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May 17th, 2017 at 11:41 am
Former FCC Commissioner: “The FCC Gets Set to Free Wireless”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Robert McDowell offers a timely and instructive commentary entitled “The FCC Gets Set to Free Wireless,” in which he explains the important work by new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:

The Federal Communications Commission this month is launching initiatives that will shape the fate of America’s wireless industry.  Last week it started to examine competition in the market, and this week it will propose taking Depression-era utility regulations off mobile broadband while protecting an open internet.  This is only the beginning.  The FCC is acting on a rare opportunity to correct its recent mistakes and restore the Clinton-era light-touch regulatory framework that will drive economic growth and job creation.”

As we at CFIF have detailed, the internet flourished over two decades like no other innovation in human history, precisely because of the light-touch regulatory approach started under Clinton as McDowell notes, and continued through the Bush Administration.  But in 2015, Obama’s FCC under former Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to “fix” an internet that wasn’t broken by regulating it as a “public service” under the 1930s copper-wire telephone laws that McDowell references.  As Chairman Pai recently noted, domestic broadband capital expenditures fell for the first time ever outside of a recession.

McDowell notes how the mobile industry experienced “an explosion of entrepreneurial brilliance,” incredible innovation in just a few short years, massive investment, falling consumer prices (25% in the past decade) and arrival of the app economy.  Importantly, he highlights that, “Three quarters of the companies in the global app economy are American.”  Unfortunately, the Obama FCC’s rush to commandeer yet another sector of the U.S. economy imposed an unnecessary threat to that innovation:

Yet since 2009, the FCC has ignored its own studies and refused to determine that the market is competitive. That would have contradicted the rationale for its regulation binge, but new political and market realities make a fresh start possible.”

Fortunately, new leadership under Chairman Pai offers the opportunity to correct that mistake before the harm intensifies:

The FCC should begin by liberating wireless from the heavy-handed rules of a 1934 law called Title II, which was created when phones were held in two hands.  This antiquated law imposes powerful economic regulations on the internet, chilling investment in broadband.  On Thursday the FCC will propose to unshackle the net from this millstone of a law.  This would restore the bipartisan light-touch policies that nurtured the burgeoning internet Americans enjoy today.”

It’s unfortunate that a federal bureaucracy decided in its wisdom that regulating the thriving internet as a “public utility” under a 1934 law was a good idea in the first instance.  But as McDowell cheerfully notes, the opportunity to prevent further harm and restore the innovation and investment that characterized internet service for over two decades is here.  For that we should thank Chairman Pai and support his common-sense restoration of regulatory sanity at the FCC.

May 12th, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Favor FCC Chairman Pai’s “Light Touch” Internet Regulatory Approach
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Activists advocating heavy-handed internet regulation of the type pushed by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pretend that they’re the ones crusading on behalf of everyday consumers.  The reality is that the internet flourished as no innovation in human history precisely because both the Clinton Administration and Bush Administration maintained a “light touch” regulatory stance from the FCC.

But then in 2015, the Obama Administration decided that it must “fix” an internet that wasn’t broken, through a narrow party-line FCC vote to regulate internet service as a “public utility” under 1930s laws enacted for copper-wire telephones.

The result:  internet infrastructure investment fell for the first time ever outside of an economic recession.

Fortunately, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is restoring common sense by returning internet regulation to the “light touch” approach that worked for two decades and under Clinton and Bush.

Now there’s more good news, highlighted by the good folks over at the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI).  According to a new Morning Consult survey, Americans overwhelmingly favor a light-touch FCC regulatory approach toward internet service:

-  By an overwhelming 78% to 12% margin, voters support the government having little or no regulation of the internet, with 53% supporting a ‘light touch’ and 25% asserting that the government should not regulate the internet at all.

-  By an 18-point margin (51% versus 33%), voters say the internet should not be regulated as a public utility.

-  By a two-to-one margin, voters believe regulating the internet as a utility would slow innovation and decrease private tech investment.

-  Support for light-touch regulation is bipartisan, including 55% of Democrats, 52% of Republicans, and 52% of Independents.  Perhaps surprisingly, 21% of Democrats favor NO government regulation of the internet, along with 27% of Republicans and 26% of Independents.”

