October 6th, 2015 at 4:42 pm
Obama’s Real Education Legacy
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute has a enlightening critical essay on Barack Obama’s “real education legacy” in the latest issue of National Affairs. The essay couldn’t be more timely, coming on the heels of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s announcement last week that he plans to leave his post at the end of the year.

Hess writes:

Despite the soaring rhetoric and heady promises . . .  education reform during Obama’s tenure has disappointed in practice. Oddly enough, some of the president’s critics on the right have missed this and have maintained that, on education, his policy has been uniquely sound. New York Times columnist David Brooks declared that “Obama has been the most determined education reformer in the modern presidency,” and suggested that Obama’s approach to education reform constituted a model for “health care, transportation, energy [and] environmental policy.”

In fact, Obama’s presidency has proven deeply divisive in nearly every area of policy, from health care to government spending to the environment. And those who have been disconcerted by the Obama administration’s faults in other areas — its abuse of executive discretion, its dramatic expansion of the federal government, and its exacerbation of identity politics and the culture wars — will find that education has not been spared. Despite all the promises of a “post-partisan” presidency, Obama has pursued a polarizing, bureaucratized, and Washington-centric education agenda while exploiting and then draining a substantial reservoir of bipartisan goodwill.

While it does little good to merely gripe about bad policies and squandered opportunities for reform, setting the record straight is crucial. Our understanding of the Obama era in education will color how we regard the promises of presidential candidates and inform our expectations for future Congressional and executive policymaking. Accounting for the lessons of the last seven years is especially vital given education’s substantive and symbolic import and its centrality for any national figure intent on promoting opportunity. Ultimately, the Obama years have illustrated that how presidents tackle education may matter as much as whether they do.

In particular, Hess looks at how the Education Department bungled Race to the Top and the ham-handed rollout of the Common Core standards. Do read the whole thing.

October 2nd, 2015 at 12:18 pm
Arne Duncan Takes His Leave
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Friday announced he would be stepping down after seven years of service to the Obama administration. In a letter to department employees, Duncan said he wished to return to Chicago to be with his family. Duncan’s wife and two children moved back to their hometown earlier this year. He plans to leave by the end of the year.

President Obama has already selected John B. King, Jr., the current deputy secretary of education, to replace Duncan.

Duncan’s announcement is a bit out of the blue. From the Washington Post:

Even after Duncan’s family relocated to Chicago at the end of the summer, and their home in Arlington was put up for sale, Duncan insisted that he would stay until the end of the Obama administration.

In an interview with The Washington Post in June, Duncan said he planned to stay put because he felt he had a long list of unfinished business and felt an urgency to keep pushing toward unmet goals. He called his job the dream of a lifetime. “I still pinch myself some days,” he said.

Duncan’s announcement came as a surprise, even to some people who are close to him. Just two days ago, after a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Duncan artfully declined to answer when he was asked whether he planned to stay until the end of the administration’s second term.

Duncan’s tenure at the Education Department was a curious one. Conservatives in Congress weren’t fans, which could be expected. But the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers denounced him regularly, as well. Last year, he rejected calls by the NEA and AFT to resign. The NEA’s resolution blamed Duncan for a “failed education agenda” of policies that “undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions.” The AFT, meantime, demanded — among other things — that Duncan do away with the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top “test and punish” model, and replace it with a “support and improve” system.

Yet in most respects, Duncan has acted as any down-the-line Democrat would. He has opposed every meaningful effort to rein in federal education spending. He opposed Congress’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, for all the wrong reasons.

Along with President Obama, Duncan used Race to the Top — a $4.35 billion grant competition that was included as part of the $787 billion stimulus in 2009 — as a way to strong-arm states into adopting the Common Core standards.

And, of course, he opposes school choice. As I wrote in July:

Although it’s true that Duncan has supported charter schools throughout his tenure at CPS and the U.S. Department of Education, he is no friend of public school choice.

Last week, when the House of Representatives passed HR 5 to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, Duncan made a point of denouncing the bill’s “Title I portability,” which would allow a portion of federal dollars to follow low-income students to the public school of their choice.

Again, this isn’t even a question of sending tax dollars to private schools, which most Democrats and a fair number of libertarian-leaning Republicans oppose. Duncan labors under the widespread misapprehension, born of a career spent toiling in the government-school bureaucracy, that tax dollars are best distributed to institutions. Institutions are wise. Individuals are not. (Never mind individuals run those institutions.)

