September 30th, 2016 at 11:49 am
Positive News: FCC Delays Vote on Toxic TV Set-Top Box Scheme
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Good news within the federal regulatory leviathan has been depressingly rare, perhaps most of all at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  This week, however, brought a remarkably welcome development worthy of celebration.

Specifically, the FCC delayed its vote on a toxic and entirely unwarranted new proposal to regulate cable television set-top boxes before the Obama presidency’s clock expires, in what The Wall Street Journal labeled “a major blow to the proposal” and “a setback to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on one of his top priorities for the year.”

Even Democrats have attacked the scheme as a “massive new federal regulation,” and CFIF stands alongside a broad coalition of conservative and libertarian organizations in opposition.  The initiative from the overactive FCC seeks to impose a one-size-fits all mandate to make cable TV set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party entertainment devices.  So even while cable companies themselves progressively and voluntarily move toward abandoning traditional cable boxes in favor of devices owned and maintained by individual customers as they prefer, Chairman Wheeler hopes to impose a 1990s-style regulation upon the industry.  That would essentially freeze in place the increasingly outdated model of set-top cable boxes that is already becoming an anachronism due to market forces.  Exacerbating matters, the proposal reeks of crony capitalism, as CFIF has highlighted.  The proposal is a confluence of regulatory overreach, technological sclerosis and crony capitalism.

Fortunately, this week’s decision within the FCC to delay a vote due to Wheeler’s apparent inability to persuade fellow Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to his side provides a rare victory against years of FCC regulatory onslaught.  Although the bipartisan consensus among consumer groups, Congress, the innovation community and market participants must remain vigilant because the battle isn’t over, it’s welcome news worthy of note and celebration.


September 29th, 2016 at 7:55 pm
Empire Center Report: N.Y. State’s “Clean Energy Standard” Amounts to $3.4 BILLION Tax Hike
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF remains vigilant in sounding the alarm about a costly new crony capitalist “Clean Energy Standard” (CES) boondoggle in New York state, and a new report this week from the Empire Center for Public Policy further exposes the destructively high cost that state citizens and businesses will pay under the plan.

The CES is a global warming alarmist scheme unveiled last month by New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC), whose members were appointed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The plan imposes a draconian demand that at least 50% of the state’s energy will come from carbon-neutral plants like solar and wind by just 14 years from today.  The CES plan would compel New York power generators to purchase “Zero Emission Credits” (ZECs) from carbon-neutral generators through a state government bureaucracy, which would in turn be handed to struggling upstate nuclear power plants.

Not only is the plan extremely costly – at least an additional $1 billion in the first two years alone, and an estimated $8 billion over the CES plan’s lifespan – but it amounts to yet another governmental example of crony capitalism because it benefits a single company named Exelon.

Matters only got worse this week for the CES boondoggle when the Empire Center released a report finding that the plan will cost New York consumers $3.4 billion over just the first five years.  As summarized by Empire Center analyst Ken Girardin, existing carbon-neutral plants don’t generate nearly enough power to sustain the scheme, and it will also require costly new infrastructure:

The new standard’s goal for solar power would translate into roughly 200 times the capacity of New York’s largest existing utility-grade solar panel farm, which is at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.  It also calls for enough new land-based wind turbines to cover, at a minimum, an area the size of Putnam County.

Most of the added solar and land-based wind-generating capacity would have to be located upstate – but nearly two-thirds of the state’s electricity is consumed downstate, and power lines linking the regions aren’t up to the task.  In fact, the transmission grid already required extensive upgrades before the new mandate was imposed, as Governor Cuomo acknowledged when he pushed during his first term for grid improvements called ‘the Energy Highway.’  But the highway is stalled, and the Clean Energy Standard doesn’t deal with the issue.

Another problem:  solar panels and wind turbines generate power only intermittently, since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.  But the new standard also makes no allowance for energy storage or standby generators powered by conventional sources, which would add further to the cost of a big shift to renewables.”

