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Radio America News

Kibbe's Libertarian Manifesto:

Americans are ready to kick a big, intrusive government to the curb, but they're waiting for a credible alternative to the two-party approach that got us into this mess, according to FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe. Kibbe is author of the new book, Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto. He admits that reversing the tide of big government will be a massive task even if the right people get into office. He is also wading into the divisive conservative debates over America's role in the world and whether elected conservative leaders ought to be championing traditional family values. In his book, Kibbe says the fundamental principles of limited government should boil down to six principles. In addition to not hurting people and seizing their property, he extols the values of personal responsibility and and hard work, while encouraging everyone to mind their own business and fight the power of government when it exceeds its constitutional boundaries. Kibbe also prescribes a 12-step solution to restoring liberty to the people, with ideas ranging from the government not spending more than it takes in and scrapping the income tax to personal choice in education and health care to placing much greater limits on the government's ability to invade our privacy. Despite the growth of government both long-term and in recent years, Kibbe is optimistic that enough Americans are fed up with Washington that real change is possible. However, he says it will take a unique confluence of events to make it happen, and while he is no fan of the Republican Party, Kibbe thinks it still needs to be part of the answer. Ronald Reagan said in 1975 that the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarian. The next year, remember, he primaried a sitting Republican president (Gerald Ford). Everyone predicted he would destroy the party. In fact, the opposite happened. He kind of cleaned out the barn and restored a certain sense of standing for something within the GOP, said Kibbe. I think that has to happen again today and I think there a lot of independents and Democrats with buyer's remorse. And there's a lot of small 'L' libertarians that would vote against the big government party of the Democrats if they found a home. Some political entrepreneur needs to offer that up, but I think we're going to have to beat the Republicans before we beat the Democrats, said Kibbe. But Kibbe admits rolling back big government will take a long, committed effort. First, he says the unnecessary complexity of the federal bureaucracy is great for entrenched politicians and special interests and bad for the average citizen. You see this with Obamacare. You see it with the IRS and the very complex campaign finance rules that Lois Lerner used to target mom and pop tea partiers. It wasn't equally applied and in this world of complexity, all of us are probably breaking some small piece of the federal register that we don't even know. We don't even know that the rule exists. And that shifts power away from us to them. It also happens to benefit all of the interests that come to Washington looking for a special deal. Incumbent firms love to lobby for more complexity in finance regulations and in the ability of new firms to enter the marketplace, said Kibbe. Kibbe warns that because of the deliberate complexity of the federal bureaucracy, reversing the tide will require a long and sustained effort, regardless of who wins elections. But he says approaching reform with simplicity is definitely the way to go. On the spending side, agree to how much we're going to spend and then put everything on the table. On the regulatory side, I think it makes sense on really bad ideas like Obamacare and Sarbanes-Oxley (financial regulatory reforms), a lot of these failed, super-complicated regulatory regimes, pull it out by the roots. Agree what you're trying to accomplish and then set out something that's simple, said Kibbe. There are simple solutions to health care that give patients more control that would actually create competition for scarce dollars. We don't have to write a 7,000-page bill. We could do it with some simple changes to the tax code, but that takes away Washington's power and that's why it doesn't happen, said Kibbe. Before confronting the federal leviathan, however, there are some major points of division on the right, both among conservatives and between conservatives and libertarians. The biggest sticking points center on America's role in the world and whether the right ought to be champions of traditional values like the right to life and traditional marriage and the nuclear family. On the international stage, Kibbe believes strong leadership on a limited number of issues essential to American security is preferable to how U.S. foreign policy has been conducted lately. I think Barack Obama's a great example of what you don't do because he's combined a lack of leadership with a weakening of our economy and a running up of our debt, said Kibbe. I'm with Reagan on this. I lean libertarian. I think we should be careful about getting involved in things like Syrian civil wars because it doesn't make sense and the practical outcomes matter a lot. We don't have a good track record there. But if we don't have the money and we don't have an economy that exports freedom and actually produces energy...we're not going to be anyone's world leader. You can talk a good game but I think the fundamentals are more important, said Kibbe. Everybody took Ronald Reagan seriously and it wasn't because he was rolling the tanks. It's because he represented a country that said what it believed and actually was strong in the face of Soviet oppression, he said. Social conservatives may have the biggest disagreement with Kibbe, who believes that morality issues should be decided in families, communities and private institutions like churches in synagogues. He believes government shouldn't be in the business of advocating anything when it comes to moral issues like the definition of marriage. He also contends the Faith Based Initiatives of President George W. Bush quickly devolved into a scrum for federal handouts, handouts that are now going to to very progressive organizations under the Obama administration. When you give Washington the authority to intervene in the really important things that you believe, expect that they might do exactly the opposite of what you want them to. Wouldn't it be better to pursue freedom to allow you to raise your kids the way that you think is right instead of imposing Common Core from the top down. Wouldn't it be better to not have Washington, D.C. opine on my marriage. I personally found it offensive that I had to get the government's permission to get married 27 years ago. I think people are waking up to this. These guys can't even balance the budget. Do we really think they can define marriage in a better way than we could for ourselves? asked Kibbe.


