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.

MORE FROM YOUNG VOICES

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.

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

Dates:
June 15-17

Location:

Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

RELATED: It's sad 'free-range parenting' has to be legislated, it used to be common sense

“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.