“It’s one of the biggest tax hikes in state history,” Mr. Girardin noted, “and it’s a hidden tax that they will never see on their bills.”

It’s bad enough that the CES constitutes yet another example of unnecessary crony capitalism perpetrated by the climate change-industrial complex.  With the Empire Center exposing just how costly it will be for New York state citizens and businesses, there’s no excuse for failing to stop it before the damage is done.


September 27th, 2016 at 1:11 pm
High Risk: The Debate Over the Price of Specialty Drugs and Zika Virus
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the history and regulations surrounding drug prices, who should finance important medical advancements, and the continuing Zika threat.

Listen to the interview here.


September 26th, 2016 at 2:05 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Bruce Herschensohn, Political Commentator, Expert and Author – “Hidden Truths Stripped from the National Dialogue: A Reference for Those Who Pursue a Role in U.S. Leadership”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Sarah Westwood, Watchdog Reporter for the Washington Examiner – The First Presidential Debate of 2016, Major Public Speaking Gaffes, and New Details from FBI Documents Regarding Hillary Clinton’s E-Mails;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – Iran;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Evan Roth Smith, Political Strategist, Communications Consultant and Author – “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence”; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Mark Chenoweth, General Counsel of the Washington Legal Foundation – SCOTUS October 2016 Term and SCOTUS NOT Top 10 from October 2015 Term.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.


September 22nd, 2016 at 8:24 pm
N.Y. Public Service Commission Chairwoman Offers Global Warming Rationalization for Taxpayer Subsidy Boondoggle
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

How much more in your monthly utility bill would you be happy to pay to combat global warming?  Probably not much, if anything.

Unfortunately, New York state residents are being lectured that they shouldn’t have any choice.

That’s the upshot of a festering crony capitalist utility boondoggle cooked up by state legislators in the name of global warming alarmism, as we at CFIF detailed earlier this month.

By way of refresher, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a new “Clean Energy Standard” (CES) last month, which requires that carbon-neutral sources account for at least 50% of energy generated in the state by the year 2030.  Making matters worse, CES provisions require power companies to buy Zero Emission Credits (ZECs) from a state government bureaucracy to benefit financially struggling upstate nuclear energy plants.  Those subsidies guarantee $1 billion for the struggling plants in the first two years of the plan alone, with an estimated $8 billion over the full course of the CES plan.

And these subsidies will reportedly benefit a single company named Exelon, which controls the struggling plants.  Think of it as New York’s own little Solyndra boondoggle.

Naturally, the cost of this scheme will fall upon New York residents and businesses, regardless of whether they receive any power from the subsidized nuclear plants upstate.

To their credit, state lawmakers recognized the numerous flaws in the CES plan and spelled them out in a recent letter to PSC Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman, also demanding a more open public accounting.

Chairwoman Zibelman’s response only made matters worse, rationalizing that, “compared to the cost of climate change that we have already experienced in the State, this is a very modest burden”:

Carbon emissions themselves are not geographically bounded.  The CES allocates the obligation to meet the 50 percent renewables goals and zero-emission credits to all of the consumers of the State because all consumers will benefit from reducing carbon emissions…  To suggest that downstate consumers should be less responsible for maintaining the nuclear-zero emissions attributes would undoubtedly require us to apply the same logic to allocate responsibility to reduce the harm caused by fossil-fuel combustion.  Not only would that fly in the face of sound thinking regarding our responsibility to the environment, it would suggest that because most of our fossil fuel emissions are caused by downstate power generation, we would assign a higher responsibility to downstate customers for the CES based upon the local energy mix.  The benefits of addressing climate change are also significant for the downstate, coastal region.”

Then came the best (or worst) part from Chairwoman Zibelman.  Namely, she repeated the debunked claim that global warming causes hurricane activity and that we’d only witness more and more soon.  More informed Americans, however, will recall that after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we were told that global warming was the cause, and we’d only see more and more Katrinas as a result.  Instead, the U.S. has now gone the longest stretch in history without a major hurricane.

Ooops.