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Obama's Keystone Waiting Game:

The Obama administration is again delaying a decision on whether to approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a move Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry says is nothing more than a gift to the environmental lobby that could force Canada to abandon the U.S. as a partner on this critical project. The hardcore greens came out a couple months ago, after the final environmental impact study was ruled as a final study by the State Department. They held a press conference saying, 'We will boycott the 2014 elections if the president signs this.' The president knows. His brain is telling him that it has to be signed. There's just no good reason to deny the permit except for the political pressures that are on him from his far left, said Terry, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. So (the administration) found another creative, meaningless way to just delay signing that permit until after the elections, he said. If this is just a political calculation, the environmental lobby appears to carry more weight inside the White House than Democratic lawmakers from right-leaning states and even multiple labor unions anxious to get to work on the pipeline. At least 11 Democrats in the U.S. Senate have publicly urged Obama to green-light the pipeline and unions like the Laborers International Union of America (LIUNA). Terry says there is enough support in the Senate to break a filibuster and maybe even override an Obama veto of the pipeline. He says the fight inside organized labor is a bit more complex. It's the trade unions that will go to work at good middle class wages, but those are the ones that the president's throwing under the bus, a bus probably driven by a Teamster who would actually benefit from this project. The reality is the major political unions today, like the SEIU and the government employees, they're standing with the green organizations opposing this pipeline, said Terry. Terry also noted Democratic super donor Tom Steyer has promised to raise $100 million for Democrats to make climate change a major issue this year, but only if Keystone doesn't happen. Despite more than five years of evaluation and final environmental approval by Obama's own State Department, the administration says it needs more time before rendering a final decision. One reason it says is to carefully consider a large number of public comments solicited on the issue. It also claims the route of the pipeline is still up in the air after a federal judge in Nebraska rejected it. That is an invalid excuse. There's just no basis to delay the pipeline because of that. First of all, that decision is so faulty that it was immediately stayed by law. Secondly, go ahead and start construction of the pipeline in Montana and South Dakota before they resolve these issues, said Terry. The court case would not interfere with the construction of the pipeline. So it's really a faux reason. You have to fall back on what I think it is and it's all politics, said Terry, who says outside of the political money at stake Obama is stuck between his personal aversion to such energy products and the inability to come up with a good reason to reject it. And the congressman is doubtful that Obama will ever make a decision on the pipeline. I don't know how to figure this president out, especially on issues like this. I think in his heart he would like to veto it or not sign it but he also knows that there really isn't a good reason to kill it and that he should sign it. When all their environmental studies, all of them, came out and said that it would actually reduce carbon emissions by using a pipeline instead of hauling it on rail or trucks. I would think that the environmentalists would want it, but they won't and I don't think the president wants to sign it either, said Terry. While the clock ticks on the Obama administration, it's also ticking on Canada, where the government and energy producer TransCanada have made it clear they'll ship the oil to China if the U.S. doesn't want it. I had a conversation just a few weeks ago with the ambassador from Canada. He said they're already going forward with the pipeline to the east and the right-of-way is already all reserved now for a pipeline from Alberta to the west coast and there's probably going to be two to the west coast (for shipping to China). So Canada is already implementing Plan B as we speak. The issue is whether or not the United States is ever going to adopt the Keystone XL so that it goes to our refineries and creates jobs and prosperity along the route, said Terry.


