Week in Review: Stimulus, the Drug War and Partisanship

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Stimulus Debate Heats up in Senate

President Obama’s stimulus bill moved to the Senate this week where it is facing stiff opposition from Republicans. In its current form, the bill still lacks enough votes to make it to the president’s desk.

The Cato Institute placed a full page ad in newspapers nationwide showing that there is no consensus among economists about the stimulus plan. The ad features a statement signed by more than 200 economists, including Nobel laureates and other leading scholars who agree that the best way to boost economic growth is to lessen the burden of government. Each day, more economists continue to add their names to the online version of the ad. On Monday, a new version of the ad with more names will run in The Wall Street Journal.

Read Chris Edwards and Ike Brannon’s recent article in the National Post, “Barack Obama’s Keynesian Mistake,” to learn more about the economic principles underlying the stimulus plan.

You can also watch senior fellow Alan Reynolds discuss the stimulus plan on CNN, Fox News and listen to his latest interview on the false consensus for stimulus.

If you think the word “stimulus” is a misnomer given the actual contents of the bill, then you’re not alone. Cato executive vice president David Boaz and senior fellow Daniel J. Mitchell discuss why the plan should not be termed a “stimulus.”

If you run a blog or Web site and want to take a stand against this massive government intervention plan, go to cato.org/fiscalreality and click “Spread the word.” We have created an online widget that you can post on your Web site that will show your readers that you do not agree with the stimulus plan.

The Washington Post Magazine Takes Another Look at the Berwyn Heights Tragedy and the Drug War

In an article in The Washington Post Magazine, author April Witt recounts the day police stormed into the home of Berwyn Heights, Md., mayor Cheye Calvo on a botched drug raid, killed his two dogs and held him and his mother-in-law at gun point. Police said they conducted the raid because a package containing marijuana had been delivered to Calvo’s doorstep earlier that day. It was later found that Calvo had nothing to do with the suspicious package.

Over the past 25 years, police agencies throughout the United States have increasingly become militaristic, using no-knock raids to carry out routine police work. But how far is too far? In the Washington Post article, Witt cites a Cato paper, “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Raids Across America,” in which former Cato policy analyst Radley Balko examines the increasing role of military tactics in domestic police work, especially when involving drug enforcement.

Calvo spoke at a Cato forum in September, where he told his story about that day.

In Mexico, the drug war has had an even worse outcome than in the United States. While the Mexican government attempts to quell the illegal drug trade, violence has broken out along the border. Signs indicate that it will only continue to get worse. In a new Cato policy analysis, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies Ted Galen Carpenter says the only way to slow the violence is to abandon the prohibitionist model of the drug problem.

“As long as the prohibitionist strategy is in place, the huge black market premium in illegal drugs will continue, and the lure of that profit, together with the illegality, guarantees that the most ruthless, violence-prone elements will dominate the trade,” Carpenter writes. “Ending drug prohibition would de-fund the criminal trafficking organizations and reduce their power.”

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