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August 29th, 2016 at 2:06 pm
Stiffed: Middle Class Carrying Increasing Share of U.S. Healthcare Burden
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Barack Obama’s solemn assurances regarding ObamaCare, including “If you like your  doctor, you can keep your doctor,” have been exposed as fraudulent.  That’s a main reason why his main “legacy” has remained terribly unpopular since its inception.

Now, another alarming factor has been added to the miserable litany:  Middle-class Americans have had the cost of it all increasingly heaped upon them.  Since 2000, U.S. healthcare spending has jumped from 13.3% of our economy to 18.2% this year.  The news gets worse for the middle class:

The government has taken on a larger share in recent years as more people age into Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] expanded Medicaid and provided subsidies for low-income people buying insurance on state exchanges.  Middle-class households are finding more of their health-care costs are coming out of their own pockets.  David Cutler, a Harvard health-care economist, said this may be ‘a story of three Americas.’  One group, the rich, can afford health care easily.  The poor can access public assistance.  But for lower middle- to middle-income Americans, ‘the income struggles and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue,’ he said.”  (emphasis added)

Overall, middle-income Americans’ healthcare spending is 25% higher than what it was in 2007.  That means far less income to spend on other discretionary items, whether eating out, vacationing, clothing, automobiles, etc., and provides another clue as to what has made Obama’s tenure the worst stretch of economic growth in recorded U.S. history.

Heckuva job, Barack.

August 23rd, 2016 at 9:53 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Disaster
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

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

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 22nd, 2016 at 3:45 pm
Simple Illustration Explains Need for Corporate Tax Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Inexplicably, the U.S. stubbornly maintains the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.  We also hold the inglorious distinction of taxing income earned overseas a second time, even after taxes were already paid in the nations where it was earned.  Obviously, that only incentivize businesses to leave America for more hospitable foreign shores and take jobs with them.

A simple illustration courtesy of The Wall Street Journal drives home the point:

The U.S. system of worldwide taxation means that a company that moves from Dublin, Ohio to Dublin, Ireland, will pay a rate that is less than a third of America’s.  A dollar of profit earned on the Emerald Isle by an Irish-based company becomes 87.5 cents after taxes, which it can then invest in Ireland or the U.S. or somewhere else.  But if the company stays in Ohio and makes the same buck in Ireland, the after-tax return drops to 65 cents or less if the money is invested in America.”

When people wonder why over seven years of economic “recovery” doesn’t feel like a recovery at all, this is a leading reason.  Our unsustainably high rate and double-taxation regime is simply unacceptable, but the good news is that the coalition favoring reform is bipartisan.  That’s an encouraging sign regardless of who wins in November, but it’s time to finally get this done before even more businesses and jobs move overseas.

August 22nd, 2016 at 3:05 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff 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: Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute: SCOTUS October 2015 and 2016 Terms;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Demian Brady, Director of Research at the National Taxpayers Union: An Analysis of the Candidates’ Spending Related Policy Proposals;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Lawrence W. Schonbrun, Nationally-Acclaimed Class Action Legal Reformer: California Supreme Court’s Decision on Attorney’s Fees in Class Action Case;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT: Steve Milloy, Energy and Environment Legal Institute Senior Legal Fellow: Illegality of EPA Human Experiments; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute: Aetna’s ObamaCare Pullout.

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

August 19th, 2016 at 2:58 pm
Local Media Attacks N.C. Senator Thom Tillis for Taking Correct Position on Gov’t Broadband
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Last week we applauded a federal Court of Appeals ruling upending an Obama FCC campaign to impose government broadband regulations across the country.  Specifically, the FCC had attempted to commandeer state authority to govern cities within their own borders by forcing them to allow local governments to foolishly enter the broadband business.

United States Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) hit the correct note in reaction to the ruling:  ”Today’s ruling affirms the fact that unelected bureaucrats at the FCC completely overstepped their authority by attempting to deny states like North Carolina from setting their own laws to protect hard-working taxpayers and maintain the fairness of the free market.”

Unwilling to let Sen. Tillis’s good deed go unpunished, however, his hometown newspaper The News & Observer maligned him for taking the correct position.  Bizarrely, the paper even admits that local government broadband is a monetary boondoggle whose sustainability requires that funds be diverted from other sources, saying, “They couldn’t price the service at less than it cost to provide it and couldn’t use funds from other sources to subsidize broadband operations.”  The editorial also openly advocates treating broadband as a local public “utility” and laments how private enterprises that invest trillions of dollars in broadband infrastructure can continue to do so “without having to worry about towns competing with them.”

