January 27th, 2015 at 6:41 pm
GOP Congress Working on ObamaCare Alternative If Subsidies Struck Down
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Republicans on both sides of Capitol Hill are busy strategizing for ways to minimize the political fallout if the Supreme Court invalidates health insurance subsidies for millions of people currently receiving them under ObamaCare.

The case, King v. Burwell, challenges the IRS’ decision to make insurance premium subsidies available to citizens of 34 states that do not have a state-run ObamaCare exchange. The policy is in direct conflict with ObamaCare’s text, providing the justices with a clear opportunity to hold the Obama administration to the letter of the law.

The Hill is reporting that Republican members of the House and Senate are discussing ways to be ready when and if an estimated 5 to 6 million Americans suddenly can’t afford to purchase mandated health insurance.

So far, no details have emerged regarding specifics. There is a lot to consider since any change in the law will require President Barack Obama’s signature. A complicating factor may be this president’s willingness to let the media portray Republicans and the Court as heartless conservatives, even though all that’s being asked for is the Obama administration to implement its own law as written.

Nothing new here.

On the flip side, it’s encouraging to hear that Republicans in Congress are trying to get in front of a potentially damaging issue by coalescing around an alternative they can sell to the public.

Hopefully this is the start of a welcome trend.


January 27th, 2015 at 11:53 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Less Important Stories…
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.


January 27th, 2015 at 9:49 am
Free Community College: Who Pays for It?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Patrick Hedger, Policy Director at American Encore, discusses how President Obama’s community college plan is just another unworkable scheme, how ObamaCare will affect your tax returns, and more.

Listen to the interview here.


January 26th, 2015 at 2:26 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. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) 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: Ambassador Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See: Pope Francis’ “Soft Power” Diplomacy;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Marita Noon, Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great: Proposed Gas Tax Increase;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Caitlin Poling, Director of Government Relations at the Foreign Policy Initiative: Boko Haram: Africa’s Isis?;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EDT:  Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute: Resolutions for a Do-Something Congress; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Tim Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs: Prospective 2016 Presidential Candidates.

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


January 23rd, 2015 at 11:44 am
Gallup: Satisfaction with Federal Taxes Falls to 12-Year Low
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Amid Barack Obama’s latest campaign to increase taxes, Gallup offers some welcome news this morning.  Specifically, Americans’ satisfaction with the amount we pay in federal taxes has now fallen to a 12-year low:

Americans’ satisfaction with the amount that Americans pay in federal income taxes roughly ties the lowest percentage Gallup has seen in the past 12 years…  According to the January 5-8 poll, 63% of Americans this year are dissatisfied with the amount Americans pay in taxes.  In a follow-up question, most of this group – equivalent to 46% of all Americans – say they would like to see Americans pay less in taxes.  Hardly any – 4% – would prefer that they pay more.  An additional 13% are dissatisfied with what Americans pay in taxes, but aren’t specific about how it should change.  The 46% who currently want taxes decreased is notably higher than what Gallup has found since 2012.”

Moreover, the latest survey confirms Obama’s trademark reverse-Midas touch, as his desire to raise taxes appears to have only backfired:

Six years into Barack Obama’s presidency, public satisfaction with taxes is at a low ebb, and nearly half of all Americans are dissatisfied and would like to see the amount people pay decreased.”

Accordingly, conservatives and libertarians continue to win the war of ideas in this regard.  It’s now a matter of the new Congress internalizing public opinion, and putting a quick halt to Obama’s scheme.

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January 23rd, 2015 at 11:21 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

January 23rd, 2015 at 9:21 am
Video: Get Congress Out of Your Gas Tank
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino pushes back against calls by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to use lower prices at the pump as an excuse to raise the federal gas tax.


January 22nd, 2015 at 8:50 pm
Doctor Pay Raise Increases Medicaid Access
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Think rationing health care spending has an effect of which patients doctors see?

A new study released by the New England Journal of Medicine found that Medicaid beneficiaries enjoyed a 7.7 percent bump in the number of appointments doctors scheduled with them when government reimbursement rates increased.

Unfortunately for the poor who use Medicaid, once ObamaCare’s temporary subsidy phased out, states didn’t have the extra money to continue the higher reimbursements to doctors.

