Welcome to Jon Caldara

Jon Caldara's official blog! Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado's free-market think tank in Denver, Colorado. Caldara also hosts a radio talk show every Sunday, from 5 to 8pm on 630 KHOW. His current affairs television program Devils Advocate, on Colorado Public Television Channel 12, airs on Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Monday at 1:30pm. Be sure to follow Jon on Facebook and Twitter!

Amicus filed in the TABOR case Kerr v. Hickenlooper

Posted by on Nov 21 2014 | Constitutional Law, Dave Kopel

The Independence Institute, Cato Institute, and Reason Foundation have filed an amicus brief in support of the SCt cert petition in Kerr v. Hickenlooper. Primary and Cato Authors: Ilya Shapiro, Julio Colomba, David B. Kopel, Manuel S. Klausner. Nov. 20, 2014.

Synopsis of the amicus brief from Cato’s Ilya Shapiro:

Not many people know that there’s a clause in the Constitution that charges Congress with guaranteeing every state a “republican form of government.”  What even fewer people are aware of is exactly what that means. Historically, the Guarantee Clause is considered to have been a measure the Framers included to ensure that state governments of the states—which used to have far greater autonomy—didn’t devolve into monarchies or other despotic forms. But the clause’s legal effect has never been fully fleshed out. Not that there haven’t been opportunities; claims based on the Guarantee Clause are peppered throughout U.S. history. Courts have typically disposed of them by invoking the political question doctrine, which they use to avoid deciding an issue they believe is more appropriately left to the elected branches. Since there’s no legally binding definition of “republican,” a court applying the Guarantee Clause has little to work with, also contributing to the tendency to treat such cases as non-justiciable. Accordingly, when a group of legislators and citizens groups supporting big government banded together to attack Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) based on a Guarantee Clause claim, it seemed like a longshot. Their claim was that the state no longer had a republican form of government because the TABOR—a voter-approved state constitutional amendment—restricts the legislature’s ability to raise taxes without approval from the people of Colorado. Colorado’s (Democratic) governor, defending the state’s constitution, moved to dismiss the case in federal district court, but, surprisingly, lost the motion. Even more surprisingly, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed that denial, which meant that the plaintiffs’ claims could go to trial and jeopardize the continued existence of the state’s popular anti-tax measure. Colorado has one more chance, however, to prevent poorly constructed Guarantee Clause claims from being heard in federal courts and thus jeopardizing the dozens of state constitutional measures that use popular input: the Supreme Court. Governor Hickenlooper has filed a petition for certiorari requesting that the Supreme Court, among other things, put to bed the erroneous notion that elements of direct popular participation and direct democracy can’t exist in a republican government. Joined by the Independence Institute, Reason Foundation, and Individual Rights Foundation, Cato has filed a brief supporting Colorado’s petition. We argue that the Court should hear the case so it can inform the lower courts that pretextual Guarantee Clause claims don’t belong in federal courts.  We give three reasons for this position. First, the plaintiffs’ complaint fails to provide a court with legal standards coherent enough to decide the case under the Guarantee Clause. Second, under Supreme Court precedent, the idea that initiatives and referenda are incompatible with republican government was resolved (and rejected) when Congress admitted states that used these popular procedures into the union. Third, even a brief look at the history of the Founding Era’s understanding of the words “republic” and “republican” dispels the myth on which the plaintiffs base their claim: that direct popular participation is incompatible with the republican form. Our brief provides that historical context. In sum, the suggestion that the Guarantee Clause—meant to ensure that state governments would remain governments “of the people” and wouldn’t revert to despotic monarchies—could be used to wrest greater control of the taxing power from the people makes the plaintiffs’ claims risible. The Supreme Court should take this opportunity to put an end to this laughable case.

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VIDEO: Is There a War on Women debate

Posted by on Oct 30 2014 | Events, Video, war on women

We’d like to thank everyone who came out on Tuesday to see our debate on the age old question: Is there a war on women?

If you couldn’t make it out to the Denver Post building to catch the debate in person, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube here.

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Is There a War on Women? Live Stream the Debate

Posted by on Oct 28 2014 | Events, Video, war on women

We hope to see you all tonight at the Denver Post building for our war on women debate. Doors open at 5:30, the debate goes from 6-7p.

But if you can’t make it in person, you can live stream the debate here on our UStream channel.

The stream will start when the debate begins at 6.

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The Ultimate Cat Fight

Posted by on Oct 23 2014 | Events, war on women

The 2014 election season has largely revolved around the “War on Women.” Is this just Leftist spin, or is the Right truly oppressing women?

