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December 5th, 2016 at 11:06 am
The Recount
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.

December 2nd, 2016 at 4:24 pm
ATSC 3.0: What Could It Mean for American Consumers?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Next month’s arrival of a new Trump Administration, alongside a Congress ready to hit the ground running, promises a flurry of corrective activity after eight years of Barack Obama.

However, Americans should remain vigilant against regulatory mischief that some are trying to push through unnoticed at the outset of the new Administration and Congress.

Exhibit A:  An effort by broadcasters to convince Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve an entirely new broadcast television standard known as ATSC 3.0.

In a nutshell, the ATSC 3.0 standard amounts to yet another new federal action upon a private marketplace and a handout to a favored industry that could inflict significant and unnecessary costs, ultimately to be paid by consumers.

Under current law, cable and satellite television providers must carry local television stations, so the regulatory scales are already tipped in broadcasters’ favor.  The proposed new mandate could extend the scope of providers’ obligations requiring them to transmit broadcast signals in the new standard to the public.

As a result, consumers who currently receive local stations over the air or via cable or satellite providers suddenly would face the possibility of incurring the cost of new equipment in order to receive the new signal, as current equipment does not support the new standard.  Obviously, millions of consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet could thus be forced to pay – whether through higher monthly subscription fees or direct charge – for new equipment for a “benefit” that may not be needed or even desired.

Satellite and cable providers could also face technological hurdles to accommodate the new standard, which could inevitably lead to additional costs and quality assurance issues.  Ultimately, subscribers could have to pay those costs and endure those potential technological glitches as well.

Keep in mind that all of these costs and changes could be imposed without a sober cost/benefit analysis from the FCC.  It’s precisely the sort of hasty, top-down, crony capitalist federal regulatory action that has tested the limits of American tolerance over the past decade.

Technological advance is a good thing, whether in the TV market or elsewhere.  But that’s something that should occur as the result of market forces, not through fast-tracked federal regulatory action riddled by too many uncertainties.

November 29th, 2016 at 9:16 am
How ObamaCare is Severely Harming Americans Nationwide
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus Association, discusses skyrocketing healthcare premiums, ObamaCare’s march toward full government control over our healthcare system, and the issue of physician and nursing shortages.

Listen to the interview here.

November 28th, 2016 at 3:35 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: Andrew Grossman, Partner at Baker & Hostetler: Clean Air Power Plan and Executive Order;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment: President Obama’s Controversial Global Warming Treaty;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Rich Noyes, Research Director at the Media Research Center: Liberal Media’s Infatuation with Fidel Castro;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT: Dr. Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, author, and former counselor of the Department of State: President-elect Trump and America’s Military Force;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: David Bozell, President of ForAmerica: The Controversy Surrounding President-elect Trump’s Pick for Secretary of State; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Wei Ueberschaeur, President of Gulf Breeze Will Do: Philanthropy in Your Community.

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

November 16th, 2016 at 10:02 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Legacy
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 14th, 2016 at 3:18 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Please 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:  Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus Association – ObamaCare and the New Regime;

4:15 CST/5:15 pm EST:  Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – The World Awaiting President Trump;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST: Craig Shirley, Author, Historian, Lecturer – Trump’s People First Platform;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST: Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Founder of Center for Competitive Politics – Donor and Speech Privacy; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST: Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs –  Post-Election 2016, the Importance of Federalism and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

November 14th, 2016 at 11:38 am
NY Times’s Paul Krugman Discredited In Record Time
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

There may be no commentator more exposed and discredited in recent years than The New York Times’s Paul Krugman.

Where to even begin?  My personal favorite might be his call for a massive spending “stimulus” when Obama entered office, which he estimated should be approximately $600 billion, to return economic health to the nation.  ”When I put this all together,” he said, “I conclude that the stimulus package should be at least 4% of GDP, or $600 billion.”  Obama ended up getting something much larger, closer to $1 trillion.  Yet when the U.S. proceeded to suffer the worst decade of economic performance in U.S. history and multiple failed “recovery summers,” Krugman just shamelessly published a later piece entitled “How Did We Know the Stimulus Was Too Small?”

