’s speech last week he expressed his view that Iran was not “living up to the spirit” of the 2015 nuclear agreement and that he would turn to Congress to apply new sanctions to Iran and to, he hopes, take the US out of the deal entirely.

Nearly every assertion in the president’s speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has “fueled sectarian violence in Iraq,” when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president’s speech to mention.

How could he be so wrong on so many basic facts about Iran? Here’s a clue: the media reports that his number one advisor on Iran is his Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Ambassador Haley is a “diplomat” who believes war is the best, first option rather than the last, worst option. She has no prior foreign policy experience, but her closest mentor is John Bolton – the neocon who lied us into the Iraq war. How do these people live with themselves when they look around at the death and destruction their policies have caused?

Unfortunately the American people are being neoconned into another war. Just as with the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq, the media builds up the fear and does the bidding of the warmongers without checking facts or applying the necessary skepticism to neocon claims.

Like most Americans, I do not endorse Iran’s style of government. I prefer religion and the state to be separate and even though our liberties have been under attack by our government, I prefer our much freer system in the US. But I wonder how many Americans know that Iran has not attacked or “regime-changed” another country in its modern history. Iran’s actions in Syria are at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government. And why won’t President Trump tell us the truth about Iranian troops in Syria – that they are fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda, both of which are Sunni extremist groups that are Iran’s (and our) mortal enemies?

How many Americans know that Iran is one of the few countries in the region that actually holds elections that are contested by candidates with very different philosophies? Do any Americans wonder why the Saudis are considered one of our greatest allies in the Middle East even though they hold no elections and have one of the world’s worst human rights records?

Let’s be clear here: President Trump did not just announce that he was “de-certifying” Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. He announced that Iran was from now on going to be in the bullseye of the US military. Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?

Ron Paul’s Weekly Column is published every Monday and can be found at the Ron Paul Institute’s website.

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USA Liberty Act Meet the New Surveillance State

During the debate on the USA Freedom Act, my friend and former colleague, and current Ron Paul Senior Fellow Adam Dick quipped that Congress’s next phony civil liberties bill would be called the USA Liberty Act.

Well Adam was a prophet. Last week the House Judiciary Committee unveiled the USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989), which renews and “reforms” Section 702 of the FISA Act. Just like the USA FREEDOM Act, the reforms in the bill do little or nothing to actually protect our liberties.

Patrick Eddington from CATO explains:

One of the biggest vulnerabilities Americans face today is the growing volume of their personal data being stored on servers in the private sector and in government. In the government counterterrorism (CT) context—and CT intelligence collection was the original rationale for this authority—there is simply no reason for the government to continue the collection and storage of the information of innocent U.S. Persons (a legal definition that includes citizens and legal permanent residents).

The bill as drafted would allow the government to do exactly that for at least 90 days for “foreign intelligence purposes” and it allows the Director of the NSA (DIRNSA) to waive that requirement on an individual and specific basis if DIRNSA determines that such waivers are “necessary to protect the national security.” All this provision will do is create more paperwork for NSA, but the waiver process could no doubt be largely automated, rendering this alleged reform meaningless. A genuine reform would 1) explicitly prohibit the government from obtaining and maintaining the data of Americans unless said Americans were the actual target of an authorized criminal investigation, and 2) require mandatory external audits (read Government Accountability Office) to confirm said data destruction.

In September 2017, Demand Progress issued a report highlighting the number of times the NSA and Department of Justice have been caught violating Sec. 702, FISA Court orders, or both. From the report’s executive summary:

The FISC has twice found that certain Section 702 collection violated the Fourth Amendment. In 2011 the government revealed that as part of its “upstream” Section 702 collection it collected non-targeted, entirely domestic communications. When NSA violated the rules that were supposed to make this collection legal, FISC again deemed the practice “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

For almost 12 years, both under Section 702 and other programs before it, NSA was always engaging in or retaining some kind of electronic surveillance the FISC would go on to deem unauthorized, and NSA would only fix the problem when threatened with criminal sanctions.

The draft House Judiciary bill makes no mention of these past violations, much less proposes any remedies. House and Senate members apparently need to be reminded that the Constitution’s impeachment function is applicable to all civil officers of government who engage in such violations.

Read the whole piece here.

Marcy Wheeler explains the inadequacies of the bill’s proposed fix of the backside loophole.