Chairman Pai is demonstrating admirable courage and leadership in restoring regulatory sanity at the FCC, and it’s always encouraging to confirm that the American electorate agrees with him.

May 10th, 2017 at 2:36 pm
Senate Confirms Trump Nominee and Drug Importation Skeptic Gottlieb as FDA Chief
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Yesterday brought good news in the form of Senate confirmation of Trump nominee Scott Gottlieb as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.  In addition to favoring quicker pharmaceutical review and approval, as well as “free-market strategies to bring down drug costs,” The Wall Street Journal notes that Gottlieb brings a healthy skepticism of the ill-advised and potentially dangerous proposal to import drugs from Canada and other countries:

He has also questioned the wisdom of allowing U.S. consumers to import brand-name drugs from countries like Canada, where they cost less, in part because of safety concerns.”

Mr. Gottlieb’s view accords with the opinion of all four of the most recent FDC commissioners, who warned in a recent letter to Congress that suddenly allowing drug importation from Canada or other unsecure countries “is a risky approach that would endanger consumers by exposing them to fake, substandard and contaminated drugs”:

[G]lobal experience confirms that illicit, ineffective, or adulterated products are readily available on the open market and represent one of the most lucrative avenues of organized crime…  Obtaining sufficient resources and expertise to screen and verify the authenticity of every product destined for American consumers presents enormous challenges.”

That also accords with the view of former federal judge and Clinton and Bush FBI Director Louis Freeh, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Allowing citizens to purchase medicine direct from foreign countries will mean more risk to consumers from counterfeit drugs, more opportunity for criminal activity in the marketplace, and more stresses placed on overstressed law enforcement efforts to combat this problem.  The belief that U.S. consumers can gain access to safe and low-cost medicines from Canadian and European drug markets without an offsetting cost to consumer confidence and law enforcement is not realistic.  Quite the contrary, drug counterfeiting is a global threat that we’re inviting upon ourselves if Congress allows this idea to move forward.”

Drug importation is a deceptive and dangerous idea, particularly in a period of increasing opioid addiction across the country, and Congress shouldn’t make the country more perilous by pushing it.

May 8th, 2017 at 4:01 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:  Evan Swarztrauber, Director of Public Affairs at TechFreedom – Net Neutrality;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – President Trump’s 100 Days of Regulatory Reform;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Ryan Young, Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – Jobs Report;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  William Conti, Political Analyst and Partner at Baker & Hostetler – Talking Heads, Healthcare Reform, and the Trump Presidency at 100 Days;

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Puerto Rico and Trump’s Tax Proposal;  and

5:45 CDT/6:45 EDT:  Harvey Silvergate, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education – Wall Street Journal commentary “Trump and Congress Can Help Restore Campus Free Speech.”

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

May 8th, 2017 at 2:31 pm
New Poll: Americans Supportive of Trump Tax Proposals
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we move forward on President Trump’s tax reform proposal, which we highlighted in our latest Liberty Update, there’s encouraging news to report.  According to Rasmussen Reports, Americans are so far supportive.

By a 46% to 32% margin, Americans support Trump’s proposal to repeal the unfair “death tax,” and by a 48% to 30% margin agree that tax cuts help the economy.  Voters are also receptive to the plan “to eliminate most income tax deductions in exchange for a higher standard deduction,” which will simplify the code and benefit Americans in the lower filing brackets.

So there’s popular momentum, and now it’s up to Congress to finally get this done.

May 4th, 2017 at 12:09 pm
Melloan: High U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Has Undermined Our Economic Dominance
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, we highlight how Donald Trump’s new tax outline offers a remarkably excellent framework for reigniting our economy, increasing prosperity for all Americans and making the U.S. more globally competitive.

Among other things, we note how the U.S. continues to suffer the industrialized world’s highest corporate tax rate, which Trump proposes to slash from 35% to 15%, better than the developed world average of about 25%.  In The Wall Street Journal, former deputy editor and global affairs expert George Melloan observes how our unsustainably high corporate rate has slowly eroded America’s former economic dominance:

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The slow economic growth in the U.S. over the past decade has resulted not from what the world has done to America but what America has done to itself, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study “How America Stacks Up.”  It says that the U.S. ‘depends far more on the global economy than it did two decades ago, and international trade and foreign investment are increasingly vital to the U.S.’  It also finds that while the U.S. national economy remains by far the world’s dominant one, it has grown less so over that period.