Fast forward to election night, when he moped and went on record predicting that markets would never recover from Donald Trump’s victory.  You can’t make this stuff up:

It really does now look like President Donald Trump, and markets are plunging.  When might we expect them to recover?

Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty.  The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.  Still, I guess people want an answer:  If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”

So what happened immediately after Krugman’s solemn prediction?  Well, markets reached another record high on Friday.

Perhaps Krugman simply recognizes the wreckage of Obama’s legacy, and masochistically seeks to outdo him?

November 8th, 2016 at 11:35 am
Good News, Regardless of Election Outcome: Tax Relief Likely
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Regardless of today’s election outcome, here’s an encouraging headline buried deep on Page C 8 of this morning’s Wall Street Journal:  ”Tax Relief Is Likely No Matter Who Wins.”

As we at CFIF have long emphasized, the U.S. continues to suffer the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate.  In addition to suffocating domestic growth and imposing needless tax complexity on American businesses, our outdated corporate tax code also explains why corporations are forced to relocate headquarters overseas in order to survive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.  Speaker Paul Ryan has unsurprisingly offered admirable intellectual and political leadership in promoting reform, and the good news is that oven liberals like Barack Obama understand the need for cutting rates and reducing complexity.

Accordingly, it’s refreshing regardless of one’s political leanings to read the Journal’s take:

No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election, American companies with substantial overseas earnings, and their investors, could emerge as big winners.  Corporate tax reform that would make it easier for U.S. firms to repatriate foreign earnings has emerged as a rare issue of bipartisan consensus in Washington.  Progress on this issue is possible no matter who controls the White House and Congress next year…  Under current law, American companies with overseas earnings pay no U.S. federal tax on these profits unless and until they repatriate the money, at which time they pay the relatively high corporate tax rate of 35%.  This creates a perverse incentive for U.S. companies to house money abroad rather than reinvest it at home…

Even in a divided-government scenario, for example, with Mrs. Clinton as President and a Republican-controlled Congress, it seems likely that companies can look forward to a one-time break on repatriated earnings and a lower tax rate going forward.”

And as the Journal notes, the positive effect would likely be substantial:

The last time there was such a repatriation tax holiday was in a law passed in 2004, and the effects were dramatic.  Companies brought home $299 billion of overseas earnings in 2005, up from $82 billion the previous year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

Far preferable to a mere one-time repatriation tax holiday would be a permanent reduction in the corporate tax rate below the developed worldwide average around 20%, and removal of Byzantine complexity.  Regardless, the likelihood of tax reform whoever wins tonight offers welcome news as an oftentimes bleak election concludes.

November 4th, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Cronyism Within Obama’s FCC and Library of Congress Threatens U.S. Copyright and Intellectual Property Protections
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In today’s political atmosphere of Wikileaks and FBI investigation of potential collusion, the charge of government cronyism is perhaps more damning than any other.

For that reason, a blockbuster editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal was particularly devastating:

Most Americans think of Google as a search engine doing unalloyed social good, but the company also wants to make money and wield political influence along the way.  So you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice that an abrupt change of leadership at the U.S. Copyright Office is good news for Google, which aims to pay less for profiting from the property of others.”

So what’s the backstory here?  In a nutshell, this tawdry ordeal centers on the suspicious demotion within the Library of Congress of Maria Pallante, who until two weeks ago served as U.S. Register of Copyrights.  In that capacity, Ms. Pallante advocated reorganizing the Copyright Office as an independent agency, but perhaps more significantly was too protective of people’s property rights, including copyright, for Google’s taste.

Chief among Ms. Pallante’s inconvenient heresies?  Her opposition to the malignant set-top cable box proposal from Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which we at CFIF have steadfastly criticized:

Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission proposed something known as the set-top box rule.  The thrust was to force cable companies to build a universal adapter so Google and others could broadcast content without paying licensing fees or abiding by carriage agreements.   Google supported the new rule.  Less pleased were creators, who wouldn’t be paid for their work.

