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June 24th, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Brexit Highlights the Enduring Value of Federalism
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Regardless of other economic, political and social implications of Britain’s vote yesterday to depart the European Union, it highlights a value at the core of America’s governmental system:  federalism.

On this side of the Atlantic, decades of almost uninterrupted centralization of authority at the national level has necessarily come at the expense of more localized decisionmaking.  Our own unfortunate experience has been an increasingly homogenized, sterilized, conformist, bureaucratic, technocratic, remote, suffocating, uniform, top-down, one-size-fits-all leviathan.  Ironically, those on the political left who so often pretend to value “diversity” defend that erosion of federalism most enthusiastically.  They expose themselves as intolerant of true diversity, freedom and independence of people who don’t see the world as they do.

Despite forecasts of economic doom from “Remain” advocates, a surprising majority of British voters felt the same sense of suffocation and loss of sovereignty and voted “Leave.”  That sentiment isn’t limited to Britain, as fellow European populations in places like France and the Netherlands express the same dissatisfaction:

The popularity of the European Union is plummeting across some major European countries, according to new data published by Pew Research Centre.  The US-based, independent organisation found that the mound of people who feel enthusiastic about the 28-nation bloc is rapidly declining across 7 of the 10 polled nations.  In France, only 38% of people have a favourable view of the EU, according to Pew.  In 2004, this number was 69%.  The same trend was picking up in Spain, Italy, and Germany too.”

It remains to be seen whether and to what extent similar sentiment affects the U.S. elections this November.  But regardless, it’s encouraging to see that the concepts that led our Founding Fathers to create a system of federalism here in the U.S. survives in our parent nation of Britain.

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June 21st, 2016 at 12:20 pm
Global Misery Index: Socialist Venezuela Occupies High End, Free-Market Singapore Occupies Low End
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

How do socialism and free markets compare in the real world?

In our recent Liberty Update piece entitled “Socialist Paradises?  More Scandinavians Migrate to America than Vice-Versa” we show how Scandinavian countries aren’t the socialist paradises that Bernie Sanders fans seem to think.  This week brings just the latest illustration that free economies work, while socialist economies fail.

In the latest annual Index of Economic Freedom, Singapore ranks second-freest in the world, slightly below Hong Kong and ahead of New Zealand, Switzerland and then Australia.   Coming in nearly last at 176 of the 178 nations measured was socialist Venezuela.  And the real-world result?  A new Bloomberg piece notes that Singapore now enjoys the lowest (i.e., best) spot on the worldwide misery index.  Meanwhile, socialist paradise Venezuela holds the top (i.e., worst) spot:

Singapore has dropped below Thailand on the so-called Misery Index for the first time since December 2014, meaning the city-state has the lowest combination of consumer-price inflation and unemployment in the world.  Singapore’s most-recent CPI rate was negative 0.5 percent and its official jobless rate was 1.9 percent, ranking it 1.4 percent on the misery scale, compared with 1.5 percent in Thailand and 2.9 percent in Japan, based on the latest-available official figures.  Venezuela ranks as most miserable among more than 70 countries on which Bloomberg compiles data, as the South American country battles triple-digit inflation.”

As they would say in Latin, res ipsa loquitur – “the fact speaks for itself.”

June 20th, 2016 at 11:22 am
We Should Also Make the Affirmative Case for 2nd Amendment Rights
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our latest Liberty Update piece “Inconvenient Truths Undermine Gun-Controllers’ Myths,” we systematically dismantle the untruths offered by 2nd Amendment rights opponents, including their exaggerated claims regarding U.S. murder and mass shooting rates.

In addition to rightfully exposing the misconceptions and outright lies perpetuated by those seeking to deprive law-abiding Americans of their rights, however, it helps to highlight the affirmative benefits of Second Amendment rights, i.e., the value of what we’re protecting.

