With No Limit in Sight, Federal Debt Creeps Ever-Upward. Seriously, There’s No Limit.

Last October, I pointed out that the feds gave themselves an
unlimited credit card and
public debt outstanding jumped $328 billion, from $16.747 trillion
to $17.076 trillion literally overnight
. Yowza! That’s a
shopping spree. The suspension of the debt limit was extended
through February 7, 2014.

“On February 8, the limit will be reset to reflect cumulative
borrowing through February 7,” the Congressional Budget Office
helpfully pointed
out
. “The amount of outstanding debt subject to limit is now
around $17.1 trillion.”

Well, “now” was November 20 of last year. Outstanding debt is no
longer $17.1 trillion. Now, it’s closer to $17.6 trillion.

And, if you didn’t already know, the debt limit was suspended
again
—this time through March 15, 2015.

National debt on July 9, 2014

Well, OK. That not-quite $17.6 trillion is up just a
little
from April—and actually down a smidgeon from
earlier this month. It’s also projected by the CBO to continue to grow with
“serious and negative consequences.”

But why obsess about the ten trillion dollar rise in that debt
over a decade? It’s only money. We can
always make more
. Right?

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No Charges in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Single Mother in Washington, D.C.

shots firedMore gun violence of the state-sanctioned kind.
No one will face charges in the killing of Miriam Carey, who was
fatally shot by an officer from the Capitol Hill police and one
from the Secret Service who between them shot at her car 18 times,
hitting her five. Afterward they found her child in the car. Cops
say they didn’t see the girl. Carey was allegedly driving toward a
Capitol Hill police officer and had previously tried to breach a
checkpoint at the White House, which is how the pursuit started.
Via the Stamford, Ct.
Daily Voice
:

There is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil
rights or local charges against officers involved in the fatal
shooting of Miriam Carey of Stamford last fall just blocks from the
U.S. Capitol, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of
Columbia announced Thursday.

The U.S. attorney’s office and the Metropolitan Police
Department conducted the investigation into the shooting of death
Carey on Oct. 3, 2013, involving the U.S. Secret Service and U.S.
Capitol Police. 

The review included interviews of more than 60 witnesses and
review of all crime scene evidence, ballistics reports, video
footage, photographs, the autopsy report, and more. 

The U.S. attorney’s office then concluded the evidence was
insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers
used excessive force or possessed the requisite criminal intent at
the time of the events.


And nothing else happened.

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Millennials Prefer Small Government If Large Government Requires High Taxes

Download the PDFReason-Rupe has a new survey and report out
on millennials—find the report
here
.

At first glance millennials appear to prefer a “larger
government providing more services” (54%) over a “smaller
government providing few services” (43%). However, once tax rates
are mentioned support for large government flips. Instead 57
percent favor “smaller government, providing fewer services, with
low taxes” and 41 percent want “larger government providing more
services, with high taxes.” We also find that the race/ethnicity
gap on the size of government disappears among Hispanic, Asian, and
white millennials once tax rates are explicit.

Other
surveys
 have asked the first version of this question, in
which taxes are not mentioned, finding millennials are the only
generation to support large government. In stark contrast,
Americans nationally favor smaller
government with fewer services over larger government providing
more services (35%).

Typically, “big government” has implied high taxes, heavy
regulation, and the power to play favorites and control
individuals. However, debate about the role of government was put
on hold in the aftermath of 9/11, when millennials came of a
politically impressionable age. Furthermore, the national enemy was
no longer a large totalitarian regime like the Soviet Union, but
terrorist groups from whose attacks our government sought to
protect us.

This raises the question: Do millennials know what the phrase
“big government” means? Recent evidence suggests they may
not.  If millennials don’t know what large government is, do
they know what it costs?  If not, perhaps their preference for
“more services” over “fewer services” drives their desire for
“larger government.”

To investigate this, Reason-Rupe divided the sample in half and
asked one half:

“If you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller
government providing fewer services, or a larger government
providing more services?”