A bipartisan group of House Members in July sent a letter asking the copyright office to weigh in.  Ms. Pallante replied that the rule ‘would seem to take a valuable good’ and ‘deliver it to third parties who are not in privity with the copyright owners, but who may nevertheless exploit the content for profit.’  Ms. Pallante suggested revising the rule, which the FCC did.

This prompted outrage from groups funded by Google.  Take Public Knowledge, whose website notes that Google is a ‘platinum’ supporter – chipping in $25,000 a year and probably more.  Public Knowledge’s senior counsel assailed the House letter, and in September it released a report claiming ’systematic bias at the U.S. copyright office.’  Ms. Pallante was singled out as ‘captured’ by industry for the sin of focusing on ‘enforcement’ of copyright rather than rewriting it.  Something else happened in September:  Ms. Pallante got a new boss when Ms. Hayden was sworn in as Librarian of Congress, a presidential appointment.  Ms. Hayden formerly ran the American Library Association, which takes a permissive view of copyright law and accepts money from, you guessed it, Google.  A month later Ms. Pallante was pushed out.”

It all reeks of crony capitalism on behalf of Google, whose business model depends in part on exploiting others’ copyrighted artistic creations without compensation.

As The Wall Street Journal’s editorial concluded, “The guarantee to own what you create is the reason entrepreneurs take the risks that power the economy.”  Indeed, the U.S. maintains the world’s most protective copyright and intellectual property (IP) laws, which remains the driving force in our status as the most creative, inventive and prosperous nation in human history.  Americans shouldn’t tolerate cronyism in pursuit of such bad ideas as the FCC’s set-top box proposal that threaten that status.

November 4th, 2016 at 10:07 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Dakota Access Pipeline
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 31st, 2016 at 11:54 am
New Poll: Support for “Assault Weapons” Ban Drops to Record Low
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an extremely encouraging new Gallup poll showing that public support for our nation’s police forces jumped by a record amount over the past year.

On a different but not entirely unrelated issue, there’s similarly welcome news in the form of another Gallup release entitled “In U.S., Support for Assault Weapons Ban At Record Low.”  Gallup began polling on the issue 20 years ago, and opposition has skyrocketed from 42% to today’s 61%, while support for a so-called “assault weapons” ban has plummeted from 57% to today’s 36%:

Assault rifles have been a contentious issue in American life for decades.  Two years after President Bill Clinton signed a federal assault weapons ban in 1994, Gallup found that a solid majority of Americans favored such a ban.  By the time the 10-year ban expired in 2004, Americans were evenly divided.  And by 2011, public opinion had tilted against the assault weapons ban, with 53% opposed and 43% in favor.  In Gallup’s 2016 crime poll, conducted Oct. 5-9, opposition now exceeds support by 25 percentage points, 61% to 36%.”

Equally encouraging in today’s hyperpartisan atmosphere is the fact that opposition to an “assault weapons” ban is bipartisan, as well as shared by both gun owners and non-owners.

It’s understandable in today’s political and pop culture atmosphere to believe that the country, or the world more broadly, are descending to hell in a handbasket.  While that may be true regarding some of our political leadership and celebrity influences, the good news is that the resilient American public continues to show a welcome degree of better judgment.

October 31st, 2016 at 11:35 am
ObamaCare’s October Surprise
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the latest bad news regarding ObamaCare premiums and options, what the presidential candidates propose we do about ObamaCare, and Representative Warren Davidson’s (R-OH) “Lead by Example Act,” which proposes lawmakers sign up for medical care exclusively through the VA.

Listen to the interview here.

