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Watchdog.org Podcast

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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Dec 18, 2015

Yes, we have "Star Wars fever" too.  But don't worry, there's no spoilers here.

On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, host Eric Boehm sits down with Dylan Pahman, a researcher for the Acton Institute, to discuss morality and capitalism within the Star Wars universe. When Lando decides to betray his friends in The Empire Strikes Back, is he just making a smart business decision? Why does he change his mind and join the rebels?

Lord Acton famously proclaimed that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," but every Star Wars fan already knows this after watching Anakin's fall and eventual redemption. George Lucas' space saga has resonated with generations of fans not only because of the cool spaceships and sweet lightsaber duels, Pahman argues, but because the series offers a mythology that gives greater meaning to the actions of the characters on screen. 

In the opening, Boehm and Matt Kittle discuss this week's GOP debate and look ahead to 2016, when the polls and the debates will actually matter.  Also, which Star Wars characters do the candidates seem most like?

Evan Grossman explains how the Pennsylvania budget impasse may force Philadelphia schools to close.

Steve Miller wonders whether Mississippi is wasting the windfall it received after the BP oil spill.

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

Dec 11, 2015

In the world of astrophysics, dark matter is a theoretical type of matter that cannot be seen or otherwise detected with telescopes, but is believed to make up the majority of all substance in the universe. In much the same way, regulatory dark matter is difficult to detect or track, but accounts for the majority of all federal rules and regs.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a vice president of policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss his new report on these "dark matter" regulations that are created without any authorization from Congress or federal agencies.  There are lots and lots of them -- and before Crews tried to quantify them, there was really no accounting of exactly how many exist.

How many could he find?  In the past 20 years, more than 500,000 informal “public notices” issued by regulatory agencies of the federal government.

In the opening of the podcast, Watchdog's Matt Kittle explains the newest developments in the ongoing "Secret War" in Wisconsin.  Here's a pro tip: if you're going to investigate conservatives for campaign finance violations, make sure you didn't break campaign finance laws yourself.

In Texas, public officials are getting ready to sign off on a special subsidy for Formula One racing -- an industry that makes billions of dollars every year.

And in Colorado, voters will get to decide whether they want to have a single-payer health care system.

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

Dec 4, 2015

Environmental groups lost a legal battle in Washington last month, but the case provided a glimpse into the Green group' new plan of attack: using children to tug at judicial heart strings.

As Rob Nikolewski reports, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill denied the children’s demand that the state Department of Ecology adopt stricter emissions standards aimed at protecting them from climate change. Hill said the court did not have rule-making authority, but at the same time, Hill’s ruling was more than sympathetic to the youngsters’ case, with her decision echoing many of the same talking points climate activists often make.

Lawyers who represented the children in the lawsuit say this is a technique they will be looking to duplicate in other states.

And speaking of duplicating things, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had to rule -- again -- this week that the John Doe investigation into conservative donors in the Badger State is once again dead.  It seems like prosecutors in the case just won't take "no" for an answer, says Matt Kittle, who has covered the John Doe investigation -- and its many, many, legal failures -- for the past several years.

Pennsylvania is still without a state budget, but there is hope that a deal could be signed before the end of the year, reports Andrew Staub of the PA Independent.

In Vermont, lawmakers are considering a new carbon tax that could add 88 cents to the cost of every gallon of gas.

And in Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping to subsidize the marketing costs of farms who sell organic food to Austin's hippies and hipsters.  Jon Cassidy joins us for that story.

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

Nov 20, 2015

Enrollment is down, premiums are up. And one major insurer might be pulling out of the exchanges while numerous state-run health insurance co-ops are imploding.

That pretty much sums up the current state of the Affordable Care Act, which is clearly struggling as the new enrollment period draws near.  After years of political and legal battles, could simple economics be the ACA's biggest problem?

John Davidson, a health policy fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, joins us on today's podcast to answer that question and others. We take a look at new enrollment projections and promises of massive premium hikes from some of the biggest insurance companies in the land.

Before that, Matt Kittle and Eric Boehm discuss the latest developments in Watchdog's ongoing coverage of the John Doe investigation in Wisconsin. It turns out that the politically-motivated investigation into Wisconsin conservatives nearly had a cross-over with another politically-motivated investigation of conservatives: the one run by Lois Lerner and the Internal Revenue Service.