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Are Feds About to Bail Out Detroit?:

U.S. taxpayers may soon be on the hook for $100 million in the effort to resurrect the bankrupt city of Detroit, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter says such a move wastes valuable resources and relieves city and state officials from having to make the tough decisions needed to restore solvency to the Motor City. The Detroit Free Press reported this week that state and federal officials are in talks to give the city $100 million in federal money to help jump start blight removal efforts and ease the pain on pension recipients stung by the recent bankruptcy declaration. Detroit has been grossly mismanaged for years and that was a choice by Detroit citizens through their elected officials. For all other federal taxpayers to now pay for it or partially pay for it to the tune of $100 million I think is just wrong, said Vitter, who expanded on his assertion that generations of Detroit leaders and the people who repeatedly put them into office dug this massive financial hole. In Detroit and a lot of other jurisdictions, there's been this conspiracy for years. Public unions elected left-leaning elected officials and those elected officials push very expensive public pensions and other benefits for those unions. That's what's been building for years and years in Detroit, in Illinois, in other very left-leaning jurisdictions, particularly those dominated by public unions. That's a big deal and a big part of what got Detroit into trouble, said Vitter. More than a year ago, Vitter tried to stifle any federal financial rescues such as this through his State Bailout Prevention Act. I introduced this bill because I saw this coming. I knew that with Detroit, Illinois, perhaps others, there would be attempts for the federal taxpayer to have to bail out these mismanaged jurisdictions. So this simply said that no federal authority, including the Treasury, including the Fed can have an authority to bail out these entities in bankruptcy, said Vitter. Certainly that doesn't prevent other funds that would ordinarily go to these jurisdictions from continuing. But (there would be) no funds specifically to bail out these mismanaged jurisdictions. Advancing the legislation in a U.S. Senate controlled by Democrats is a challenge. Vitter's one attempt to enact the bill was defeated when he called for unanimous consent for its adoption. While Vitter claims wide support for the plan, he says Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, formally objected and killed the resolution. I'm looking for other opportunities to move it forward but, unfortunately in Harry Reid's Senate, Reid and other Democratic leaders are probably going to go along with this bailout idea, said Vitter, noting his concerns the $100 million might not even come up for congressional authorization. I'm concerned that they're trying to do this administratively. I don't think the Obama administration has the authority to do that, but that certainly hasn't stopped them in similar cases in the past, said Vitter. The senator also applauds Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for being one of the few leaders who doesn't have his hand out to Washington. Vitter says approving the $100 million could easily begin a slippery slope for more taxpayer dollars flowing into Detroit and actually hamper efforts to get the city on solid financial ground. I agree with the thought that if it started there, it wouldn't end there and I think it may very well mushroom from there, said Vitter. The more they're bailed out by others, the less they're going to make necessary tough choices. It's as simple as that. So this is actually discouraging. They're making those tough decisions and getting management of the city on track. I was going to say back on track but it hasn't been on track for generations, said Vitter. In addition to his fears that Detroit could be a bottomless pit for federal bailout dollars, he fears setting such a precedent in Detroit could trigger a long line of cash-strapped states and cities to line up in Washington expecting similar aid. Absolutely. Detroit's not the end of it. Illinois could be in line. California could be in line. So to set this sort of precedent is really dangerous, said Vitter.


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Vets Vow to Sink 'Barricade' Burwell:

President Obama is asking the U.S. Senate to confirm Sylvia Mathews Murwell as the next leader of the Department of Health and Human Services, but at least one veterans organization is vowing to do everything it can to block her path to the president's cabinet. Burwell is currently directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). During October's partial government shutdown, Burwell made the call for the National Park Service to shutter it's public attractions, including open air memorials in Washington such as the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. That decision made the World War II Memorial a flash point of controversy during the shutdown, as elderly veterans coming to the nation's capital on Honor Flights were turned away by barricades. Members of Congress and veterans groups soon began removing the barricades to allow veterans access to their memorials. Eventually, the government allowed World War II veterans into their memorial, but the general public was left out. The Vietnam and Korean memorials were closed to everyone. The only reason they reversed themselves (on the World War II Memorial) is because there was a public outcry, said Special Operations Speaks Political Director Larry Ward, whose group was actively involved in the Million Vet March demanding the memorials be re-opened. The fact that there were flights coming in with 90-year-old men who served our country and saved the world, the Greatest Generation, were coming in to see the World War II Memorial, probably for the last time that they could in their lives, and they were turned away for political spite. It's one of the most reprehensible acts any commander-in-chief or any bureau head like, Sylvia 'Barricade' Burwell, has ever done in the history of this country. Ward says the whole episode shows the depths to which the Obama administration would sink to win a political debate, and whether Burwell or President Obama is ultimately to blame doesn't really matter. The blame at the time went to the president, and rightly so. (The orders) probably came from on high. The fact of the matter is she was in charge of making the call. It might have been her idea. We do know that the barricades went up minutes after the government shut down so it was planned and it was reprehensible and idiotic. Let's call it for what it is, said Ward. There was nothing to be gained by shutting down open-air memorials. The government spent more money shutting them down and guarding them than they would have if they had just left them open and let our veterans go to their memorials, said Ward. According to Ward, whether Burwell ordered the memorial shut on her own volition or was simply following orders, she is unfit for higher office either way. She either was a lot of malcontent, has a lot of evil inside her or she's just an Obamabot. Either way, we don't want that person representing the nation's health care. We need somebody who can stand on their own and make decisions that affect the entire country's health and well being, not someone who is going to either have political payback for spite or for whatever reasons that they put these barricades up or just follow orders as the king on high declares, said Ward. While the exact strategy is being worked out, Ward says Special Operations Speaks is planning an aggressive opposition to the Burwell nomination. Absolutely, and you'll hear this first, said Ward. We're planning on hosting a human barricade in front of the Senate at the time of her confirmation hearings. Ward adds that military veterans are very reticent to get active in politics but the members of Special Operations Speaks feel they have no choice. They've gotten political with this administration because of the reprehensible behavior they have towards our military and our veterans. If need be, we'll rip down barricades every single day and throw them at the White House the way we did at the Million Vet March, said Ward.