October 31st, 2016 at 11:01 am
Ramirez Cartoon: These Scare the Heck Out of Me
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 26th, 2016 at 11:59 am
Begrudgingly Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1996
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are being crushed by an outdated, confusing and counter-productive tax code. And businesses aren’t the only ones being squeezed.  The United States has the highest business tax rate in the world, which is costing American families $3,000 per year in spending power.

Yet despite these challenges, last week marked a staggering 30 years since Congress last passed major tax reform.

Working together, the next president and Congress can deliver for America’s taxpayers by simplifying the tax code and setting a fair business rate of no higher than 25 percent within the first 100 days.

It’s time for Congress to get to work!

October 25th, 2016 at 4:50 pm
CFIF Statement on Lawsuit Challenging Nashville’s ‘One Touch Make Ready’ Ordinance
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
Today, Comcast filed a federal lawsuit against Nashville’s “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance.  In response, Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) President Jeffrey Mazzella released the following statement:
We strongly support this litigation and Comcast’s right to protect its property, its reputation and the continuity of service its customers expect against destructive government intervention. There is no doubt that the One Touch Make Ready ordinance passed by Metro Council runs afoul of established law and violates the most basic principles of fairness.  A judicial decision that blocks this ordinance cannot come soon enough.
CFIF has been a vocal opponent of so-called One Touch Make Ready laws, including the one passed last month by Nashville’s Metro Council.  For more information on CFIF’s opposition to the Nashville ordinance, read,  “Metro Council must reject Google Fiber ordinance,” which was published in The Tennessean on September 4, 2016.

October 24th, 2016 at 3:37 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: Brandon Wright, Editorial Director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute: Florida’s School Accountability System;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayers Union: “Rates Congress”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Andrew Och, Award Winning TV Producer and Author of “Unusual for Their Time: On the Road with America’s First Ladies”: Weighing the Strengths and Weaknesses of the First Gentleman or First Lady: Bill vs. Melania;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Fred Campbell, Director of Tech Knowledge, Senior Policy Advisory with Wireless 20/20 and Adjunct Professor: FCC’s Sex Scandal; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO of Pacific Research Institute: VA as a Model Single Payor System and Who Has the Best Healthcare Plan for America?

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

October 21st, 2016 at 6:19 pm
Crony Capitalist N.Y. Utility Subsidy Boondoggle Now Facing Federal Lawsuit
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So there’s grave new trouble for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s crony-capitalist, climate alarmist utility subsidy boondoggle:  a federal lawsuit.

Since its introduction in August, CFIF has been exposing Cuomo’s “Clean Energy Standard” (CES), a scheme approved by the state of New York’s Public Service Commission made up entirely of his own appointees.  In a nutshell, the CES creates an artificial mandate that 50% of all the state’s energy be generated by carbon-neutral plants just 13 years from now.   At a minimum, the CES will cost $1 billion in its first two years alone, and an estimated $8 billion over its 13-year existence.  And it illustrates the sort of crony capitalism that is all too common at the federal, state and local levels because the plan’s subsidies will be steered toward a single company named Exelon that owns financially struggling upstate nuclear plants.  We have nothing against Exelon in particular, but everything about this scheme smells fishy.  At the end of the day, moreover, the cost of all of this will fall upon New York residents and businesses.

Additionally, the CES program is so manifestly flawed that opposition is bipartisan.  New York environmental groups also attack what they describe as Governor Cuomo’s “$8 billion bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants.”

And now there’s even more grave trouble for CES.

In U.S. District Court, a lawsuit filed this week by the prominent law firm Boies Schiller seeks injunction against the scheme, alleging violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause and federal preemption under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, among other counts:

Several power plant owners sued New York state energy regulators Wednesday over the state’s approval of billions of dollars in subsidies for aging nuclear plants.  The suit filed in Manhattan federal court argues the bailout represents an illegal interference with the federal government’s role in regulating electric rates, and will unfairly burden the ratepayers who will pay for the subsidies, which could cost nearly $8 billion over 12 years.  ’This is a bad deal for New Yorkers, who will see their electric bills go up across the state,’ said Jonathan Schiller, whose firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner is representing the plaintiffs…  ’This subsidy will cost New Yorkers as much as $7.6 billion in payments to a single company.  This is illegal.’”