One big reason is that ‘though the United States once had among the lowest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world it now has the highest.’  As the study confirms and Republican  tax reformers in Congress understand, those high rates are not big revenue producers because multinationals choose not to bring home their overseas earnings for the IRS to grab.”

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This captures again how critical it is that we finally achieve major tax reform for the first time since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, and stop the slow erosion of economic superiority that our crippling corporate tax code has caused.

May 2nd, 2017 at 9:30 am
1st Amendment Nightmare: Overturning Citizens United “Would Permit the Banning of Political Pamphlets by the Federal Government”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In one of our latest Liberty Update commentaries, we note how leftists believe in 1st Amendment free speech rights for powerful mainstream media organizations, but not for everyday citizens like the plaintiffs in Citizens United, who need protection most of all.  A timely new book entitled “The Soul of the First Amendment” by eminent constitutional lawyer (he worked on both the Pentagon Papers case and Citizens United) Floyd Abrams surveys the history of 1st Amendment disputes, and dismantles government attempts to limit free speech.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal book review praises Mr. Abrams’s effort, and highlights one moment from oral argument over Citizens United before the Supreme Court, when then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan openly admitted that a ruling against the plaintiffs in that case would’ve allowed the federal government to prohibit political pamphlets:

His legal defense of the New York Times over its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 made him a hero to the left.  Four decades later, he earned enmity from former comrades by appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010’s Citizens United case, which urged the court to affirm the right of corporations to spend money on political campaigns.  In the end, the court did – and Mr. Abrams found himself aligned with the political right.  He was particularly chilled by a statement made by Elena Kagan, then President Obama’s solicitor general and now one of the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices who, during oral argument, acknowledged that her constitutional theory would permit the banning of political pamphlets by the federal government.  Indeed, the more you may revile Citizens United (or think you do), the more essential it is to read Mr. Abrams’s principled defense of that decision and how to learn how he was persuaded to change his mind about the fundamental liberty inherent in campaign spending.”

In other words, opponents of the Citizens United decision would accept restrictions that could’ve banned The Federalist Papers or Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.  The implications of that should terrify and motivate Americans who believe in the freedom of speech for everyday citizens.

April 27th, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Image of the Day: Americans Pay More On Taxes Than Food, Housing & Clothing Combined
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Today’s eye-opening Image of the Day, courtesy of the Tax Foundation:

Americans Tax Burden

Americans' Tax Burden

April 26th, 2017 at 10:20 am
Celebrating World Intellectual Property Day!
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Happy World Intellectual Property Day!

It’s no secret that private property rights constitute a natural human right, as well as the foundation for prosperity and innovation across time and geography.  And among the forms of private property, it’s important to recognize that intellectual property (IP) constitutes a core component.

For proof, look no further than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual International IP Index, which year after year confirms the cause-and-effect relationship between IP protections and prosperity:

The most up-to-date data on the benefits of IP protection reveals that IP is, in fact, a critical instrument for countries seeking to enhance access to innovation, grow domestic innovative output, and enjoy the dynamic growth benefits of an innovative economy.  Conversely, weak IP protection stymies long-term strategic aspirations for innovation and development.

Taken together, the 21 correlations included in this Index present a clear picture:  IP protection goes hand-in-hand with the aspirations topping government agendas around the world.  As Table 1 suggests, a robust national IP environment correlates strongly (having a strength of 0.6 or above) with a wide range of macroeconomic indicators that fall under the umbrella of innovation and creativity – the very same indicators that are found in national strategies for development of many economies today.  This message has only become stronger over the past 3 editions of the Index.  Adding several new variables each year and expanding the sample size by 50% (from 30 to 45 economies), the strength of the relationship between IP rights and crucial economic activities has grown.”

And nowhere is that relationship more obvious than in the United States.  Our Founding Fathers believed so strongly in IP rights as a natural right and a foundation for prosperity that they specifically protected them in the text of the Constitution.  And since that time, America’s world-leading tradition of IP protection has made us the most inventive, creative and prosperous nation in human history, without any proximate rival in that regard.

In an increasingly globalized economy, it’s important that we celebrate IP and ensure that more of the world protect it in the way that America has.  So join CFIF in celebrating World IP Day today!

