Philadelphia became the first major city in the country to pass a tax on soda, and New York is trying to make it illegal to even talk about renting your apartment on Airbnb.
Those two East Coast locales are the focal point for this week's edition of the Watchdog Podcast. First, host Eric Boehm and Watchdog's top First Amendment reporter, Matt Kittle, sit down to discuss the new rules for room-sharing in New York.
A bill approved by the state Senate this week would make it illegal to list your home or apartment on websites like Airbnb, but that seems like a pretty clear violation of homeowners' right to free speech.
Then, Evan Grossman of the Pennsylvania Watchdog sits down with Boehm to talk about the soda tax in Philadelphia.
The new 1.5 cents-per-ounce tax is supposed to help pay for a massive expansion of pre-K programs in the city, but most of the money is actually going to be spent on other things. And it will be easy to avoid paying the tax, Grossman reports, because all you have to do is head out to the suburbs before grabbing that can of Coca-Cola.
All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week and our Watchdog Picks of the Litter, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.
With the presidential primary season officially in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead to the least exciting presidential election in recent memory: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton.
On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle sit down to discuss the final stages of the primary process and the latest developments in the ongoing awkward relationship between Trump and Republican officials who are trying to support him without giving approval to the things he says.
The most concerning thing of all is Trump's tendency to use his position atop the Republican ticket to advance a personal agenda -- most recently on display in his comments about a federal judge who is handling the Trump U case, but also in his comments about "opening up" libel laws to go after journalists.
For Clinton, it was an historic week where she became the first woman in U.S. history to lead a major party's presidential ticket. She doesn't have the same sort of baggage as Trump, but her own problems -- a lack of likeability and questions about her time as secretary of state -- will continue to dog her heels into the general election season.
Then, Kittle discusses the newest revelations in his investigation into the administrative judges in the Social Security Administration. As the allegations of misconduct and retaliation mount inside Social Security disability claims review offices, new charges of “pervasive” sexual harassment, bribery and nepotism are coming to light at the Madison Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, he reports.
All that, plus the federal government's new rules for payday lending and a look at the expensive plan for light rail in San Antonio, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.
The problems that continue to plague the Veteran's Affairs administration are probably the best argument that anyone could make against a single-payer healthcare system.
As Watchdog's Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle discuss this week on the Watchdog Podcast, anyone who advocates for a single-payer, government-run healthcare system has to answer for the systemic problems at the VA, where long waiting lists and bureaucratic incompetence are commonplace. Whistleblowers who try to correct problems have been ignored or, worse, punished for speaking out, and people have literally died because of the lack of accountability in the system.
If this is how a government-run healthcare system works for America's veterans, how bad would it be for the average Joe and Jane?
Kittle has seen the mess first-hand, in his extensive coverage of the unfolding crisis at the VA facility in Tomah, Wisconsin, where an investigative report recently exposed wide-ranging painkiller over-prescription like the “toxic cocktail” believed to have killed a 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran, Jason Simcakoski.
Before he died, Simcakiski tried to get the attention of top VA officials and members of Congress, but no one was listening. People familiar with the Tomah facility have called it "Candy Land" because of the tendency for doctors there to over-prescribe medications.
After a hearing in Tomah this week, Kittle says some members of Congress believe the entire VA system needs to be overhauled, and perhaps even privatized.
We'll have all the details on the VA scandal -- along with our Nanny State of the Week and Picks of the Litter -- on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.