The requirement only applies to evidence of crime. It requires the crime to be one of the ones listed in the Wiretap Act, but includes state crimes, which in turn includes drug crimes (and child pornography, which of course is now in Section 702’s minimization procedures).

For some reason, it requires this application to go to FISC, rather than a regular magistrate, which is problematic both from a time management issue for FISC but also for reasons of standardization among magistrates. That’s all the more concerning given that the bill doesn’t explain what kind of review the FISC judge can do — whether the judge can actually review for probable cause, or whether she doesn’t have that authority. This is a big concern, because DOJ has repeatedly told FISC judges in secret that they don’t have authority specifically laid out in law, not even when they were asking judges to approve programmatic spying.

One good part of this language is that it requires something beyond metadata from a 702 search to support a probable cause review.

First, the bill exempts emergency or threat to life queries.

But before it does that, it exempts all requests “designed for the primary purpose of returning foreign intelligence information.” In a different section, HJC punts on the issue of defining what “foreign intelligence information” means, directing the government to do that in minimization procedures.

It punts on more than that. How can you have one category for “primary purpose” FI information, but then not treat criminal searches as primary? Where does that line end? Especially given that this is permitted, for both criminal and intelligence purposes, at the assessment level, which is before the government has any evidence.

In short, even where it is writing exceptions, the bill does it in such a way as to let the split swallow the rule.

Consider: a great deal of individually targeted FISA data will replicate data obtained using 702 (which may in fact be the data the government used to obtain a targeted FISA order). A search on such data will return both the traditional FISA data and the 702 data. In cases where the FBI can use the former, they don’t have to bother with a “warrant” from FISC. As FBI obtains more and more raw EO 12333 data, that will be even more true there.

So while there may be an interesting operational reason for this — perhaps FBI even missed information in some sensitive investigation because not all data was accessible? — there are also clear downsides and the likelihood this will turn into a workaround to make the back door search even less meaningful.

Finally, the bill requires the government to adopt a meaning for “query reasonably designed for the primary purpose of returning foreign intelligence information” in yearly certifications, rather than doing it themselves.

Read all of Marcy’s post here. Also see Marcy’s other commentary on the bill here, here, and here.

Also watch Patrick Eddington discuss the bill with Daniel McAdams on the Liberty Report here.

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This Week in Congress Update

Today the House will consider H.R. 2266, legislation providing emergency disaster relief.

The bill appropriates $36.6 billion in emergency funding broken down as follows:

  1. $518.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Relief Disaster Fund.

  2. $576.5 million for wildfire efforts.

  3. $16 billion for debt relief for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Since the funds are designated “emergency” funds, they are not subject to any rules requiring the funds be offset. Instead, the money goes right into the nation’s credit card.

Read Campaign for Liberty Chair Ron Paul on federal disaster relief here.

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Ron Paul and Norm Singleton Statement on Trump Administration’s Endorsement of Mandatory E-Verify

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul and President Norm Singleton issued the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s endorsement of mandatory e-verify:

Ron Paul— Mandatory E-Verify requires a national ID tied to a centralized database. E-Verify thus represents the final step in the transformation of America into a papers please society. Anyone who thinks this power will only be used against illegal immigrants needs to consider how PATRIOT act powers are routinely used for purposes completely unrelated to terrorism.

Norm Singleton— E-Verify is a grave threat to individual liberty that has much more to do with controlling  the American people than ending illegal immigration. Campaign for Liberty stands ready to oppose any efforts to enact E-Verify into law.

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2ydXezw

This Week in Congress

The Senate is in recess this week.

The House is in Tuesday through Friday. While not on the schedule, the House may vote on H.Con.Res. 81, a privileged resolution ordering the President to withdraw US troops from Yemen. The results should come to the floor as privileged, but I have heard Congressional leadership is trying to block it from being considered.

Campaign for Liberty members should call their  Representatives and tell them to support H.Con.Res. 81.

Here is a letter signed by Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul in support of the resolution:

October 9, 2017

Dear Representatives Khanna, Massie, Pocan, and Jones,

We write to applaud your introduction of House Concurrent Resolution 81 to rapidly bring to an end the unauthorized U.S. participation in hostilities in Yemen’s civil war alongside a coalition of militaries led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against a Shiite rebel group, the Houthis, who have allied with the former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Launched in 2015, the Saudi-UAE-led war against the Houthi-Saleh alliance has directly led to the deaths of over ten thousand Yemenis.