And so, it’s likely that doctors will respond to the new (lower) price signal and cut back on the number of Medicaid patients they schedule.

From a policy perspective this study confirms that doctors respond to economic incentives, and that if we as a society are going to help the poorest of the poor get adequate health care Congress and the president need to start prioritizing federal spending so that there’s more money available to help those who need it.

If the folks in Washington, D.C. are looking for a place to start trimming, former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) “Wastebook 2014” is a good place to start.


January 22nd, 2015 at 8:20 pm
Obama Admin Shirking Legal Duty to Inform Congress of New Regulations
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

As Republicans turn to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rein in the Obama administration’s executive overreach, they should scrutinize a recent trend to shirk the CRA’s reporting requirements.

In my column this week I explain how the CRA works – a federal agency proposes a rule and Congress gets about 60 days to kill it (so long as the president agrees). Even if the president vetoes Congress’ disapproval, the process helps define each party’s stance on the proper role of regulation.

Importantly, the CRA imposes a reporting requirement on federal agencies to inform Congress about final rule proposals. It turns out, however, that the CRA doesn’t create an oversight process to ensure compliance.

Enter the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ watchdog over the administrative state.

“Shortly after the CRA was enacted, GAO voluntarily developed a database of submitted rules, began checking the Federal Register to ensure that all covered rules were being submitted, and periodically notified the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about missing rules,” says a 2014 report from the Administrative Conference of the United States.

“However, in November 2011, GAO decided to reduce its checks of the Federal Register, and to stop notifying OMB about missing rules.”

As a consequence, GAO lost track of whether federal agencies were complying with the CRA. Between 2012 and 2014, “[m]ost of the 43 missing major and significant rules also did not appear to have been received by both houses of Congress – thereby preventing a Member of Congress from introducing a resolution of disapproval under the CRA.”

Since Congress can’t disapprove what it doesn’t know about, the Republicans that control the legislative branch should instruct GAO to ratchet up its oversight to ensure the Obama administration is CRA-compliant.


January 21st, 2015 at 7:36 am
“Dozens” of E-Commerce Vendors Gathering Data from Healthcare.gov Users
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

“Have you been researching a chronic illness like coronary artery blockage? Do you shop online for smoking-cessation aids? Are you investigating genetic markers for a certain type of breast cancer? Are you seeking help for financial problems, or for an addiction?”

Those are just some of the information items potentially being collected on Healthcare.gov – the federal government’s ObamaCare website used by millions of Americans to shop for health insurance.

A report by the Associated Press confirmed that “dozens” of third party vendors like Google, Twitter and Facebook are gleaning personal data points from Healthcare.gov users. These can be sold to internet advertisers to market products directly to consumers who’ve searched for similar items.

The hidden presence of these websites drew concern from two cyber security experts interviewed by the AP, in part because tracking firms can piece together a user’s identity through IP addresses and patterns of behavior.

Once upon a time there was concern that hackers would find a way to access a person’s health and financial records through a weakness in Healthcare.gov. As it turns out, all they need to do is pose as an e-commerce vendor.


January 20th, 2015 at 5:23 pm
Statesmanship in Tonight’s State of the Union?
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Writing at The Federalist, my friend Andrew Carico gives some good advice to President Barack Obama ahead of the latter’s seventh State of the Union address tonight.

After recounting the descent of the event into a Woodrow Wilson-inspired laundry list of to-do items, Carico distinguishes a statesman from a leader, defining the former as “someone who understands constitutional principles, leads by way of those principles, and seeks to make those principles work in political life. He seeks to achieve stature in public office through toning down divisions and appealing to reason, not simply attempting to win the fight of the day by practicing the little arts of popularity.”

Carico’s description of the statesman sounds arguably like what some people thought they were getting when they voted for the orator who said, “there’s not a liberal America or a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.”

It’s no coincidence that statesman-sounding Obama went from obscurity to the White House, while liberal demagogue Obama can’t crack a 50 percent approval rating.

For more of Carico’s excellent analysis, click here.


January 20th, 2015 at 10:28 am
Michael Rosen: A Tech Manifesto for the 2016 GOP Field
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In a typically excellent commentary, AEI’s Michael Rosen suggests how Republicans can begin to correct their costly lag in attracting “votes and dollars from the high-tech industry,” and to “forge a technology policy rooted in free-market policy and updated to reflect and respond to 21st-century concerns.”