Well, duh.  In what universe is it a good idea to encourage governments to enter the private market, given their ability to bureaucratically tip the scales in their own favor and kneecap competing private entities?  Government at all levels already regulates too much, spends too much and attempts to do too much.  The last thing we need is for it to try to commandeer the functioning and innovative private broadband market.

It amounts to a flimsy hit piece from an editorial board that ought to know better.  We suspect its readers in North Carolina do.

August 16th, 2016 at 4:23 pm
Ugly Stat of the Day: Economic Productivity Decline Worst Since the 1970s
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our recent Liberty Update commentary “Obama Didn’t Save the Economy, He Subdued It,” we noted the depressing fact that the current cyclical economic “recovery” under Obama is the worst since accurate recordkeeping began after World War II.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  The U.S. Labor Department reports that economic productivity remains in the midst of its longest decline since the 1970s:

It was the third consecutive quarter of falling productivity, the longest streak since 1979.  Productivity in the second quarter was down 0.4% from a year earlier, the first annual decline in three years.  That was further down from an already tepid average productivity growth of 1.3% in 2007 through 2015, itself just half the pace seen in 2000 through 2007, and the trend shows little sign of reversing…  Productivity is a key ingredient in determining growth in wages, prices and overall economic output.”

And the culprit?  As The Wall Street Journal notes, “The slowdown in recent quarters has likely been reinforced by weak business investment in new equipment, software and facilities that could help boost worker efficiency.”  Of course, that’s what tends to happen when an administration saddles the economy with record levels of regulation and makes no real advance toward finally reducing the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.

Thanks, Barack!

August 12th, 2016 at 3:43 pm
Appellate Court Rejects FCC’s Government Broadband Effort
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight a humiliating new legal defeat for the Obama Administration in its continuing effort to evade legal reckoning for political persecution by the IRS.  Now, there’s yet another major court loss to report, this time against Obama’s overactive Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Specifically, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this week rejected FCC attempts to preempt individual state laws aimed at fostering private broadband innovation and growth.  For years, the Obama Administration has sought to encourage cities across the country to enter the broadband marketplace, thereby undermining private enterprises in the same business.  As CFIF has explained in our ongoing efforts to fight that effort, municipal broadband networks (otherwise known as government-owned networks or “GONs”) end up costing much more to build out and maintain than government officials expect or admit.  Moreover, consumers often pay 20% to 50% higher monthly bills than they would with private broadband providers.  It’s therefore no surprise that approximately 75% of GONs fail to realize a profit, causing many cities to fall even deeper into debt and end up selling their GONs at enormous losses.  The unfortunate experience in Provo, Utah provides a textbook illustration. Municipalities across America have better ways to spend taxpayer dollars than entering into competition against private broadband providers, not least because those private enterprises have invested $1.5 trillion in broadband infrastructure and continue to do so.

In order to shoehorn publicly-owned broadband through, Obama’s FCC resorted to infringing on individual state sovereignty by attempting to preempt state and local laws prohibiting these municipal boondoggles.  In other words, it attempted to govern how states could legislate within their own borders.  But the Sixth Circuit was having none of it.  The FCC order, it held, “essentially serves to reallocate decisionmaking power between the states and their municipalities.”

So mark down another embarrassing court defeat for the Obama Administration as it attempts to occupy as many sectors of the private economy as it can before time runs out in five months.

August 8th, 2016 at 3:18 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

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

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Riley Walters, Research Associate at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – Terrorism at Home and Abroad;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – The Growing Risk from Zika;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Diane Mack, Founder and Treasurer of the Institute for Women in Politics – Women in Political Office;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – The Economy, Intellectual Property, and the FCC’s Destructive Cable Set-Top Box Proposal; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University – What History Teaches Us about Elections and National Security.

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

August 8th, 2016 at 12:07 pm
U.S. Copyright Office Joins Broad Criticism of FCC’s Destructive Cable Set-Top Box Proposal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF and other conservative and libertarian groups strongly oppose a new proposal from Obama’s overactive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate cable television set-top boxes, and that opposition is widely shared among a bipartisan Congressional coalition and even the political left.