An “unwarranted” blockade on imports of food and medicine enforced by Saudi warplanes and navy, according to Idriss Jazairy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and International Sanctions, is “one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe” afflicting the country. “The blockade involves grave breaches of the most basic norms of human rights law, as well as of the law of armed conflict,” he concluded, “which cannot be left unanswered.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres considered Yemen the “world’s largest hunger crisis”—a “man-made crisis” in which “a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every ten minutes” despite the fact that “all those deaths could have been prevented.” He concluded, “We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation.” The Saudi blockade has contributed to the dire reality that 17 million people—or 60 percent of Yemen’s population—now confront food insecurity, with 7 million being pushed to the brink of starvation. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut argued that “the Saudis are deliberately trying to create a famine inside Yemen in order to essentially starve the Yemenis to the negotiating table”—and “the United States is participating.” In addition to provoking near-starvation conditions for millions of Yemenis, the Saudi-led war is largely responsible for “the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

U.S. responsibility in Saudi Arabia’s famine-threatening war is not limited to the provision of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for use in Yemen, although this involvement alone led Obama administration lawyers to privately express concerns over U.S. co-belligerency under international law and the possible legal liability of U.S. officials for war crimes. Nor is U.S. culpability restricted solely to U.S. diplomatic shielding of Saudi Arabia and the UAE at the United Nations.

Rather, as you note in your privileged resolution, the U.S. is directly participating in the coalition-led war in Yemen due to its reported intelligence assistance in targeting selection for Saudi and UAE warplanes conducting airstrikes, and through the U.S. provision of midair refueling services during those warplanes’ bombing runs, according to The New York Times piece, “Support for Saudi Arabia Gives U.S. Direct Role in Yemen Conflict.” Foreign Policy senior reporter Paul McLeary added that the Saudi coalition’s “daily bombing campaign would not be possible without the constant presence of U.S. Air Force tanker planes refueling coalition jets.” Since October, this refueling support for the Saudi-UAE bombing campaign in Yemen has reportedly doubled. Although basic information regarding the extent of U.S. logistical assistance for Saudi aerial targeting is not publicly available in spite of Congressional requests, The New York Times reported in June 2017 that “the Saudis will allow American military advisers to sit in the Saudi air operations control center in Riyadh,” deepening U.S. participation.

Congress has never authorized U.S. participation in the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen against the Houthi-Saleh alliance, as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker has publicly acknowledged. Irrespective of debates regarding the expansive post-2001 U.S. war on Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen against the Shiite Houthis is indisputably independent from, unrelated to, and unauthorized by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

In fact, multiple news outlets have reported a “de facto” alliance between the Saudi coalition and Al Qaeda in Yemen against the Houthi-Saleh alliance, and that the Saudi- UAE war has strengthened the most dangerous franchise of this terrorist group. The State Department similarly acknowledged in a July 2017 report that “the ongoing conflict” has “enabled al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS’s Yemen branch to deepen their inroads across much of the country.”

When the Obama administration began participating in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in 2015, the action was not justified on the basis of protecting the United States from a foreign threat, but rather was pursued to reportedly placate “gulf nations angered by Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.” Although U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is therefore not in response to an actual or imminent threat to the United States, this use of U.S. force has never been voted on by Congress, as required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The U.S. House of Representatives has avoided a floor vote on any aspect of U.S. participation in this unauthorized war for at least a year, since an amendment to ban the transfer of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia over its conduct in Yemen narrowly failed by a vote of 204-216. Over the intervening period, humanitarian conditions have only worsened in Yemen. Your privileged resolution to withdraw unauthorized U.S. forces from actual or imminent hostilities between the Saudi-UAE-led coalition and the Houthi- Saleh alliance is therefore both welcome and long overdue, as leading aid experts warn that Yemen is approaching “a famine of Biblical proportions.”

By invoking provisions of U.S. law allowing for the introduction of a privileged resolution to withdraw unauthorized U.S. forces from this conflict, you are reasserting the rightful role of Congress as the constitutionally mandated branch of government that must both declare war and retain oversight over it.

We, the undersigned, encourage all U.S. Representatives to vote yes to this resolution. This measure strengthens U.S. governance to better comport with the Constitution, assists in reducing a genuine threat to national security posed by the expansion of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and promises to assist in ending the senseless suffering of millions of innocent people in Yemen.