Mr. Rosen provides illustrations of the nature and depth of the problem, but also identifies recent progress made by various Republicans.  Helpfully, he proceeds to identify three key components of a much-needed “technology manifesto”:  (1)  Address the needs and wants of the tech community without pandering to it;  (2)  Adhere to free-market values, but apply them intelligently to new technological challenges;  and (3)  Avoid soundbites – articulate sound explanations.  He then cites AirBNB, Uber and other tech upstarts to apply his points.

Finally, Mr. Rosen smartly addresses the ongoing patent reform and patent “troll” debate that’s likely to reappear in the new Congress.  Among other points, he highlights how litigation reform to curb trial lawyer abuses, as opposed to altering patents or intellectual property rights more generally, offers the primary corrective to the underlying problem:

Republican candidates must promote real innovation and reduce deadweight loss without succumbing to the temptation to demonize patent holders.  The patent ‘troll’ reform debate contains multitudes, but the specific issue of attorney fees nicely encapsulates the tensions and the opportunities for GOP candidates…  GOP candidates hoping to garner support in the tech community should resist their inclination to uproot centuries of American legal and intellectual property tradition simply to settle old scores, both in general and in the particular area of attorney fees.  Rather than undo our longstanding ‘day in court’ practice by presumptively awarding fees to winning parties, as many Congressional Republicans seek to do, discerning free marketeers should push to modestly trim, not flip, the burden.  This approach may not fully satisfy the rabidly anti-trial-lawyer conservative donor base, or, for that matter, large Silicon Valley companies pushing for significant changes to the patent system.  But it will certainly find favor with small and large companies whose bottom lines – if not whose very existences – depend heavily on their IP assets.  Such a nuanced position promotes innovation and comports with historical notions of American justice – two key themes Republicans looking to score points in the Valley must hammer home consistently.”

Excellent points with which CFIF has consistently agreed, apart from my need to assure him that at least this “anti-trial-lawyer conservative” tested negative for rabies.


January 19th, 2015 at 11:02 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Just Say It! Radical Islam!
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.


January 18th, 2015 at 10:00 pm
Key ObamaCare Implementer Resigning
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Marilyn Tavenner, the chief administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced in an email last Friday to staff that she is stepping down at the end of February.

The move comes as something of a surprise, but the timing is similar to that of Tavenner’s former boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Last year, Sebelius said she was leaving her post after ObamaCare’s initial enrollment period ended. Tavenner’s resignation is effective when the controversial health law’s second enrollment period concludes.

Tavenner’s time in office was marred by a glitch-ridden rollout of Healthcare.gov, the federal ObamaCare website that earned the ire of millions of Americans. She also came under fire for overstating ObamaCare’s enrollment figures by inaccurately including 400,000 dental plans that have never been counted toward health insurance numbers.

With Republicans in control of the Senate that will confirm Tavenner’s replacement, it will be interesting to see who President Barack Obama taps to fill her shoes.


January 16th, 2015 at 1:16 pm
Podcast: The Keystone XL Fight
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, discusses oil prices, the status of the Keystone Pipeline vote in Congress, the history of presidential veto power, and whether the House and Senate will have enough votes to override a threatened presidential veto.

Listen to the interview here.


January 16th, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

January 15th, 2015 at 8:07 pm
Paul Ryan Says No to Raising Gas Tax
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

With oil prices at record lows some Members of Congress have floated the idea of raising the federal gas tax to make up for lost revenue.

Today, Paul Ryan put the kibosh on the proposal.

“We won’t pass the gas tax,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said to members of the media outside a GOP policy retreat in Hershey, PA.

Ryan’s pronouncement likely quashes the idea that Congress will pass legislation during his tenure as chairman of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee.

This won’t make the social engineering crowd happy.

According to a piece at Newsweek in support of imposing a higher gas tax, “Whenever you impose a new and unanticipated tax, some part of the existing capital stock becomes less valuable than it was before.” “Adding, say, 50 cents to a gallon of gasoline makes preexisting gas guzzlers, homes in the suburbs and oil-based home heating systems worth less than before.”

“Conversely, when oil prices fall, fuel-efficient cars, homes in city centers and public transit investments all drop in value. This can lead to economic waste: under-used automobiles, unrented homes and empty subways,” complains the author.