In that regard, National Review’s David French offers a brilliant piece entitled “Dear Anti-Gun Liberals, Don’t Tell Me Which Gun I ‘Need’ for Self-Defense.” French first explains why a law-abiding American would prefer something like an AR-15 for self-defense:

Any person who breaks into my house or who threatens my family on my property will very soon find themselves staring at the business end of an AR-15…  It’s light, maneuverable, accurate, and highly reliable.  While self-defense experts can and do disagree on the optimal weapon for home defense, large numbers choose AR-style rifles for exactly the reasons I do.  It provides more firepower – with greater accuracy – than the alternatives.

But now I’m told – largely by people who don’t know the first thing about firearms – that no American ‘needs’ an AR-style rifle.  But when your life is on the line, what do you want?  More accuracy or less?  More firepower or less?  More recoil or less?  More reliability or less?  It’s always interesting to take a relatively inexperienced shooter to a range, let them shoot a handgun (where bullets generally scatter all over the target), and then hand them an AR.  Even rookies will shoot far more accurately with far less recoil.  It’s just easier to use.”

Importantly, French then contrasts why an AR-style rifle is not an optimal weapon of choice for a burglar or violent criminal:

But not – in general – for criminals.  For the average criminal, concealment is the key.  So they use handguns.  Moreover, the average criminal isn’t spending $1,000 (or sometimes more) on their weapon.  Rarely (very rarely), extraordinary criminals will use AR-type rifles, but most mass shootings are committed with handguns.”

“Which weapon do I ‘need’ for self-defense?,” French asks in conclusion.  ”Why don’t you let me make that choice.”

As we concluded in our Liberty Update piece, anyone seeking to restrict others’ Constitutional rights bears the burden of proof to justify their desire.  In this debate, as illustrated by French, they don’t come anywhere close to satisfying that burden.

June 17th, 2016 at 12:23 pm
The 2016 Wacky Warning Label Contest
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with Bob Dorigo Jones, Senior Fellow at the Center for America, discusses how out-of-control lawsuit abuse hurts families, communities and job providers, and the finalists in the annual Wacky Warning Label Contest.

Listen to the interview here.

June 14th, 2016 at 6:13 pm
Divided Court Allows FCC to Use Law Intended to Reduce Internet Regulation to Increase Internet Regulation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Like most Americans, you probably had no idea that the Internet was somehow broken and in need of an Obama Administration “fix” via a Depression-era federal statute enacted for copper wire telephone technology.

And with good reason.  For two decades, America’s tech and Internet sectors have remained among the depressingly few areas of our economy that continued to flourish amid an era characterized by stagnating growth, employment and incomes.

Throughout the Obama tenure, however, his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has attempted over and over to upend the “light touch” regulatory approach of both Democratic (Clinton) and Republican (Bush) administrations that allowed the Internet to flourish as it has.  Today, unfortunately, a sharply divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals finally affirmed the FCC’s most recent attempt to impose so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations that essentially equate to ObamaCare for the Internet.

As aptly summarized by Senior Circuit Judge Williams’s dissent, today’s decision allows FCC “use of an Act intended to ‘reduce regulation’ to instead increase regulation.”

Judge Williams cogently captured not only the legal illogic of the majority’s holding, but its real-world unintended consequences as well:

“The ultimate irony of the Commission’s unreasoned patchwork is that, refusing to inquire into competitive conditions, it shuns broadband service onto the legal track suited to natural monopolies.  Because that track provides  little economic space for new firms seeking market entry or relatively small firms seeking expansion through innovations in business models or in technology, the Commission’s decision has a decent chance of bringing about the conditions under which some (but by no means all) of its actions could be grounded – the prevalence of incurable monopoly.”

Fortunately, this doesn’t end the question.  The ruling will likely be appealed, and the FCC’s mismanagement can be corrected via Congressional action or new FCC leadership in a future presidential administration.

But beyond the specific issue in question, today’s unfortunate ruling illustrates again the importance of judicial branch appointments and composition as we approach the election of a president who will make those appointments.

use of an Act intended to “reduce regulation” to
instead increase regulation
June 13th, 2016 at 2:58 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:  Anthony Hennen, Staff Writer at Red Alert Politics – Millennials in America;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  James Capretta, Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – America’s Entitlement Programs;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Peter Roff, Contributing Editor with US News & World Report – Congress’ Proposed Bailout of Puerto Rico;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Bob Dorigo Jones, Senior Fellow at Center for America – 2016 Wacky Warning Labels Contest; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Peter Brooks, Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at The Heritage Foundation – Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Nightclub Shoot in Orlando.