Sincerely,

Bruce Ackerman
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science Yale University
Hon. Barbara K. Bodine
U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, 1997-2001
Director, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Laurence H. Tribe
Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law Harvard Law School
Hon. Mickey Edwards
Member of Congress (R-OK), 1977-1993 Aspen Institute
Jody Williams
Nobel Peace Laureate (1997)
Alberto Mora
Former General Counsel, United States Navy
Senior Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
Bruce Fein
Fein & DelValle, PLLC;
Associate Deputy Attorney General to President Ronald Reagan, 1981-1982
Kristen Breitweiser
9/11 Widow and Activist September 11th Advocates
Monica Gabrielle
9/11 Widow and Activist September 11th Advocates
Hon. Dr. Ron Paul
Member of Congress (R-TX), 1997-2013
Margaret L. Satterthwaite Professor of Clinical Law NYU School of Law
Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs FreedomWorks
Stephen Walt
Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
Asli Ü. Bâli
Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights Director, UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies
Ariel Dulitzky
Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Human Rights Clinic, University of Texas School of Law
Former Chair, United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
James Silk
Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights Yale Law School
Philip G. Alston
John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law New York University
Paul R. Pillar
Georgetown University
Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia
Gabor Rona
Lecturer in Law Columbia Law School
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.)
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell
Danny Glover Actor, humanitarian
Mark Ruffalo
Actor, filmmaker, social justice activist
Eve Ensler
Tony Award-winning playwright, performer, and activist
Tom Morello
Musician, political activist
Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen
Social justice advocates
Brie Larson
Academy Award-winning actor
Alice Walker Poet and writer
Hon. Dennis Kucinich
Member of Congress (D-OH), 1997-2013
Jeffrey D. Sachs
University Professor of Sustainable Development Columbia University
Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies Columbia University
Noam Chomsky
Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics Emeritus Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Juan Cole
Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History University of Michigan
Dani Rodrik
Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
Daniel Larison
Senior Editor, The American Conservative
Thomas Pogge
Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs Yale University
Danya Greenfield
Manager, Lifeline Embattled Civil Society Organization Assistance Fund Freedom House
Jules Lobel
Professor of International and Constitutional Law University of Pittsburgh Law School
Benjamin Davis
Professor of Law
University for Toledo College of Law
Peter Beinart
Contributing Editor, The Atlantic; Senior Columnist, The Forward Associate Professor, City University of New York
Marjorie Cohn
Professor Emerita
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Ria Singh Sawhney
Research Fellow, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU New York University
Sonia E. Sachs
Director of Health Programs
Center for Sustainable Development Columbia University
Mahmood Mamdani
Herbert Lehman Professor of Government Columbia University
Vicente Navarro
Professor of Public Policy, Sociology and Policy Studies Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health
Vijay Prashad
George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies
Trinity College
Toby C. Jones
Associate Professor, Department of History Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Lindsay Stark
Associate Professor of Population and Family Health; Director of Research for the Program on Forced Migration and Health
Columbia University
Catherine Lutz
Professor of Anthropology and International Studies Brown University
Arang Keshavarzian
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies New York University
Sara Pursley
Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies New York University
Carolyn Eisenberg
Professor of U.S History and American Foreign Policy Hofstra University
Suzanne W. Helburn
Professor Emerita of Economics University of Colorado, Denver
Jillian Schwedler
Professor of Political Science, Hunter College and the Graduate Center City University of New York
Stacey Philbrick Yadav
Associate Professor of Political Science Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Mary Nolan Professor of History New York University
Rebecca E. Karl Professor of History New York University
Barbara Weinstein Professor of History New York University
John Womack, Jr.,
Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Emeritus Harvard University
Adrienne Pine
Associate Professor of Anthropology American University
Sarah Babb
Professor of Sociology Boston College
Kate Gould
Legislative Director for Middle East Policy Friends Committee on National Legislation
Will Picard Executive Director Yemen Peace Project
Kate Kizer
Director of Policy & Advocacy Yemen Peace Project
Stephen Miles
Director, Win Without War
Paul Kawika Martin
Senior Director, Policy & Political Affairs, Peace Action
Robert Weissman President, Public Citizen
Jodie Evans
Co-founder, CODEPINK
Robert Naiman
Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy
Laura Flanders
Broadcaster, author, host, The Laura Flanders Show
Norman Solomon
National Coordinator, RootsAction.org
Kathy Kelly
Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Michael Beer Nonviolence International
John Cavanagh
Director, Institute for Policy Studies
Phyllis Bennis
Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies
Matthew P. Hoh
Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy
Jeff Faux
Founder, Economic Policy Institute
Natasha Lycia Bannan
President, National Lawyers Guild
Howie Klein
Blue America PAC
Robert Greenwald Brave New Films
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and Presidential briefer
Coleen Rowley, FBI agent (ret.) and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Bogdan Dzakovic
Former Team Leader, Air Marshal Program, Federal Aviation Administration 9/11 whistleblower
Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council and 27-year CIA veteran
Cian Westmoreland, U.S. Air Force Transmissions Systems Technician (2006-2010), unmanned aircraft systems whistle-blower
Col. Ann Wright, US Army (Ret.), former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War
Michael S. Kearns
Intelligence Officer, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor (Resistance to Interrogation)