Regardless, the bottom line is that New York’s CES plan is a crony capitalist, global warming alarmist boondoggle.  It can’t be justified on any rationalization, least of all false global warming illogic.


September 21st, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Image of the Day: The U.S. Suffers Developed World’s Highest Corporate Tax Rate
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Corporate inversions aren’t the problem, they’re the symptom.  The problem, as Mercatus Ceneter’s Veronique de Rugy explains, is that “America’s corporate income tax rate is the highest of all developed nations.”

High U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

High U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

As de Rugy correctly concludes, “Addressing the underlying causes of inversions by reforming this tax system would not only stop inversions, it would also trim the burden on corporations, which would in turn help American companies compete better at home and abroad.”


September 15th, 2016 at 10:05 pm
New York’s “Clean Energy” Bailout Scheme
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
In an interview with CFIF, Ken Girardin, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Empire Center for Public Policy, discusses New York Governor Cuomo’s so-called Clean Energy Standard, how it will force electricity ratepayers to subsidize money-losing nuclear plants and costly windmills, solar panel farms, and why taxpayers outside of New York should be concerned as well.

Listen to the interview here.


September 13th, 2016 at 1:11 pm
Poll: Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Persecution of Climate Alarm Realists
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The political tyranny du jour among climate change alarmists is leveraging the power of the state to persecute anyone who contradicts their orthodoxy using actual facts and data.  As we’ve highlighted, that abusive effort has blown up in their faces, including countersuits from targeted organizations.

There’s more good news to report:  The persecutors’ effort has hit a thud in terms of public opinion as well.  In an election season marked by narrow partisan divisions, a new Rasmussen survey demonstrates a rare degree of public consensus against politicians hoping to silence climate realists:

Attorneys general in 15 states are attempting to prosecute corporations and individuals that they believe are misleading the public about global warming.  Their action, which critics claim is a violation of free speech, has prompted a Congressional investigation.  Most voters continue to believe that the scientific debate about global warming is not over, and oppose government action against those who question it.  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 69% of likely U.S. voters oppose the government investigating and prosecuting scientists and others, including major corporations, who question global warming.  Just 15% favor such investigations.”

It’s rare to find a 69% to 15% public agreement on anything these days, but it’s worth celebrating that despite the constant onslaught of demonizing rhetoric from climate change alarmists, the overwhelming majority of Americans continue to reject their agenda.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:45 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – How ObamaCare Collapse will Jeopardize Taxpayers;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Ken Girardin, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Empire Center – Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Dakota Access Pipeline;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Paul Winfree, Director, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and Richard F. Aster Fellow at The Heritage Foundation – Congress and Lame Duck Sessions; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – Zika, the Cost of Specialty Drugs, and other Health Care Issues in the News.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

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September 8th, 2016 at 12:49 pm
New Gallup Poll Shows Worsening Disaster of ObamaCare
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As Barack Obama’s presidency sputters toward its end, there’s new bad news to report regarding his signature “achievement.”

As illustrated by an alarming new Gallup poll, ObamaCare has become a worsening disaster for Americans experiencing it personally.  To be sure, ObamaCare has been a public disapproval disaster since its inception.  But now, according to Gallup, a record number of Americans are reporting that it has personally worsened their healthcare:

Currently, 29% of Americans say Obamacare has hurt them and their family, up from 26% in May, and the highest Gallup has measured to date.  Meanwhile, the percentage who say the ACA has helped their family dropped from 22% to 18%.  The bulk of Americans, 51%, continue to say the law has ‘had no effect.’  As more provisions of the law have taken effect over the years, the ‘no effect’ percentage has dropped from the first reading of 70% in early 2012.”

Nancy Pelosi infamously claimed we must pass ObamaCare to find out what’s in it.  Well, Americans are finding out what’s in it firsthand, and they’re liking it even less.