April 24th, 2017 at 1:38 pm
Tax Reform: Allow Choice Between Immediate Expensing and Interest Deductibility
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Last November, Americans delivered a clear and important message to Washington, D.C.:  Create more American jobs and increase investment in America’s aging infrastructure.

While roads, bridges and other public works projects are obviously important, President Trump has wisely recognized that a successful infrastructure policy must also include steps to stimulate private-sector infrastructure investment and job creation.  Accordingly, as President Trump and Congress take steps to modify and reform the tax code, it is important that any changes being considered not undermine these private infrastructure initiatives.

Specifically, many American businesses currently rely on debt to fund infrastructure investments and create new jobs.  Companies of all sizes in a variety of industries, including energy, internet broadband, telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, retail and agriculture, routinely use debt to fund new technologies, build out and maintain infrastructure and hire and train American workers.  Like other business expenses, interest paid on debt is an ordinary and necessary cost of doing business and has been tax deductible for over 100 years.

Unfortunately, some tax reform proposals seek to eliminate interest deductibility for businesses in favor of 100 percent expensing — allowing businesses to deduct the full value of capital expenditures in one year rather then spread out over many years.

Eliminating interest deductibility could immediately hinder many businesses’ ability to borrow, thereby impeding infrastructure improvement and expansion, as well as job growth.  Small businesses, which create two out of three American private sector jobs and rely on debt financing, would be particularly hurt by any tax plan that eliminates interest deductibility, because they possess limited or no access to equity capital.  Similarly, large businesses would need to delay investment to account for a larger tax liability over time.

While 100 percent expensing is a good idea that would help spark economic growth, one idea doesn’t need to be sacrificed in favor of the other.  President Trump’s campaign tax proposal offered a wise compromise alternative.

Under his plan, businesses could chose either immediate expensing or interest deductibility, depending upon their particular needs.  That would support economic investment and job growth by giving companies at least the choice between interest deductibility and 100 percent expensing.  The Tax Foundation has determined that allowing companies to choose between the two options would contribute approximately $120 billion to our economy over ten years.

Going back to the infrastructure issue referenced above, electability between the two options also supports the President’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which relies on public-private partnerships, and Congressional leaders’ similar proposals, which include anticipated leverage ratios of up to five-to-one.  Limiting interest deductibility could undermine those plans.

Perhaps most importantly, allowing companies themselves to choose between the two options facilitates passage of tax reform because proponents of either option need not be foes in the process.

April 24th, 2017 at 12:12 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:  Bradley Smith, Chairman and Founder of Center for Competitive Politics – Victories for Free Speech Rights;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Frederick M. Hess, Education Policy Analyst and Author – “Letters to a Young Education Reformer”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Catherine Engelbrecht, Founder of True the Vote;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Trey Kovacs, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – Taxpayer Subsidies to Government Unions;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute – ObamaCare and Scrapping the Subsidies; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Christina Doss, Managing Director, Saltmarsh Financial Advisors, LLC – Women and Investing – Closing the Gender Gap.

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

April 17th, 2017 at 1:37 pm
Image of the Day: How Your Federal Tax Dollars Are Now Spent
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Today’s image of the day, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, how $100 of your federal taxes are now allocated by the government:

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Federal Spending Allocation

Federal Spending Allocation

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For perspective (see image below), that means that military spending has declined an alarming 22.3% since just 2011.  In contrast, since 2011 Social Security spending is up 17%, Medicare is up 15.1%, Medicaid is up 25.4%, civilian federal retirement is up 11.3%, education is up 5.3% and interest payments are up 1.8%.  Something to consider as important budget and spending battles heat up…

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2011 Comparison

2011 Comparison

April 13th, 2017 at 2:21 pm
So Google Favors Intellectual Property After All… Its Own, Anyway
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So it appears that Google isn’t so opposed to intellectual property (IP) rights after all.  As long as it comes to its own, that is.