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

June 10th, 2016 at 10:28 am
Video: The Dark Side of Green Energy
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this installment of the Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses a proposed new “green energy” rule by President Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service that would permit wind energy companies to kill or injure up to 4,200 bald eagles per year without incurring significant penalties, an increase of nearly four times the current limit.

June 10th, 2016 at 7:18 am
The Time to Rebuild Our Military is Now
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Justin T. Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting Policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy, discusses the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, the National Defense Authorization Act and the dangers that lie ahead if the U.S. military remains dangerously weak and unprepared.

Listen to the interview here.

June 9th, 2016 at 9:13 am
Puerto Rico Bailout Bill Allows “Gifts, Bequests, or Devises of Services or Property” to Control Board Members
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As reported by Bloomberg yesterday, the PROMESA bailout bill for Puerto Rico includes a provision that would allow members of the control board to “accept, use, and dispose of gifts, bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal” for the purpose of “aiding or facilitating” the board’s work.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the House Natural Resources Committee claimed that such language is “fairly commonplace in ensuring statutory objectives are met in circumstances where non-federal sources of funding will be necessary.” Accordingly, the rationalization for the provision in this case is that the board will be able to “fulfill its purpose” in the event that Puerto Rico’s government can’t (or rather chooses not to) provide “sufficient funding” for it.

Will the Puerto Rican government actually fund the control board knowing its existence is widely opposed by the Puerto Rican people?  And, of course, there’s the little matter of Puerto Rico allegedly being “out of money,” as their governor has so stridently claimed for months. According to the CBO, the board will cost $370 million over its lifetime.  So it appears that these gifts will come in handy.

So who will be in the giving spirit?

The provision is crafted in such a way that any stakeholder looking to buy influence on the board will be able to do so.  Perhaps labor unions (SEIU, in particular), which already have generously given their time and resources to help Puerto Rico’s government produce a report claiming that billions of dollars of its debt is invalid, will take center stage in the gift-giving war, hoping to ensure that the Commonwealth’s underfunded public pension system is provided preference over bondholders.  Or what about certain hedge funds looking to convince the board that their claims should be prioritized over the claims of other bondholders, including those afforded first priority in Puerto Rico’s Constitution?

Indeed, rather than actually weighing Puerto Rico’s competing claims, and clarifying where they stand in the context of Puerto Rico’s Constitution, some in Congress have decided to invite a contest between who can out-bribe the others.  When people say that Washington is broken, revelations like this help explain why.

June 8th, 2016 at 12:13 pm
Dangerous Idea: Senator Proposes Extension of U.S. Reliance on Russian Rockets
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we at CFIF have recently detailed, the U.S. simply must end military and space program purchases of Russian rocket engines.

As America’s military leaders confirm, Russia remains perhaps our foremost global threat, and continuing to subsidize its defense industry with U.S. taxpayer dollars only undermines global security by rewarding its aggressive behavior.  Additionally, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocketry and its ongoing technological advances, and continuing support for Russian rocketry comes at the expense of our own domestic rocket industry.

With those concerns in mind, and following Russian aggression against Ukraine, Congress rightly imposed a phaseout of future U.S. purchase of Russian rocket engines in two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).  Unfortunately, some in Congress seek to reverse that phaseout and hope to to spend $540 million or more on at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines.

And now, Senator Bill Nelson (D – Florida) has introduced an amendment to extend U.S. reliance upon Russian rocketry to 2023.

