postsArchive for the ‘’ Category
November 27th, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Wising Up to the ‘Black Friday Con’
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

Black Friday is upon us, and — in keeping with tradition — so are the attendant brawls, melees, assaults, thefts and general mayhem.

Nevertheless, Black Friday appears a bit more sedate this year overall. Reuters reports:

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some had already shopped Thursday evening, reflecting a new normal of U.S. holiday shopping, where stores open up with deals on Thanksgiving itself, rather than waiting until Black Friday.

Retailers “have taken the sense of urgency out for consumers by spreading their promotions throughout the year and what we are seeing is a result of that,” said Jeff Simpson, director of the retail practice at Deloitte. Traffic in stores was light on Friday, while Thursday missed his expectations, he said.

As much as 20 percent of holiday shopping is expected to be done over the Thanksgiving weekend this year, analysts said. But the four days are not considered a strong indicator for the entire season. A slow start last year led to deeper promotions and a shopping rush in the final ten days of December.

Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc , told Reuters he was not surprised that a store would see thinner crowds on Friday after it kicked off Black Friday deals on Thursday night.

Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analysts were more blunt, calling Thursday a “bust”. “Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores,” he wrote in a note.

My Manhattan Institute colleague Nicole Gelinas anticipated this turn in her New York Post column earlier this week. The crux: consumers are a lot smarter about bargain-hunting than retailers think. She writes:

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales dropped by double digits.

It’s important to remember here: This is good news. People aren’t as stupid as retailers think they are. They saw the artificially created stampedes for a piece of plastic that their kids will have broken or forgotten about in a few weeks anyway — and they said no.

Plus, retailers’ fake-emergency marketing has worked against them. People can see that stuff is already on sale — and that it will be on sale next week, the week after and, of course, after Christmas. There is no rush.

People are also smarter than their own government. For the past seven years, Washington has kept interest rates at record lows in the hopes that people would go out and borrow and spend again. They haven’t.

People knew, in 2007 and 2008, that they had taken on way too much debt.

Since then, they’ve been trying to fix that — and in doing so, have been helping us strengthen our economy. Americans’ household debt peaked in 2007, at about $16.2 trillion in today’s dollars. Today, it’s barely above $14 trillion.

Black Friday is unlikely to go away altogether — it’s hard to remember now, but 15 years ago, most retailers’ idea of opening early the day after Thanksgiving meant 7:00 a.m. — but a little more sanity and fewer doorbuster donnybrooks would be a welcome turn of events.

November 24th, 2015 at 4:57 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Boots on the Ground
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.

November 23rd, 2015 at 3:17 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:  Craig Shirley, New York Times bestselling author and president of Shirley & Bannister Public Affairs: “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Tod Lindberg, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and bestselling author: “The Heroic Heart: Greatness Ancient and Modern”;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  David Adesnik, Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Institute: The State of the Global Islamist Terror Movement;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  James Philips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at The Heritage Foundation: The Expanding Threat Posted by ISIS; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Dan Epstein, Executive Director of Cause of Action: The Latest Progressive Attack on Speech.

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

November 20th, 2015 at 9:55 am
In Other News, ObamaCare Is Now a Slow-Motion Disaster
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As ObamaCare enters the real world and departs Barack Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” fantasy world, it is already proving a slow-motion disaster for Americans.  This week, The Wall Street Journal featured a front-page article entitled “Rising Rates Pose Challenge for Health Law,” and the news is grim:

Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings.  The companies attribute the moves in part to the high cost of some customers they are gaining under the law, which doesn’t allow them to bar clients with existing health conditions.  The result is that many people can’t avoid paying more for insurance in 2016 simply by shopping around – and those who try risk landing in a plan with fewer doctors and skimpier coverage.”

The report proceeds to describe the magnitude with greater specificity, and it is astonishing:

Premiums for individual plans offered by the dominant local insurers are rising almost everywhere for 2016, typically by double-digit percentage increases, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of plan data in 34 states where the site sells insurance.  More than half of the midrange ’silver’ plans are boosting the out-of-pocket costs enrollees must pay, while more than 80% of the less-expensive ‘bronze’ plans are doing so.”

Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey released this week shows that the percentage of Americans rating their healthcare quality as excellent or good has plummeted from 62% in 2010 when ObamaCare was enacted to 53% now.  The survey also reveals that the percentage who are satisfied with healthcare costs has actually declined from 26% in 2009 to 21% today.

As experience with ObamaCare increases with implementation, the situation promises to get worse by the day.  Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi passed, now we’re staring at the reality of what was in it.

November 17th, 2015 at 9:30 pm
“President Obama’s Cynical Refugee Ploy”

To understand the Syrian refugee crisis, Walter Russell Mead’s analysis in The American Interest is a must read and then must read again.  Mead is not a politician; he’s a Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.
He asks and answers, in no uncertain terms, “Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?”

Read the piece here.

November 17th, 2015 at 9:47 am
Poll: Just 15% of Military Personnel Hold Favorable Opinion of Hillary Clinton
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Year after year, the public rates the U.S. military the most trusted and popular institution in American life.  Now, at a moment in which the military may play an increasingly vital role in protecting us against growing terrorist threats and and increasingly restive antagonists like Russia and China, a new poll reveals that Hillary Clinton’s standing among military personnel can only be described as atrocious:

Hillary Clinton is still in line to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to be the next commander in chief, but few Americans in the military have a good impression of her.  A new Rally Point/Rasmussen Reports national survey of active and retired military personnel finds that only 15% have a favorable impression of Clinton, with just three percent (3%) who view the former Secretary of State very favorably. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 81%, including 69% who share a very unfavorable impression of her.”

For someone applying for the job of Commander in Chief, that is an ominous sign, and one that may receive increasing attention as the 2016 election approaches.

November 16th, 2015 at 2:31 pm
Obama Shows More Anger Over Alleged Anti-Muslim Discrimination by Republicans Than Toward ISIS
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Barack Obama, the man who once dismissed ISIS “junior varsity” and labeled it “contained” mere hours before Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris, held a press conference this morning while attending the G-20 summit in Turkey.

It is worth watching in its entirety, if for no other reason than that he was forced to confront reporters challenging him about his pronouncements regarding ISIS and his anti-terrorism policies.  Most notable, however, is the fact that Obama, as usual, maintains a listless, detached, dispassionate, cold demeanor when discussing radical Islamic terrorism and the acts it undertakes.  But note his sudden change in tone, how animated and forceful he becomes when he shifts his focus toward fellow American political figures whom he accuses of anti-Islamic bigotry.  Would that Obama demonstrated the same hostility toward America’s overseas enemies as he does fellow Americans who happen to hold different political points of view.

It’s increasingly difficult for anyone to deny that Obama directs his disgust more toward fellow Americans than he does foreign terrorism.

November 13th, 2015 at 9:38 am
NY Times: Obama Years Have Devastated His Own Party
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure, we’ve understandably delighted in highlighting the “Reverse Midas” touch of this man who openly aspired to become a transformative president on the level of Ronald Reagan.  In a number of ways, he has actually accomplished that, although not in the way he had hoped.  From driving down trust in government to record lows to helping elect Republicans at the national and state levels with his unpopular behavior, Obama has indeed been transformative.

Today, The New York Times details the degree to which Obama has devastated his own party from within:

“While Mr. Obama’s 2008 election helped usher in a political resurgence for Democrats, the president today presides over a shrinking party whose control of elected offices at the state and local levels has declined precipitously.  In January, Republicans will occupy 32 of the nation’s governorships, 10 more than they did in 2009.  Democratic losses in state legislatures under Mr. Obama rank among the worst in the last 115 years, with 816 Democratic lawmakers losing their jobs and Republican control of legislatures doubling since the president took office – more seats lost than under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.  ’Republicans have more chambers today than they have ever had in the history of our party,’ said Tim Storey, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.”