The House will also consider S. 585, legislation enhancing protection of whistleblowers.

The House will also consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including:

1. S. 190– Requires Department of Energy to study whether to apply federal energy conservation standards to fire alarms.

2. H.R. 378– Authorizes bonuses for federal employees who identify ways to save money.

3. H.R. 2229– Gives federal courts permanent authority to review certain decisions repeated by whistleblowers.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2i0EtKg

Will Tax Reform Increase or Limit Liberty?

President Trump and the congressional Republican leadership recently unveiled a tax reform “framework.” The framework has a number of provisions that will lower taxes on middle-class Americans. For example, the framework doubles the standard deduction and increases the child care tax credit. It also eliminates the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Created in the 1960s, the AMT was designed to ensure the “wealthy” did not use “loopholes” to “get out of” paying taxes. Today the AMT is mostly a means to increase taxes on the middle class.

The framework eliminates the “death tax,” thus enabling family-owned small businesses and farms to remain family owned. It also helps the economy by lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, reducing taxes on small businesses. The framework also adopts a territorial tax system, which means US companies would only pay tax on profits earned in the United States.

However, the framework is far from a total victory for liberty. Concerns have been raised that, depending on what income levels are assigned to what tax brackets, the plan could increase taxes on many middle- and lower-income Americans! This is largely due to the framework’s elimination of most tax deductions.

The framework also contains a stealth tax increase imposed via the chained consumer price index (chained CPI). Supporters of chained CPI clam the government is currently overstating inflation. The truth is exactly the opposite: government statistics are manipulated to understate inflation.

Chained CPI enhances the government’s ability to lie about inflation. One way it does so is by claiming that inflation does not lower our standard of living if we can substitute cheaper goods for goods made unaffordable by inflation. So inflation does not harm you if you can’t afford a steak dinner as long as you can still buy a cheeseburger.

Chained CPI allows the government to take maximum advantage of “bracket creep,” where individuals are pushed into higher tax brackets not because they are actually earning more money, but because inflation creates the illusion they are wealthier. In fact, by decreasing their purchasing power, inflation makes most people poorer. The inflation tax thus raises taxes on declining incomes. It is hidden and regressive, making it the most insidious of all taxes.

Most of the framework’s problems stem from Congress’ continued refusal to offset tax cuts with spending cuts. Instead, Congress continues to increase spending, with the only real debate over whether the government should spend more on welfare or warfare.

Pairing tax cuts with increases in federal spending and debt — and the drafters of the framework admit their plan will increase the debt by at least $2.2 trillion — means that the economic benefit from the tax cuts will be outweighed by the economic harm caused by the increase in debt. Increasing the debt also means the Federal Reserve will further devalue the dollar in order to monetize that debt. While the Republican tax and budget plans predict uninterrupted economic growth, the US economy is far more likely to undergo a major economic crisis caused by a rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status.

While all supporters of individual liberty and sound economics should support tax cuts, the Republicans’ failure to cut spending means that their tax plan will do little to increase liberty or prosperity. Instead of increasing debt, eliminating deductions, and relying on the inflation tax to “pay for tax cuts,” Congress should cut two dollars in spending on the military-industrial complex and other forms of corporate welfare for every dollar in tax cuts. Cutting both taxes and spending is the only way to protect prosperity and liberty.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2g53GCE