Now, even the U.S. Copyright Office has joined the voices criticizing the FCC’s misguided proposal:

The U.S. Copyright Office criticized a federal agency’s plan to open up the market for pay-TV set-top boxes in a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday.  The letter adds political pressure on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has been pushing since the beginning of the year for new FCC rules to open up the market for the costly set-top boxes…  ’As currently proposed, the [FCC] rule could interfere with copyright owners’ rights to license their works as provided by copyright law.’  That is because those who create programming, and hold the copyright on it, have negotiated specific deals with cable companies, and those deals could be upended if other companies also obtain access to the programming through their own set-top boxes.  The letter adds that the Copyright Office is ‘hopeful that the FCC will refine its approach as necessary to avoid conflicts with copyright law and authors’ interests under that law.’”

It’s pretty damning and humiliating that even a counterpart executive branch agency raps the highly-politicized FCC across the knuckles in such an open manner.

Nevertheless, it’s a welcome rebuke against the FCC’s proposal, which constitutes a 1990s-vintage, one-size-fits all mandate to make cable TV set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party devices.  It additionally constitutes transparent crony capitalism, threatens consumer privacy, undermines the creative community and damages property rights by facilitating piracy of creative content.  And technologically speaking, the set-top box proposal freezes in place an outdated set-top box business model that private innovation and technological advance are already leaving in the dust, with cable companies and other entertainment industry entrepreneurs already abandoning traditional cable boxes in favor of apps and other devices owned and guided by individual consumers.

Hopefully, the Copyright Office’s welcome input helps drive a well-deserved nail into the proposal’s metaphorical coffin.

August 1st, 2016 at 11:57 am
Image of the Day: The Left Now Favors Palestinians Over Israel
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

A recent Pew Research survey reveals an alarming and corrosive new reality.  The political left in America for the first time sympathizes more with the Palestinians, who effectively deny Israel’s right to even exist and officially celebrate terrorist attacks in Israel, over the Israelis whom they seek to eradicate.

American Left Now Favors Palestinians Over Israelis

American Left Now Favors Palestinians Over Israelis

This strange sense of radical chic was previously more confined to European shores among western societies.  Given the rising degree of liberal sentiment in America, this begins to suggest a larger trend, which we can only hope doesn’t eventually import the disturbing degree of anti-Semitism and balkanization that Europeans regrettably suffer.

July 28th, 2016 at 10:25 am
Taking Up the Bill Clinton “Hillary Cartoon” Challenge
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

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

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 27th, 2016 at 11:28 am
Russia: A Growing Threat
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a recent interview with CFIF, Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses NATO, U.S. and Russian relations following the NATO summit meeting, friction in the Baltic region and what the growing U.S. military troop presence in Poland means for U.S.-Russian relations.

Listen to the interview here.

July 25th, 2016 at 3:27 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff 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: Lance Izumi, J.D., Koret Senior Fellow and Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute: Education Update and Reforms;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Alex Pfeiffer, Young Apprentice Reporter at The Daily Caller: DNC’s Leaked Emails;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Blake Barclay, Blogger, Political Correspondent, and High School Student: RNC 2016 as viewed by a member of the iGeneration; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Open Mic

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.
July 22nd, 2016 at 1:07 pm
Taylor Swift: Intellectual Property and Anti-Counterfeiting Champion
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly featured in a Wall Street Journal opinion this week, we do applaud her strong stance in defense of intellectual property (IP) and against the scourge of counterfeiting:

Pop star Taylor Swift has been feuding in recent days with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.  The details of the drama are lurid and complicated, but young aficionados of Snapchat and Instagram have been following it all intently.  If only the same were true for other Taylor Swift feuds that have received less attention.  Namely, those the 26-year-old songstress has fought in defense of a principle often scorned by fellow celebrities and the social-media generation generally:  the value of intellectual property.

In battles against tech titans, Chinese e-commerce swindlers and others, Ms. Swift has repeatedly insisted on being paid for her music and brand – and in the process has taught some valuable lessons in basic economics.  This may be the ‘information wants to be free’ era, when online content is glibly swiped by millions who would never dream of shoplifting, but Ms. Swift has a deep appreciation for the profit motive and the fruits it bestows on society.”

As we’ve often noted, it’s no coincidence that the United States has become the most artistically innovative and influential nation in human history while maintaining the world’s strongest IP protections.  Rather, it’s a direct causal relationship, as Ms. Swift recognizes:

Ms. Swift explained why she fights.  ’Music is art, and art is important and rare.  Important, rare things are valuable.  Valuable things should be paid for.’  She added, ‘My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every girl I meet, is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.’”

Whatever one thinks of Ms. Swift as a musician or pop culture icon, her high-profile leadership in defending IP is to be celebrated.

