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Some left-leaning politicians are exploiting last week’s Amtrak derailment tragedy to push for more government spending. Heritage experts Paul Winfree and Michael Sargent write on the that this solution is not only distasteful but also doesn’t address the key problem:

The partisan finger-pointing came well before the investigation into the accident could produce any answers—including the revelation that the train went into a sharp curve at more than twice the designated speed limit. In addition, the Republican funding bill they were disparaging does not cut allocations to safety programs for the National Transportation Safety Board or the Federal Railroad Administration. Yet when federal funding is at stake, ideology happily tramples facts in its race to exploit human tragedy.

You can read Winfree and Sargent’s full analysis here.

Do you think spending more money on Amtrak is the right answer? Tell us in the comments.

How much are regulations costing the U.S. economy? Don’t ask the federal government. Heritage expert Norbert Michel explains in Forbes:

Believe it or not, the federal government doesn’t officially track regulatory costs as it does with things like taxes and spending.

But executive branch agencies that promulgate “major rules”—defined as those expected to cost the economy $100 million or more annually—provide some cost estimates for the rules they issue. These agencies estimated that their major rules from 2014 will cost the economy approximately $80 billion per year.

Heritage experts explored this and other regulatory issues in-depth in a new report, Red Tape Rising.

Which costly regulations would you reform? 

Finally, Republicans in Congress and the Obama administration agree on a piece of legislation: the Trade Promotion Authority package to fast-track future trade bills.  If you think this is too good to be true, you’re right: liberals in Congress are attempting to link this legislation to spending on Trade Adjustment Assistance, an ineffective welfare program.

Heritage Founder Ed Feulner and Heritage President Jim DeMint weigh in:

Trade Promotion Authority should be considered on its own merits, and good conservatives can disagree on whether the current draft of TPA is appropriate. However, all conservatives should agree that it should not be tied to Trade Adjustment Assistance, an expensive and ineffective program.

Now that it’s done, Trade Promotion Authority in its current form doesn’t deserve passage. A free trade deal worth making can and should be passed on its own, without throwing a bone to those who would waste our tax dollars.

Read the full article in The Daily Signal.

Do you think Congress should pass a trade bill that’s linked to a big-government spending program like Trade Adjustment Assistance?

The attempted attack on the Muhammad Art Exhibit contest in Garland, Texas marked the 68th attempted terrorist plot since 9/11. Heritage expert David Inserra says this should be a wakeup call to reform our counterterrorism structure. He has six suggestions to start:

  1. Streamlining U.S. fusion centers. Congress should limit fusion centers to the approximately 30 areas with the greatest level of risk as identified by the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
  2. Pushing the FBI toward being more effectively driven by intelligence. While the FBI has made high-level changes to its mission and organizational structure, the bureau is still working to integrate intelligence and law enforcement activities.
  3. Ensuring that the FBI shares information more readily and regularly with state and local law enforcement and treats state and local partners as critical actors in the fight against terrorism.State, local, and private-sector partners must send and receive timely information from the FBI.
  4. Designating an office in DHS to coordinate countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts. CVE efforts are spread across all levels of government and society. DHS is uniquely situated to lead the federal government’s efforts to empower local partners.
  5. Supporting state, local, and civil society partners. Congress and the Administration should not lose sight of the fact that all of the federal government’s efforts must be focused on empowering local partners.
  6. Maintaining essential counterterrorism tools. Support for important investigative tools is essential to maintaining the security of the U.S. and combating terrorist threats. Legitimate government surveillance programs are also a vital component of U.S. national security and should be allowed to continue.

Do you think the government is doing enough to stop terrorists?

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to expand its power by redefining what “waters” are under the Clean Water Act. While usually the term “waters” is used to mean any lake, river or pond, now the EPA wants to use it to regulate man-made ditches and tributaries too.

Heritage expert Darren Bakst says this is a violation of your rights:

Put simply, this rule is an attack on property rights. As EPA and the Corps of Engineers claim jurisdiction over more and more waters, property owners will have to secure more and more permits—or simply forgo projects because of the additional cost and time required to secure a permit.

And there’s a growing risk of “gotcha” enforcement. It’s already tough for property owners to know that their property has a jurisdictional water. Because the proposed rule is so broad and vague, this problem is only going to get far worse.

Read Bakst’s full analysis on The Daily Signal.

Do you think the EPA should have the power to regulate your property?

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