To change the way the federal government funds school districts would mean to deny special interests their due. But Duncan says Title I funding portability would be “devastating” to poor children—as if poor children and poor school districts are synonymous.

Duncan will leave office with “a long list” of items left undone. But insofar as the federal education apparatus has expanded to heretofore unimagined powers, Arne Duncan has been a smashing success. And the republic is much poorer for it.

October 2nd, 2015 at 9:39 am
Is the U.S. a Particularly Violent Nation? No. Five Must-Read Graphs Rebut 2nd Amendment Restrictionists
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Is the U.S. a particularly violent nation, one that stands as an outlier in terms of murder rates or gun violence?  No.  Unfortunately, Second Amendment restrictionists like Barack Obama hastily trot out that tired claim whenever they attempt to politicize the latest highly-publicized crime to advance their agenda.

The actual numbers tell a far different story.

The U.S. is by far the world’s leader in terms of firearms per capita, but its murder and violent crime rates aren’t particular outliers.  Fortunately, the Crime Prevention Research Center provides a helpful set of five data graphs illustrating these facts in vivid terms that even the most hardened Second Amendment opponents can understand (even if they won’t admit it).  It provides an invaluable and instant rebuttal to their attempts to spread misinformation and cliches, so please share it far and wide.

Leftists constantly claim fealty to “science,” except on issues like Second Amendment rights and U.S. crime rates when the data completely undermines their agenda.  Fortunately, groups like the CPRC help set the record straight.

October 1st, 2015 at 5:07 pm
CFIF Leads Coalition Opposing “Super Chapter 9″ Bailout for Puerto Rico
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a letter addressed to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, the Center for Individual Freedom (”CFIF”) this week led a coalition of a half dozen prominent free-market organizations urging opposition to any legislation that grants Puerto Rico “Super Chapter 9” status. 

“‘Super Chapter 9′ would give Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla a free pass to violate Puerto Rico’s constitution, but would do nothing to bring about meaningful fiscal reform,” the letter reads.

“It is our hope that Congress will instead take the lead on this tough issue by urging the Garcia Padilla Administration to implement real fiscal reform and uphold the constitution before any consideration of restructuring the non-constitutional debt,” the letter continues.  “If necessary, Congress has the legal authority to consider measures such as a federal control board to oversee financial reform.  When, and only when, reform is enacted, Congress can then consider a process that encourages an orderly restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debts that respects the constitutionally-protected bonds and the rule of law.”

In addition to CFIF, the letter was signed by the leaders of Frontiers of Freedom, Hispanic Leadership Fund,  Institute for Liberty, National Taxpayers Union and Taxpayers Protection Alliance.   

Read the letter by clicking here (PDF).

September 30th, 2015 at 4:23 pm
GroupM, the Leading Global Media Investment Group, Announces Important Anti-Piracy Effort
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This month, GroupM, the world’s leading media investment management company, announced that it will now require its media partners advertising on websites to receive anti-piracy certification from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG).  This new initiative will go far to keep its clients’ advertisements off of rogue websites, as GroupM summarized in its announcement:

‘We’re in the business of giving the world’s most valuable brands marketing advantages with smart media strategies.  This inherently means we’re vigilant for clients’ brand safety.  Our work with TAG in the development and full adoption of anti-piracy guidelines is a major leap forward,’ said John Montgomery, Chairman, GroupM Connect, North America and Co-Chair of the TAG Anti-Piracy Working Group.  ’With IAB, 4As, and ANA, we’ve worked for years to make the digital ecosystem more trustworthy.  Fighting pirates of copyrighted content required every ounce of our tenacity and ingenuity, but with the advent of TAG’s Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, we have powerful new tools and safeguards.’”

Such advertising on piracy sites accounted for an estimated $209 million in ill-gotten revenue in 2014 alone, so this constitutes a significant, voluntary private sector milestone.  Summarizing the nature of the problem, Mr. Montgomery observed:

There’s no brand in the world that wants their advertising to appear on a pirate site or wants to be seen as supporting piracy, even inadvertently…  A brand’s entire reputation is at stake – something that they’ve been nurturing for decades or, in some cases, centuries.  The people who create pirate sites are the same ones who perpetrate clickbait fraud – they’re the ones who spread malware and create armies of bots that generate most of the automated clicks in the business…  Which is why being worried about ad fraud without also being aware of the role piracy plays in its perpetration is like fretting over a flood in your apartment while neglecting to turn off the tap.”