It then asked the other half of the sample the same question but
with explicit tax rates:

“If you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller
government providing fewer services with low taxes, or a larger
government providing more services with high taxes?”

When taxes are mentioned, millennials’ preference for large
government flips, and a majority (57%)— favor small government and
41 percent favor large government.

Our results indicate that millennials don’t immediately make the
connection between larger government and the high taxes it
requires. Consequently, support for “larger government providing
more services” among millennials doesn’t necessarily imply an
endorsement for a large activist government that levies heavy
taxes. Instead, many are favoring “more services” rather than more
services plus high taxes. Perhaps older Americans would also favor
more over less government services if they felt it wouldn’t cost
them.

Are Non-white Millennials More Likely To Support Large
Government?

Congruent with findings from
the Pew Research Center, white millennials (50%) are considerably
more likely to favor smaller government when taxes are not
mentioned than African-American (32%), Latino (36%), and Asian
American (29%) millennials. Consequently, at first glance,
non-white millennials are far more likely to favor larger
government.

However, after considering taxes, the racial gap on the
preferred size of government starts to disappear. The share of
Latino, Asian, and white millennials preferring small government is
statistically identical, with roughly six in 10 in support.
African-American millennials are divided, with a slim majority
favoring larger over smaller government, even if that means higher
taxes (53 to 46 percent). It appears that white millennials are
more likely to implicitly associate large government with high
taxes.

Available data suggest that Latino and Asian millennials, many
of whom are themselves immigrants or children of recent immigrants,
will likely experience a good deal of upward income mobility. For
instance, the Pew Research Center reports that
the median annual household income for first generation Hispanics
is $34,600, and this increases to $48,400 among the second
generation. Since higher incomes often diminish
support for government services
, our results indicate that
desire for activist government may decline over the next decade if
large government and high taxes are explicitly connected in voters’
minds.

Millennials Respond More Favorably to Concrete Proposals to
Limit Government Than Abstract References About Government’s
Size

If the abstract notion of government’s “size” does not convey
the same substantive meaning for millennials that it has for
previous generations, perhaps more concrete policy proposals would
garner greater support than calls to “reduce the size of
government.”

To test this, the survey presented millennials with several
policy proposals aimed at reducing the scope of government,
including cutting government spending by five percent, cutting
taxes, and reducing the number of regulations. They were asked if
each proposal would primarily hurt or primarily help the economy.
The survey then compared responses for these concrete proposals to
responses for whether the relatively abstract act of “reducing the
size of government” would primarily help or harm the economy.

Concrete policies that effectually reduce government’s scope
receive greater support than the proposal to reduce government’s
size. Cutting government spending receives the greatest support,
with 65 percent saying it would “primarily help” rather than harm
the economy, followed by cutting taxes (58%), reducing the number
of regulations (55%), and reducing government’s size (53%).
Intensity of support also reflects this pattern, with a quarter of
millennials saying that cutting government spending would help “a
lot,” compared to 14 percent who have a similar favorable intensity
for shrinking government.

In sum, cutting spending and taxes garners more support than
reducing government’s size. Offering explicit methods for how to
reduce the power and scope of government may better resonate among
millennials than just asserting the need to rein in “big
government.”

To learn more about millennials, check
out Reason-Rupe’s new report.

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Animosity Between Germany and U.S. After Caught Spy, UT Austin President Holds On, George R.R. Martin Doesn’t Need You Breathing Down His Neck: P.M. Links

  • Ray NaginThe fallout from the discovery of two U.S. spies
    within the German government is
    creating bad blood
    between the two nations. Germany has asked
    the U.S.’s CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country.
  • University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers
    does not have to resign
    , after all. Allies of Republican Gov.
    Rick Perry had pressured Powers to quit after a
    scandal over law school admissions
    , but an outpouring of
    support from faculty and students persuaded administrators to let
    him keep his job.
  • “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin
    had choice words
    for fans worried that he will die before
    finishing the series: “Fuck you.” The Washington Free
    Beacon’s
    Sonny Bunch
    writes that Martin should calm down
    , before he hurts
    himself.
  • Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
    was sentenced
    to 10 years in prison for numerous corruption
    charges. “I’ve been targeted, smeared, and tarnished,” he
    said.
  • Millennials are not the government-loving Democrats they are
    made out to be,
    according to a Reason-Rupe survey.

