The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 16, 2013

Obama, Congress must explain NSA work

No American wants another 9/11, but neither do we want government overreach in the name of national security that tramples our constitutional right to limit unwarranted government intrusion into our private matters.

Edward Snowden’s recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics give us reason to ask whether the government is operating within those principles. President Barack Obama and Congress must fully explain the latest electronic surveillance programs and make sure safeguards are adequate to protect individual privacy.

The nation debated this issue during George W. Bush’s administration, resulting in the passage of the Patriot Act, which was unprecedented legislation that this newspaper supported to bolster intelligence gathering. But debates over where to draw the boundaries of privacy and national security will never be completely settled.

The potential for government overstep will continue to crop up with time and technological advances. For protections to remain strong, checks and balances designed to balance individual rights with the collective safety of the nation need to be constantly reviewed.

Dallas Morning News

Transparency for Medicare

Information can be efficiency’s best friend. The more participants in the marketplace know about the true costs and benefits of various goods and services, and about the behavior of other individuals and firms, the easier it is for them to get the most for their money.

The U.S. health-care system notoriously lacks transparency, which may be a reason why it produces poorer results at higher cost than do systems elsewhere.

Now a federal court in Florida has opened a legal pathway to more Medicare transparency. Judge Marcia Morales Howard vacated a 33-year-old injunction that barred HHS from ever telling the public how much it reimburses individual health-care providers. The gag order was imposed at the request of the American Medical Association, which claimed its members’ financial privacy was threatened. Critics argued successfully that doctors’ privacy is now outweighed by the public’s interest in knowing what happens to a flow of taxpayer funds.

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