Hopefully, other ad industry players will follow GroupM’s lead in utilizing TAG, but CFIF and anyone who supports the rule of law and property rights – including intellectual property (IP) rights – owe them an enormous “thank you.”  Accordingly, please click here to join us in thanking them.

September 29th, 2015 at 3:45 pm
Progressive Policy Insitute Agrees: FCC Overregulation Threatens Private Internet Investment
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we have consistently highlighted, overregulation by Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) poses a grave threat to private investment in Internet service, which has thrived over two decades during both Democratic (Clinton) and Republican (Bush) presidencies because of a deliberately light regulatory approach.

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), in a report released this week, agrees.

In its fourth annual report on investment by American companies entitled “U.S. Investment Heroes of 2015:  Why Innovation Drives Investment,” PPI ranks the top 25 non-financial U.S. companies by their amount of domestic capital spending for 2014.  Notably, the survey highlights the danger that overregulation poses to investment and innovation, particularly in the telecommunications sector:

In the telecom industry, pro-investment policy should support ‘light touch’ regulation.  Here we have the makings of a natural experiment, since the FCC departed from this approach last February by imposing Title II regulations on broadband service.  So far in the first half of 2015, the telecom companies on our list are spending at an 11% slower pace than a year earlier.”

This offers yet another ominous warning, one that cannot be dismissed by Obama or Title II apologists as some sort of right-wing hit job.  The Clinton Administration commenced the regulatory “light touch” approach that PPI’s report references, which continued through the Bush Administration as the Internet remained one of the few bright spots in an otherwise troubled economy since 2008.  The PPI survey shows who the real extremists are, and thankfully offers a bipartisan roadmap for continued Internet investment and innovation:  less federal regulation, not more.

September 29th, 2015 at 11:45 am
Political Realignment in America’s Future?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

CFIF Contributing Editor Ben Boychuk discusses how today’s Republican Party resembles the Whig Party of 1850, why Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are popular candidates, and more.

Listen to the interview here.

September 28th, 2015 at 2:40 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 p.m. EDT:  Francis Rooney, Former Ambassador to the Holy See – Pope Francis’ First Visit to the United States;

4:30 CDT/5:30 p.m. EDT:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – U.S.-China Relations;

5:00 CDT/6:00 p.m. EDT:  Sarah Westwood, Watchdog Reporter for the Washington Examiner – Hillary Clinton E-Mails; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 p.m. EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs – Should the U.S. Emulate Europe on the Legal and Economic Fronts?

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, 2015 at 10:12 am
Reverse Midas: Another Obama Legacy Is Record Distrust of Federal Government
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In recent weeks, as we enter the final 500 days of his presidency, we have periodically returned to the issue of Obama’s emerging legacy.  On both domestic and foreign policy, his administration has been one of unprecedented failure, which we take no glee in saying because in so doing he has harmed the country.

On that issue, however, a new Gallup survey highlights another one of Obama’s more notable failures.  Namely, the number of Americans who believe that the federal government poses “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” has reached a record high.  Accordingly, the fact that the man who set out to reverse Ronald Reagan’s axiom that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” has through his own actions brought Americans’ fear and distrust of the federal government to record highs.  Through his inexorable and at times lawless agenda of increased federal government power, regulation, spending, deficits and encroachment into our lives, he has paradoxically validated Reagan’s belief and undermined his own.

Although Obama’s impact on America’s wellbeing at home and abroad has been disastrous (quick – name a single significant place in the world that is better off today than six years ago), at least it provides the opportunity for Americans to understand the cause-and-effect relationship of bigger government, more regulation, higher spending, higher taxes and weaker foreign policy and our declining national health.  As Gallup notes, “the persistent finding in recent years that half of the population views the government as an immediate threat underscores the degree to which the role and power of government remains a key issue of our time.”

Hopefully, Americans quickly internalize the opposite lesson that Reagan provided, and act accordingly.

