Since the ignominious failure of the Obamacare repeal effort, President Trump has been lashing out at the Republican House Freedom Caucus on Twitter. “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast,” he tweeted in a remarkable threat to members of his own party. President Trump’s frustration with legislative obstruction overlooks the fact that that obstruction is itself one of the greatest strengths of the American system of government.
The beauty of the American system is that it enables not only members of opposition or minority parties like today’s congressional Democrats, but also members of governing or majority parties, to curb executive power. What happened last month was an example of that phenomenon. Unlike the way things work in British-style parliamentary systems like that of my home country of Canada, with their fusion of the executive and legislative branches of government, Congress is elected separately from the president. Members of both chambers of Congress are accountable primarily to their constituents at the ballot box rather than to party leaders.
Republicans in the House were thus free to resist whatever pressure the Trump White House and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan exerted on them to vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contrary to the president’s incensed tweets, the AHCA went down to defeat not only thanks to the House Freedom Caucus, but also thanks to the so-called “Coverage Caucus” of more cautious Republicans who balked at the prospect of depriving millions of their constituents of health insurance. Freedom Caucus members and their allies refused to support the bill because it was not enough of a departure from the Affordable Care Act for them; “Coverage Caucus” Republicans opposed it because, in effect, it was too much of a departure from Obamacare.
Continue reading at The American Conservative
Last fall, Young Voices launched our Campus Pundit Program, rewarding students for advocating for free speech on their college campus. Thanks to the talented work of our applicants and editing team, 18 op-eds were placed in student newspapers across the U.S. at notable schools including Berkeley, William & Mary, the University of Michigan, Clemson, and the University of Alabama.
Young Voices is pleased to announce that we are bringing the program back in the spring with a focus on investigative journalism. From speech-stifling administrators to spendthrift student governments, there is a lot that goes unnoticed at universities today. Young Voices will reward any student who can successfully place an article promoting transparency in their student or local newspaper with $50.
Click here for more information, including how to apply.
Paternalists don’t always have nefarious designs when they place bans on unhealthy activities, but a “take your medicine” attitude toward improving people’s health has unintended, sometimes deadly consequences. And, too often, there is an illegitimate purpose to legislating lifestyle politics: ill-gotten gains for rent-seekers.
For those who thought the baptists and bootleggers coalitions of yesteryear disappeared along with Prohibition, consider its longevity.
Bans on Popular Activities
Rent-seekers and anti-fun lifestyle enforcers (still) make strange bedfellows. For example: The State of New York taxes cigarettes at a rate of $5.85 per pack, banned Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for twenty years, and has an Attorney General obsessed with shutting down Fantasy Sports. And in nearby Pennsylvania, century-old Blue Laws prohibit hunting on Sundays and limit liquor sales to government-run stores.
On the federal level, the FDA announced that it would begin to regulate e-cigarettes. So we have the baptist, in this case, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murphy calling for tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes, despite the evidence that youth smoking has declined and that “[r]educing youth access to e-cigarettes appears to increase youth smoking rates.” Then, we’ve got the bootleggers, tobacco companies whose profits are threatened by e-cigarette manufacturers.
Similarly, in Pennsylvania, anti-alcohol activists, or “new prohibitionists,” joined hands with government-liquor-shop unions to halt Blue Law reform.
Only through collusion could those new prohibitionists and their legislative allies manage to keep otherwise popular activities illegal. Before the legalization of MMA in New York and the modest reform of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, both changes had overwhelming support.
If the politician and the rent-seeker can line their pockets while simultaneously keeping competition out of the market, why wouldn’t they?
Continue reading at FEE.