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May 26th, 2015 at 3:05 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:  Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Lessons from the Opt Out Debate;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Florida Senator Don Gaetz – 2015 Legislative Session Continues;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Steven Bucci, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – ISIS;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Daniel Allott, Deputy Commentary Editor at the Washington Examiner – The GOP Field Grows; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Current News Regarding the FCC, ISIS and other Issues.

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

April 29th, 2015 at 4:29 pm
Rep. Blackburn Introduces Important Property Rights Bill – The Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act (PRMA)
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R – Tennessee) is perhaps the most steadfast property rights advocate in Congress.  In that vein, she has joined Rep. Anna Eshoo (D – California) in introducing another important piece of proposed legislation:  the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act (PRMA).

Under current law, terrestrial radio broadcasters exploit a loophole that allows them to play songs without compensating artists who created and performed them.  That stands in contrast to other forms of radio transmission – including satellite and Internet radio – that justifiably pay the performers whose songs they play.  Terrestrial radio companies thus earn billions of dollars in advertising revenues largely on the basis of songs for which artists remain uncompensated, contrary to fairly straightforward concepts of fairness.

Ironically, some of the companies that own those terrestrial radio stations turn around and ask Congress to require cable and satellite providers to compensate them for retransmission of television programming of stations they own.  Fair enough that they be paid for such retransmission, but the same logic should in turn apply to their own radio programming.

Representative Blackburn’s proposed PRMA would correct that ongoing unfairness by requiring broadcasters to practice what they preach and pay performers for the works they’ve worked hard to create.

Importantly, the legislation would also interrupt broadcasters’ effort to force tech companies to include an analog FM radio chip in smartphones and other mobile devices.  If device manufacturers wish to include FM chips in their products, that’s all well and good.  Indeed, many already do.  And if consumers demand products that include them, then the market will respond accordingly.  But it’s simply not something the federal government should be dictating.

By the way, that FM chip mandate proposal is also a sneaky way for terrestrial broadcasters to expand their exploitation of playing songs without compensating artists.  After all, as noted above, Internet broadcasters must pay artists under current law.  But by asking the federal government to compel FM chip inclusion, terrestrial broadcasters would be able to expand their loophole to mobile devices.

That is the epitome of crony capitalism.

We at CFIF remain strong defenders of property rights, including intellectual property rights for artists and musicians.  Accordingly, we applaud Rep. Blackburn for her leadership on this issue, and encourage our supporters and activists to ask their own elected representatives to stand alongside her.

April 27th, 2015 at 2:29 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:  Peter Roff, Contributing Editor at U.S. News & World Report – Trade Promotion Authority;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Mac Zimmerman, Director of Policy at Americans for Prosperity – Why Congress Must Allow the Export-Import Bank to Expire;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics – Five Years After Citizens United, Wisconsin’s Attempt to Criminalize Political Speech, and Nevada Express Advocacy Case; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor for National Review Online and Political Commentator  What Hillary Clinton’s Past Scandals May Mean for 2016.

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


April 13th, 2015 at 2:20 pm
Music Equity: Fair Play Fair Pay Act Introduced in Congress
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF strongly support free markets and property rights.  That includes the rights of music writing and recording artists, who deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor, which should not be affected by the means via which their creations are transmitted.  Unfortunately, however, current law leaves them with no effective rights when it comes to terrestrial radio.

We also support legislation to correct the historical anomaly that digital radio broadcasters pay royalties for the privilege of playing songs recorded after the arbitrary date of February 15, 1972, but not for pre-1972 recordings.

As we stated in June of last year, the anomaly is due to a quirk in federal law, one that has unfair consequences:

Recordings predating 1972 remain protected by a patchwork of state laws, whereas recordings after February 15 of that year going forward are covered under federal law.  That amounts to a historical idiosyncrasy, without any prevailing substantive logic.  But digital radio stations, some of which center entirely upon pre-1972 music, have capitalized on the legal aberration to simply stop paying for performance of the pre-1972 songs still covered by state laws.  Estimates of royalties lost as a result reach $60 million per year.

As a result, the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” receives no payment, but Hall & Oats’s remake does.  The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is not compensated, but Devo’s remake is.  The Beach Boys get paid for “Kokomo” but not “Good Vibrations.”  This situation has also led to numerous lawsuits spanning various states, adding further legal complexity and uncertainty for artists, consumers and digital broadcasters alike.

Digital radio stations operate under privilege of federal license to broadcast, but take the position that they need not pay for pre-1972 songs that remain protected under state laws.  They profit from playing those songs, but refuse to pay accordingly.  Keep in mind that unlike contemporary performers, many of those older affected artists are no longer capable of touring, and sales of their records have diminished over the years, leaving royalties for performance of their songs as their only remaining means of continuing compensation.”

