Interview conducted 7/20/2019 at the Mises Institute, in Auburn, AL
Juan Ayala | United States
“[The Freedom Caucus] can’t tell you what they’re for. They can’t tell you what they’re against. They’re anarchists, they want total chaos.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
“…to solve immigration reform, House Republicans have to break precedent and bring a bill to the floor that offends the Freedom Caucus.” – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
“..the Freedom Caucus has ruined the Republican Party” – Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
So, just who is this growing group of conservatives and why should you care?
The Freedom Caucus: A Background
In 2009-2012, President Obama carried out his agenda through the stimulus package and poured money into the economy through government subsidies. Out of this “pork barrel spending,” the Tea Party was born. The caucus consists of candidates that were angry with what they thought were big government bailouts. Thusly, they became part of this grassroots movement to accomplish what they believed establishment Republicans were not.
According to the group’s Twitter, they support an open and accountable government, constitutionalism, and rule of law. Senators in the caucus include Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Some notable Representatives in the caucus include Thomas Massie and Justin Amash.
Relationship to Trump
The Republican Party is split over those who are openly criticizing Trump and those who let his rhetoric go by the wayside. The leaders of the Caucus are “brave, tough cookies” for Trump, as he puts it. Others like South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford have a lesser relationship with Trump. Sanford boasted an 80% positive rating with Trump’s voters and many see him as a constitutional conservative. However, his criticism of Trump led to the President releasing negative tweets about him the night of his primary. Many GOP strategists believe that these untimely tweets cost Sanford the race.
How the Caucus Operates
Congress is messy. The procedures and work schedule are an extremely difficult aspect of Congress and the Freedom Caucus doesn’t make it any easier.
Imagine you need 100 people to agree on an issue in your local community about implementing Common Core; you have 40 people in favor and 40 against. The final 20 want it abolished, to get rid of sex education and also want one of their members on the local school board. You have to give them 2/3 of what they’re asking for their support and need 51 people to agree to pass any measure, so a compromise must occur. Clearly, it’s damn near impossible to get there.
The previously mentioned 20 in the example would be the House Freedom Caucus, a group of four-dozen or so hardline conservatives (out of 199 Republican-held seats). Their presence can hinder a bill’s progress. Most notably, they killed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was supposed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump infamously blamed them for the death of the AHCA. They have also opposed most immigration reform bills.
Remember, these are voting members of Congress and their opinions can very much impact anyone’s life.
The Growth of the Caucus
There is no official membership list. The founders, Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), court candidates. Contributing to an individual’s campaign is a key part of the Caucus. Following the 2018 midterms, the Caucus adds to its ranks Ben Cline (R-VA) and Chip Roy (R-TX). They expect another five to six members to join their ranks.
New Progressives, Hardline Conservatives & The Future
On camera, Congress is always ready for a 30-second sound bite. It’s the content that gets clicks, retweets and presumably also why Ocasio-Cortez was seated on a committee that also has Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan on it. The far-right and far-left are emerging in the House. Consequently, there will be an already uphill battle to achieve a consensus on commonsense approaches.
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By Mark West | United States
Since October the stock markets have been on a ride of ridiculous levels of volatility enough to make those closing in on retirement squeamish. Volatility showcased its’ unpredictable nature as the Dow Jones Industrial plunged more than 600 points on Christmas Eve only to rebound with a more than 1000 point surge to close out the holiday week.
During this insanely cataclysmic trading week, President Donald Trump was cozy with his cell phone and his television as the tumultuous market events unfolded. You see, the government has been shut down since the Saturday before Christmas so President Trump has some extra time on his hands, especially during the holiday season, to enjoy his favorite activity…tweeting.
In the midst of President Trump’s Christmas Eve tweet storm, I found a jewel. He tweeted something that some people hope signals not necessarily a change in policy but a modification for how our economic and financial systems operate as a whole. I’m giving you advance warning, wading through our President’s Christmas Eve tweets can be a treacherous journey that isn’t beneficial for the timid at heart.
So, what did President Trump tweet that could be at least encouraging, at most inspirational, to certain segments of our political society?
The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Our President narrows all of our economic issues down to only one problem: The Fed. For those who aren’t sure what this Fed is that Trump is referencing, it is the Federal Reserve Bank, which is not a government bank, but rather a private bank that sets our federal monetary policy. It was invented out of thin air by Congress in 1913, although many of its concepts were already working in the economy in an unofficial capacity.