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

Nov 13, 2015

College campuses are in an uproar over....well, something.

What started out as a series of protests against perceived racial slights at the University of Missouri and perceived intolerance at Yale University have turned into full-scale media storms -- and now the protesting college students say they didn't even want the media's attention in the first place, even though they are, you know, protesting in public.

But that's not even the most head-scratching story that involves a college campus this week.  Would you believe that former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is going to get to keep receiving a state pension while serving a life sentence for sexually abusing young boys?

Matt Kittle and Eric Boehm take a look at those big stories and everything else making headlines this week.

Then, Watchdog investigative reporter Tori Richards stops by to talk about her latest expose on the EPA, which reveals the agency is pushing for clean air policies that even many national parks cannot meet.  More than a dozen national parks failed the new standards, but cities and businesses are going to have to spend millions of dollars to meet the tougher regs.

All that, plus our Nanny State of the Week and our Picks Of The Liter on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

 

Nov 6, 2015

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he would block the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that it's construction is not "in the nation's best interest."

But there's plenty of evidence that it is in the nation's best interest. On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, our national energy and environmental reporter, Rob Nikolewski, sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss the president's decision and some of the consequences it will have  -- politically and environmentally -- in 2016 and beyond.

While we've got Rob here, we'll also ask him about his big story from earlier this week detailing California's plan to divest its pension fund investments from coal, in the name of being "green," of course.

At the top of the show, Matt Kittle stops by to preview next week's GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee. Ben Carson is facing greater scrutiny, Jeb Bush needs a real boost and there will be two fewer candidates on the state as the greatest reality show on television returns.

Also: is Scott Walker preparing to throw his support behind Bush?  Kittle gives us the inside scoop.

All that, plus our Picks of the Litter and our Nanny State of the Week, on this week's Watchdog Podcast.

Oct 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

If you're a lover of small government and you want a real fright this week, join us for a look at some of the scary policies being crafted by bureaucrats in California -- where common sense in government is as hard to find as a ghost and local governments stagger like zombies (cause of death: pension obligations) as residents flee in fear of higher taxes and ghastly regulations.

California-based Watchdog contributor Steve Greenhut joins host Eric Boehm to discuss how local officials are badly mismanaging the water crisis in the Golden State, and how the long-promised high-speed trains connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles are already running behind schedule and over budget, no surprise.

Then, we sit down with Darren McKinney, a spokesman for Americans for Tort Reform, to discuss something really scary: Judicial Hellholes.  He explains how attorneys general and rent-seeking personal injury lawyers have teamed up in many states to go after businesses for huge sums of money -- without regard for the public harm caused, including job losses and declines in tax revenue.

All that, plus a chilling Nanny State of the Week (literally!) and our weekly pack of hellhounds have the news from the states and statehouses on our Picks of the Litter! 

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Oct 23, 2015

Daily fantasy sports are big business, but are they also illegal?

In the wake of a scandal involving the two biggest DFS websites, DraftKings.com and FanDuel.com, government regulators in a number of states and Washington, D.C., are taking a look at how the games work and whether they should be classified as sports betting – and therefore they would be illegal in most states.

On this week's (abbreviated) edition of the Watchdog Podcast, Watchdog.org editor and in-house gaming expert joins Eric Boehm to discuss how the DFS scandal happened, what it means for the wildly popular games and whether government regulation is really the best thing for consumers who are playing the games.

As Kampis explains, some of the efforts at regulation are really attempts by state governments to force the DFS leagues to pay licensing fees to the state -- or, alternatively, to funnel their customers into state-run casinos instead of independent, online gaming sites.

Oct 16, 2015

The Democratic candidates for president got together this week for their first head-to-head debate, but all the candidates clearly have a lot of work to do.

Hosts Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle open this edition of the Watchdog Podcast with a countdown of the most cringe-worthy moments from the debate, including Hillary Clinton's un-ironic claim that Edward Snowden should be punished for putting national security at risk (when, you know, she's trying to avoid accountability for doing much the same thing with her personal email server) and Lincoln Chaffee's claim that he didn't know what he was voting for when he helped repeal the Glass Steagall Act in 1999 (he now supports bringing that law back).