We have noted how various state courts have overturned that anomaly within their jurisdictions, but it’s time that the same fairness was extended at the federal level.

Fortunately, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House today by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R – Tennessee) and Jerry Nadler (D – New York) aims to resolve these forms of unfairness.

Entitled the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015,” the bill would end the way in which federal law props up AM/FM radio and exempts them from paying artists for performance of their songs.  Also under the bill, digital radio stations that enjoy federal broadcast privileges would finally be obliged to provide royalties for songs recorded prior to 1972, in the same way they already pay for songs recorded after 1972, in order to maintain their licenses.

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act offers a corrective to years of unfairness in the industry, and it’s something that conservatives, libertarians and anyone who values property rights should support.

April 13th, 2015 at 12:37 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:  Tiger Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association – Fraud and Mass Tort Advertising;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst for the Foreign Policy Initiative – Iran;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  David Rivkin, Jr., Partner at Baker & Hostetler – The Senate Filibuster; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – The Fight Against Net Neutrality and Congressional Litigation Reform Efforts.

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

April 3rd, 2015 at 10:10 am
Jobs Report: Worst “Recovery” in U.S. History Continues Under Obama
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we’ve noted on multiple occasions, the cyclical economic recovery under Barack Obama is objectively the worst in recorded U.S. history.  Recessions and recoveries come and go, but never have we suffered one with declining median incomes, such low economic growth or this level of employment sluggishness.

Unfortunately, today’s unemployment report brought additional bad news and only serves to further cement Obama’s disastrous legacy.  Economists expected 250,000 new jobs for the month of March, but we only saw 126,000, the lowest since 2013:

The 126,000 increase was weaker than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey, and followed a 264,000 gain a month earlier that was smaller than initially reported, the Labor Department in Washington said.  The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 245,000 advance.

‘There’s really no way to sugarcoat this.  This is a soft print all the way around, no matter how you slice it,’ said Omair Sharif, rate sales strategist at Newedge USA LLC in New York.  ’It seems that it’s corroborating that the U.S. definitely hit a soft patch in the first quarter.’”

Making matters even worse, the labor participation rate continued it’s decline to 62.7%, the lowest since 1978, before women fully entered the U.S. workforce.

The unprecedented weakness of the economy under Obama establishes the backwardness of his policies.  Although he and his supporters remain unwilling to internalize the obvious lesson that lower taxes and less federal regulation lead to a stronger economy, the American electorate fortunately maintains the opportunity to do so as 2016 brings the opportunity to select new leadership.

March 24th, 2015 at 3:52 pm
This Week in Congress: Hearing on Ill-Advised Nationwide Online Gaming Ban Proposal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Gaming is an issue traditionally governed at the state level, and rightfully so.  Under our federalist system, such questions are best resolved according to what the citizens of individual states – our “laboratories of democracy” – prefer.  What fits the citizens of Nevada may differ from what fits the citizens of New Hampshire, and vice-versa.

Unfortunately, some in Congress who typically demonstrate better political and policy judgment hope to impose a blanket, nationwide, one-size-fits-all prohibition of online gaming upon all 50 states.  The proposed bill failed in the last Congress, but this week on Capitol Hill its ill-advised reincarnation will be the focus of a Congressional hearing.  Nothing has changed over the past year to suddenly justify a bill that we opposed in its first iteration:

The so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 in the House and S. 2159 in the Senate), which wouldn’t ‘restore’ the Wire Act to its original meaning but rather significantly expand its reach contrary to the Fifth Circuit and Justice Department rulings, aims to impose a de facto prohibition on online gaming in all 50 states and thereby increase federal regulatory power.  Proponents claim that the new bill would protect children and problem gamers, but the more realistic consequence would be shutting down existing law-abiding companies and driving commerce toward criminal sites and unaccountable overseas entities less interested in restricting minors or problem gamers.

The better option is to maintain existing law, which rewards law-abiding domestic companies and ensures greater safety and security.  And as noted above, the proposed legislation would grossly violate the concepts of state sovereignty, free-market principles and individual consumer freedom.  The last thing we need right now is even more federal regulation of states and legal commerce, particularly within the flourishing Internet sector.”

Proponents have even attempted to rig the hearing to exclude opposition voices.  But regardless of parliamentary shenanigans, the bottom line is that this is an ill-advised bill.  Conservatives and libertarians should strongly oppose this intrusion into individual states’ rights and consumer freedom, and contact their elected representatives to make their preference clear.

March 23rd, 2015 at 3:48 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:  Patrick Hedger, Policy Director of American Encore – Preserving the Work Requirement for Welfare Act and Proposed IRS Rules to Police Nonprofits;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Michael Brickman, National Policy Director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute – “Free Community College”;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Jason Kimbrell, Leslie Coleman and Leah Taylor, Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce – Excellence in Business and Leadership Conference; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Professor John Eastman, Director, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law – Texas Immigration Case.