So, at the last meeting of our all-male “Uterus Control Council,” we were discussing how to best lower the glass ceiling when it hit me.”What if we let the broads talk for themselves?!” I exclaimed.

Dick Cheney grumbled, “What? Like we’d listen or something? And where’s that chick to finish my foot massage? This bunion doesn’t rub itself.”

I said, “No, don’t talk crazy Dick. We let the skirts blather away at a debate over the War on Women while we play golf. They squawk away about how mean we are to them, and they get it out of their system. Government birth control, Obamacare, IUDs, everything.”

“You know how many of our boys lost their limbs in Iraq from IUDs?” George Bush woke up. “You’re playing with fire if you let ‘em talk among themselves. They get ideas. Remember that time Condi talked with Babs about teaching Islamic girls to read? Nutty stuff man. Nutty stuff.”

“Guys!” I said, “I’m talking the ultimate cat fight here.”

I’ll save you all the details, but over the objections of Ann Coulter, who said only fertile married women should be allowed to attend, we are hosting a full-on debate over the “War on Women” moderated by Westword’s Patty Calhoun. The panelists will be:

Kelly Maher – Revealing Politics

Susan Greene – Colorado Independent

Laura Carno – I Am Created Equal

Laura Chapin – Democratic Political Strategist

Ladies, ask your husband or father if you can come! RSVP now. Gentlemen, of course you can come without asking anyone (like I need to say that).

For more information and to RSVP, visit our Eventbrite page here.

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VIDEO: Prop 105 GMO Labeling Debate

Posted by on Oct 23 2014 | Events, Proposition 105, Video

This past Thursday, Oct. 16th, the Independence Institute hosted a debate at the Denver Post building about Colorado’s Prop 105. Prop 105 would require labeling on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Below you’ll find the debate video.

Also, don’t forget about our upcoming firecracker of a debate titled, “Is there a war on women?” We will be hosting again at the Denver Post building from 5:30-7p on Tuesday, October 28th. Do not miss this one!

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Devil Inside the Beltway: A Small Business Nightmare

Posted by on Oct 16 2014 | Events, Video

On Wednesday October 15, the Independence Institute hosted author and former small business owner Michael Daugherty. His book, “Devil Inside the Beltway” is an ongoing tale of the big guy (government) vs. the little guy (Michael and his company). Listen as Michael tells a magnificent tale of government overreach and cronyism. And he’s still fighting to this day.

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The Little Initiative That Could

Posted by on Oct 08 2014 | education, elections, Proposition 104, Transparency

For years, we’ve been frustrated by secrecy in government, particularly the secrecy surrounding the negotiations over teacher union contracts with school districts. It’s where 85% of a district’s budget will be decided. Also decided is how our children will be taught and how teachers will be compensated. Yet this negotiation is most often done in a smoky back room.

In the last decade, the Colorado legislature had four opportunities to bring these meetings under the Open Meetings Law, and four times the special interests who meet in that back room got the bills killed.

So, about a year ago we made a bold decision. If we wanted sunshine on those dark meetings, the only way to change the law would be through a citizens’ initiative. And if that were to happen, we’d have to do it. Who else would take on the unions, school districts and school boards? So off we went.

But this morning I had a panic attack. Our little, underfunded Prop 104 received an endorsement from the Denver Post. If the Post likes it, it must be a terrible idea! Right? Well, I’m imagining folks at both Independence Institute and the Denver Post saying of each other, “You know, a broken clock is right twice a day.” So, we’re happy to be a broken clock.

Prop 104 also has been endorsed by the Greeley Tribune. They now join the Gazette (Colorado Springs), Pueblo Chieftain and Durango Herald. In fact, I’m not aware of a single newspaper that has opined against measure and the transparency it will bring. Journalists, no matter their political beliefs, understand that secrecy is the enemy of good government.

You can learn more about Prop 104 at the campaign websites: SunshineK12.com for the Yes side, and getthefactson104.com for the No.

Events!

On Wednesday, October 15, at 5:30 PM we will host Michael Daugherty, author of Devil Inside the Beltway, for a presentation and book signing at our offices. It’s a frightening firsthand account of the federal government’s ability to manufacture a case against a small business and shut it down. But Michael is fighting back. Attendance is FREE, but please RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/michael-daugherty-tickets-13583760393

Also, on Thursday, October 16, at the Denver Post Auditorium, there will be a live debate over Proposition 105, that if passed would mandate the labeling of certain genetically modified or engineered foods. Doors open at 5:30 PM, and the debate is scheduled to last from 6:00-7:00 PM. Two representatives from each side of the issue will square off for the debate that has brought a great deal of national attention to Colorado. Moderated by Dominic Dezzutti, host of Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television, the debate will go into all of the details of this high-profile measure. Please contact Mary@i2i.org if you’re able to attend.