Although CFIF has had its well-known disagreements with Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) over the years, he is the last person whose devotion to national security or fiscal responsibility can be questioned.  And on this issue, Sen. McCain remains unequivocal:

Today, we have two space launch providers – ULA and SpaceX – that, no matter what happens with the Russian RD-180, will be able to provide fully redundant capabilities with ULS’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon heavy space launch vehicles.  There will be no credibility gap.  The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

And in response to Sen. Nelson’s proposed amendment, Sen. McCain was equally cogent:

This amendment, which is the largest subsidy of the Russian military industrial base proposed since the invasion of Ukraine, is the worst proposal yet from ULA and its Congressional allies.  In an apparent effort to further dependence on Russia for access to space, this amendment exceeds the Administration’s request for 18 Russian rocket engines and provides taxpayer subsidy for the purchase of an unlimited number of Russian engines.”

We cannot afford to neglect our own thriving space industry to the benefit of Russia, particularly on the backs of U.S.  taxpayers.  Senator Nelson’s misguided proposed amendment exceeds any request from the U.S. Department of Defense, and would only extend reliance upon Russia’s RD-180 well into the 2020s (if not longer).   CFIF therefore urges Senators to oppose any reversal of the current phaseout of U.S. future purchase of Russian rocket engines in the NDAA, including Sen. Nelson’s amendment.

June 7th, 2016 at 6:10 pm
Who Authored Puerto Rico’s Self-Serving Audit Report?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Last week, ahead of this week’s vote on the PROMESA bailout legislation for Puerto Rico in the U.S. House of Representatives, a commission appointed by Puerto Rico’s government released a preliminary report charging that the Commonwealth violated its Constitution in issuing billions of dollars of its $72 billion debt.  If the bonds were in fact sold illegally, the report insinuates, then the government shouldn’t have to pay them back.

In other words, they would punish lenders for the Puerto Rican government’s own mistakes.

So not only would Puerto Rico’s government get a free pass from its obligations after illegally issuing some of its debt, it would effectively be allowed to stiff good faith bondholders.

It’s worth emphasizing that the legislative body that created this commission, whose membership includes Puerto Rico legislators with obvious conflicts of interest, authorized the very same bond sales that it now seeks to repudiate.

That is morally and logically backward, and sounds like a plot characteristic of a lawless dictatorship.  And for very good reason:  Shenanigans like this are a tried and true tactic of leftist Latin American countries, rooted in the rhetoric of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro from 30 years ago.  It has been attempted with varying degrees of success by governments or factions in Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador.  More recently over in Europe, a similar government-appointed commission made nearly identical claims in Greece.

Conspicuously, Puerto Rico’s government has not directed any funding toward this commission that it created a year ago.  So that raises an obvious question:  Who is behind this report?

Well, we already know that SEIU was heavily involved in the drafting process, and was one of a number of “stakeholders” to provide “in-kind labor contributions.”  The SEIU, of course, has a vested interest in ensuring that its members receive preferential treatment over good faith bondholders in Puerto Rico, even if Congress has to rewrite the rules to make that possible.

It also has been reported that SEIU has deep ties to consulting firms retained by the Garcia Padilla Administration.  It also is tied directly to the Administration through former president Dennis Rivera, who came under fire earlier this year for running a questionable non-profit in Puerto Rico whose only paid employee is the governor’s brother.

What about those “other stakeholders” who contributed?

We can’t know for sure, but there are commonalties between Puerto Rico and other governments that have attempted similar tactics.  For example, they all had a common ally in Jubilee, the leftist religious organization that has fought to wipe out bondholders in debt disputes across the world, and which has been a staunch advocate before Congress of doing the same to the American savers who lent money to Puerto Rico.

Ecuador, Argentina and Greece also all at one point retained the same counsel as Puerto Rico, which has built a reputation helping leftist governments to avoid repaying the money that they’ve borrowed.

One thing is clear:  The Commission’s report amounts to a political and negotiating ploy.  It’s designed to give Puerto Rico enormous leverage over the innocent people from whom it borrowed, threatening them with the prospect of the all-powerful PROMESA control board invalidating 100% of their debt.

Members of Congress should, at the very least, understand the lengths to which Puerto Rico’s government is going to escape its obligations.

June 3rd, 2016 at 12:45 pm
The Puerto Rico Governor’s New Slush Fund
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

While Congress debates a bailout for Puerto Rico, a different – but related – debate rages among legislators in the Commonwealth over Governor Garcia Padilla’s final budget proposal for the Puerto Rican Government.