Follow Reason and Reason 24/7 on
Twitter, and like us on Facebook. You
can also get the top stories mailed to you—sign up
here
.

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Waiting for Mom Outside a Bathroom Shouldn’t Land You in a Terrorism Database, Lawsuit Argues

We didn't poll millennials about this behavior, but I bet they're opposed.One man attempted to take a
photo of a storage tank painted in rainbow colors. One man
attempted to purchase several computers at once. One man had a
flight simulator game operating on his home computer. And one man
was standing around, waiting for his mother outside the bathrooms
of a train station.

All of this behavior drew the attention of the police and landed
the men in databases for engaging in what authorities decided was
suspicious behavior that could potentially indicate terrorist
leanings. They are men who have had what are called suspicious
activity reports (SARs) made up about them and stored in
antiterrorism databases. And now they’re suing, with the help of
the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Americans
Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus. Wired
makes note of the lawsuit
, filed today in northern
California:

[D]ue to the standards the government uses for determining
suspicious activity that might be related to terrorism, all of the
plaintiffs found themselves written up in reports stored in
counterterrorism databases and were subjected to unwelcome and
unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny and interrogation, according
to the lawsuit.

“This domestic surveillance program wrongly targets First
Amendment-protected activities, encourages racial and religious
profiling, and violates federal law,” said Linda Lye, staff
attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The Justice
Department’s own rules say that there should be reasonable
suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government’s
instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs
even if there’s no valid reason to suspect a person of doing
anything wrong.”

The complaint accuses the police of profiling on the basis of
the backgrounds of the affected men and violating their civil
liberties. The guy with the flight simulation game on his computer?
He was a convert to Islam in Chicago. A police officer deemed him
suspicious on the basis of his reluctance to interact with police
(in Chicago? How could that be?), and on a later occasion, the
officer searched the man’s residence briefly looking for a suspect
in a completely unrelated domestic violence case. The officer noted
he appeared to be accessing a flight simulator game. That was
pretty much all. And so the officer made up a record of his
behavior.

In the train station case, a security officer in California
deemed a man of Middle Eastern descent suspicious on the basis of
him “meticulously” observing his surroundings of the Santa Ana
station, then hanging outside the bathrooms until a woman (wearing
a burqa) exited the restroom and joined him. That woman was his
mother.

Read more about the cases at Wired or read the lawsuit yourself

here
. Reason TV’s Paul Detrick recently
won
a SoCal Journalism Award for his own investigation of how
similar behavior by authorities in Los Angeles resulted in the
harassment
of a photographer
taking pictures of the L.A. subway system.
Watch below:

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Police Trolling Personal Ads to Trick People Into Sex Crimes

From CBS Sacramento, your daily example of the
disgusting and perverse
lengths law enforement will go to in order to catch “sex
criminals.”
Yesterday it was Virginia cops
taking pictures of a teen boy’s junk
 to compare to the
photos he’d texted his girlfriend, for which they were now
prosecuting him for chlid pornography. Today brings us the story of
California cops trolling online personal ads to trick lonely men
into arranging dates with fake underage girls. 

Daniel Eugene Kirschner, 28, apparently placed an ad online
saying he was looking for a girlfriend. He did not say he was
looking for an underage girlfriend, mind you, nor did
undercover Placer County cops pretend to be underage when they
initially reached out to him. But after a while, the “girl”
revealed that she was only 13.

After that, Kirschner continued the correspondance and
eventually agreed to come to the county jail, where cops said she
would be for her mom’s boyfriend’s court appearance. When Kirschner
showed up, he was immediately arrested and charged with
“communicating with a minor with the intent of committing a sexual
act” and “attempted lewd and lascivious acts with someone under
14.”