September 6th, 2016 at 1:19 pm
Best Letter to the Editor of the Year So Far?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

On the subject of Hillary Clinton, her private email server misdeeds, the Clinton Foundation pay-for-play scandal and the failure of leadership relating to Benghazi, Libya, last Friday provided what may be the best letter to the editor of the year so far, courtesy of Mary Stella of Midlothian, Virginia and The Wall Street Journal:

What a shame the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens didn’t go through Cheryl Mills or Huma Abedin when he first sought out Hillary Clinton and her State Department for increased security in Libya.  Maybe they could have told him the suggested minimum contribution that would have yielded results before it was too late.

This is the proverbial smoking gun theory in reverse.  Those who didn’t pay, didn’t play and didn’t live to tell about it.  Disgraceful.

Mary Stella, Midlothian, VA


September 6th, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: ObamaCare Life Support
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.


September 2nd, 2016 at 12:18 pm
If You Like Your Medical Plan, You Can… Kiss It Goodbye
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In his weekly address on June 6, 2009, Barack Obama promised, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.”

Fast-forward to September 1, 2016, under The Wall Street Journal’s headline “Insurers’ Offerings Dwindle”:

Under intense pressure to curb costs that have led to losses on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, insurers are accelerating their move toward plans that offer limited choices of doctors and hospitals.”

Most bizarre of all?  ObamaCare’s failures are prompting more and more leftists to openly advocate a complete government takeover of the healthcare system and imposing a single-payer plan.  In other words, we’ve gone from promises that choice in healthcare providers won’t be impacted by ObamaCare to open advocacy of a system with zero choice whatsoever.  This is how liberalism works, a slow march to mass submission.


August 29th, 2016 at 2:06 pm
Stiffed: Middle Class Carrying Increasing Share of U.S. Healthcare Burden
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Barack Obama’s solemn assurances regarding ObamaCare, including “If you like your  doctor, you can keep your doctor,” have been exposed as fraudulent.  That’s a main reason why his main “legacy” has remained terribly unpopular since its inception.

Now, another alarming factor has been added to the miserable litany:  Middle-class Americans have had the cost of it all increasingly heaped upon them.  Since 2000, U.S. healthcare spending has jumped from 13.3% of our economy to 18.2% this year.  The news gets worse for the middle class:

The government has taken on a larger share in recent years as more people age into Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] expanded Medicaid and provided subsidies for low-income people buying insurance on state exchanges.  Middle-class households are finding more of their health-care costs are coming out of their own pockets.  David Cutler, a Harvard health-care economist, said this may be ‘a story of three Americas.’  One group, the rich, can afford health care easily.  The poor can access public assistance.  But for lower middle- to middle-income Americans, ‘the income struggles and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue,’ he said.”  (emphasis added)

Overall, middle-income Americans’ healthcare spending is 25% higher than what it was in 2007.  That means far less income to spend on other discretionary items, whether eating out, vacationing, clothing, automobiles, etc., and provides another clue as to what has made Obama’s tenure the worst stretch of economic growth in recorded U.S. history.

Heckuva job, Barack.


August 27th, 2016 at 9:44 am
SCOTUS: A Look Back and Ahead
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, discusses some of the seminal cases from the October 2015 Term, how the October 2016 Term is shaping up, Justice Ginsburg’s mea culpa and Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination.

Listen to the interview here.


August 23rd, 2016 at 9:53 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Disaster
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.


August 22nd, 2016 at 3:45 pm
Simple Illustration Explains Need for Corporate Tax Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Inexplicably, the U.S. stubbornly maintains the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.  We also hold the inglorious distinction of taxing income earned overseas a second time, even after taxes were already paid in the nations where it was earned.  Obviously, that only incentivize businesses to leave America for more hospitable foreign shores and take jobs with them.

A simple illustration courtesy of The Wall Street Journal drives home the point:

The U.S. system of worldwide taxation means that a company that moves from Dublin, Ohio to Dublin, Ireland, will pay a rate that is less than a third of America’s.  A dollar of profit earned on the Emerald Isle by an Irish-based company becomes 87.5 cents after taxes, which it can then invest in Ireland or the U.S. or somewhere else.  But if the company stays in Ohio and makes the same buck in Ireland, the after-tax return drops to 65 cents or less if the money is invested in America.”