September 19th, 2015 at 2:16 pm
Podcast: Iran and Other Foreign Policy Threats
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, David Adesnik, Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses America’s defense and strategy issues as they relate to the Iran Nuclear Deal and why we need serious engagement on foreign policy issues by America’s next president.

Listen to the interview here.

September 17th, 2015 at 6:11 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: How the Dinosaurs Became Extinct
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 17th, 2015 at 11:35 am
Peachtree City, GA: Stop City Council from Wasting Taxpayer Dollars on Municipal Broadband Network Boondoggle
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The Peachtree City, Georgia city council plans to vote TONIGHT on whether to use taxpayer dollars to build a Municipal Broadband Network for businesses.  This will cost millions of your hard-earned tax dollars and put the city’s bond rating and other important services at risk.  Tell Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and the Peachtree City Council Members TODAY that you do NOT want your tax dollars used to build a municipal broadband network. That is something the private sector can and does provide.

A few important facts to share with your Council Member:

  • Municipal Broadband Networks (also known as Government-Owned Networks or GONs) inevitably cost much more to build and operate than policymakers assume or  realize. [New York Law School study]
  • Some cities have been driven so far into debt because of their GON that they’ve sold them at huge losses, yet taxpayers were still left to foot the bill. [Provo, Utah]
  • Monthly bills are 20% to 50% higher for consumers using GONs than if they used a private broadband provider, according to the American Action Forum.
  • Peachtree City simply has better things to spend its money on than a service the private sector ably provides.
  • 75 % to 80 % of all GONs fail to make an annual profit. [WiFi Waste: The Disaster of Municipal Communications Network, by Prof. Ron Rizzuto, Univ. of Denver]
  1. Our Teacher salaries are 9% below the national average
  2. The Peachtree city council has already voted this year to INCREASE TAXES on residents, collecting an extra $645,000
  • Private sector broadband providers have invested more than $1.4 trillion into our nation’s broadband infrastructure and they are investing more every day. [US Telecom Broadband Investment]

Costly Municipal Broadband Failures

Burlington Telecom, VT

  • Initial Capital Investment: $33.5 Million
  • Current Debt: $17 Million
  • Potential subscriber pool is 39,000 households yet just 4,000 have joined the network.


  • Initial Capital Investment: $135 Million
  • Current Debt: $500 Million
  • Potential subscriber pool if 62,000 households yet just 8,200 have joined the network.

MI-Connection, NC

  • Initial Capital Investment: $92.5 Million
  • Current Debt: $69.5 Million
  • Potential subscriber pool is 88,000 households yet just 16,000 have joined the network.

CDE Lightband, TN

  • Initial Capital Investment: $16 Million
  • Current Debt: $20.5 Million
  • Potential subscriber pool is 146,000 households yet just 18,000 have joined the network.

Contact Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and the City Council TODAY!

Group email to Mayor, Council & City Manager: council@peachtree-city.org

Mayor Vanessa Fleisch


Twitter: @vanessafleisch


Post 1 Council member Eric Imker



Post 2 Council member Mike King



Post 3 Council member Kim Learnerd



Post 4 Council member Terry Ernst



September 14th, 2015 at 2:58 pm
TechNotes: “ObamaNet Is Hurting Broadband”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Throughout the “Net Neutrality” debate over whether the federal government should begin regulating Internet service under 1930s Depression-era laws intended for copper wire telephone service, we and others have warned that Obama Administration efforts to impose such regulation would dangerously stifle private investment and innovation in the telecommunications sector.

In his weekly “Information Age” column today, L. Gordon Crovitz highlights how quickly our somber prediction has proven true.  In “Obamanet Is Hurting Broadband,” Crovitz summarizes how “The predictable effect of more regulation has arrived:  Investment is plummeting”:

New data show the Obama Administration’s decision to regulate the Internet as a utility has already caused a steep drop in Internet Investment…  [I]n the first half of 2015, as the new regulations were being crafted in Washington, major ISPs reduced capital expenditure by an average of 12%, while the overall industry average dropped 8%.  Capital spending was down 29% at AT&T and Charter Communications, 10% at Cablevision, and 4% at Verizon. (Comcast increased capital spending, but on a new home-entertainment operating system, not broadband.)  Until now, spending had fallen year-to-year only twice in the history of broadband:  in 2001 after the dot-com bust, and in 2009 after the recession.”  [emphasis added]

Since the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Internet has thrived and played a central role in maintaining America’s status as the most prosperous, most entrepreneurial and most innovative nation in human history.  That didn’t happen by accident, nor was it due to coincidence.  Rather, it occurred precisely because the federal government during both the Clinton and Bush administrations refrained from suffocating it with destructive and politically-motivated overregulation.  But Obama apparently thought he had a better idea.  Unfortunately, we’re already witnessing the regrettable result.

Meanwhile, Gallup just released its annual survey of public approval of various sectors of American life.  Standing at or near the top once again are the computer industry, the Internet industry and the telephone industry, all with high net positives.  And at the bottom, once again, is the federal government, with an atrocious -29% net negative.

All of this suggests that we would likely be better off if the computer/Internet/telecom industries regulated the federal government, rather than vice-versa.

September 14th, 2015 at 2:40 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:  Riley Walters, Research Assistant at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – Domestic Terror Attacks and Plots Since 9/11;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  David Adesnik, Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative – Iran Nuclear Deal;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Ben Boychuk, CFIF Contributing Editor, writer, and political commentator – The American Political Scene; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute – Mega-Merger Madness in the Health Insurance Industry and the State of VA Care.

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

September 11th, 2015 at 11:02 am
Podcast: Separation of Powers and Limited Government
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Clark Neily, Senior Attorney for the Institute for Justice, discusses his latest book, “Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government,” and the importance of and issues surrounding separation of powers, economic liberty, property rights, the Second Amendment, and more.

Listen to the interview here.

September 8th, 2015 at 4:56 pm
The Obama Legacy, Cont’d: Poverty Rate, Child Poverty, Business Closures Exceed Startups for First Time Ever
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Amid an excellent piece detailing the perils of minimum wage increases in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “A Post-Labor Day, Minimum-Wage Hangover,” CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder provides yet another depressing snapshot of the emerging legacy of Barack Obama:

The real problem is that more than six years of progressive economic policies – higher taxes, more regulation, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and more – have eliminated opportunities.  The poverty rate remains at levels generally observed during recessions.  Child poverty is at its highest point in 20 years.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the first time since it began compiling the data, business closures each year have been exceeding new business startups.  This is the result of an economy limping along at a 2.2% growth rate.”

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September 8th, 2015 at 10:04 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Biggest Threat To America
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 5th, 2015 at 10:06 am
Hillary, Iran and Silencing Dissent
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, discusses Hillary Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State, the Iran deal and how speech regulation is used to silence dissent.

Listen to the interview here.

September 1st, 2015 at 9:16 am
Apocalypse Not, Cont’d: In 2008, ABC News Aired Some Amusing Climate Catastrophe Visions for 2015
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our latest Liberty Update we highlighted in “10 Years After Katrina, Failed Global Warming Prophecies Accumulate” how global warming alarmists continue to rely on predictions of imminent doom, despite the fact that their record of prediction is one of failure after failure.

Add another glaring and amusing example to that list.  In 2008, ABC News ran a “news” feature entitled “Earth 2100.”  It’s worth watching the 9-minute clip, which suggests such possibilities as milk at $12.00 per gallon and gas at $9.00 per gallon, as recalled by The Daily Caller:

Newsbusters notes that then GMA anchor Chris Cuomo, who teased the special at the time, said to [Bob] Woodruff of the predictions, ‘I think we’re familiar with some of these issues, but boy, 2015?  That’s seven years from now.  Could it really be that bad?’

Woodruff replies, ‘It’s very soon, you know.  But all you have to do is look at the world today.  You know, you’ve got gas prices going up.  You’ve got food prices going up.  You’ve got extreme weather.  The scientists have studied this for decades.  They say if you connect the dots, you can actually see that we’re approaching maybe even a perfect storm.  Or you have got shrinking resources, population growth, climate change.  So the idea now is to look at it, wake up about it and then try to do something to fix it.”

In related news, gas recently dipped below $2.00 per gallon in many parts of the country.  So much for that.

As Barack Obama plays the role of broken record again on his boondoggle to Alaska, it’s imperative to keep in mind how a global warming alarm movement that constantly relies upon predictions of doom maintains a 25-year record of failed predictions.

September 1st, 2015 at 7:48 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Mountain Obama Should Rename
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

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