The Fed functions in a sort of private-public collaboration that is designed to prevent recessions and curb inflationary pressures that hurt the economy. Basically, the Fed can affect our economy and is practically unaccountable to Congress, or the President, for the decisions it makes. The Fed’s driving concept is that a politically independent Fed will lead to solutions that aren’t politically motivated and thus better for the nation in its entirety.
President Trump’s tweet threatens and undermines the state of independence the Fed has enjoyed since it’s inception. I think this, and President Trump’s Syria move, expose what may be a secret relationship which could generate a lot of excitement in the liberty movement. Taking on the Fed would be a move right out of Senator Ran Paul’s playbook, just like a less-interventionist foreign policy.
Maybe Senator Paul has been working behind the scenes to shift President Trump toward more libertarian solutions to the variety of issues our nation faces. Paul has been working on Trump about auditing the Fed since the bill began working through Congress in the Spring.
If President Trump’s tweet signals his desire to bring the Fed under Congressional oversight and accountability, then it is definitely a threat to the autonomy under which the bank has operated.
A turning point in how our elected leaders deal with the Fed could lead to more unstable and volatile markets in the days to come since those markets are naturally uncertainty-averse. However, the long-term benefits of restoring control of our monetary policies to a more accountable and constitutional process could secure our economic stability for generations to come.
Yet, we have to leave the possibility open that President Trump’s tweet was just a momentary ventilation of his frustration with Fed chair Jerome Powell’s rate hikes and their impact on the markets. If so, this means that nothing will change structurally in that relationship and that President Trump will rely on the bully pulpit he has as President that includes his Twitter account to influence the future monetary decisions of the Fed.
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By Trey Johnson | United States
President Donald Trump and Ron Paul actually agree on something: Americans need to audit the fed. Trump has said recently, “I really disagree with what the Fed is doing” on the topic of raising interest rates. Of course, both political leaders have reasons for concern: the U.S. dollar has lost over 96% of its value since the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913.
Paul has also repeatedly called for an audit of the Federal Reserve. His son, too, shares this same belief. Rand Paul has put forth legislation to audit the fed and it indeed includes an exception for cryptocurrencies.
The first steps are passing the Audit the Fed bill, allowing people to use alternative currencies, and exempting all transactions in precious metals and cryptocurrencies from capital gains taxes and other taxes. -Ron Paul
Spending cuts are probably the next thing Americans need, next to aggressive tax cuts. The inclusion of these tax cuts, however, will not entice Democrats standing on the opposite side of the aisle, preparing to resist. Generally in favor of higher taxes than Republicans, their support for capital gains exemptions may be low.
The Federal Reserve has never had an audit before, in its more than 100-year history. In past votes, Democrats have shown little support for the plan. However, some have dissented and shown support, including left-leaning Independent Bernie Sanders.
Federal Reserve Danger
Ron Paul is able to point out the apparent near danger that the Fed’s fiat currency manipulation has caused:
In contrast to market money, government-created fiat currency is anything but stable. Central banks constantly increase and decrease the money supply in an attempt to control the economy by controlling the interest rates. This causes individuals to misread market conditions, and … eventually, reality catches up to the Federal Reserve-created fantasies.
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By Atilla Sulker | United States
On Saturday, the Senate finally voted on and confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. The confirmation marks a historic turning point in the decision. The vote had been delayed since the Senate Judiciary Committee initially set September 20th as the date on which its members would vote. President Trump nominated Kavanaugh on July 9th, earlier this year.
The Senate was nearly equally divided on the vote, with 48 senators voting against Kavanaugh and 50 voting in his favor. This is certainly tighter than the 54–45 vote which occurred during Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.
Only one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, voted for Kavanaugh. Three Democrats joined the Republicans last year in voting for then-Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch’s confirmation. Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican who did not vote in favor of Kavanaugh, instead voting “present”.
Around the beginning of the nomination process, Senator Rand Paul was seen as a possible swing vote among the other senators mentioned. Paul was concerned over Kavanaugh’s views on the Fourth Amendment but had later assured that after meeting with Kavanaugh, he had no more worries.
Trump immediately took to Twitter, stating: “I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court.”
The nomination process exemplifies a polarizing political landscape in America in which both sides no longer debate over ideology, but instead sling mud at each other. Personal attacks have become imminent, gradually undermining productive political discourse.
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