Note that the compacted urban lifestyle preferred by liberal social planners is the vision that suffers from low gas prices, while the middle class lifestyle experienced by millions of Americans benefits.

Raising taxes to force people to become public transit-riding renters instead of car-driving homeowners isn’t very popular when put in these terms.

Kudos to Chairman Ryan for putting this idea to rest.


January 15th, 2015 at 2:45 pm
CFIF Launches CFIF Tweet Post: New Website Feature
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

For conservatives and libertarians who want their news and commentary fast (really fast), comprehensive and unfiltered, the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) has launched a timely new feature:  CFIF Tweet Post.

CFIF Tweet Post combines in one direct, real-time forum the twitter feeds and accompanying feature links of more than 100 of the nation’s top commentators and journalists, live and unedited, as they are tweeted.

Readers do not have to register, or use up a precious password.  Readers do not have to join Twitter.  Readers do not have to “follow” writers (although most would be honored if you do).

Simply access CFIF Tweet Post by clicking here.  Or, go to www.cfif.org, click the CFIF Tweet Post Button on our Homepage and you will be automatically transported to an up-to-the-minute, easy-to-read page with user-friendly type, which seamlessly and automatically refreshes with each new feed.

Scan for breaking news, biting commentary, topical humor, occasional verbal fisticuffs and immediate access to every day’s most important stories, as they develop.

Please note that CFIF has carefully chosen, for their relevance and popularity, the numerous writers and thinkers who are featured. The work is solely that of the named Tweeters, unedited and unvarnished, and should not be attributed to CFIF.

Through weeks of exhaustive internal beta testing, CFIF Tweet Post has worked flawlessly.  We simply don’t know what critical volume will mean, but be assured that we are constantly monitoring, and glitches will be corrected AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

We love this new thing just as much as we know our readers will. Try It Now!


January 14th, 2015 at 2:16 pm
Freshman Bill Cassidy Off to Fast Start in U.S. Senate
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Fresh from beating Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu in a run-off last December, Republican Bill Cassidy is off to a fast start as a freshman in the U.S. Senate.

Making good on his campaign promise to get rid of ObamaCare, Cassidy, a physician, has introduced two bills within just weeks of taking office.

The “No ObamaCare Mandate Act” would repeal the medical device tax, the employer mandate and the individual mandate, according to a report in The Hill.

In addition, “The Employee Health Care Protection Act” would reduce benefit requirements in health insurance plans regulated by ObamaCare, giving providers more flexibility and consumers more options.

And apparently, Cassidy knows how to give a good speech. In defending the Keystone XL pipeline from ideologically motivated attacks by environmentalists, Cassidy said, “We are not to be guided by our prejudice. We’re not to be guided by what we want to be the case. We are to be guided by the facts.”

Usually, it’s liberals who claim the mantle of science and scold conservatives for being fearful of the truth. It’s good to see a conservative U.S. senator return the favor.


January 14th, 2015 at 1:54 pm
Study: Best Time to Repeal ObamaCare Might be Year 2020
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

How important is the upcoming 2016 presidential election?

According to research by political scientist Jordan Ragusa, the most favorable time to repeal landmark legislation like ObamaCare occurs about ten years after its passage.

Since ObamaCare was passed in 2010, that means 2020 is the year repeal activity could be at its height.

Ragusa’s ten-year window is an average calculated over a fifty-year study of repeal efforts of major laws. In the context of ObamaCare, Ragusa’s timeline makes perfect sense. Republicans don’t have the supermajority in either chamber of Congress to override a certain veto from President Barack Obama. But if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, all the GOP would need is a simple congressional majority to repeal any or all of ObamaCare.

Yes, it’s important for Republicans in Congress to get whatever wins they can muster now to weaken ObamaCare before it does more damage. But changes in partisan control take time. When ObamaCare was passed Democrats were in complete control of the political branches. The earliest Republicans could be in such a position is January of 2017.

It will also take time for the GOP to coalesce around a comprehensive alternative to ObamaCare, which, according to Ragusa’s data, shouldn’t be too much of a concern as long as a repeal-and-replace bill is signed into law before the Republican president’s first term expires.

There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when it comes to securing a free market alternative to ObamaCare. Lack of time to do it right isn’t one of them.