To Cut the Deficit, End the Drug War

Republicans in Congress are taking heat for passing a $400 billion budget deal, which critics on the left point out will balloon the nation’s deficits. Luckily, there’s an easy way for the GOP to reclaim its mantle of fiscal responsibility. Ending the war on drugs would raise revenue without raising taxes, cut a bloated government program, and cut the deficit by over $80 billion per year.

Abolishing the war on drugs could raise revenue by empowering Americans to work, broadening the tax base. In 2015, 469,545 people were imprisoned in the United States for drug offenses. That’s almost half a million Americans who are rotting in prison instead of being allowed to work and pay taxes. If a mechanic is caught with marijuana in his pocket and goes to prison, he could spend years languishing in a cell instead of working. His community loses out on his labor. Taxpayers lose too, because prison transforms a hardworking man into a net drain on government budgets.

Even once convicts do their time and are released, their earnings suffer. According to Pew, a nonprofit think tank, people who have been incarcerated earn 40 percent less than they would if they had never gone to prison, even controlling for other factors.

Inmates lose skills in prison; that mechanic is languishing behind bars, not fixing cars. And employers are often wary of hiring criminals, even non-violent ones. Many employers ask prospective employees if they’ve ever been incarcerated, and those who answer yes rarely get called back. If the mechanic has to work at Walmart when he gets out because his former employer won’t hire convicts, he’ll plummet from middle-class to destitute. A drug conviction can haunt citizens for the rest of their lives, permanently capping their income and ruining their ability to provide for their families.

Ending the drug war could ignite a boom in the middle class.

Ending the drug war could ignite a boom in the middle class, because hundreds of thousands of Americans would no longer be trapped in low-income jobs by their criminal history.

Some of those locked up by the war on drugs are entrepreneurs. Dealing drugs isn’t too unlike running a small company, with overhead and clients and the need to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. If we stop locking up these men and women, the nonviolent ones will be free to start new companies and develop new products. Rapper and business mogul Jay Z got his start dealing. How many would-be moguls like Jay Z, who were unlucky enough to be caught by police, are behind bars instead of starting new record labels and creating wealth?

By freeing people to work and start businesses, legalization could broaden the tax base and cut the deficit, while improving the fortunes of destitute Americans who would no longer rot in a cell.

The drug war could also broaden our tax base another way. Legalized drugs would bring in plenty of tax revenue, because drug dealing is big business. Americans spend $100 billion per year on illegal drugs, according to the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. Right now, most of that money funds gangs and organized crime.

But legalizing drugs could help the United States pay down our enormous debt instead of padding gangers’ pockets. Economists Katherine Waldock and Jeffrey Miron examine the idea of legalizing drugs nationwide and taxing them like alcohol and tobacco, with a 50 percent sin tax. Even accounting for the fact that such a high tax would reduce demand, the authors estimate it could bring in $46.7 billion in tax revenue per year.

The war on drugs is one of the country’s most expensive programs.

Legalization will also show that the GOP is serious about cutting government spending. The war on drugs is one of the country’s most expensive programs. It employs bureaucrats, police, judges, lawyers and prison guards. It requires building expensive new prisons. Prison alone costs an average of $30,000 per inmate, between medical care, feeding, housing and guarding the inmates.

According to research by Waldock and Miron, our current drug policy costs federal, state, and local governments a combined $41.3 billion per year.

Even that understates the true cost, because the drug war pushes thousands of Americans onto the welfare rolls by imprisoning parents. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, families with an incarcerated parent are twice as likely to use food stamps and 1.5 times as likely to use Medicaid or SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program), versus families with free parents. If a mother is thrown in prison for a few grams of crack, her husband and kids will need some way to fill the gaping hole in their finances to keep eating. Nobody wants to be trapped on welfare, but when a breadwinner’s income suddenly vanishes, her family may not feel like they have a choice.

The drug war also creates intergenerational poverty, which means slower economic growth and bigger deficits down the line. In Daedalus, a leading social sciences journal published by MIT, criminologists noted children with incarcerated parents are more likely than their peers to end up in poverty and on welfare. Conservatives have long recognized that a strong family is important to help children grow up right --- what should we expect when we lock up hundreds of thousands of parents?

The drug war, like most government programs, is unlikely to end on its own --- no matter how much it costs. If Drug Enforcement Administration bureaucrats ever actually won the war, they would lose funding and their jobs. By contrast, the worse the problem gets, the more money they can demand, because epidemics require enormous resources to fight. That's one reason the drug war's been completely ineffective, with 66 percent more Americans using drugs in 2010 than in 1970. If conservatives want to restore fiscal discipline to Washington, they need to stop giving this expensive program a pass.