July 18th, 2016 at 12:11 pm
Intellectual Property Protection Means Greater Biomedical Innovation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Reasonable people understand that nations more protective of property rights and the rule of law enjoy higher levels of innovation and prosperity.  The fields of pharmaceutical advancement and biomedical innovation more specifically are no exception.

In a cogent new piece, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Intellectual Property Policy Patrick Kilbride demonstrates how strong intellectual property (IP) protections fuel biomedical innovation that benefits the world:

[E]conomies with the strongest IP protections are 60 percent more likely to provide environments conducive to biotech innovation.  And economies with specific protections for the life sciences field see an average of 13 times more biomedical investment than those lacking IP protections…  [A]s intellectual property systems have strengthened over time, public and private investment in health care has increased, as well as individual earnings to support heath costs.”  (emphasis in original)

Why does that matter?  Because international and even domestic forces seek to  undermine IP protections, threatening the goose that continues to lay golden eggs:

We live in a world where concerted efforts are being made daily to erode intellectual property rights, based on the false premise that IP somehow threatens access to medical care.  While the facts simply don’t support this theory, it hasn’t stopped activists around the world from spreading misinformation and chipping away at the very IP protections that produced life-saving medicines in the first place.  Just a few short years ago, India stripped a leukemia drug of its patent, claiming that it inhibited access by its citizens.  The result?  Due to government interference, fewer Indian citizens had affordable access to this medication than before the patent was annulled.  In Canada, an overzealous judiciary revoked 25 previously granted pharmaceutical patents and sparked a case involving NAFTA protections that could do lasting harm to future investments in life-saving medicines.  And Colombia’s prime minister of health has repaid medical researchers scrambling to find a cure for the Zika epidemic by pursuing an arbitrary and dangerous attack on others in the industry, effectively stripping a pharmaceutical company of its patent for another drug.  It is also against this backdrop that the United Nations Secretary General has pressed for establishment of a High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (HLP) to quickly produce a report, based on the same false premise:  that ‘failure to reduce the costs of patented medicines is resulting in millions of people being denied access to lifesaving treatments.’”

As Abraham Lincoln observed, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  It’s incumbent upon us to safeguard IP protections that continue to fire the genius of medical innovation.  Too many lives are at stake across the world to allow the grim alternative.

July 15th, 2016 at 11:28 am
Fact of the Day: By 76% to 19%, Police Chiefs Say Armed Citizens Help Reduce Violence
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update, we note the high degree of confidence and respect that Americans hold toward the nation’s police officers.  That respect is returned by the nation’s police chiefs, according to a new survey.  By a 76% to 19% supermajority, surveyed chiefs say that “qualified, law-abiding armed citizens can help law enforcement reduce violent activity.”  Similarly, by an 88% to 9% margin they agree that any vetted citizen should be able to buy firearms for self-defense or sport, and an 86% to 11% majority supports nationwide recognition of state-issued conceal weapon permits.

July 14th, 2016 at 12:29 pm
If A Tree Falls In A Forest…
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

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

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 14th, 2016 at 9:36 am
Does a VP Pick Matter?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow and Research Coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the vice presidential chatter on both sides of the political aisle and whether it is possible for a vice presidential pick to help a presidential campaign.

Listen to the interview here.

July 11th, 2016 at 1:14 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 Common Sense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at The Foreign Policy Initiative – Russia and NATO Post Summit;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow and Research Coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute – Vice Presidential Chatter;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Brad Smith: Chairman and Founder of The Center for Competitive Politics – First Amendment, Political Speech Rights and Disclosure Laws; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor of National Review Magazine, Senior Editor for The American Spectator Magazine, and Political Commentator – Presidential Candidates and Conventions.

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

July 8th, 2016 at 2:50 pm
Gallup: Clear Majority of Americans Oppose Using Race in Admission Decisions
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

On the heels of last week’s indefensible Supreme Court ruling upholding racial discrimination in university admissions (with Justice Kennedy bizarrely reversing his recent position on the other side of the question), there’s good news to report.  In a new Gallup poll, a surprising and overwhelming 70% to 26% majority of Americans believe that applicants should be admitted solely on merit.  Notably, that majority opposed consideration of race “even when it is explained that this could help increase diversity,” as Gallup emphasized:

Overwhelming Majority Opposes Racial Consideration

Overwhelming Majority Opposes Racial Consideration

Although this lopsided disapproval won’t reverse last week’s Supreme Court error, it does suggest that a broad and rare consensus exists to systematically dismantle such discriminatory practices across federal, state and local levels.