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

March 9th, 2015 at 2:49 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:  Ryan Nobles, Owner and Chief Strategist for Full Contact Strategies – Florida’s Legislative Session;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Issues in the News, Including Proposed Ban on AR-15 Ammunition and Right to Work Laws;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Steve Bucci, Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – US/Israel Relations, the Cyberthreat Intelligence Integration Center and Hillary Clinton’s “Private” Email System; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Sally Pipes, President and CEO of Pacific Research Institute and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies – SCOTUS and King v. Burwell.

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


March 6th, 2015 at 11:47 am
Online Gaming Bill: Congressional Debate Should Include Pro-Liberty, Pro-Federalism Voices
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF believe that the issue of online gaming should remain something addressed at the state level, as opposed to a new one-size-fits all nationwide ban over all 50 states.  We therefore oppose proposed federal legislation deceptively named the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

Rather than disrespect the foundational concept of state sovereignty in our federal system, not to mention the principles of free markets and individual consumer choice, it would be better for Congress to simply maintain existing law.  After all, what reasonable person today believes that even more federal regulation of something traditionally left to states and individual Americans should be commandeered by federal bureaucrats within a one-size-fits all straightjacket?  On the heels of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moving last week to regulate Internet service as a “public utility,” that question is particularly potent regarding something affecting the Internet sector.

Unfortunately, some in Congress don’t even appear interested in allowing a balanced debate of the pending legislation.  As detailed by Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner this week, a subcommittee hearing on RAWA is overloaded with witnesses there to support the bill.  Efforts to persuade the subcommittee to allow greater ideological balance, or even to permit equal time in a separate conference room, apparently fell of deaf ears.

That obviously suggests fear on the part of proponents of the proposed bill that equal time would undermine their case, and at any rate it certainly doesn’t satisfy fundamental concepts of fairness and open debate.  The proposed legislation is bad enough.  But for proponents to resort to questionable tactics in advancing it only makes things worse.

February 25th, 2015 at 5:06 pm
CPAC: Patent Litigation Reform Panel Should Include and Acknowledge Both Sides of Debate
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, conservatives from across the nation and even the globe congregate in Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Each year, CPAC features prominent conservative political figures, including prospective presidential candidates, as well as panels on various issues.  This year, appropriately, a panel is scheduled to address the important issue of patent reform.

We at CFIF value and advocate strong intellectual property (IP) rights, including patent rights, as much as any organization.  At the same time, we support patent reform like that proposed by Congressman Robert Goodlatte (R – Virginia).  The way we see it, the problem of so-called “patent trolls” (which can be an overused and unfair term, as non-practicing entities have every right to enforce legitimate patent rights in court) is largely one requiring legal reform, rather than one justifying weakening of patent rights themselves.  Accordingly, we favor such reforms as requiring greater specificity in court pleadings, assessment of fees and costs to a greater number of improperly-litigious plaintiffs and discovery process reform.

Opponents of patent reform legislation incorrectly claim that it will deprive judges of discretion in assessing fees, but the fact is that discretion will remain.  As we have detailed, what will change is that the presumption in awarding costs and feels will shift on the continuum toward allowing innocent victims of vexatious plaintiffs to receive compensation for having to defend against unjustified lawsuits.  Reform opponents also claim that it would improperly chill the filing of lawsuits by legitimate plaintiffs.  But as any reasonable person realizes, the overwhelming problem in our current litigation system is not reluctance by plaintiffs to sue, but rather excessive willingness to sue.

Accordingly, our hope is that the CPAC panel allows a full and fair presentation of both sides in this debate.  To do otherwise would be a disservice to attendees, the broader debate and CPAC itself.

February 23rd, 2015 at 2:49 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

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

4:00 CST/5:00 pm EST:  Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute – SCOTUS and King v. Burwell;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – Iran/Secretary Kerry, ISIS’ Continued Threats, Mall of America, and Syria-bound Schoolgirls;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:   Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor of National Review magazine, a Senior Editor for The American Spectator magazine, and a nationally recognized authority on the American political process – Politics Today.

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – FCC’s Proposed Regulation of the Internet under Title II.

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

February 9th, 2015 at 2:57 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

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

4:00 CST/5:00 pm EST:  Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayer’s Union – Tax and Spend Mess;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Charles C. Johnson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gotnews.com – NBC’s Brian Williams and Media Integrity;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager at Taxpayers Protection Alliance – What Solar Energy is Costing Taxpayers; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Dr. Gerard Gianoli, Doc Squads Member – ObamaCare and Physician Innovative Solutions.

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

February 6th, 2015 at 11:50 am
We’re Still # 1: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center Releases Third International IP Index
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center released its third annual GIPC International IP Index, and it provides some welcome good news.