What's the number one moment in our countdown? You'll have to listen to find out!

Then, Watchdog reporter Bruce Parker sits down to discuss Vermont's ambitious green energy plan, which will cost lots of money and disrupt lots of Vermonters' lives in the name of saving the environment.  The only problem: it won't actually save the environment and won't produce a measurable change in global carbon emissions.

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

Oct 9, 2015

In San Antonio, Texas, food trucks have to get permission from brick-and-mortar restaurants before they are allowed to set up shop.

It's a rule that doesn't make much sense and certainly doesn't have anything to do with consumers' health and safety -- you know, the stuff government is supposed to be worried about.  That's why it's being challenged by attorneys from the Institute for Justice, who say the rule simply isn't constitutional.

Arif Panjo, IJ's lead attorney in the case, sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss the case in San Antonio and other odd rules that limit food truck entrepreneurs' opportunities around the country.

At the top of the show, Boehm and Will Swaim take a look at a different area where government is intruding on the free market: the creation of rural broadband internet services, which are costly for taxpayers and provide little benefit to the general population.

In other news: The VA is under investigation for using whistleblowers' confidential medical records to target individuals who exposed problems at the agency and Republicans in Pennsylvania defeated the biggest tax increase in the nation this week.

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

Sep 25, 2015

Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential race and Pope Francis dropped by Washington, D.C., to lecture Congress about immigration and climate change.

Hosts Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle take a look back at the Walker campaign, trying to figure out where the governor went wrong in his pursuit of the White House.  Perhaps more importantly, we also look ahead to see what his return to Wisconsin will mean for his political future and the state's.

Later, Sterling Burnett from the Heartland Institute stops by the program to take a hard look at the head of the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis talks about wanting to help the world's poor -- a noble goal, for sure -- but he also likes to talk about the need for environmental policies to stop global warming.  The problem, Burnett points out, is that those environmental policies come at a high cost for the poor.

Also on this edition of the show: police in Pennsylvania want to be granted anonymity when they pull the trigger, and the state Supreme Court in Washington has ruled charter schools to be unconstitutional.

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

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Sep 18, 2015

Donald Trump finally ran out of things to say, Carly Fiorina is set to surge in the polls and Mike Huckabee made a good point in favor of small government (yes, really).

Those were the major take-aways from the second GOP presidential debate, which aired on CNN this week.  In this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim look back at the debate - well, at least some of it, I mean, it was nearly three hours long, after all.

Huckabee struck a cord when he called for the federal government to listen to the Constitution and allow state governments to make more decisions for themselves.  Given his history, its questionable whether Huckabee would continue to take that approach if he found himself in the Oval Office, but it's nice to hear the Tenth Amendment get a little attention in such a major forum.

But Fiorina was the star of the night, making headlines across social media for how she took on Donald Trump and impressing many observers with her range and depth of knowledge.  She has a long way to go, but she's certainly a rising star at the moment.

But there were falling stars this week too.  Missouri missed a chance to become the nation's 26th right-to-work state when lawmakers there were unable to muster enough votes to overcome a veto from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.  Watchdog reporter Jason Hart sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss the right-to-work fight in Missouri and tell us why the battle in the Show-Me State didn't become the major spectacle we saw in Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

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

Donald Trump finally ran out of things to say, Carly Fiorina is set to surge in the polls and Mike Huckabee made a good point in favor of small government (yes, really).

Those were the major take-aways from the second GOP presidential debate, which aired on CNN this week.  In this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim look back at the debate - well, at least some of it, I mean, it was nearly three hours long, after all.

Huckabee struck a cord when he called for the federal government to listen to the Constitution and allow state governments to make more decisions for themselves.  Given his history, its questionable whether Huckabee would continue to take that approach if he found himself in the Oval Office, but it's nice to hear the Tenth Amendment get a little attention in such a major forum.

But Fiorina was the star of the night, making headlines across social media for how she took on Donald Trump and impressing many observers with her range and depth of knowledge.  She has a long way to go, but she's certainly a rising star at the moment.

