The first actual votes of the 2016 presidential election are (finally) just days away.
On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, we preview next week's primary election kickoff, as Eric Boehm sits down with Matt Kittle to talk about the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump and what one famous Founding Father might think about the current Republican frontrunner.
"Of all the founders, (Alexander) Hamilton had the gravest doubts about the wisdom of the masses," wrote Ron Chernow in his biography of Hamilton (which inspired the super-popular Broadway musical). "Hamilton's besetting fear was that American democracy would be spoiled by demagogues who would mouth popular shibboleths to conceal their despotism."
As Boehm and Kittle note, Trump is hardly the first American politician to rise to stardom by fulfilling Hamilton's populist fears (we're looking at you, William Jennings Bryan). But in this new age of media saturation and reality-TV-style-campaigns, Trump has a chance to ride that populism all the way to the Republican nomination -- or perhaps even the White House.
Trump's fate will be decided, for now, by the people of Iowa. As a veteran of the "Hawkeye Cauci," Kittle gives his insider view on how the process works, what makes it so unique and why voter turnout is so essential in Iowa.
All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week and our Watchdog Picks of the Liter, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.
Snow has shut down the nation's capitol, but nothing can shut down the Watchdog Podcast.
This week, host Eric Boehm is joined by Watchdog's top dog Will Swaim to discuss his once-and-now-again hometown football team: the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams left behind a vacant stadium in St. Louis, a stadium that still has local taxpayers on the hook for more than $100 million in debt, for the sunny confines of Inglewood, California. There is no public money being spent on the Rams' new home, but taxpayers in southern California might not be completely off the hook. We'll explain why.
Then, a look at Swaim's latest story on the chilling effect that state regulators can have on free speech. In Montana, the Commission on Political Practices is bringing a lawsuit against a former Republican state senator in the Left's latest effort to fight "dark money" in politics. Speech police are bad enough, but partisan speech cops are even worse.
Finally, Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute joins the program for a look at how the next president of the United States could take action to trim federal regulations. The first step: counting up just how many regulations exist. Then, Young says, Congress should reassert its power to write the rules for the nation.
All that, plus National Review taking on Donald Trump in a conservative-versus-fake-conservative showdown, and our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.
Get caught selling home-made muffins in Wisconsin, and you could end up in jail for six months.
It's a law that seems absurd on it's face, but that's only the beginning of the story. Efforts to change Wisconsin's so-called "cottage food law" is opposed by powerful lobbyists from the baking industry (there's a phrase you probably never expected to read) and legislators who have a stake in the outcome.
Matt Kittle joins Eric Boehm to talk about the silly rules in Wisconsin and the on-going effort to get them changed.
Then, Ken Ward explains why property taxes are going up, up, up in Texas. The answer: big government that requires big bucks to keep running.
And our Big Dog interview of the week is Bruce Parker, of Vermont Watchdog, who sits down with Boehm to talk about Donald Trump's national appeal. After attending one of The Donald's big rallies -- last week in Burlington -- Parker offers his assessment of Trump's campaign and the billionarie-turned-presidential-hopeful's legions of fans.
All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.
Federal power can have a corrupting influence on state policy.
That's a lesson from the past that's still relevent in the present, as this week's Watchdog Podcast explores.
Host Eric Boehm sits down with Chris Koopman of the Mercatus Center to talk about the history of Certificate of Need laws for health care.
It begins in the 1960s. That’s when the first few states enacted such laws, beginning with New York in 1964.
At first, the CON laws were pretty simple. New York’s required a permit from the state government before new hospitals or nursing homes could be built. In 1972 Congress issued a mandate requiring all states to pass a rudimentary CON law. Two years later, the federal government doubled down on that mandate with the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act, requiring states to implement CON requirements in order to receive funding through federal programs such as Medicaid.
One problem: it didn’t work. By the mid-1980s, some states began repealing their CON laws, even under the threat of losing federal funds. In 1987, Congress officially repealed the 1974 act and left the states to decide for themselves how to proceed. Today there are still 36 states with CON laws on the books.
"It shows the sticky-ness of bad policy."' Koopman says.
But today, we're still letting the federal government dictate policy. Just this week, President Barack Obama announced a series of new gun control policies that he hopes to implement, by-passing congressional approval.
Watchdog's Matt Kittle joins the podcast to talk about how Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) responded to the president's plan. More importantly: if the executive branch can by-pass Congress on issues as sensitive as the Second Amendment, have we reached a new level of federal power?