That’s the upshot of a high-profile federal lawsuit in which Google subsidiary Waymo accuses Uber of stealing its patents and trade secrets:

Waymo LLC, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., asked a federal court on Friday to halt Uber Technologies Inc.’s efforts to develop autonomous vehicles allegedly based on stolen design secrets.  The request was made to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, following a suit filed last month accusing Anthony Levandowski, a former key manager in the Google self-driving car project, of taking 14,000 files before quitting last year to create a self-driving truck maker.  That startup, called Otto, was quickly acquired by Uber last year…

Waymo also filed an expert witness statement to the court from a laser-optics physicist who said he believes Uber’s laser-sensor technology uses Waymo’s trade secrets and infringes on its patents.  Waymo also added a fourth patent to its infringement claims in an amended suit on Friday.”

We take no position on the merits of the case, and maintain no particular grudge against Google as a company.  But its leading role in undermining IP rights in the United States, which made us the most inventive, artistically innovative and prosperous nation in human history, makes its current pleas a bit ironic, to put it mildly.

For years, we’ve been alerting readers to the endless, destructive litany of ways in which Google has undermined IP and public policy for its own benefit:

Here’s the irony.  Google somehow manages to arouse righteous legions of supposed anti-corporatist activists on its behalf (think sunshine anarchists and libertarians of convenience).  Yet Google itself exercises more self-serving, crony capitalist throw weight than any counterpart entity.

For example, consider so-called ‘Net Neutrality,’ with which conservatives and true libertarians are now familiar, that would suddenly empower the federal government to micromanage Internet service.  Google stands to gain enormous free-rider benefits, which explains why it is the chief corporate proponent of that proposed regulatory expansion.

Or think of Google Books, which posts the text of books that Google has gone ahead and scanned for viewing on its site.  Who cares if Google hasn’t first obtained permission from the actual authors and creators, right?  Google counts on the sheer cost and hassle of litigation to discourage individual creators against putting up a legal fight to protect their rights.

How does that square with ‘Don’t Be Evil?’

Or how about this?  Last August, Google voluntarily agreed to a $500 million fine for assisting Canadian online pharmaceutical sellers in accessing American consumers.  That amount is an entire Solyndra, and one of the largest forfeiture penalties in U.S. history.  Google fully admitted that it, ‘improperly assisted Canadian online pharmacy advertisers to run advertisements that targeted the United States,’ and prosecutors added that Google, ‘was fully aware as early as 2003 that generally it was illegal for pharmacies to ship controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States from Canada.’

But once again, it’s not Google’s health or property at stake, so who cares?”

More recently, Google has used its enormous influence within the Obama Administration to push the Obama Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) destructive cable set-top box proposal, which would have compromised consumer privacy, as well as the Obama FCC’s “privacy” regulation of 2016, which Congress just rightfully rescinded.

Intellectual property rights were so important to our Founding Fathers that they specifically safeguarded them in the text of the Constitution.  Since that time, IP rights have provided the “secret sauce” by which we’ve achieved such incomparable technological, artistic and influential supremacy.

Regardless of the merits of the Google’s litigation against Uber, it has every right to safeguard its own IP rights.  It would be nice if it finally dawned on them that they don’t wear hypocrisy well, however, and that they should stop undermining the same protections for others.

April 11th, 2017 at 8:06 pm
BOOM: U.S. Job Creation Index Notches Third Consecutive Record
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So while Donald Trump enforced Barack Obama’s chemical weapon “red line” abroad, Gallup brings news today that things continue to hum with the Trump employment bump here at home:

The Gallup Job Creation Index rose to +37 in March from +35 in February.  This is the third month in a row the index has hit a new record high after remaining relatively flat for much of 2016.  Since the start of the year, the index has already increased by four points — the same increase seen throughout all of 2016.”

Obama blamestormed Bush for eight years while the U.S. economy and employment conditions stagnated, but as Syrian dictator Bashad al-Assad learned this week, there’s a new sheriff in town and he appears to be achieving quick results.

Trump Job Creation Boom

Trump Job Creation Boom

March 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm
Union Activists Continue to Push Air Traffic Control “Privatization” Proposal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This afternoon, proponents of a proposal claiming to privatize air traffic control (ATC) are joining with labor activists to continue pushing what amounts to a labor union giveaway.  Alongside a number of conservative groups, CFIF remains concerned about the proposal, which upon closer scrutiny doesn’t constitute true privatization at all, because it would maintain monopoly power over ATC without sufficient accountability to taxpayers, as well as expanded gold-plated compensation and benefit guarantees to the National Air Traffic Controller’s union.