But there were falling stars this week too.  Missouri missed a chance to become the nation's 26th right-to-work state when lawmakers there were unable to muster enough votes to overcome a veto from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.  Watchdog reporter Jason Hart sits down with Eric Boehm to discuss the right-to-work fight in Missouri and tell us why the battle in the Show-Me State didn't become the major spectacle we saw in Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

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

Sep 11, 2015

The National Football League is back, with the new season kicking off on Thursday night.

No doubt that football is the most popular sport in America, but the most popular sport for NFL owners? That's probably ripping off taxpayers to make billions of dollars.

The NFL and it's 32 teams play in multi-million-dollar stadiums that are usually built with the assistance of taxpayers, whether they like it or not.  And the league has perfected a way to extort new facilities out of government officials by threatening to move teams from one city to another.

On this week's edition of the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim discuss the NFL and the league's perpetual threat to move a team to Los Angeles unless a current host city builds a new stadium.  The St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers are using that threat right now, and the Minnesota Vikings successfully used it just a few years ago to get a $2 billion stadium built with the help of $1 billion from the public.

Then, Tori Richards sits down with us to discuss her series of stories on the EPA's reaction to it's major screw-up in Colorado.  The agency said it took full responsibility of the spill of toxic chemicals out of a Colorado mine, but now it is hiding information from Congress and omitting crucial details from public testimony.

All that, plus a look at how the Drug Enforcement Administration is sneaking a look at private medical records and this week's Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Sep 4, 2015

Protesters standing outside the Rowan County courthouse in Kentucky we yelling at Kim Davis to "do your job."

But some conservatives have argued that Davis, a county clerk who this week made national headlines for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was right to follow her conscious and refuse to provide the government-issued permission slips.

That's the wrong way to look at this situation, say hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast. Private individuals and businesses should be given wide allowance to do and act as they see fit - even if that means discriminating against certain groups, which is bad business practice and abhorrent personal behavior, but that's their choice.

Government agents, on the other hand, must do their jobs fairly and provide services to everyone.  Don't like it? Then don't accept a paycheck from the government and find a different job.

What if your mailman was in favor of gun control and decided he wouldn't deliver your copy of Guns And Ammo anymore?

Then, Jason Hart sits down to talk about the big fight in Missouri between organized labor and workers who want to be free from mandatory union dues.  As we get ready for Labor Day weekend, what is the status of labor unions in America and how do they have to evolve to remain relevant in a changing economy?

All that, plus a look at the work our reporters are doing in the states and statehouse, along with our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Aug 28, 2015

Donald Trump has made immigration the popular - and populist - issue in the Republican presidential primary race, and other Republicans are following his lead.

On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim take a look at some recent comments made by Republican governors about one key aspect of the immigration debate: what to do about sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary cities generally include the largest cities in America, as you'd expect -- LA, New York, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, as well as a couple of hundred smaller towns and cities.  They typically bar local employees (including law enforcement) from cooperating with federal officials to deport illegal immigrants.

They boomed in the 1980s as wars in Central America sent tens of thousands into the U.S. NAFTA produced a second boom, this time many Mexicans, in the 1990s. And Mexico's drug war generated yet another boom in migration into the 2000s.

But after an illegal immigrant killed a young woman in San Francisco earlier this year, there have been calls from Republicans for a federal crackdown against these cities that are seemingly ignoring federal immigration laws.

Some Republican presidential candidates say they would cut-off federal funding from sanctuary cities, while others say they would use federal law enforcement to arrest local officials for aiding and abetting illegal immigrants.

But is the use of federal power the best way to solve this problem?

Also on this week's show: Andy Johnson, a Wyoming rancher, is taking the Environmental Protection Agency to federal court, asking a judge to stop the agency from fining him more than $16 million because he built a small pond on his property.

Jonathan Wood, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, joins us to talk about the EPA's overreach and why his organization is helping Johnson take on the federal government.

Aug 21, 2015

In the aftermath of the EPA-caused catastrophe in Colorado, the Environmental Protection Agency's top officials said they took "full responsibility" for the spill.

On this edition of the the Watchdog Podcast, hosts Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut ask an obvious question: what does that mean?

When private sector companies mess up and harm the environment, the government swoops in to issue fines and mandate apologies. But when the government messes up, who is being held to account? In this case, it seems like no one.