When people wonder why over seven years of economic “recovery” doesn’t feel like a recovery at all, this is a leading reason.  Our unsustainably high rate and double-taxation regime is simply unacceptable, but the good news is that the coalition favoring reform is bipartisan.  That’s an encouraging sign regardless of who wins in November, but it’s time to finally get this done before even more businesses and jobs move overseas.


August 22nd, 2016 at 3:05 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT: Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute: SCOTUS October 2015 and 2016 Terms;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Demian Brady, Director of Research at the National Taxpayers Union: An Analysis of the Candidates’ Spending Related Policy Proposals;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Lawrence W. Schonbrun, Nationally-Acclaimed Class Action Legal Reformer: California Supreme Court’s Decision on Attorney’s Fees in Class Action Case;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT: Steve Milloy, Energy and Environment Legal Institute Senior Legal Fellow: Illegality of EPA Human Experiments; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute: Aetna’s ObamaCare Pullout.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.


August 19th, 2016 at 2:58 pm
Local Media Attacks N.C. Senator Thom Tillis for Taking Correct Position on Gov’t Broadband
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Last week we applauded a federal Court of Appeals ruling upending an Obama FCC campaign to impose government broadband regulations across the country.  Specifically, the FCC had attempted to commandeer state authority to govern cities within their own borders by forcing them to allow local governments to foolishly enter the broadband business.

United States Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) hit the correct note in reaction to the ruling:  ”Today’s ruling affirms the fact that unelected bureaucrats at the FCC completely overstepped their authority by attempting to deny states like North Carolina from setting their own laws to protect hard-working taxpayers and maintain the fairness of the free market.”

Unwilling to let Sen. Tillis’s good deed go unpunished, however, his hometown newspaper The News & Observer maligned him for taking the correct position.  Bizarrely, the paper even admits that local government broadband is a monetary boondoggle whose sustainability requires that funds be diverted from other sources, saying, “They couldn’t price the service at less than it cost to provide it and couldn’t use funds from other sources to subsidize broadband operations.”  The editorial also openly advocates treating broadband as a local public “utility” and laments how private enterprises that invest trillions of dollars in broadband infrastructure can continue to do so “without having to worry about towns competing with them.”

Well, duh.  In what universe is it a good idea to encourage governments to enter the private market, given their ability to bureaucratically tip the scales in their own favor and kneecap competing private entities?  Government at all levels already regulates too much, spends too much and attempts to do too much.  The last thing we need is for it to try to commandeer the functioning and innovative private broadband market.

It amounts to a flimsy hit piece from an editorial board that ought to know better.  We suspect its readers in North Carolina do.


August 16th, 2016 at 4:23 pm
Ugly Stat of the Day: Economic Productivity Decline Worst Since the 1970s
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our recent Liberty Update commentary “Obama Didn’t Save the Economy, He Subdued It,” we noted the depressing fact that the current cyclical economic “recovery” under Obama is the worst since accurate recordkeeping began after World War II.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  The U.S. Labor Department reports that economic productivity remains in the midst of its longest decline since the 1970s:

It was the third consecutive quarter of falling productivity, the longest streak since 1979.  Productivity in the second quarter was down 0.4% from a year earlier, the first annual decline in three years.  That was further down from an already tepid average productivity growth of 1.3% in 2007 through 2015, itself just half the pace seen in 2000 through 2007, and the trend shows little sign of reversing…  Productivity is a key ingredient in determining growth in wages, prices and overall economic output.”

And the culprit?  As The Wall Street Journal notes, “The slowdown in recent quarters has likely been reinforced by weak business investment in new equipment, software and facilities that could help boost worker efficiency.”  Of course, that’s what tends to happen when an administration saddles the economy with record levels of regulation and makes no real advance toward finally reducing the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.

Thanks, Barack!