Instead of real privatization through open competition, pricing transparency and increased efficiency, the union-supported proposal would create a federally-chartered nonprofit corporation similar to current inefficient and bloated public/private entities like Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service, which have long required massive subsidies and bailouts from taxpayers while struggling to manage legacy union contracts.  Under the proposal, air traffic controllers would receive additional taxpayer- and passenger-funded guarantees with diminished legal consequences for labor pressure tactics.  It’s therefore little wonder that the union’s bosses push the proposal so aggressively.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined last year that creation of a nonprofit ATC corporation would widen the federal budget deficit by $20 billion between 2017 and 2026.

This type of proposal could lead to a vicious cycle of increased user fees, more aggressive union contract demands and potential taxpayer bailouts.

March 27th, 2017 at 3:39 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:  Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director at the Judicial Crisis Network – Judge Gorsuch Hearings;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Evan Moore, Policy Fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative -Foreign Policy, Syria, Russia and Terrorism;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – ObamaCare and Congress;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Pat Nolan, Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform – Practice of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Tax Policy and the Border Adjustment Tax; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Peter Rubardt, Conductor and Music Director at Pensacola Symphony Orchestra – Upcoming Performances and Music in Education.

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

March 24th, 2017 at 11:48 am
Congress Introduces Much-Needed Copyright Office Reform Legislation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the Senate and House Judiciary committees introduced important legislation - the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act – which makes the U.S. Register of Copyrights a position appointed by the president subject to Senate confirmation.

CFIF applauds this much-needed proposal to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office in order to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.

Strong copyright protection constitutes a core component of our domestic economy, and our world-leading creative community in particular.  As we at CFIF have often emphasized, it is not by coincidence that the U.S. stands unrivaled as the most creative, innovative, prosperous and powerful nation in human history while consistently maintaining the world’s strongest copyright and other intellectual property (IP) protections.  That relationship is direct and causal.  Our Founding Fathers specifically protected copyright as a fundamental, natural property right in the text of the Constitution.  As a result, American copyright-related industries dominate the globe, from film to television to music to publications, and today those industries contribute over $1 trillion to the American economy, as well as accounting for 5.5 million jobs.  And in an era of increasing global competition, copyright-related industries remain a significant export sector that only keeps growing.

Here’s why the Copyright Office is so crucial in that realm.  It facilitates the thriving U.S. market by administering the registration and recordation systems, as well as advising Congress, our judicial system and other pivotal parties on both domestic and international copyright matters.  Unfortunately, under the current system created over 120 years ago, the Office is currently housed within the Library of Congress, which faces its own challenges and responsibilities.  Consequently, the Copyright Office has struggled to keep pace in the increasingly digital economy despite repeated calls urging modernization.

Accordingly, given the enormous and growing importance of copyright industries to the U.S. economy and exports, we applaud the long-needed legislative effort to modernize the Copyright Office in this way.  Although only a first step in broader Copyright Office reform, it is an important one.  It also offers a rare bipartisan opportunity for Congress in addition to how it helps American consumers and our creative and innovative community.  Every living former Register of Copyrights has urged Copyright Office restructuring, and CFIF agrees wholeheartedly with that broad consensus.  American consumers, our economy and export industries stand to benefit immensely from this important step.

March 22nd, 2017 at 5:48 pm
Congress Making Good On Rescinding Rogue “Privacy” Regulations Rammed Through by Obama’s FCC
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Among the myriad missteps and abuses of the Obama Administration, its habit of rogue lawmaking through unelected administrative agencies rather than the deliberative democratic process was perhaps the worst.  Even the most liberal Supreme Court justices on several occasions agreed, striking down Obama Administration regulatory impositions by unanimous votes.

And perhaps no federal agency represented that lawlessness and impropriety better than the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Last year as the clock began to expire on the Obama era, the FCC moved to impose new “privacy” regulations upon private Internet Service Providers (ISPs), upon which Americans rely to access the internet.  Those regulations actually did nothing on behalf of consumer privacy, or to prevent online data collection practices used profusely by other entities throughout the Internet economy that the Obama Administration favored.  Instead, the regulations served to constrict development of new business practices and distort the robust digital marketplace, while picking winners and losers.