The proposal has been met with justified criticism, as noted in part by Puerto Rican publication El Vocero, that should come as no surprise. The Governor’s proposal, which includes nearly $1 billion in increased expenditures for a Commonwealth that otherwise claims it “cannot pay” its debts, is a veritable goodie basket for Garcia Padilla allies.

Of the $973 million in increased expenditures, some $522 million would be diverted into the Garcia Padilla Administration’s new slush fund, something called the Financial Advisory Authority and Fiscal Agent of Puerto Rico (FAAFA). FAAFA will assume the role of the Governor’s old slush fund, the long-unregulated and now insolvent Government Development Bank.

Also included in the budget is $91 million for an unprecedented discretionary fund, an extra $215 million to bail out bankrupt municipalities, and an increase of $69 million for the “professional services” of the very expensive consultants and lobbyists.

All of this spending comes despite the fact that, for the first time, the budget makes no appropriation for the payment of principal and interest on payments to general obligation debt.  That’s a clear violation of Puerto Rico’s Constitution, which affords explicit priority over all other government expenses to the savers who invested in those bonds.

We’ve long warned that, given the cover of the legal stay and cramdown mechanisms included in the Congressional PROMESA legislation, it’s inevitable that Puerto Rico would default on the money it owes to bondholders, walk away from negotiations, and begin to frantically divert its resources to friends and allies on the island.

Now, in plain terms, the Governor has promised to do precisely that.  While the Governor fills the coffers of his new slush fund and lines the pockets of his army of consultants and Big Labor cronies, the Puerto Rican people, the municipal lending market and America’s seniors and savers will pay the price.

The question is whether Congressional conservatives are watching and ready to act accordingly.

June 3rd, 2016 at 9:48 am
Survey: Americans Still Support Police
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Don’t Go Wobbly on Criminal Justice,” we sound the alarm on rising violent crime in America’s largest cities while too many across the political spectrum nevertheless seek to relax our criminal laws and reverse the measures that so drastically reduced crime rates in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

On that subject, Rasmussen Reports offers some encouraging news.  In one survey, a majority of respondents favor “Blue Lives Matter” state laws that would classify assaults on police, firefighters or other emergency responders as “hate crimes.”  In another, a 58% to 27% majority believes that a “war on police” exists in America today.

Those results suggest that American voters have a good handle on present criminal justice realities.  Here’s hoping that they maintain it in the face of politically fashionable attempts by media and political figures to resurrect soft-on-crime policies that created an awful state of affairs from the 1960s to the 1990s.

June 3rd, 2016 at 6:44 am
The Iran Nuclear Deal and A Failure of Leadership
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst with the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses how the White House has virtually failed to hold Iran accountable for nuclear deal violations and how growing threats to U.S. national security demand a renewal of American leadership.

Listen to the interview here.

May 31st, 2016 at 1:04 pm
Net “Neutrality”: Google Says Nondiscrimination for Me, But Not for Thee
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Surprise, surprise.  So Google, perhaps the leading proponent of so-called “Net Neutrality,” predictably doesn’t consider itself constrained by the same rules of nondiscrimination from which it seeks to benefit via government intervention:

Progressives have long argued that the federal government must protect the Internet from discrimination by treating service providers like Comcast as public utilities.  Now we learn that the Net doesn’t have to be neutral, as long as Google is the company targeting legal businesses that are politically unpopular.  Google recently announced in a blog post that the search engine would no longer run advertisements for payday loans with high interest rates and a 60-day repayment period.  ’Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well being,’ the company wrote.”

Moreover, Google’s hypocrisy is compounded by its crony capitalist angle:

Google’s timing is also curious, given that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finishing up a rule to wipe out the payday industry by cutting a lender’s ability to collect.  This political assault includes Justice Department investigations into banks that do business with payday lenders, which are also lawful outfits.  You don’t have to be a cynic to wonder if Google isn’t providing some cover for this political campaign:  the Obama Administration has certainly done a lot for Google.  The company’s top lobbyist visited the Obama White House 128 times as of October 2015 – more than counterparts at Comcast, Facebook, Amazon and Verizon combined.”