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Time for the Fair Tax?:

The federal tax code is a complex, unintelligible mess and America needs to embrace the simplicity of a national consumption tax known as the Fair Tax, according to Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who is just one of many conservatives touting the idea as Americans rush to meet today's federal income tax deadline. PROBLEM: folks sacrificing precious time, money and peace of mind on a broken complex tax code. SOLUTION: the #FairTax, tweeted Price on Tuesday. Fellow Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston also tweeted support for the Fair Tax and the abolishing of the IRS. Price says the first thing Americans need to recognize is that our current tax system is a disaster. Our current system actually punishes the things that we say that we want as a society. We say we want hard work. We say we want success. We say we want entrepreneurs, risk taking, investment and all those kinds of things. yet our tax system punishes every single one of them. So many of us believe that we need think more fundamentally and more creatively about it and come up with a tax system that doesn't just massage what we currently have but puts in place a system that actually rewards those things, said Price. Fair Tax supporters call for the income tax and payroll taxes to be eliminated and replaced with a national sales or consumption tax in a move that would be revenue neutral and clear out all the confusion and bureaucracy from the system. The IRS goes away. All the taxes related to income at both the business and the individual level go away and we would have a national retail sales tax that would replace that, said Price. It would bring in the same amount of money, but what it would do is reinvigorate the economy and get the economy rolling in a big, big way because it would encourage jobs to come back from overseas. It would encourage investment, encourage savings, encourage entrepreneurship, encourage hard work and reward success in big, big ways. Based on current consumption and levels and national revenue figures, the Fair Tax would be roughly in the 20-23 percent range. Price says that may seem steep but it's actually a good deal when you take out income taxes and consider one other important fact. Each and every one of us pays right now about a 23 percent tax in every single good or service that we purchase, but you don't know about it. It's embedded in the system. For example, businesses add into the price of their product an amount that's about equal to 23 percent of the cost of the product to cover their taxes. Businesses don't pay taxes. The consumers that use the businesses do, said Price, who says once those business taxes go away, the retail prices will go down and we would pay about the same as we do now once the Fair Tax was applied. Price says one caveat to installing a Fair Tax is not just the scrapping of the federal income tax but to pass a new constitutional amendment forbidding an income tax. He says otherwise the Fair Tax could become a nightmare. What we don't want is both a consumption tax and an income tax. That's the worst of both world's. So when you hear people talking about a Value Added Tax (VAT), that's a consumption tax as well but it is in addition to income tax. That would be a terrible prospect, because then you give the federal government even more money to expand the bureaucracy and create an ever-larger federal government, said Price. The most common Democratic complaint about the Fair Tax is that the rich and poor would pay the exact same percentage in taxes for the same items. Price says that worry is unfounded. The way the current bill solves that is to provide everybody with what's called a prebate, so the amount of monies that are felt to be needed for essential services like food, clothing and shelter, one would get a prebate to cover the cost of the Fair Tax on those items. Everybody gets it, so that those at the lower end of the economic spectrum are actually benefited to a greater degree under the Fair Tax than they currently are, said Price. In late February, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp introduced his version of tax reform that includes fewer tax brackets and an attempted simplification of the system through closing loopholes. Price says it's a step in the right direction towards more of a flat tax system but doesn't go far enough. There is a House bill calling for the adoption of the Fair Tax, HR 25, but Price says there's not nearly enough backing, even among Republican leaders and members, to advance the resolution right now.


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