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Watchdog Podcasts. Taking you behind the headlines and inside the stories. We examine the news that matters to you - from the school board to the state Capitol and Washington DC - because we know that someone has to keep an eye on how government is spending your money. Education, health care, budgets and more; our reporters have the inside story that you need to know - and a free market perspective that you won't find anywhere else.
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Now displaying: July, 2015
Jul 31, 2015

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog Radio

Governors - current and former - seem to have something of a built-in advantage when it comes to running for president. Four of the last six men to sit in the Oval Office had served as the chief executive of their state.

Several of the candidates in the Republican primary field for 2016 are hoping to capitalize on that advantage. But there's more to being a president than simply being a successful governor.

In this week's episode, host Eric Boehm is joined by a roundtable of Watchdog reporters who have spent time covering four of the governors who are now running for the White House.  Matt Kittle, Mark Lisheron, Mark Lagerkvist and Jason Hart share their perspectives on, respectively, Gov. Scott Walker, of Wisconsin; former Gov. Rick Perry, of Texas; Gov. Chris Christie, of New Jersey; and Gov. John Kasich, of Ohio.

Then, in our weekly Picks of the Liter segment: a look at odd beer laws in Pennsylvania and the explanation of why taxpayers are paying for a useless overhaul of Vermont's Obamacare exchange system.

All that, plus Moriah Costa's Education Minute and the Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Jul 24, 2015

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog Radio

A crazy - or maybe brilliant - plan to break California into six different states won't be on the ballot in 2016.

The proposal, pushed by venture capitalist ?? ??, would have allowed voters to decide if they wanted to divide California into a half-dozen smaller states (the largest of which would still be one of the seven biggest states, by population in the United States), but it won't be on the ballot after supporters failed to get the required amount of signatures in favor of the initiative.

California resident Steve Greenhut joins Eric Boehm to discuss the idea. Breaking up the state has some advantages, Greenhut says, like giving a voice to conservative Californians who are largely drowned out by the huge number of liberal voters in the state's big cities.  It would also give the state more influence in the U.S. Senate by essentially creating 10 new seats for a state that currently has as much representation as North Dakota and Vermont.

Then, we take a look at the surprisingly huge pile of debt in Houston, Texas. Despite a massive population boom and a growing economy, the city is not immune to the pension problems that are sinking Detroit, Chicago and many other American municipalities.

Our Big Dog interview of the week is with Tori Richards, who recently uncovered how Tesla Motors received nearly $300 million in tax credits for creating a new battery-swap system that could make electric cars more user-friendly. The only problem: they've pocketed the tax credits without making the new technology available to the general public.

All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Jul 17, 2015

The Wisconsin Supreme Court brought an end to the three-year John Doe saga - a politically-motivated witch hunt in the Badger State targeting conservative individuals and groups that backed Gov. Scott Walker during his recall campaign in 2012.

But, as hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim discuss, this was about more than just the John Doe investigation. It was about the First Amendment, the right to speak freely in political discourse and the trouble with restrictive campaign finance laws.  Though it might be well-intentioned to try to get money out of politics, the practical results of such efforts involve police officers busting through your front door in the middle of the night - as they did in Wisconsin - in an effort to prove violations of such laws.

Matt Kittle joins us to talk about the ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling this week, and how it might affect Walker's newly-announced presidential campaign.

Also, we take a look at a major loophole in Vermont's law that gives drivers licenses to illegal immigrants and find out why some teachers are pretty upset that their union has endorsed Hilary Clinton for president.

All that, plus the Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Jul 10, 2015

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog Radio

On this week's Watchdog Podcast, a tragic event in San Francisco has started a national conversation about so-called "sanctuary cities" where federal immigration laws are effectively voided.

And Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (yes, those words still seem odd to put together) has stepped into the spotlight by voicing some strong opinions on how to address the immigration problem. Perhaps because of that, he's now leading in some national polls of the Republican primary (and those words are even more odd).

Matt Kittle and Eric Boehm sit down for a conversation about those big issues this week.

Then, we'll hear from education reporter Moriah Costa, who sits down with Jonathan Butcher, the education director at Arizona's Goldwater Institute, to talk about the record-breaking support for school choice in that state.

Our Picks of the Liter include check-ins with reporters in Vermont, Mississippi and Wisconsin. Steve Wilson tells us about the problems at a new power plant in Mississippi that could cost rate-payers, and Bruce Parker explains how Vermont's reliance on alternative energy has the state looking to New Hampshire for help keeping the lights on.

Keeping with that theme, our "Big Dog" interview of the week is Rob Nikolewski, Watchdog's national energy reporter. He tells us about the massive Ivanpah solar power facility in the Mojave Desert, which has cost taxpayers more than $1.6 billion but is producing less than half of the amount of electricity that officials said it would.  It's not just taxpayers getting burned - the facility is literally frying birds alive.

All that, plus our Nanny of the Week, on the Watchdog Podcast.

Jul 3, 2015

On this week's Watchdog Podcast, Greece is in crisis after decades of over-spending finally caught up to it.

What lessons does the mess in Greece offer for American cities and states that have piled up debts in the public pension system? Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut discuss the political problems that have caused — and largely prevent the fixing of — those problems.

The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot in the last two weeks, as the justices issued their rulings and concluded this year's session.  But now it's time to look ahead to next year.  We'll hear from education reporter Moriah Costa, who sits down with Michael Bindas, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, to talk about a school choice lawsuit that will end up before the Supreme Court in 2016.

Our Picks of the Liter include check-ins with reporters in North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Rob Port tells us how the EPA might get what it wants, no matter what the Supreme Court has to say. Andrew Staub explains the budget impasse between Republicans and Democrats in Harrisburg.

Our "Big Dog" interview of the week is Matt Kittle, bureau chief at Wisconsin Watchdog. He tells us the secret, dirty details of NSA-style spying conducted by the Milwaukee County district attorney as part of the long-running John Doe investigation into conservative groups and activists. See what happens when law enforcement become an arm of political campaigns — it's not pretty.

All that, plus our Nanny of the Week, on the Watchdog Podcast.