We’ll be monitoring and updating this lawsuit as events develop, but it presents another mortal threat to the CES plan.

And justifiably so.  Although we continue to support nuclear power as an energy source that should be exploited by the U.S. on the basis of both efficiency and national security, Governor Cuomo’s crony capitalist boondoggle is simply an unacceptable way to do it.  It’s not by accident that opposition is bipartisan, and now under judicial threat as well.

October 21st, 2016 at 10:20 am
Podcast: Prosecutorial and Government Abuses
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, discusses recent attacks by liberal opponents of free speech and CFIF’s victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Listen to the interview here.

October 21st, 2016 at 8:17 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Squid Pro Quo
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 19th, 2016 at 12:39 pm
In Tonight’s Debate, Voters Deserve to Hear More About Economic, Tax Policies
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Tonight, millions of Americans will tune into the final Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Among the central topics should be the economy, which recent polling shows remains voters’ foremost concern.

Unfortunately, voters haven’t heard enough from either candidate on that topic during the first two debates.

Which is tragic, because this election itself has taken a toll on the economy.  According to a recent poll of economists, rhetoric from both campaigns has had a negative impact on economic growth over the past few months.  Accordingly, rather than continuing to argue about personal issues and mutual animosities, both candidates must do a better job of improving economic optimism and confidence by advocating pro-growth policies that will help us proper.

And in that vein, perhaps no issue merits focus more than comprehensive tax reform.

During the first debate, taxes and potential plans received brief discussion.  Both candidates agreed that a significant problem exists with companies moving to other countries and protecting their earnings abroad from excessive U.S. taxes. Trump correctly pointed out that the reason many companies leave is that our corporate rate remains the highest in the developed world.  Indeed, a recent Mercatus Center study highlighted how the increasing number of corporate inversions result from that inglorious distinction, and how lowering the rate will go a long way toward keeping American companies here so that they can create jobs and generate tax revenues domestically rather than abroad.

But more discussion and detail is critical.  Over thirty years ago, on September 26, 1986, the Senate began debate over comprehensive tax reform legislation that the House of Representatives had approved.  Incredibly, our tax code has not been reformed in a meaningful manner during the ensuing 30 years despite tectonic evolution of the U.S. economy during that time period.  It’s therefore past time to modernize the code and reformed so as to help American businesses of all sizes, rather than continuing to hinder growth and opportunity.

And on that point, we need concrete plans from Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton.

Demonstrating his own commendable leadership on this critical matter, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently stated that tax reform is his top priority in 2017.   He rightly explained that the first thing that needs to be accomplished next year is “a budget that gets tax reform, that gets this debt and deficit under control.”   Clearly, Speaker Ryan realizes that the American people welcome discussion about how the federal government can actually enact policies beneficial to the economy and their own individual finances.  Whoever enters the White House this coming January must work with Congress to reform our tax code as soon as possible, which is precisely why we need to hear their ideas on how to best accomplish that.

To his credit, Trump has proposed a tax reduction for all businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent.  And to her credit, Clinton acknowledges that lowering the corporate rate would encourage companies to repatriate funds stranded overseas.  That’s obviously a step in the right direction, but the American people need to hear more specifics – a simplified code and lower rate, in particular – and a timeline for when they plan to enact that type of reform.  While their rhetoric on the issue is occasionally encouraging, voters must learn which candidate will work to fix the tax code in order to improve our economy the fastest.

This election has obviously been among the most contentious in our nation’s history, and policy has too often taken a back seat to personality.  While that may at times provide shallow entertainment, it’s time to put the personal attacks aside and hear more about both candidates’ visions for the economy.  Hopefully, that will mean devoting more time toward discussing tax reform and economic growth, not bickering over issues that ultimately has little impact on Americans’ everyday lives and needs.