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Volume 15, Issue 27: July 2, 2013

  1. “Deep Throat” Wasn’t the Watergate Story and Snowden Isn’t the Story Today
  2. Independent Institute Fellows to Be Featured at FreedomFest 2013
  3. Roberts’s Obamacare Decision May Signal Supreme Court’s Downfall
  4. A Strong Dose of Medicare Reality
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

The Independent Review: Subscribe or renew today and get a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Levithan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs.

1) “Deep Throat” Wasn’t the Watergate Story and Snowden Isn’t the Story Today

In her latest commentary for The Huffington Post, Independent Institute Senior Vice President Mary L. G. Theroux argues: “If we today make Edward Snowden the story—if we ask, ‘Where’s Snowden?’ rather than ‘What’s the U.S. intelligence community doing to Americans’ civil liberties?’—we censure our whistle-blowing protectors as traitors, renounce our rights to privacy, and sanction a government completely ‘unchained’ from the Constitution’s checks.”

Theroux observes that in 1972, when “Deep Throat” told Bob Woodward under the cover of night in a Washington, D.C. parking garage the extent of the Watergate conspiracy, Woodward and partner Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post did not make the informant the story. Instead, Theroux notes, the two reporters “doggedly built the case that traced the crimes back to the White House, ultimately resulting in the August 9, 1974, resignation of Richard Nixon. . . . Deep Throat was not the story in 1972, and Edward Snowden is not the story today.”

The real story, Theroux argues, is that for a better part of seven years NSA whistleblowers tried to use proper government channels to call attention to the out-of-control “Leviathan surveillance state” they witnessed first hand and tried to rein it in to legitimate constitutional bounds, without success. Snowden’s revelations started an important public discussion, one President Obama wants to silence. Obama seeks Snowden’s extradition back to the U.S. so he can be tried on felony criminal charges of theft of government property and two espionage charges.

“If the current war is one against ‘Terror,’” Theroux asks, “has Mr. Snowden aided and abetted any credible terrorist enemies of the state—or just enemies of the will of the Executive and a desire for universal spying privileges?”

Snowden Is Not the Story, by Mary L. G. Theroux (The Huffington Post, 6/27/13)

How Many Warnings Do We Need?, by Mary Theroux (The Beacon, 6/24/13)

The Stalinization of Amerika, by Mary Theroux (The Beacon, 6/17/13)


2) Independent Institute Fellows to Be Featured at FreedomFest 2013

Some of the Independent Institute’s most prolific Fellows will be featured on two panels at this year’s FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, July 10-13. Fellows will be on hand to explain how liberty and free markets can revive the U.S. economy, and how government surveillance threatens civil liberties. And please visit us in the Exhibitors Hall (our booth will be at Exhibit #105).

Peter J. Boettke, Benjamin W. Powell, John C. Goodman, and Anthony Gregory, all Institute fellows, will be on a panel sponsored by the Independent Institute titled “No More Caesars: How Liberty and Free Markets End Crises, Protect Rights, and Create Prosperity.” The panel will be moderated by Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal and is scheduled to begin at 9:00 A.M. on Friday, July 12, in the Celebrity Room.

Independent Institute Research Fellow Anthony Gregory, Terry Easton, and Randy Barnett will discuss “Private Eye and Public Spying: Is Big Brother Watching?” on a panel moderated by Jeffrey Tucker, Publisher and Executive Director of Laissez Faire Books. It is set to begin at 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, July 13, in the Wilshire Room.

Register today to attend FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds”

2013 FreedomFest Program Schedule


3) Roberts’s Obamacare Decision May Signal Supreme Court’s Downfall

In June of last year, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts surprised almost everyone by casting the swing vote to uphold the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act. The mandate is constitutional, he argued, not because Congress can regulate interstate commerce (a rationale he rejected), but because the law’s “penalty” for noncompliance is a tax even though its creators never called it a tax. Never mind that Roberts declared that for the purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act, the penalty is not a tax. By trying to have his tax-cake and eat it too, Roberts was able to promote his overarching goal: to restore the Court’s “bipartisan legitimacy.”

Some conservative pundits praised the Roberts decision for preventing Congress from regulating inactivity via the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Healthcare lawyer and policy analyst John S. Hoff believes this view is naïve. He spells out his analysis in the lead article for the new issue of The Independent Review.

“Roberts’s opinion gives Congress a powerful new tool for using taxes as an instrument of social regulation,” Hoff writes. “Congress merely has to impose a ‘tax’ on the failure to take an action. . . . Roberts’s effort may result in the very damage to the Court’s reputation and standing that he sought to avoid.”

Obamacare: Chief Justice Roberts’s Political Dodge, by John S. Hoff (The Independent Review, Summer 2013)

The Independent Review, Summer 2013

Special Offer: Subscribe or renew now and receive a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs!


4) A Strong Dose of Medicare Reality

Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman and Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff provide a strong dose of reality regarding the cost of Medicare. They write in the Wall Street Journal: “The unfunded liability in Medicare, the trustees tell us, is $34 trillion over the next 75 years. Looking indefinitely into the future, the unfunded liability is $43 trillion—almost three times the size of today’s economy.” And another more plausible estimate, by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), pegs it at more than $100 trillion. But President Obama foresees rosy savings ahead, disputed by Goodman and Kotlikoff.

For example, Medicare trustees assume that next January 1 there will be a 25 percent cut in the fees Medicare pays doctors. But Goodman and Kotlikoff note that since 1997 “Congress has postponed the cuts on 14 occasions, not allowing them to take place. Why assume things will be different now?”

Obamacare supporters also say there will be slower growth in health-care costs forever from more efficient ways of delivering care such as the use of electronic medical records and “coordinated care.” But Goodman and Kotlikoff point out that three “CBO reports have found that these programs . . . don’t work to cut costs.” In the end, either Medicare will have to resort to cutting provider fees to as little as 40 percent of private health-insurance fees, damaging access to care, or “the unfunded liability in Medicare will be far greater than what the trustees are now showing.”

Medicare by the Scary Numbers, by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and John C. Goodman (Wall Street Journal, 6/24/13)

What Paul Krugman and the New York Times Don’t Know About Healthcare Reform, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 6/11/13)

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

K. Lloyd Billingsley (7/1/13)

The Making of the Sausage with the Senate Immigration Bill
Cherylyn LeBon (7/1/13)

Which Is Worse For GDP: Spending Cuts or Tax Hikes?
Craig Eyermann (6/30/13)

The “War Against Coal”
Craig Eyermann (6/27/13)

GM Is Still Government Motors
K. Lloyd Billingsley (6/26/13)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.


6) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless