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December 2nd, 2016 at 4:24 pm
ATSC 3.0: What Could It Mean for American Consumers?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Next month’s arrival of a new Trump Administration, alongside a Congress ready to hit the ground running, promises a flurry of corrective activity after eight years of Barack Obama.

However, Americans should remain vigilant against regulatory mischief that some are trying to push through unnoticed at the outset of the new Administration and Congress.

Exhibit A:  An effort by broadcasters to convince Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve an entirely new broadcast television standard known as ATSC 3.0.

In a nutshell, the ATSC 3.0 standard amounts to yet another new federal action upon a private marketplace and a handout to a favored industry that could inflict significant and unnecessary costs, ultimately to be paid by consumers.

Under current law, cable and satellite television providers must carry local television stations, so the regulatory scales are already tipped in broadcasters’ favor.  The proposed new mandate could extend the scope of providers’ obligations requiring them to transmit broadcast signals in the new standard to the public.

As a result, consumers who currently receive local stations over the air or via cable or satellite providers suddenly would face the possibility of incurring the cost of new equipment in order to receive the new signal, as current equipment does not support the new standard.  Obviously, millions of consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet could thus be forced to pay – whether through higher monthly subscription fees or direct charge – for new equipment for a “benefit” that may not be needed or even desired.

Satellite and cable providers could also face technological hurdles to accommodate the new standard, which could inevitably lead to additional costs and quality assurance issues.  Ultimately, subscribers could have to pay those costs and endure those potential technological glitches as well.

Keep in mind that all of these costs and changes could be imposed without a sober cost/benefit analysis from the FCC.  It’s precisely the sort of hasty, top-down, crony capitalist federal regulatory action that has tested the limits of American tolerance over the past decade.

Technological advance is a good thing, whether in the TV market or elsewhere.  But that’s something that should occur as the result of market forces, not through fast-tracked federal regulatory action riddled by too many uncertainties.

November 14th, 2016 at 3:18 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Please 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 CST/5:00 pm EST:  Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus Association – ObamaCare and the New Regime;

4:15 CST/5:15 pm EST:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – The World Awaiting President Trump;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST: Craig Shirley, Author, Historian, Lecturer – Trump’s People First Platform;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST: Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Founder of Center for Competitive Politics – Donor and Speech Privacy; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST: Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs –  Post-Election 2016, the Importance of Federalism and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

November 14th, 2016 at 11:38 am
NY Times’s Paul Krugman Discredited In Record Time
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

There may be no commentator more exposed and discredited in recent years than The New York Times’s Paul Krugman.

Where to even begin?  My personal favorite might be his call for a massive spending “stimulus” when Obama entered office, which he estimated should be approximately $600 billion, to return economic health to the nation.  ”When I put this all together,” he said, “I conclude that the stimulus package should be at least 4% of GDP, or $600 billion.”  Obama ended up getting something much larger, closer to $1 trillion.  Yet when the U.S. proceeded to suffer the worst decade of economic performance in U.S. history and multiple failed “recovery summers,” Krugman just shamelessly published a later piece entitled “How Did We Know the Stimulus Was Too Small?”

Fast forward to election night, when he moped and went on record predicting that markets would never recover from Donald Trump’s victory.  You can’t make this stuff up:

It really does now look like President Donald Trump, and markets are plunging.  When might we expect them to recover?

Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty.  The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.  Still, I guess people want an answer:  If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”

So what happened immediately after Krugman’s solemn prediction?  Well, markets reached another record high on Friday.

Perhaps Krugman simply recognizes the wreckage of Obama’s legacy, and masochistically seeks to outdo him?

November 8th, 2016 at 11:35 am
Good News, Regardless of Election Outcome: Tax Relief Likely
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Regardless of today’s election outcome, here’s an encouraging headline buried deep on Page C 8 of this morning’s Wall Street Journal:  ”Tax Relief Is Likely No Matter Who Wins.”

As we at CFIF have long emphasized, the U.S. continues to suffer the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.  In addition to suffocating domestic growth and imposing needless tax complexity on American businesses, our outdated corporate tax code also explains why corporations are forced to relocate headquarters overseas in order to survive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.  Speaker Paul Ryan has unsurprisingly offered admirable intellectual and political leadership in promoting reform, and the good news is that oven liberals like Barack Obama understand the need for cutting rates and reducing complexity.

Accordingly, it’s refreshing regardless of one’s political leanings to read the Journal’s take:

No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election, American companies with substantial overseas earnings, and their investors, could emerge as big winners.  Corporate tax reform that would make it easier for U.S. firms to repatriate foreign earnings has emerged as a rare issue of bipartisan consensus in Washington.  Progress on this issue is possible no matter who controls the White House and Congress next year…  Under current law, American companies with overseas earnings pay no U.S. federal tax on these profits unless and until they repatriate the money, at which time they pay the relatively high corporate tax rate of 35%.  This creates a perverse incentive for U.S. companies to house money abroad rather than reinvest it at home…

Even in a divided-government scenario, for example, with Mrs. Clinton as President and a Republican-controlled Congress, it seems likely that companies can look forward to a one-time break on repatriated earnings and a lower tax rate going forward.”

And as the Journal notes, the positive effect would likely be substantial:

The last time there was such a repatriation tax holiday was in a law passed in 2004, and the effects were dramatic.  Companies brought home $299 billion of overseas earnings in 2005, up from $82 billion the previous year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

Far preferable to a mere one-time repatriation tax holiday would be a permanent reduction in the corporate tax rate below the developed worldwide average around 20%, and removal of Byzantine complexity.  Regardless, the likelihood of tax reform whoever wins tonight offers welcome news as an oftentimes bleak election concludes.

November 4th, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Cronyism Within Obama’s FCC and Library of Congress Threatens U.S. Copyright and Intellectual Property Protections
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In today’s political atmosphere of Wikileaks and FBI investigation of potential collusion, the charge of government cronyism is perhaps more damning than any other.

For that reason, a blockbuster editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal was particularly devastating:

Most Americans think of Google as a search engine doing unalloyed social good, but the company also wants to make money and wield political influence along the way.  So you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice that an abrupt change of leadership at the U.S. Copyright Office is good news for Google, which aims to pay less for profiting from the property of others.”

So what’s the backstory here?  In a nutshell, this tawdry ordeal centers on the suspicious demotion within the Library of Congress of Maria Pallante, who until two weeks ago served as U.S. Register of Copyrights.  In that capacity, Ms. Pallante advocated reorganizing the Copyright Office as an independent agency, but perhaps more significantly was too protective of people’s property rights, including copyright, for Google’s taste.

Chief among Ms. Pallante’s inconvenient heresies?  Her opposition to the malignant set-top cable box proposal from Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which we at CFIF have steadfastly criticized:

Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission proposed something known as the set-top box rule.  The thrust was to force cable companies to build a universal adapter so Google and others could broadcast content without paying licensing fees or abiding by carriage agreements.   Google supported the new rule.  Less pleased were creators, who wouldn’t be paid for their work.

A bipartisan group of House Members in July sent a letter asking the copyright office to weigh in.  Ms. Pallante replied that the rule ‘would seem to take a valuable good’ and ‘deliver it to third parties who are not in privity with the copyright owners, but who may nevertheless exploit the content for profit.’  Ms. Pallante suggested revising the rule, which the FCC did.

This prompted outrage from groups funded by Google.  Take Public Knowledge, whose website notes that Google is a ‘platinum’ supporter – chipping in $25,000 a year and probably more.  Public Knowledge’s senior counsel assailed the House letter, and in September it released a report claiming ’systematic bias at the U.S. copyright office.’  Ms. Pallante was singled out as ‘captured’ by industry for the sin of focusing on ‘enforcement’ of copyright rather than rewriting it.  Something else happened in September:  Ms. Pallante got a new boss when Ms. Hayden was sworn in as Librarian of Congress, a presidential appointment.  Ms. Hayden formerly ran the American Library Association, which takes a permissive view of copyright law and accepts money from, you guessed it, Google.  A month later Ms. Pallante was pushed out.”

It all reeks of crony capitalism on behalf of Google, whose business model depends in part on exploiting others’ copyrighted artistic creations without compensation.

As The Wall Street Journal’s editorial concluded, “The guarantee to own what you create is the reason entrepreneurs take the risks that power the economy.”  Indeed, the U.S. maintains the world’s most protective copyright and intellectual property (IP) laws, which remains the driving force in our status as the most creative, inventive and prosperous nation in human history.  Americans shouldn’t tolerate cronyism in pursuit of such bad ideas as the FCC’s set-top box proposal that threaten that status.

October 31st, 2016 at 11:54 am
New Poll: Support for “Assault Weapons” Ban Drops to Record Low
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an extremely encouraging new Gallup poll showing that public support for our nation’s police forces jumped by a record amount over the past year.

On a different but not entirely unrelated issue, there’s similarly welcome news in the form of another Gallup release entitled “In U.S., Support for Assault Weapons Ban At Record Low.”  Gallup began polling on the issue 20 years ago, and opposition has skyrocketed from 42% to today’s 61%, while support for a so-called “assault weapons” ban has plummeted from 57% to today’s 36%:

Assault rifles have been a contentious issue in American life for decades.  Two years after President Bill Clinton signed a federal assault weapons ban in 1994, Gallup found that a solid majority of Americans favored such a ban.  By the time the 10-year ban expired in 2004, Americans were evenly divided.  And by 2011, public opinion had tilted against the assault weapons ban, with 53% opposed and 43% in favor.  In Gallup’s 2016 crime poll, conducted Oct. 5-9, opposition now exceeds support by 25 percentage points, 61% to 36%.”

Equally encouraging in today’s hyperpartisan atmosphere is the fact that opposition to an “assault weapons” ban is bipartisan, as well as shared by both gun owners and non-owners.

It’s understandable in today’s political and pop culture atmosphere to believe that the country, or the world more broadly, are descending to hell in a handbasket.  While that may be true regarding some of our political leadership and celebrity influences, the good news is that the resilient American public continues to show a welcome degree of better judgment.

October 21st, 2016 at 6:19 pm
Crony Capitalist N.Y. Utility Subsidy Boondoggle Now Facing Federal Lawsuit
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So there’s grave new trouble for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s crony-capitalist, climate alarmist utility subsidy boondoggle:  a federal lawsuit.

Since its introduction in August, CFIF has been exposing Cuomo’s “Clean Energy Standard” (CES), a scheme approved by the state of New York’s Public Service Commission made up entirely of his own appointees.  In a nutshell, the CES creates an artificial mandate that 50% of all the state’s energy be generated by carbon-neutral plants just 13 years from now.   At a minimum, the CES will cost $1 billion in its first two years alone, and an estimated $8 billion over its 13-year existence.  And it illustrates the sort of crony capitalism that is all too common at the federal, state and local levels because the plan’s subsidies will be steered toward a single company named Exelon that owns financially struggling upstate nuclear plants.  We have nothing against Exelon in particular, but everything about this scheme smells fishy.  At the end of the day, moreover, the cost of all of this will fall upon New York residents and businesses.

Additionally, the CES program is so manifestly flawed that opposition is bipartisan.  New York environmental groups also attack what they describe as Governor Cuomo’s “$8 billion bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants.”

And now there’s even more grave trouble for CES.

In U.S. District Court, a lawsuit filed this week by the prominent law firm Boies Schiller seeks injunction against the scheme, alleging violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause and federal preemption under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, among other counts:

Several power plant owners sued New York state energy regulators Wednesday over the state’s approval of billions of dollars in subsidies for aging nuclear plants.  The suit filed in Manhattan federal court argues the bailout represents an illegal interference with the federal government’s role in regulating electric rates, and will unfairly burden the ratepayers who will pay for the subsidies, which could cost nearly $8 billion over 12 years.  ’This is a bad deal for New Yorkers, who will see their electric bills go up across the state,’ said Jonathan Schiller, whose firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner is representing the plaintiffs…  ’This subsidy will cost New Yorkers as much as $7.6 billion in payments to a single company.  This is illegal.’”

We’ll be monitoring and updating this lawsuit as events develop, but it presents another mortal threat to the CES plan.

And justifiably so.  Although we continue to support nuclear power as an energy source that should be exploited by the U.S. on the basis of both efficiency and national security, Governor Cuomo’s crony capitalist boondoggle is simply an unacceptable way to do it.  It’s not by accident that opposition is bipartisan, and now under judicial threat as well.

October 19th, 2016 at 12:39 pm
In Tonight’s Debate, Voters Deserve to Hear More About Economic, Tax Policies
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Tonight, millions of Americans will tune into the final Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Among the central topics should be the economy, which recent polling shows remains voters’ foremost concern.

Unfortunately, voters haven’t heard enough from either candidate on that topic during the first two debates.

Which is tragic, because this election itself has taken a toll on the economy.  According to a recent poll of economists, rhetoric from both campaigns has had a negative impact on economic growth over the past few months.  Accordingly, rather than continuing to argue about personal issues and mutual animosities, both candidates must do a better job of improving economic optimism and confidence by advocating pro-growth policies that will help us proper.

And in that vein, perhaps no issue merits focus more than comprehensive tax reform.

During the first debate, taxes and potential plans received brief discussion.  Both candidates agreed that a significant problem exists with companies moving to other countries and protecting their earnings abroad from excessive U.S. taxes. Trump correctly pointed out that the reason many companies leave is that our corporate rate remains the highest in the developed world.  Indeed, a recent Mercatus Center study highlighted how the increasing number of corporate inversions result from that inglorious distinction, and how lowering the rate will go a long way toward keeping American companies here so that they can create jobs and generate tax revenues domestically rather than abroad.

But more discussion and detail is critical.  Over thirty years ago, on September 26, 1986, the Senate began debate over comprehensive tax reform legislation that the House of Representatives had approved.  Incredibly, our tax code has not been reformed in a meaningful manner during the ensuing 30 years despite tectonic evolution of the U.S. economy during that time period.  It’s therefore past time to modernize the code and reformed so as to help American businesses of all sizes, rather than continuing to hinder growth and opportunity.

And on that point, we need concrete plans from Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton.

Demonstrating his own commendable leadership on this critical matter, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently stated that tax reform is his top priority in 2017.   He rightly explained that the first thing that needs to be accomplished next year is “a budget that gets tax reform, that gets this debt and deficit under control.”   Clearly, Speaker Ryan realizes that the American people welcome discussion about how the federal government can actually enact policies beneficial to the economy and their own individual finances.  Whoever enters the White House this coming January must work with Congress to reform our tax code as soon as possible, which is precisely why we need to hear their ideas on how to best accomplish that.

To his credit, Trump has proposed a tax reduction for all businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent.  And to her credit, Clinton acknowledges that lowering the corporate rate would encourage companies to repatriate funds stranded overseas.  That’s obviously a step in the right direction, but the American people need to hear more specifics – a simplified code and lower rate, in particular – and a timeline for when they plan to enact that type of reform.  While their rhetoric on the issue is occasionally encouraging, voters must learn which candidate will work to fix the tax code in order to improve our economy the fastest.

This election has obviously been among the most contentious in our nation’s history, and policy has too often taken a back seat to personality.  While that may at times provide shallow entertainment, it’s time to put the personal attacks aside and hear more about both candidates’ visions for the economy.  Hopefully, that will mean devoting more time toward discussing tax reform and economic growth, not bickering over issues that ultimately has little impact on Americans’ everyday lives and needs.

October 14th, 2016 at 12:15 pm
Image of the Day: Liberals Need to Stop Trumpeting Their Economic Performance Record
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Remember back in 2008, when the unemployment rate stood essentially where it stands this year, the deficit over the preceding seven years was a tiny fraction what it has been over the past seven years, and liberals were acknowledging how great the economy was?

This is hardly exhaustive, but it provides a rough illustration of why Obama, his apologists and the political left skate on thin ice when they attempt to trumpet their economic performance.

Economic Performance Record

Economic Performance Record

October 7th, 2016 at 5:16 pm
Bipartisan Congressional Coalition: Don’t Politicize SpaceX Launch Mishap to the Benefit of Russia
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Should Russia be allowed to become America’s exclusive source of rocket engines for space launches?

The question answers itself in the negative, but some members of Congress unfortunately advocate policies that would create  that straightjacket.

In the wake of a SpaceX Falcon 9 pre-launch failure on a commercial mission at Cape Canaveral, which resulted in no loss of life, or even injuries or damage to third-party property, several members of Congress wrote to NASA, the FAA, and Air Force suggesting that those entities should sever ties with SpaceX.

The problem, as we at CFIF have previously highlighted, is that their preferred course would mean exclusive reliance upon Russian rockets for U.S. space launches.  As confirmed by American military leaders, Russia remains our foremost global antagonist, and the last thing the U.S. should be doing is subsidizing the Russian defense industry with our own taxpayers’ dollars.  That would also further undermine global security, reward Russian aggressive behavior, and even benefit nations like Iran that are primary beneficiaries of Russian rocket technology.  That’s precisely why Congress imposed a phaseout of future U.S. purchases of Russian rocket engines in two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).

Fortunately, a bipartisan Congressional coalition that included more than twice as many members pushed back against the prior letter and set the record straight:

We recognize that the space business is technologically challenging.  Given these challenges, Congress passed many years ago bipartisan legislation governing the issue of launch and reentry licenses for commercial spaceflight activities by the Secretary of Transportation.  Accordingly, the FAA has established regulations that govern licensing as well as mishap and accident investigations.  Consistent with regulations, the Falcon 9 anomaly has been properly classified as a ‘mishap’ under federal law and is being resolved under applicable regulatory procedures.

We are pleased that the FAA is maintaining a strong and prudent oversight role that appropriately draws upon private sector insight in ensuring a robust investigative process and safe return to flight for SpaceX.  We encourage the FAA to continue to leverage its considerable investigative expertise to help SpaceX come to resolution swiftly and safely, and we urge the FAA to continue implementing its role in accordance with applicable federal law…  We are confident that current NASA and Air Force procedures will ensure that future U.S. Government missions that utilize the Falcon 9, and any other launch vehicle system, will undergo appropriate flight worthiness evaluations prior to flight.

Accidents are unfortunate events, and accident investigations should not be politicized.  We encourage you to reject calls for your organizations to abandon established, well-considered, and long-standing procedures.” (emphasis added)

They are correct.

America can’t afford to undercut our own private sector space industry, particularly when the primary beneficiary will be Russia, and at the expense of U.S. taxpayers to boot.

October 6th, 2016 at 10:58 pm
Environmental Groups Join Bipartisan Opposition to N.Y. Utility Boondoggle
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Bill Clinton made headlines this week when he openly attacked ObamaCare as a “crazy system” that “doesn’t make any sense.”

Something similar is now occurring in New York state.  Specifically, environmental groups and others on the political left are openly maligning the crony capitalist utility boondoggle that CFIF has been exposing since its introduction in August.

The “Clean Energy Standard” (CES), approved by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) composed entirely of Governor Andrew Cuomo appointees, mandates that 50% of state energy derive from carbon-neutral sources by the year 2030.  And guess what?  The CES’s subsidies, which will cost at least $1 billion in the first two years and an estimated $8 billion over the course of the plan, will benefit financially struggling upstate nuclear energy plants owned by a single company named Exelon.  Ultimately, of course, that excessive and needless cost will be paid by New York consumers and businesses.

But CFIF and fellow conservative and libertarian groups are hardly alone in opposition to the CES.  As highlighted by North Country Public Radio in Canton, New York, environmental groups are openly opposing what it describes as Governor Cuomo’s “$8 billion bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants”:

“Cuomo plans to transition 50 percent of the state’s power to renewable energy by 2030.  Part of the program includes a multi-billion dollar subsidy to Exelon, the company that now runs two upstate nuclear plants, Nine Mile Point in Oswego and Ginna near Rochester, and is hoping to run a third plant, FitzPatrick, also in Oswego.

But some environmental groups, including New York Public Interest Research Group, say ratepayers, who were not consulted about the deal, will be stuck with the bill in the form of increased utility rates.

NYPIRG’s Blair Horner said the deal will result in $2.3 billion in increased payments for residential utility customers and even more for businesses in a state that already has among the highest utility rates in the nation, according to a study by the Public Utility Law Project.  ‘These charges are essentially a tax to keep aging nuclear power plants online,’ Horner said.”

It’s good to see that bipartisan wisdom isn’t completely a thing of the past.

It bears re-emphasis that nuclear power is a safe, clean, reliable domestic energy source that CFIF favors, one that the U.S. should utilize to a far greater extent.  Governor Cuomo’s crony capitalist, global warming alarmist CES scheme, however, is the wrong way to go about that.

New York citizens and businesses shouldn’t have to subsidize this sort of boondoggle, and hopefully the growing bipartisan opposition will force a course correction from Cuomo and the PSC.

October 3rd, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Image of the Day: ObamaCare Less Popular Than System In Place Before
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

From broken promises to fewer choices to higher costs to tens of millions still uninsured, ObamaCare has been a disaster.   Its defenders insist that it’s still better than we had before, but Americans disagree:

Americans Prefer Pre-ObamaCare Healthcare System

Americans Prefer Pre-ObamaCare Healthcare Syst

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 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 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.