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Julian Adorney is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in National Review, Playboy, The Federalist, The Hill, and Lawrence Reed’s bestselling economic anthology Excuse Me, Professor.

Everything comes down to the two Senate runoffs in Georgia. If we lose both races, we lose the country. Democrats know this and are pouring in millions to usher in a Marxist agenda.

As the Left tries to hide how radical the two candidates really are, Glenn takes us inside the Democrat war room to expose the wolf in pastor's clothing, Raphael Warnock, and America's Justin Trudeau, Jon Ossoff. Socialism, the Green New Deal, and "defund the police" are all on the table. And Glenn warns of what's to come if conservatives don't activate: Chuck Schumer will weaponize the Senate, and the radical Left will launch an all-out assault to ravage the Constitution.

Watch the full special below:

The election and its aftermath are the most important stories in America. That's why we're offering our most timely discount ever: $30 off a one-year subscription to BlazeTV with code "GLENN." With BlazeTV, you get the unvarnished truth from the most pro-America network in the country, free from Big Tech and MSM censors.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" to explain how mail-in ballots are typically disqualified during recounts at a far higher rate than in-person, Election Day ballots, and why this is "good news" for President Donald Trump's legal battle over the election.

"One of the things that gives the greatest cause for optimism is, this election ... there's a pretty marked disparity in terms of how the votes were distributed. On Election Day, with in-person voting, Donald Trump won a significant majority of the votes cast on in-person voting on Election Day. Of mail-in voting, Joe Biden won a significant majority of the votes cast early on mail-in voting," Cruz explained.

"Now, here's the good news: If you look historically to recounts, if you look historically to election litigation, the votes cast in person on Election Day tend to stand. It's sort of hard to screw that up. Those votes are generally legal, and they're not set aside. Mail-in votes historically have a much higher rate of rejection … when they're examined, there are a whole series of legal requirements that vary state by state, but mail-in votes consistently have a higher rate of rejection, which suggests that as these votes begin being examined and subjected to scrutiny, that you're going to see Joe Biden's vote tallies go down. That's a good thing," he added. "The challenge is, for President Trump to prevail, he's got to run the table. He's got to win, not just in one state but in several states. That makes it a lot harder to prevail in the litigation. I hope that he does so, but it is a real challenge and we shouldn't try to convince ourselves otherwise."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

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Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean is perhaps even more disgusted with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his coronavirus response than BlazeTV's Stu Burguiere (read what Stu has to say on the subject here), and for a good reason.

She lost both of her in-laws to COVID-19 in New York's nursing homes after Gov. Cuomo's infamous nursing home mandate, which Cuomo has since had scrubbed from the state's website and blamed everyone from the New York Post to nursing care workers to (every leftist's favorite scapegoat) President Donald Trump.

Janice joined Glenn and Stu on the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday to ask why mainstream media is not holding Gov. Cuomo — who recently published a book about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic — accountable?

"I'm vocal because I have not seen the mainstream media ask these questions or demand accountability of their leaders. [Cuomo] really has been ruling with an iron fist, and every time he does get asked a question, he blames everybody else except the person that signed that order," Janice said.

"In my mind, he's profiting off the over 30 thousand New Yorkers, including my in-laws, that died by publishing a book on 'leadership' of New York," she added. "His order has helped kill thousands of relatives of New York state. And this is not political, Glenn. This is not about Republican or Democrat. My in-laws were registered Democrats. This is not about politics. This is about accountability for something that went wrong, and it's because of your [Cuomo's] leadership that we're put into this situation."

Watch the video excerpt from the show below:

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As America grows divided and afraid to disagree with the Democrats' woke plan for America, Megyn Kelly is ready to fight back for the truth. For nearly two decades, she navigated the volatile and broken world of the media. But as America leans on independent voices more than ever, she's breaking new ground with "The Megyn Kelly Show."

She joined the latest Glenn Beck Podcast to break down what's coming next after the election: Black Lives Matter is mainstream, leftists are making lists of Trump supporters, and the Hunter Biden scandal is on the back burner.

Megyn and Glenn reminisce about their cable news days (including her infamous run-in with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump) and to look into the chaotic and shady world of journalism and the growing entitlement it's bred. For example, many conservatives have been shocked by how Fox News handled the election.

Megyn defended Fox News, saying she believes Fox News' mission "is a good one," but also didn't hold back on hosts like Neil Cavuto, who cut off a White House briefing to fact check it — something she never would have done, even while covering President Obama.

Megyn also shared this insightful takeaway from her time at NBC: "Jane Fonda was an ass."

Watch the full podcast here:

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