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A Silver Lining in the Cloud of Controversy (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) September 6, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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President Trump’s approval numbers are low and controversies are high, nevertheless some good things are happening in our democratic system.

Congress, for example, is stepping up to its responsibilities to debate and decide policy. With Trump less interested in policy particulars, Congress can become what the founders intended, the first of the branches of government. They are debating health care, tax reform and war powers instead of waiting for the president.

Federalism is also flourishing, with states and cities becoming more proactive in policy affairs. I don’t always agree with them, but California and other states have figured out that they can make decisions about immigration or the environment. Again, that’s how the republic is supposed to work.

There’s even a new appreciation for checks and balances and separations of power as the Constitution established them.

Call them unintended good consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency, perhaps, but these are healthy signs for our democratic system.

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California’s Bully Federalism (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) September 2, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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California’s travel ban, forbidding the expenditure of state money to travel to states that have policies they don’t like, is what I call “bully federalism.”

You may remember federalism, the idea that state and local governments retain considerable power in our federal system. Under the 10th Amendment, states can fight back and defend their powers against Washington.

But California’s federalism is not defending against federal power, it is offensive in nature, seeking to force its policies onto other states.

California doesn’t want state officials—or even university students—to travel to states that do not agree with its policies on LGBT issues. With the 6th largest economy in the world, California has the economic power to be a bully.

Do we all have to be like California? Is California the only state that gets things right? Is there no respect for the laws of other states, as seems to be called for by the “full faith and credit” provision of the Constitution?

No one likes bullies.

Win or Lose, The ACA Has Federalized Healthcare (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) August 29, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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No matter how the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare turn out, I’m sorry to say that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has federalized health care forever.

It has changed the conversation so that, instead of debating whether the federal government should or constitutionally may take over health care, we are instead debating how.

As political scientist James Q. Wilson pointed out, once Congress has entered a field of regulation, the legitimacy of federal action is established and is rarely debated again. Sadly, in the case of Obamacare, this was accomplished by a straight party-line vote of Democrats.

Surprisingly, in that same time frame, the federalization of education policy was also accomplished, but is now turning back to the states. There was such an outcry over Common Core and federal testing that teachers and parents changed the law in Washington.

Unfortunately that’s not likely to happen with an entitlement like healthcare, which has now—almost certainly—been federalized forever.

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Free Speech Under Threat (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) July 5, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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This summer, Commentary magazine published a forum on the question: Is free speech under threat in the United States?

Ironically, in a country where the Constitution and the courts carefully protect free speech, many people do not feel free to speak freely. Why? Because of a smothering blanket of political correctness that starts in our colleges and permeates our society.

Speakers with points of view that differ from the liberal orthodoxy are not welcome on many campuses, and in some cases have been subject to threats and violence. Students are supposed to be protected from so-called trigger words and microaggressions in the classroom. So much for free speech and the open debate of competing ideas.

The problem is that the First Amendment protects free speech from limitations by government, but the big challenges to free speech come from our culture and our campuses. It will take a strong fight to protect free speech, which is clearly under threat.

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The Future of Freedom (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) June 30, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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A new survey by the Fund for American Studies reminds us that millennials do not understand economics. The same group that does not know basic civics—such as who their senator is or whether Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court—also doesn’t get how free markets work.

While 60% of millennials said they would choose liberty over security, in turn 54% want more government, not less. A majority of even Republicans and conservatives believe government should regulate oil and drug company prices, and place tariffs on goods coming from overseas.

This survey is described as a “freedom index” but millennials really favor more government regulation. I suppose it’s no surprise that young people who have grown up knowing nothing but big government fail to see the connection between more government regulation and less freedom.

Young people who value freedom in their personal and social lives need to understand that political and economic freedoms are necessary to sustain that.

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Tax Reform Should Not Increase the National Debt (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) May 24, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

 

One more dilemma for our leaders in Washington is that we desperately need tax reform, but we can’t afford to increase the national debt.