Then, Moriah Costa sits down with Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, to discuss the results of a new poll that shows where Americans stand on major issues in public education and school choice.

Our Big Dog interview of the week is with Jason Hart, who takes a look at the spiraling debt at the U.S. Postal Service and what can be done about it. Do we even need the USPS in a world where Amazon will soon be making deliveries by drone?

All that, plus a look at Gov. Chris Christie's credit card bills and our Nanny State of the Week on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Aug 14, 2015

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog Radio

On this edition of the Watchdog Podcast, Eric Boehm and Steve Greenhut play a little game called "Who Said It?" featuring comments from Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont.

You might think the two presidential candidates are complete opposites, but can you tell them apart based on their positions on illegal immigration or single-payer health care?

Then, Hilary Clinton wants to talk about student loan debt. But is she being serious or is she just pandering to millenials who are saddled with more than $1 trillion in debt for their degrees. Moriah Costa joins the program to explain why colleges are salivating at the idea of more federal aid for students - which doesn't really help students, of course, but only pads the schools' bottom lines.

All that, plus a look at the top Watchdog stories in our Picks of the Liter and our Nanny State of the Week, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Aug 7, 2015

The first Republican primary debate is in the books — or, perhaps, we should call it the first episode of the Republican presidential reality show?

Will Swaim and Eric Boehm try to make some sense of Thursday's debate on this week's edition of the Watchdog Podcast. Did Trump show that he deserves to be the frontrunner?  Can any of these candidates really deliver on the promise of smaller government and controlled spending in Washington?

Later, Boehm sits down with Maurice McTigue of the Mercatus Center to discuss a major bit of news that was lost in the media's frothing over the presidential debate: the debt crisis in Puerto Rico.

The American territory defaulted on a debt payment this week, but McTigue explains that the situation has been brewing for a long time — the result of poor choices made by politicians more interested in getting elected than actually dealing with the island's unsustainable levels of debt (sound familiar?)

Bankruptcy could be part of the solution for Puerto Rico, but it's not allowed to pursue bankruptcy unless Congress allows it to do so. McTigue says lawmakers in Washington should get on that, but bankruptcy won't solve anything unless politicians in Puerto Rico are committed to cutting red tape and making the island more attractive to business.

In other news this week: Pennsylvania's top prosecutor is now a defendant, and environmentalists are rebelling against green energy mandates in Vermont.

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

 

 

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.

Jun 26, 2015

On this week's podcast: a busy week at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled on Thursday in favor of upholding the federal health insurance exchange and on Friday in favor of same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, the media and the Internet are in a tizzy over the Confederate flag, which has become a lightning rod for criticism after the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.  Is the flag legitimately to blame for the actions of crazy racists, or is it a scapegoat for a terrible tragedy that has no obvious explanation?

Hosts Eric Boehm and Will Swaim tackle the big issues of the week. Then, Robert Grayboys of the Mercatus Center sits down for an interview about the future of health care reform in the United States, now that it seems like the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.  The good news? Politics doesn't have to be a factor in fixing some of the major problems with how we provide health care, he says.

All that, plus a check-in with the California lawsuit where students are suing their teachers (and the teachers' union) over seniority rules, on this edition of the Watchdog Podcast.

Jun 22, 2015

This is The Fraudcast, a special Watchdog.org podcast in partnership with our friends at Lexus Nexus and their Fraud Of The Day project.

Host Ben Yount sits down with Larry Benson from Fraud of the Day to talk about the origins of their project and how much public fraud there really is. At Fraud of the Day, Benson and his staff track local and national news from around the country to expose governmental waste, fraud and abuse.

Fraud in government is often an invisible crime, but in reality it is something that hurts everyone. Whether it's the theft of taxpayer dollars or the exposure of personal information in government databases to identity thieves, fraud in government is a serious problem that could affect just about everyone.

Why is there fraud in government? The same reason that criminal used to rob banks, says Benson: because that's where the money is.

This week's top three "frauds of the week" include $1 million in bogus tax refunds going to the Ukraine, massive Medicaid fraud in Louisiana and Social Security payments that continued for years and years after an elderly woman died.

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