And then there’s its assault on intellectual property rights angle:

Last month the White House endorsed a Federal Communications Commission proposal that would allow Google to pirate television content, and last year the FCC exempted Google from its net-neutrality regulatory scheme.”

It’s just another illustration of the public policy, crony capitalist monstrosity that Net “Neutrality” is.  Whether by the judicial system or the political system, it must be put to an end.

May 31st, 2016 at 11:05 am
Exposing the Real Intent of the Obama-Labor Dept. Overtime Rule
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Trey Kovacs, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discusses Obama’s new overtime rule, why it was never intended to raise wages, and how it threatens flexible work arrangements and paths to success.

Listen to the interview here.


May 30th, 2016 at 9:40 am
Video: Honoring the U.S. Armed Forces

On Memorial Day, CFIF salutes all the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces for their bravery, honor and service to our country.



May 27th, 2016 at 12:52 pm
“Reset” Fail: Russian Approval of U.S. Leadership at Record Low 1%
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Captain America, Barack Obama and Surrender of U.S. Internet Authority” we highlight the Obama Administration’s uninterrupted pattern of foreign policy failure to illustrate one reason its plan to surrender oversight of the open Internet to the “international community” is a toxic idea.

Perhaps nothing better represents Obama’s record of failure better than Russia, where he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bungled their infamous “Reset” attempt.  For all of its efforts to placate Vladimir Putin to the detriment of U.S. allies like Poland and Ukraine, a new Gallup survey shows that Russians’ approval of U.S. leadership has fallen to a record low of 1%:

Just 1% of Russians approved of U.S. leadership in 2015 – the worst rating in the world last year, and the lowest approval Gallup  has measured for the U.S. in the past decade.  Remarkably, this is even worse than their previous record low 4% approval in 2014.”

It’s as if Obama and Clinton should receive commemorative shirts reading, “I Caved to Russian Dictators and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.”   Regardless, neither Obama nor Clinton can claim a single substantive foreign policy success during their tenures.  It’s again something to keep in mind as the administration pursues its inexplicable goal of surrendering U.S. Internet oversight before he coasts into retirement and leaves the rest of us to deal with the consequences.

May 26th, 2016 at 1:20 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: TSA Lines
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.

May 25th, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Former Clinton Administration Official Rips FCC’s Set-Top Box Proposal as “Massive New Federal Regulation”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Alongside nearly every other conservative and libertarian organization of which we’re aware, CFIF opposes a toxic and wholly unnecessary new proposal from the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate cable television set-top boxes before the clock runs out on the Obama presidency.

But opposition extends across the political spectrum.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, former Clinton Administration Undersecretary of Commerce Ev Ehrlich excoriates the FCC’s proposed set-top box regulation for what it is — a crony capitalist, purloining, invasive, already-obsolete, anti-competitive, “massive new federal regulation”:

The Federal Communications Commission wants you, the consumer, to allow a new set-top box into your home that rearranges the programs you buy and inserts new advertising while tracking what you watch.  Movie studios, labor unions and civil rights groups all oppose it.  Why?  Because this ‘All-Vid’ proposal isn’t about the box fees the senators-turned-lobbyists decry.  Instead, it’s all about appropriating content.  Google and Amazon want to capture, repackage and profit from TV programming in their own competing services without having to pay for it…

If Google, Amazon or anyone else wants to build a better set-top box, they can do so the way these services have – in a way that respects federal privacy laws and negotiated licensing agreements with program producers.  Or they can actually license the content from creators, the way everybody else does, as opposed to demanding a gift from a captive FCC.”

Mr. Ehrlich gets it exactly right.

As we have stated, there is simply no realm of American life today that manifests badly-needed innovation, consumer choice, quality, affordability and sheer enjoyment than the video entertainment sector.  The variety and excellence of today’s video choices continues to expand at breakneck speed on (literally) a daily basis.  We therefore ask officials at all levels of government, as well as our 250,000 supporters and activists across the country, to oppose what Mr. Ehrlich rightly describes as a looming federal atrocity.