That devastation extends beyond the state level, as the report explains:

It has also meant a hollowing out of the roster of potential Democratic candidates for major races…  The absence of up-and-coming Democrats is evident in Washington, where the party leadership in Congress consists largely of aging veterans.  The average age of the three top Democratic leaders in the House is 75, while the three most senior Republican leaders – with the new Speaker of the House, Paul D. Ryan – average 48 years old.  There are a handful of young, ambitious members of the Democratic caucus, especially in the House, but it may be years before they are ready to play a bigger role on the national stage.”

So Barack:  mission accomplished?

November 13th, 2015 at 8:40 am
Podcast: Is America Closed for Business?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Patrick Hedger, Policy Director of American Encore, discusses why Obama made the wrong decision on Keystone XL pipeline project and what it means for jobs, the economy and gas prices. 

Listen to the interview here.

November 11th, 2015 at 9:50 am
Video: Honoring the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

This Veterans Day, the Center for Individual Freedom honors the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

November 10th, 2015 at 8:59 am
Ramirez Cartoon: ObamaCare Costs
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.

November 9th, 2015 at 1:56 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Broadcast 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:  Craig Shirley, New York Times bestselling author and president of Shirley & Bannister Public Affairs – “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan”;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Ike Brannon, president of Capitol Policy Analytics – Puerto Rico;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Patrick Hedger, policy director of American Encore – Keystone XL Pipeline Project;

5:15 CST/6:15 pm EST:  Sarah Westwood, watchdog reporter for the Washington Examiner – Ben Carson and West Point; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Ben Boychuk, CFIF’s contributing writer, associate editor for City Journal, and columnist for the Sacramento Bee and ScrippsHoward – Common Core.

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

November 9th, 2015 at 10:11 am
TechNotes: Latest Evidence Surrendering U.S. Oversight of Internet Is a Dangerous Prospect
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF opposes the Obama Administration’s effort to surrender longstanding U.S. oversight over the Internet to the so-called “global community” for many of the same reasons that surrendering any form of U.S. authority to international groups like the United Nations is a dangerous idea.

L. Gordon Crovitz, The Wall Street Journal’s weekly “Information Age” columnist, also opposes the prospective transfer of authority, and has emphasized the particular threat of Internet censorship by nations like China and Russia as a primary reason.  In today’s column entitled “China’s ‘Soft’ Power Exposed,” Crovitz highlights just the latest evidence justifying such fears.  Namely, witness the covert effort by the state-controlled China Radio International to control American radio stations:

Last week it came to light that Beijing’s state-run China Radio International secretly owns 60% of a U.S. company, G&E Studio, which leases stations and airtime in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco, among other cities.  Beijing uses similar subterfuges in Europe and Australia.  China went to great lengths to hide its role.  Reuters broke the story after deploying 39 reporters to investigate in 26 countries, including the review of ’scores of regulatory, zoning, property, tax, immigration and corporate records, including radio station purchase contracts and lease agreements.”

So why does that matter?  Because it parallels other ongoing efforts to censor content from the global Internet, including control of .xyz domain addresses and words like “freedom” or “democracy” or even “1989,” which was the year in which the Tiananmen massacre occurred.  Fortunately, as we have highlighted, there’s something Congress can do.  And as Crovitz concludes, “Congress should ask the U.S. Commerce Department to explain why it would allow Icann – which it oversees for now via a contract intended to protect the open Internet – to become the global enforcer of the Chinese regime’s censorship against Chinese citizens.  China’s plan to censor Web addresses highlights the folly of the Obama Administration’s plan to end U.S. protection for the Internet.”

Good advice, and we agree.

November 6th, 2015 at 9:50 am
Renewing America’s Spirit and Preserving Our Liberty
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Judge Michael Warren, Oakland County (MI) Circuit Court Judge and Co-creator of Patriot Week, discusses why we need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit, how many current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning and how Patriot Week has captured the imagination and support of citizens across the nation.

Listen to the interview here.