A lot of people would probably look at this and say, meh,
he’s a creep or a criminal and deserves it. He should have backed
off when he found out she was 13
. And, sure, he should have.
But people are flawed. We don’t know much about Kirschner, but we
do know he was looking online (on what sounds like Craigslist, but
the police are merely calling “a popular website) for a girlfriend.
Maybe he was lonely, vulnerable, in a bad place. A female responds
to his ad and seems friendly and eager (and probably quite mature,
since she is actually a team of cops). She gains his trust and
affection. Then she says she’s only 13.

Under those circumstances, deciding to continue the relationship
certainly reveals a lapse in judgement from our grown perp. But it
doesn’t necessarily reveal him
as predatory
or pedophilic. It doesn’t even reveal that he
would have gone through with any sexual activity with this alleged
13-year-old. To me the whole set-up seems similar to the
undercover cops who befriend young people
by pretending to be
their age, goad them into selling them pot, then throw them in jail
for it.

How is any of this not entrapment? And by what logic does it
make sense to entice people into crimes they probably wouldn’t
otherwise commit just to arrest them for those crimes?

I’m serious about the entrapment question; the second one, I
guess, is rhetorical. It makes sense when your job, budget, and
prestige depend on making more arrests. I’m sure it’s easier to
arrest regular people you nudge into criminal-ish activity than
people engaged in more stealth and serious criminal behavior. Cops
get their 15-second soundbites about “sex traffickers” and “sexual
predators” on the evening news, communities get to feel safe and
like their cops are actually competent, and if some people and
rights get thrown under the bus along the way, that’s just the
price of doing business. 

This
isn’t the first time this year that Placer County cops
have
gone undercover as a 13-year-old girl. Unlike “to catch a predator”
plots past, they seem to be reaching out to men seeking
girlfriends, rather than putting up ads from “teens” and seeing who
responds. The department has also been busy with undercover
operations to lure people into
buying alcohol for minors

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Did I Accidentally Prove that Obamacare is a Success?

New
York’
s Jonathan Chait
needles me
for having “accidentally” shown “how Obamacare is
succeeding.” To make his point, Chait summarizes and briefly quotes
several posts I wrote between January and the second week of March
of this year noting low or overstated enrollment figures in various
parts of Obamacare, and then jumps forward to a post I wrote
earlier this week arguing that a recent estimate combining all of
Obamacare’s coverage expansion provisions is almost certainly too
high. 

“We have gone from learning that the law has failed to cover
anybody to learning it would cover a couple million to learning it
would cover a few million to learning that it has probably insured
fewer than 20 million people halfway through year one,” he
concludes, as if the items he links to are all discussing
comparable components of the law’s coverage expansion.

But Chait’s argument relies on on selective quotations from
posts of mine that examine different aspects of the law that aren’t
really comparable, stringing them together in a way that implies
they are all referring to the same thing. And he fails
to mention other posts I wrote, between March and July, noting the
law’s late-March enrollment surge and effects on covering the
uninsured.

Mostly, then, his item serves to demonstrate is that enrollment
in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges was, as was widely reported,
sluggish from the beginning of the year until the middle of
March, and that it grew afterwards. (Until the very end, it lagged
behind the administration’s own projections.)

Throughout the year, I noted the low enrollment figures as they
came in, arguing that the numbers weren’t promising. And when the
enrollment did pick up at the end of March, I also wrote items on
the surge and its effects on multiple occasions—including a March
31
post
noting a “last-minute sign-up surge,” an April 1
post
noting the White House’s announcement that 7 million had
signed up for coverage, an April 17
post
noting the administration’s report that 8 million had
signed up for coverage, and a May post
specifically saying that early speculation that the law might have
no or negative effect on coverage was not plausible.