Namely, the U.S. retains its top global ranking in a survey that expanded this year to include 30 nations, “comprising nearly 80% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).”  The Index provides critical “empirical literature showing a robust relationship between strengthening levels of IP protection and an increase in economic benefits such as foreign direct investment, job creation, technology transfer, and economic development.”

We at CFIF often note the way in which strong IP protection is the causal factor explaining why the U.S. stands as the most innovative and prosperous nation in human history – by far.  With the release of this year’s Index, the Chamber and GIPC provide the latest empirical support for that critical causal connection.

February 5th, 2015 at 9:54 am
Rep. Chaffetz Reintroduces Proposed Nationwide Internet Gaming Ban That Died a Rightful Death Just Two Months Ago
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Two short months ago, we sounded the alarm regarding proposed Congressional legislation that would’ve banned online gaming in all 50 states, improperly federalizing what is rightfully an individual state law concern.

The proposed bill rightfully died a quick death.  Unfortunately, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) apparently considers the week of Groundhog Day an appropriate time to reattempt the blanket nationwide ban.

Nothing has changed in the intervening two months to justify his repeat attempt, and the grounds for opposing the proposed bill then still apply today:

The so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 in the House and S. 2159 in the Senate), which wouldn’t “restore” the Wire Act to its original meaning but rather significantly expand its reach contrary to the Fifth Circuit and Justice Department rulings, aims to impose a de facto prohibition on online gaming in all 50 states and thereby increase federal regulatory power.  Proponents claim that the new bill would protect children and problem gamers, but the more realistic consequence would be shutting down existing law-abiding companies and driving commerce toward criminal sites and unaccountable overseas entities less interested in restricting minors or problem gamers.

The better option is to maintain existing law, which rewards law-abiding domestic companies and ensures greater safety and security.  And as noted above, the proposed legislation would grossly violate the concepts of state sovereignty, free-market principles and individual consumer freedom.  The last thing we need right now is even more federal regulation of states and legal commerce, particularly within the flourishing Internet sector.”

Representative Chaffetz is generally a valuable defender of conservative and libertarian principles in Congress.  But he should know better than to reintroduce this bad idea.  Accordingly, conservatives and libertarians should contact their elected representatives and confirm their opposition to a bill that deserves to fail in the same swift manner as its predecessor last December.

January 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am
The Obama “Recovery”: Home Ownership Fell Again in 2014
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our Liberty Update this week, we highlight two panoramic measures of the Obama Administration’s failed presidency:  the long-term plummet in U.S. economic freedom compared to the rest of the world, and the fact that more Americans today than in January 2009 consider the U.S. a nation in decline.  That wasn’t supposed to happen under Obama’s magical leadership.

Today, the Commerce Department released a more particularized measure of the Obama Administration’s failure:

The U.S. home ownership rate fell to its lowest level in 20 years at the end of 2014 – a level last seen when national leaders embarked on a broad push to expand home ownership in the mid-1990s.  Estimates published Thursday show that, after adjusting for seasonal factors, 63.9% of U.S. households owned their homes in the fourth quarter, a rate last recorded in 1994, according to the Commerce Department.  Home ownership hasn’t fallen below that level since 1988.  The rate stood at 65.1% at the end of 2013.”

Accordingly, ownership isn’t just down since the government-inflated housing bubble burst almost ten years ago, or even since the recession officially ended all the way back in June 2009.  It’s down over the past year, despite the supposed Obama economic recovery.  Home ownership obviously rose too high during the bubble, as the result of government-imposed mandates and too easy credit, but the fact that it declined since even last January 1 offers a reminder of the sluggishness of the economy under Obama.

January 26th, 2015 at 2:26 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

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

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT: Ambassador Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See: Pope Francis’ “Soft Power” Diplomacy;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am
Bittersweet Jobs Report: Wages Decline and Labor Force Participation Rate Falls to 37-Year Low
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Today’s Labor Department unemployment report contains a fresh round of ominous news beyond the headline numbers.

Specifically, the labor participation rate fell to a new 37-year low, which is particularly negative news because women hadn’t yet fully entered the U.S. workforce during that previous 1970s low.  Additionally, wages continued their decline:

Businesses had been creating jobs at a monthly pace of 224,000, though wage growth remained modest and the drop in the headline rate had come in large part due to a decline in the labor force participation rate.  Indeed, the participation rate continued to plummet, falling to a fresh 37-year low of 62.7 percent.  Job quality did not fare well either, with wages actually declining for the month by 5 cents an hour, pulling the annualized gain down to 1.7 percent.”

That annualized gain doesn’t substantively exceed inflation, and since the last recession ended almost six years ago in 2009, median U.S. income has actually declined.  That is unprecedented for a supposed post-recession “recovery,” and Americans continue to simply drop out of the workforce.  Something to keep prominently in mind when Barack Obama trumpets his supposed economic success.