November 3rd, 2015 at 3:41 am
Larry Lessig is Out
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law professor who launched a quixotic, long-shot, single-issue, “so-crazy-it-just-might-work” campaign for president on Labor Day after raising $1 million (give or take*) online from his supporters, has decided to drop out of the race.

That’s too bad. With Lessig exiting the contest, that leaves the Democrats with only three candidates to prattle on about the evils of money in politics.

Lessig explains in a short video to his supporters that he needed to break into the Democratic presidential primary debates if he had any hope of running something resembling a credible campaign. He has some further thoughts on his blog: “There’s a reality that the will to reform can’t bend — like mortgage payments.”

“It is now clear that the party won’t let me be a candidate,” he says in the video. “And I can’t ask people to support a campaign that I know can’t even get before the members of the Democratic Party — or to ask my team or my family to make a sacrifice even greater than what I’ve already made,” he adds.

Lessig also displays some of the belated self-awareness that had come to characterize his campaign. “I may be known in tiny corners of the tubes of the Internets, but I am not well known to the American public generally,” Lessig said.

When he first got into the race, he promised to resign the presidency just as soon as Congress passed his campaign finance reform bill. (Cough.) At some point, he realized that was a “totally stupid” idea and jettisoned it. But campaign finance remained the driving purpose, the anima, the lodestar of Lessig’s campaign.

At the heart of Lessig’s pitch is the belief that the vast majority of Americans want to eliminate or vastly curtail “big money in politics.” In the TED talk that marked Lessig’s “coming out” as a campaign-finance crusader, he cited a poll in which 96 percent of Americans said it’s “important to reduce the influence of money in politics.”

A more recent New York Times/CBS News Poll of American adults (the least trustworthy of demographics for polling purposes) found 46 percent of respondents think the campaign finance rules need “a complete overhaul.” Another 39 percent said “fundamental changes” are in order.

And yet the supposed demand never quite pans out. Lessig barely cracked 1 percent in the polls. Democrats Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb, who dropped out of the race last week, didn’t do much better. But because the Democratic National Committee changed the way it evaluates a candidate’s polling to determine participation in the televised debates, Lessig had no chance of getting any meaningful national exposure.

Of Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley’s campaign finance reform proposals, Lessig said: “Until we end the corruption that has crippled Congress, none of their promises are even credible.” If so, then his promises were even less credible. The others at least have a constituency.

Just last week, the Times reported how Lessig’s campaign “endures in relative obscurity”:

Despite raising more money than Mr. Chafee, Mr. Webb and several Republicans, Mr. Lessig’s candidacy is not considered serious by many analysts or party leaders, who see him as an activist and gadfly. He did not dispel that notion when he introduced himself as a “referendum” candidate who would step down as president once he managed to overhaul the campaign finance system.

After spending years defending Internet freedom, he came to see corruption in politics as a monster that must be defeated, and he did not let go of the cause. Last year, Mr. Lessig started a “super PAC to end all super PACs,” and in September, he set his sights on the White House.

Back at Harvard, where he is on leave, Mr. Lessig’s cause has been met with a mix of bemusement, encouragement and concern.

“Larry’s a terrific guy, but I don’t think that because you have a very important project, that therefore you should be in charge of all the millions of things the president is in charge of, including foreign policy,” said Charles Fried, a conservative Harvard Law School professor who gave Mr. Lessig $100 anyway.

According to OpenSecrets, Professor Lessig raised the most money (around $93,000) from the Boston area. “Donors from a Cambridge zip code were the most generous.”

Perhaps he’ll have better luck next year with his Mayday PAC.

*For what it’s worth, Lessig took umbrage and responded to the Washington Free Beacon’s reporting.

November 2nd, 2015 at 9:37 am
WSJ’s O’Grady: “Puerto Rico Doesn’t Need Bankruptcy”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF have steadfastly opposed the effort by some to upend American bankruptcy laws in order to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.  ”American taxpayers,” we believe, “should not be saddled with yet another bailout and force Americans saving for retirement to take a financial hit.”  Rather, “Congressional Republicans should guide Puerto Rico into doing the right thing:  trim spending and taxes, stand up to unions and undertake badly-needed governing reforms.”

