Rebekah Johansen

Recent Posts From Rebekah Johansen

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Rebekah Johansen’s fight to rein in Big Government

Rebekah Johansen

Note: This is one of a series of profiles of UL contributors and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

I often joke that I was born a libertarian – except, to be honest, I’m not really joking. One of my earliest memories involves being cooped up in a room, away from my parents and nervous, as a state-certified teacher hovered sternly over my shoulder. As homeschoolers, we had to do yearly tests to prove our education met the standards of the failing public system.

I think I was in first grade, and I’d forgotten some of my times tables. Instead of skipping the question, I started writing out some made-up tables and graphs to figure out the problem – I was on the way to getting the right answer, when she snapped at me “you can’t do that!” Embarrassed, I cried.

I grew up hating arbitrary rules and government when it came to our private lives, and our family supported George W. Bush in 2000, mainly based of his small-government, noninterventionist principles at the time. And then, of course, 9/11 changed everything.

Seeing the towers fall as an 11-year-old was one of my first memories of being aware of the world, and I became a pint-sized neoconservative for a time. I’d write one letter to the editor per month (as often as I was allowed), mostly about keeping America safe, supporting our President, and so on. I blogged constantly. I dragged my long-suffering mother to go volunteer for Bush-Cheney 2004. We went to rallies, GOP headquarters, the whole deal.

But through it all, there was a nagging in the back of my mind. I remember being at an election rally in 2004, when President Bush brought up the Patriot Act, and how it had “kept us safe.” The crowd went wild, but my family sat silently.

Texas Candidates “Reject the Debt”

Debt Clock

Coming out of a brutal series of losses in last fall’s fiscal fights, budget hawks are facing tough odds.

Some commentators have gone as far as to say that fiscal restraint has been defeated in Congress, with the heyday of 2010 giving way to a situation in which those who want to cut spending and reign in looming deficits and debt have taken a “back seat.”

Have deficit hawks finally been defeated? Is big spending the new norm?

Not if a cadre of Texas candidates has anything to do with it.

On Monday, the Coalition to Reduce Spending announced that 14 candidates for federal office from across the state had signed the Coalition’s Reject the Debt pledge ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The pledge requires elected officials to (1) consider all spending open for reduction, (2) vote only for budgets with a path to balance, and (3) offset any new spending with cuts elsewhere.

The signatories include Tea Party favorites like Katrina Pierson and Matt McCall, in a diverse scattering of candidates from across the state. The Coalition has also been in touch with various third party and Democratic challengers and expects more candidates to jump on after the primary.

“Washington won’t change until we change the incentives of the people we send there,” Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak said. “Candidates have to hold themselves accountable, or we have to do it for them. I’m pleased to see this group willing to hold themselves to fiscal restraint.”

Time for a New Narrative on Food Stamps

Food Stamps (SNAP)

By this time, if you follow politics at all, chances are you’ve heard a lot about the farm bill. Passed Tuesday, this bill represents nearly $1 trillion in new spending, with typical promises for paltry reform over the next decade.

At risk of presumption, the problems with the farm portion are rather obvious. It’s no surprise that 85% of economists from across the ideological spectrum oppose farm subsidies. It seems commonly accepted that the “farm bill” long ago ceased to be a temporary relief for struggling family farmers and has instead become a hefty bonus check for some of the biggest corporate agriculture. For example, the richest farmers get the most subsidies, and just three firms received the most in sugar subsidies last year. And Tuesday’s bill did little to address these issues.

A program so misguided is easy to attack. But unfortunately, the farm portion is a very small part of the “farm” bill. And the other part backs people who want to save the next generation from massive debt into quite a tough corner.

State of the Union Promises Millennials the Short End of the Stick

Contained within last night’s speech were many examples of how young people lose out in the big-government status quo.

It’s easy to lampoon the State of the Union address. A speech full of pomp and circumstance but relatively devoid of specifics is difficult to take seriously.

Few can see through the charade more clearly than younger generations. Marketers and ad execs know that traditional TV marketing techniques are ineffective with Millennials, so it’s obvious last night’s promises are liable to fall particularly flat with 20-somethings.

Young people today face a government that is more bloated, more invasive, and less efficient than ever. Tuesday night’s speech promised to continue this status quo.

The State of the Union was a study in contrasts and omitted information, and young people can see right through it. The President praised a low unemployment rate – leaving out the fact that the job-seeking numbers are low because many people have given up on finding work. He touted a reduced deficit – while praising the end of the Budget Control Act and sequester that led to the reduction.

Rebekah Johansen

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