The debt is already large and growing. Our leaders say it’s nearly $15 trillion, but that doesn’t count another $5 trillion of debt to our own government, making the real number closer to $20 trillion. And Senator Ben Sasse has recently reminded us that even that number doesn’t count entitlement bills coming due that we can’t pay, perhaps pushing the number as high as $75 trillion.

But there are reasons to worry that it’s about to get worse. First, rising interest rates could make the debt more expensive. Second, Trump’s tax reform could bring in even less revenue. He’s counting on stimulating growth, but it will take a lot of growth to pay for lower tax rates.

Senator Mitch McConnell is right to say that tax reform must be revenue neutral to keep from growing the national debt.

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Congress Needs to Step Up Its Game (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) May 23, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Politics, Radio Commentaries.
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While everyone was evaluating Donald Trump at 100 days, we also should have been grading Congress.  With significantly lower approval ratings than the president, Congress has done very little.

With the same political party controlling the White House and Congress, how can that be?  The answer is that Republicans in Congress are no longer following their leaders but instead are beholden to political caucuses.  The moderate Tuesday group and the conservative Freedom Caucus now hold as much power as the Speaker of the House or a committee chair.

Leaders no longer even try to work with members of the other party, instead settling for party-line votes on everything.  Only five times in history has the president’s party avoided losses in mid-term elections, so Republicans now have about a year and a half to get it together.  Otherwise what should have been a period of power and influence will have been wasted.

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Trump’s First Hundred Days: Doing What He Promised (National Radio Commentary, Salem/Townhall) April 25, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Politics, Radio Commentaries.
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Since Franklin Roosevelt, presidents have been evaluated at the end of a hundred days.  Donald Trump drafted his own report card in a campaign speech last fall, saying what he would do in his first hundred days.

And here’s the surprising thing:  he’s doing what he said.

•    Appoint judges who would uphold the Constitution.  Neil Gorsuch. Check.
•    Construct a wall and limit illegal immigration.  No wall yet, but plenty of restrictions.
•    Reassess trade agreements—withdrew from the TPP, check.
•    Repeal Obamacare—no check, but working on it.
•    Impose term limits on Congress—no.
•    Remove restrictions on energy—yes.
•    Eliminate gun-free zones—not yet.
•    For every new regulation, eliminate two old ones.  Check, by executive order.
•    Instruct the Joint Chiefs to develop plans to protect America.  Check.
•    Label China a currency manipulator—maybe, but doubtful.

After 100 days, he’s batting .500 or more, which is better than my teams are doing.

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Why Hasn’t International Law Stopped Chemical Weapons in Syria? (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) April 18, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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Where is international law when you need it? The Syrian government has again used chemical weapons on its own people, despite signing the international convention banning chemical weapons as well as a specific agreement to destroy them.

So why is this still happening? It’s one thing for countries to sign treaties but, if they turn out to be against their interest, they simply violate them later. Unfortunately there is very little enforcement of international law. The U.N. Security Council is usually blocked from acting by the veto of one or more of its permanent members.

So the U.S. is left to come to the rescue of international law and the Syrian people. One could question one nation taking it upon itself to enforce a treaty, but the soft nature of international law has never been strong on enforcement. It also doesn’t stop unilateral enforcement either if there’s a consensus that such action is appropriate.

Stay tuned, the legal questions are likely to get more complicated in Syria.https://w.soundcloud.com/player?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F318118022&visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

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Bad News from the Index of Economic Freedom (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) March 21, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom has been released and it contains some bad news for Americans.  The U.S. dropped 6 positions in the ranking of economic freedom around the world to #17, its lowest level since these studies have been published.  While most nations of the world increased their economic freedom, the U.S. saw a significant decline, rated now not “free” but only “mostly free.”

The main contributor was a new category in the study called “fiscal health.”  This shows that a shocking 38 percent of our gross domestic product now goes to government and also emphasizes our growing national debt and deficit.

Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century, said that the country that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither, but the nation that puts freedom ahead of equality will end up with a great measure of both.

Clearly we need more economic growth, less government spending and less debt.  In other words, more freedom.

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