We’re therefore happy to find in this morning’s Wall Street Journal that weekly “Americas” columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady agrees:

[T]here is little evidence that Puerto Rico faces a humanitarian crisis any more than the heavily indebted states of California and Illinois.  And as to the deteriorating fiscal environment, it seems to be largely the work of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who has been signaling markets that default is a policy goal.  As Carlos Colon de Armas, a professor of finance at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Puerto Rico, told me last week, ‘If, instead of doing everything it can do in order not to pay, the government of Puerto Rico were doing everything it could do in order to pay, things would be very different.’”

The answers to Puerto Rico’s situation, as is the case with fiscally irresponsible states like Illinois and even the federal government itself, lie with the tried-and-true concepts of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, fewer regulations and respect for established rule of law and contractual expectations.

October 30th, 2015 at 12:29 pm
The Nation’s Report Card, Common Core, and Stagnating Schools
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (a.k.a. “the Nation’s Report Card”) is out this week, and the news “isn’t great.” For the first time in 25 years, fourth and eighth grade math scores have fallen and reading scores remained flat.

Specifically, 39 percent of fourth graders and 32 percent of eighth graders scored proficient or better in math, while only 35 percent of U.S. fourth graders and 33 percent of eighth graders scored at “proficient” or better in reading.

Seven years into an administration that has made unprecedented inroads into state and local educational policymaking decisions, it could be we’re starting to see the effects.

The NAEP is a good test. The National Center for Educational Statistics, which administers the program, takes samples from all 50 states and 20 major metros. Tests are quick — they only run about an hour. And students are anonymous. The idea is to get the most accurate picture possible of what students are or are not learning, with a special focus on the black-white achievement gap.

Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute notes the racial subgroup scores aren’t very good, either. “Math and reading scores for white and black fourth- and eighth-graders remained the same or dropped since 2013,” he writes. Meantime, “reading scores rose for Hispanic fourth graders but dropped in eighth grade; and eighth grade math and reading scores for Asian students, who are the top performers in the nation, dropped.”

Departing Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week surmised that disappointing results likely have something to do with states’ difficult transition into the Common Core State Standards.

“Big change never happens overnight,” Duncan said. “I’m confident that over the next decade, if we stay committed to this change, we will see historic improvements.”

Duncan’s critics on the left are having none of that. They believe the NAEP scores vindicate their long-held view that testing and accountability are ruining education.

“The news isn’t good for those who think standardized test scores tell us something significant about student achievement,” writes the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, who has rarely encountered a teachers’ union talking point she hasn’t parroted.

She even takes a swipe at the NAEP tests, which are nothing like the “high-stakes tests” left-liberal critics loathe. “It is seen by many as a high-quality test,” she writes, “though it has many critics, too, some of whom say that the NAEP definition of’ ‘proficiency’ is unnaturally high, and that the test cannot measure many of the qualities students must develop to be successful.”

Oh, please. NAEP is very good at testing knowledge. If you want to understand the depth of civic ignorance in our republic, for example, peruse the past 15 years of results from the NAEP civics and U.S. history tests.

In any event, the teachers union critics are happy to point out how Duncan just two years ago was crediting the Common Core for boosting NAEP scores in a handful of states. Now he’s saying, whoops, maybe not.

“Considering that the rationale for the Common Core State Standards initiative was low NAEP proficiency rates, it would appear that the solution of tough standards and tough tests is not the great path forward after all,” writes Carol Burris, who along with Diane Ravitch founded the pro-teachers union Network for Public Education.

It cannot be that simple — or so ideologically pat. As the Wall Street Journal editorializes:

Perhaps what’s most depressing about the latest results is that progress has ceased even in education reform leaders like Tennessee, Indiana and Florida that have loosened teacher tenure protections and expanded school choice. Yet this may be evidence that a falling tide can strand all boats.