Chait does not mention any of these items in his post, which
does not quote or link to any post I wrote between March 11 and
this month. He also says my posts are useful as a “lagging
indicator of Obamacare’s progress.” But all of these posts were
written within a day of the information becoming public.

Chait also fails to quote my own caveats in the posts he does
cite, or to provide important context for comparing the posts he
quotes. For example, he quotes me
saying
on January 21 that “it appears possible that there has
been no net expansion of private coverage at all.” Note that this
is presented as a possibility, not a certainty, and that I also
wrote in the same post that that even if this were true, “there’s
still time for that to change. As the administration is keen to
remind us, people who want coverage have until the end of March to
sign up for coverage this year.”

The
March 11 post
Chait quotes from, meanwhile, dealt specifically
with the question of how much effect Obamacare was having on the
uninsured rate, based on a Gallup survey, which turns out to be a
completely different metric from what’s being looked at in the next
post he selects.

The Gallup survey, I said, was the “best evidence” that
Obamacare was reducing the rate of the uninsured. This effect,
which was measured prior to the late-March surge, is separate from
the question of how many people now have coverage through some
coverage-expanding provision in the law. But the total-coverage
question is what the next post he quotes from (a July
item
taking issue with a New England Journal of
Medicine
(NEJM) study estimating 20 million total covered
by Obamacare, through the exchanges, Medicaid, and other
provisions) discussed.

The authors of that study specifically note that, unlike the
Gallup survey, it was not an attempt to judge the law’s effect on
the uninsurance rate. As the authors of the study say, “We do not
know yet exactly how many of these people were previously
uninsured…”

Chait pairs the two posts without much context, implicitly
suggesting that they are looking at the same thing. They are
not.

The July post on the NEJM‘s total-coverage estimate is
also not really comparable with the
the February 24 post
that Chait quotes from, which specifically
deals with President Obama’s claim that almost 7 million people had
gained coverage under Obamacare just through the law’s Medicaid
expansion.

Obama’s claim was wrong at the time. It’s still wrong. I was not
the only journalist to say so at the time. (The Washington
Post
’s fact checker
gave
Obama’s statement four Pinocchios.) By now even the
administration has backed off that number for the Medicaid
expansion, saying only that total enrollment in the program (which
additionally counts the surge month after Obama made the 7 million
claim) has increased by 6 million following Obamacare’s coverage
expansion, and that
not all of that increase is directly attributable to the law
.
If you read that post on the day that it was published, you got an
accurate and real-time impression that President Obama was wrong.
If you read it now, you get an accurate impression that Obama was
overstating the health law’s coverage effects.

Obamacare has, without question, enrolled far more people since
January, and the evidence is pretty strong that it has cut the rate
of the uninsured by several points. But even as the coverage
figures have increased, what you also see is that the president,
his administration, and the law’s backers have consistently relied
on dubious, misleading, or incomplete metrics to overstate what can
be known about the law’s impact based on the information
available.

Chait may see my posts noting this as inadvertent proof that
Obamacare is actually a success, but to me it looks more like
evidence that the administration and its supporters are desperate
to convince people that it is more of one than the evidence
supports.

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Judge Lets Dangerous Gun Criminal Roam Streets of New York

don't cry for himWhen gun control advocates push for legislation
restricting Second Amendment rights, they almost always carve out
exemptions not just for law enforcement officers but for retired
law enforcement officers. Police officers generally keep their
firearms with them while off-duty, not at the police station. Gun
control advocates are okay with this, even as they demand private
citizens surrender that same right. It’s a dangerous hypocrisy. The
latest act of “gun violence” in Westchester County, New York, whose
anti-gun laws have exemptions for cops and retired cops,
via NBC New York
:

An NYPD officer has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted
murder, assault and drunken driving in the apparently random
off-duty shooting attack on two men in a car in the suburbs earlier
this year.

Officer Brendan Cronin was suspended in the wake of the April 29
shooting.

The passenger in the car was hit six times.

