Reason Alert E-News

Reason Alert: Obama, Barr, Cap-and-Trade

  • Obama’s Preschool Plan Isn’t the Right Fix
  • Bob Barr’s Unlikely Journey
  • Cap-and-Trade Is Really Tax-and-Spend
  • New at and

Obama’s Preschool Plan Isn’t the Right Fix
With Sen. Barack Obama calling for spending $10 billion a year on early education, Reason Foundation’s Lisa Snell looks at the long-term test scores of kids who go to government-run universal preschool programs and finds a lack of lasting benefits for students. Snell writes, “Without high quality K-12 education, no amount of investment in early education can close the achievement gap or make the United States globally competitive. To his credit, Obama seems to recognize that the government doesn’t have unlimited resources to tackle this challenge, stating, ‘If you’re a progressive, you’ve got to be worried about how the federal government is spending its revenue, because we don’t have enough money to spend on things like early childhood education that are so important.’ To that end, he has signed Reason Foundation’s ‘Oath of Presidential Transparency,’ promising the most transparent and fiscally accountable executive branch in history. He’s also wisely argued in favor of merit pay for teachers and charter schools, telling Politico, ‘I’ve consistently said, we need to support charter schools. I think it is important to experiment, by looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom.’ Some of Obama’s instincts on education issues, like that stance on charters, break from traditional Democratic Party positions and can seriously help reform our public schools. For the best results, and to truly help disadvantaged kids, Obama should shift from pushing universal preschool to calling for meaningful reforms in our K-12 public schools.”

Bob Barr’s Unlikely Journey
As a Georgia congressman Bob Barr was definitely not a libertarian. Now he’s the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. In a column for the UK’s Guardian, Reason magazine’s David Weigel details Barr’s evolution, writing, “Perhaps Barr was always a kind of libertarian, or a kind of conscientious conservative, and it took a particularly awful Republican president for him to make the connections between the abuses of power he liked and the abuses of power he didn’t. If that’s the case, Barr might point the way for this depressed generation of conservatives…The Libertarian party, which hasn’t won more than 1% of the presidential vote since 1980, has a lot to gain from Barr’s run. They can win a record level of support. They can, more credibly than before, make the case that that all foes of government gone wrong have to look at what the GOP and the Democrats have done to themselves. If they were honest, Barr’s old colleagues – people who you’ll see turning purple and denouncing him if it looks like he’ll take votes from John McCain – would make the same connections that he has.”
» Weigel: A Permanent Ron Paul Revolution?

Cap-and-Trade Is Really Tax-and-Spend
This morning the AP reports that “Republicans have blocked efforts to bring a global warming bill up for a final Senate vote after a bitter debate over its economic costs and whether it would push gasoline prices higher.” In a column for The New York Post, Reason Foundation’s Shikha Dalmia examines why some politicians are so eager to use climate change as a way to generate a new revenue stream: “Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has already announced her plans for the [cap and trade] windfall: Give a quarter of it ($800 billion) to the poor and half ($1.5 trillion) to pet Democratic projects (such as wildlife adaptation, international aid and mass transit) and special interests (such as alternative energy start-ups and auto-manufacturing retooling groups). The rest ($900 billion) she’d direct to ‘deficit reduction,’ DC-speak for ‘We’ll do with it as we damn well please.’ What’ll really happen if Boxer gets her way? Consider what the state and federal governments have done with their tobacco-tax windfalls. These were supposed to fund efforts to fight cigarette use and offset health-care costs that states incurred because of smoking. Instead, they now fund everything from schools to economic-stimulus packages. In short, cap-and-trade is really just another name for tax-and-spend. Just as tobacco taxes haven’t eliminated smoking, a cap-and-trade tax won’t eliminate global warming. Even if the bill works exactly as promised, it would cut global CO2 concentration by only 4 percent, which wouldn’t produce even a measurable drop in temperatures. But a government that’s grown addicted to a vast new source of revenue won’t call of this crusade just because it’s futile. To the contrary, failure will become a reason to keep the program growing. In other words, the bill won’t guarantee that our children will inherit a cooler planet – only that they’ll inherit a new tax.”
» Ronald Bailey: Carbon Taxes Versus Carbon Markets