Additionally, those FCC regulations circumvented the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) superior expertise in this field by encroaching upon its existing regulations upon which the Internet economy had relied for years.  The FTC’s proven framework protected consumers for decades, while obviously allowing the Internet to flourish as it did.  But the FCC went rogue, insisting on inserting itself into more areas of American consumers’ daily lives, and disrupting a robust marketplace with a “solution” where no problem existed.

Fortunately, Congress is set to act by rescinding the Obama FCC’s ill-advised regulation.  The Congressional Review Act (CRA), which was enacted as part of the Contract with America reforms, allows Congress to rein in rogue administrative agency regulations and prevent future agencies from reimposing them in the future.  It remained an ineffective tool when the threat of an Obama veto loomed, but with Donald Trump now in the White House, Congress has begun using the CRA to rescind costly and improper regulations.

Now, the Senate stands ready to eliminate the Obama FCC’s destructive last-hour “privacy” regulation this week.

And they can use your help.

Contact your Senators and tell them to put the CRA to use and rescind the FCC’s rule.  The best way to protect privacy and strengthen the internet economy is to build from the successful and established framework established by the FTC, not the Obama FCC’s scheme.

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March 21st, 2017 at 7:21 pm
New Report: We Need More Capitalism in Space
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Quick:  Name all of the areas where government outperforms the private sector where both options exist.

Pretty difficult, isn’t it?  From schools to overnight delivery to cheese, the overwhelming and perhaps even categorical rule is that the private sector performs more effectively and efficiently wherever it competes with government.

Aerospace is no exception, as detailed by an impressive new report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) entitled “Capitalism in Space:  Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry.”

The report first notes how increasingly critical a flourishing aerospace industry is for any nation hoping to prosper in today’s competitive global marketplace.  That includes national defense, natural resource exploration, economic growth, experimentation and national prestige.  Unfortunately, the report also highlights how U.S. government performance in this realm has declined:

All of these goals require a prosperous U.S. aerospace industry, which in turn requires above all a viable space-launch industry, capable of placing payloads, both unmanned and manned, into orbit cheaply and efficiently.  Unfortunately, since the beginning of the 21st century the U.S. government has struggled to create and maintain a viable launch industry.  Even as the government terminated the Space Shuttle program, with its ability to place and return humans and large cargoes to and from orbit, NASA’s many repeated efforts since the mid-1980s to generate a replacement have come up  empty.

In addition, in the 1990s the Department of Defense instituted a new program, the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), to guarantee itself launch services that – though successful in procuring those services – have done so at a very high cost, so high, in fact, that the expense  now significantly limits the military’s future options for maintaining its access to, and assets in, space.”

But there’s positive news, according to the report.  Private aerospace players like today’s SpaceX have succeeded at far less cost than the government spends:

Even as the federal government struggled with this problem, a fledgling crop of new American private launch companies have emerged in the past decade, funded initially by the vast profits produced by the newly born internet industry.  These new companies have not been motivated by national prestige, military strength, or any of the traditional national political goals of the federal government.  Instead, these private entities have been driven by profit, competition, and in some cases the ideas of the visionary individuals running the companies, resulting in some remarkable success, achieved with relatively little money and in an astonishingly short period of time.

Because of these differing approaches – the government on one hand and the private sector on the other – policymakers have an opportunity to compare both and use that knowledge to create the most successful American space effort possible.”

As just one example, the report notes the “significant cost discrepancy between the government-developed SLS/Orion system and commercially-developed systems, without any significant difference in capability.”  The SLS/Orion is projected to cost $43 billion for two rockets, three test spacecraft, and three flight spacecraft over 15 years.  By comparison, SpaceX development and operational contracts combined totaled less than $2 billion to achieve 13 launches to and from the International Space Station, as well as an orbital demonstration.

By leveraging the private sector and maintaining competition, the report concludes, America’s aerospace industry can continue to lead through the end of this century.  That won’t surprise anyone familiar with the performance disparity between the private sector and government generally, but it’s an important new confirmation in this vital sphere that will only play an increasingly important role in our lives.

March 13th, 2017 at 1:30 pm
Image of the Day: Does This Dress Make Obama’s Deficits Look Fat?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Another reason why Barack Obama must enter discussion of the worst presidents in U.S. history, not the best as his stubborn apologists pretend:

Obama Deficit Record

Obama Deficit Record

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