The judge issued a restraining order from Cronin to stay away
from his victims but he’s spared jail for now, with the cop and his
lawyer leaving the courtroom without comment. In New York City, a
gun-related charge could land you among the 11,000 people the city
holds in detention at Riker’s Island. There two corrections
officers and a captain were
charged
with allegedly handcuffing and beating an inmate
unconscious in 2012 and then covering it up. He appears to have
been there awaiting trial on a misdemeanor
assault charge
.

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Update: Virginia Cops Abandon Plan to Coercively Photograph Nude Teen’s Erection

PhotoVirginia cops have agreed
not to take any more pictures
of a 17-year-old boy’s penis.
They decided not to follow through on their initial plan, which was
to detain the teen, take him to the hospital, inject him with drugs
that would give him an erection, photograph his privates, and use
special software to compare this penis picture with other penis
pictures obtained by authorities.

The bizarre and disgusting approach—for which the Manassas City
Police Department obtained a warrant—is part of a child pornography
investigation. The presumed pornographers are not the cops snapping
pictures of a teen’s genitals, but rather the teen himself, who
allegedly exchanged nude texts with his 15-year-old girlfriend.
Both were underage, though the girlfriend has not been charged.

Thankfully, media fury has caused the cops to reevaluate their
strategy for prosecuting this case, according to the
Associated Press
:

Police in Virginia said Thursday that they no longer will pursue
efforts to take sexually explicit photos of a 17-year-old in an
effort to prove a sexting case against him.

Police and prosecutors faced a wave of criticism following media
reports that they had obtained a warrant to take photos of the
teen’s erect penis. Police wanted the pictures to compare against
photos he is accused of sending to his 15-year-old girlfriend at
the time.

On Thursday, Manassas Police Lt. Brian Larkin said the Police
Department will not proceed with the plan to take the pictures and
will let a search warrant authorizing the photos to expire.

Privacy advocates had criticized the plan as a violation of the
teen’s constitutional rights.

The teen’s aunt, who serves as his legal guardian, said she had
not heard of the police department’s reversal until contacted by an
Associated Press reporter Thursday afternoon. She said she would be
ecstatic if police follow through on their statement that they will
no longer pursue the photos. But she said she won’t be fully
satisfied until the case against her nephew is dropped
entirely.

The teen is charged in juvenile court with felony counts of
possession and manufacture of child pornography. The aunt maintains
that the charges are overblown and said the plan to pursue photos
of her nephew in an aroused state came about only after she and her
nephew refused to accept a plea bargain that had been offered.

With any hope, perhaps coverage of this madness will embarrass
the authorities into dropping the case entirely.

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Millennials Hate Boomer Partisans: Nick Gillespie in Daily Beast

I’ve got a new piece up at The Daily
Beast
that talks about the Reason-Rupe Poll about
Millennials.

There is virtually no good news for the GOP in the Reason-Rupe
Poll. Just 22 percent of Millennials self-identify as Republican or
lean that way while 43 percent of youth voters consider themselves
Democrats or lean in that direction. A sizable 34 percent of
Millennials are true independents (that is, they don’t lean in
either direction).

But forget about the seemingly massive Democratic advantage.
After growing up under the Bush and Obama administrations, the
Millennials are overwhelmingly skeptical of government’s ability to
do anything well.

Two-thirds agree that “government is usually inefficient and
wasteful.” In 2009, that number was just 42 percent. Across a range
of 15 issues (including privacy, drug policy, taxes, spending,
health care, and more), neither party wins a
majority of Millennials. About six in 10 believe that government
regulators are the tools of the special interests they are supposed
to police and that federal agencies routinely abuse their power. A
solid majority (55 percent) says businesses are paying their fair
share of taxes.

To put the partisanship numbers in perspective, chew on this:
While 22 percent of millennials see them as Republican or
GOP-leaning, 40 percent of voters 30 or older do. While 43 percent
of millennials are Dems or lean that way, 49 percent of older
voters do. And while 34 percent of young voters are independents,
just 11 percent of older voters are.


Read the whole Beast piece here.

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