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Analyze This: The Economic Recovery That Wasn’t

Posted by on Oct 06 2014 | Amendment 66

A new report from the Liberty Foundation puts a big stick in the spokes of the supposed “recovery” our economy has had since the Great Recession.

The number of Coloradans in the labor force has fallen significantly for several key groups according to the National Labor Force Participation Rate report from our friends at The Liberty Foundation. To download just the Colorado report, click here.

The report analyzes the employment percentage of each demographic in Colorado’s labor force, revealing staggering participation losses, often within the last half decade.

Coloradans saw the number of those active in the labor force dip 4 percent overall – from 72.1 to 68.1 percent – from 2008 to 2013. But the broad numbers disguise the decline across many demographic subsections.

In 2008, on the cusp of the recession, the labor force percentage for Hispanics stood at 71.9 percent, dropping to 67.7 percent by 2013. But while the percentage remained relatively flat for Hispanic women (near 60 percent), Hispanic men saw a decline by nearly 9 points - from 84 to 75 percent.

African-American labor force rates declined 2.5 points over the same time span, but the decline for men outstripped the overall decline, from 75 percent to just below 70 percent.

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Colorado women saw their numbers shrink as well. Even as most of the age groups for women saw relative stability, the number of women aged 20-24 in the labor pool slipped more than 5 percent.

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The data reveals Colorado’s employment problems are neither racist nor sexist. In fact, men have been plagued with reduced labor participation rates as well.  While their older male counterparts have seen employment tick back up slightly, the bottom has fallen out for young males. In 2001, teen male employment stood at nearly 62 percent. In 2008, the rate dropped to 45 percent. Today? Just 35.6 percent of males between ages 16-19 participate in the labor force – nearly half what it was in 2001.

Here’s where the unemployment rate of each group stands, looking at the 5 year period ending in 2013. Overall, the unemployment rate grew from 4.8 percent to 6.6 percent. Hispanics saw the largest jump, more than 3 percent, with women and then men trailing with unemployment increases.

Cato’s 2014 “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors” gave incumbent Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper an “F” – second from last -as they dinged the Democrat for “ballooned” general fund spending. You can read my blog post about Hick’s failing grade here.

According to the report, spending would increase 28 percent from $7.2 billion in 2012 to $9.2 billion in 2015, an average of 6 percent each year. Cato noted that the billion dollar Hickenlooper-backed Amendment 66 tax increase that would have increased Colorado’s income tax from a flat 4.63 percent to an onerous, two-tiered rate of 5.0 and 5.9 percent, was “soundly rejected by voters” at a 2-to-1 margin. Thank goodness.

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Cato Institute gives Hick an “F”

Posted by on Oct 02 2014 | debt, Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, TABOR, Taxes

Our friends over at the Cato Institute just came out with their Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors (2014). You’ll never guess where our governor lands in their ranking. Would you believe it if I told you Hick is 2nd?! Yes, Governor Hickenlooper – Mr. I haven’t met a tax or debt increase I haven’t liked – earned 2nd.

SECOND FROM DEAD LAST THAT IS. Only California Governor Jerry Brown was ranked lower than Hick.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture (click to enlarge):

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Each state get its own little paragraph. Here’s the commentary for Colorado, ranked 49th out of 50:

General fund spending has ballooned over the past three years under Governor Hickenlooper, from $7.2 billion in 2012 to a proposed $9.2 billion in 2015. The governor’s proposed spending increases have averaged 6 percent over the past three years. His most recent budget included a 15 percent spending boost for higher education and new spending on corporate welfare programs. State government employment is way up under Hickenlooper, rising 16 percent since he came to office. He pushed for a huge personal income tax increase on the ballot in 2013 to fund education, which would have raised more than $900 million annually. If passed, Amendment 66 would have replaced Colorado’s flat income tax of 4.63 percent with a two-rate structure of 5.0 and 5.9 percent. Luckily for Colorado taxpayers, this increase was soundly rejected by voters, 65 to 35 percent.

Read the whole thing here.

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IITV: Why is Latin so important for Constitutional studies?

Posted by on Oct 01 2014 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, U.S. Constitution, Video

In the latest episode of IITV, our constitution scholar Rob Natelson sits down with host Justin Longo to discuss why learning Latin (the “dead” language) is so important for fully understanding our nation’s founding and the Constitution.

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