One of the few exceptions this year was Chicago where eighth-grade proficiency in math increased to 25% from 20%. Over the last two years Chicago has closed its achievement gap with other large public city school districts. Mayor Rahm Emanuel deserves credit for expanding charter schools as well as imposing a longer school day and more rigorous teacher evaluations.

Cleveland’s school district has also made modest strides. In 2012 Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law allowing the district to base teacher layoffs on performance rather than seniority. The law also rewarded highly rated teachers with better pay.

Mr. Duncan, who is leaving in December, last week gave unions a parting gift by proposing to cap standardized testing at 2% of classroom time. Yet it’s possible that the anti-testing fever that has swept the nation in the last two years may have contributed to the lousy NAEP results. (Emphasis added.)

Michael Petrilli at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests the stagnant economy also may be playing a role in stagnating scores:

What might be going on? It could certainly be something happening inside our schools. Maybe the transition to the Common Core is causing disruption and growing pains (or worse), and those are reflected in these data. Maybe the political debate over standards, testing, and teacher evaluations has caused uncertainty in the classroom or discouraged kids from trying as hard. Maybe Arne Duncan’s waivers relieved the pressure on schools to boost achievement, and they consequently took their foot off the gas. Some states will explain that they altered the portions of English language learners and students with special needs who were excused from NAEP testing. All plausible.

But it’s also plausible that these trends reflect something going on outside of schools—namely, the economic condition of our country and our communities. As I argued the other day, the Great Recession and its aftermath could have acted as a stiff headwind. As schools face more challenging demographics—partly because of the decades-long surge in immigration, but also because of the economic dislocation facing many students and their families—they have to work harder just to stand still.

All possible! But it’s worth digging a little more deeply into the role Common Core may be playing in what students are learning and how. For the moment, however, Peggy Carr of the National Center for Education Statistics has offers a sound word of caution: “One downturn does not a trend make.” Let’s see what the scores look like in 2017.

October 30th, 2015 at 10:06 am
CFIF in Wall Street Journal: Gov’t Shouldn’t Pick Winners in Music Creator/Digital Broadcaster Negotiations
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This morning, The Wall Street Journal kindly included CFIF’s take on the ongoing compensation rate negotiations between music creators and digital broadcasters.  Simply put, our position is that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one side or the other.  In an optimal world, the free market would dictate rates and the federal government would play no role.  Because current law mandates that federal regulators at the Library of Congress determine the rate that music creators receive when digital broadcasters play their songs, however, it is critical that regulators remain neutral rather than unfairly favoring one side or the other:

We agree with Bartlett Cleland that free-market negotiation between music creators and Internet broadcasters, not federal regulators, should optimally determine broadcast compensation rates.  Until that time, however, we respectfully disagree that regulators should artificially favor the streaming services industry.  Digital broadcasters possess no inherently superior right to their business model than do musicians, but Mr. Cleland’s suggested course unjustifiably favors the former over the latter.  If anything, artists possess the superior claim, since without their creations digital radio wouldn’t have that product to offer consumers.  And if streaming services consider payment requirements excessive, then they can adjust what they charge advertisers or subscribers to sustain their model.

The federal government should not be in the business of playing favorites.

Timothy Lee

Center for Individual Freedom, Alexandria, Va.

October 30th, 2015 at 9:29 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Trick
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.

October 29th, 2015 at 12:18 pm
CFIF Opposes Burdensome New FEC Disclosure Rule
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

The Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) this week submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission (”FEC”) in response to a petition requesting the FEC establish a new rule requiring corporations and other organizations – specifically 501(c)(4) not-for-profit groups – that contribute to independent-expenditure-only committees (Super PACs) to do so through a separate segregated account subject to burdensome disclosure requirements.

CFIF opposes the proposed rule on grounds that it contradicts the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress and thereby exceeds the FEC’s statutory authority, that it would not serve the purposes ostensibly advanced by the petition, and that it would burden core First Amendment speech.

The petition for rulemaking was filed by Make Your Laws PAC, Inc. and Make Your Laws Advocacy, Inc.  CFIF’s comments were prepared by Wiley Rein, LLP.

Read CFIF’s comments here.