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

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

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

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

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

March 6th, 2015 at 11:02 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
March 6th, 2015 at 9:25 am
Podcast: A Wake Up Call for America
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor of National Review magazine, a Senior Editor for the American Spectator magazine and a nationally recognized authority on the American political process, discusses how “a bracing dose of pessimism” can wake Americans up from a stupor, Hillary Clinton’s contributions problem and policy positions while she was Secretary of State, and the relaunch of his website, quinhillyer.com.

Listen to the interview here.

March 5th, 2015 at 5:32 pm
Geraghty: Clinton Email Scandal Opened Door to Foreign Spies

Jim Geraghty of National Review writes in his “Morning Jolt” newsletter (subscription required) today that the scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to send and receive all of her official digital correspondence as Secretary of State is a real problem, not just another iteration of ‘gotcha politics.’

Among the many problems associated with Clinton’s use of a private account as her official email address – including, but not limited to, systematic evasion of federal record-keeping rules, thwarting of public FOIA requests, and irretrievably deleting potentially damaging messages – Geraghty points out a potentially even bigger concern.

“We don’t know if foreign intelligence services ever cracked the (apparently flawed) code and got to read Hillary’s private emails,” Geraghty writes. “We do know that we would be fools to assume they hadn’t. This prospect makes a lot of Obama’s first-term foreign policy look a little different in retrospect. Was there any particular time when a foreign power seemed one step ahead of our policies? Did Moscow, Beijing, or other foreign capitals seem to know what we were thinking in our negotiations before we began? Any of our spies get burned, or sources of intelligence dry up? Was Hillary Clinton’s email effectively a leak all along?”

Though we may never know for sure, “if foreign spies were reading the email of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe, and one that is entirely the fault of Hillary Clinton herself.”

It’s also an epic failure of responsibility that should severely undercut Clinton’s claim that she has the judgment to be Commander-in-Chief.

March 5th, 2015 at 4:58 pm
Congress Would Rather Write Letters than Pass Laws

Reuters is reporting that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and a bipartisan group of House members sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him to send weapons to the Ukrainian government in order to send a message to Russia.

“In the face of Russian aggression, the lack of clarity on our overall strategy thus far has done little to reassure our friends and allies in the region who, understandably, feel vulnerable. This needs to change,” wrote the lawmakers.

But here’s the irony. According to Reuters, “The House and U.S. Senate voted unanimously late last year for a bill authorizing Obama to provide weapons to Kiev but he has yet to decide whether to send any.”

That is, Congress voted to give Obama the discretion whether or not to send weapons to Ukraine. Now, some members are upset that he won’t enact their preferred strategy.

Just like immigration policy, Congress has the ability to limit the president’s options by passing laws that spell out exactly what he can and cannot do. Unlike immigration – where Obama’s amnesty programs are deliberately in conflict with federal law – in the case of Ukraine the president appears to be clearly within his power not to act.

It’s a sad commentary when leading members of Congress are reduced to relying on third-party lawsuits and strongly-worded letters instead of their inherent, constitutional power to create the laws of the land.

No wonder this president ignores them.

March 4th, 2015 at 12:49 pm
GOP Congress Caves on Obama Amnesty

After weeks of failing to pass a bill blocking implementation of President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, Republican leaders in Congress called it quits.

A so-called “clean” bill – one without the amnesty prohibition – passed the House of Representatives 257 – 167 yesterday, with all of the no votes coming from Republicans. The bill is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate quickly.

Though much of the blame is being focused on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), it seems the media is conveniently forgetting that new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) let a presidential attack on constitutional separation-of-powers supersede a Senate debating procedure known as the filibuster. If the roles were reversed it is inconceivable that Harry Reid would let a procedural rule he controls thwart his sense of constitutional propriety.

By elevating a Senate tradition above Congress’ constitutional duty to make the laws, McConnell has effectively neutered his 54 member majority since it lacks the 60 votes it needs to actually govern.

Welcome to the Republican Senate. Its work product looks an awful lot like its Democratic predecessor.

March 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: What Color Is This Dress?
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.

February 26th, 2015 at 8:23 pm
Treasury Dept. Approves $3 Billion Transfer to Insurance Companies that Congress Denied

A letter from House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) demands an explanation from the Treasury Department on why it allowed $3 billion in payments to ObamaCare insurance companies that Congress never approved.

In a well-documented piece, Philip Klein gives a disturbing summary of the Obama administration deliberately refusing to follow the law.

“At issue are payments to insurers known as cost-sharing subsidies,” writes Klein. “These payments come about because President Obama’s healthcare law forces insurers to limit out-of-pocket costs for certain low income individuals by capping consumer expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments, in insurance plans. In exchange for capping these charges, insurers are supposed to receive compensation.”

Here’s the rub.

“What’s tricky is that Congress never authorized any money to make such payments to insurers in its annual appropriations, but the Department of Health and Human Services, with the cooperation of the U.S. Treasury, made them anyway,” says Klein.

As proof, Klein cites a $4 billion funding request for the cost-sharing subsidies program in 2014 that was not fulfilled by Congress. It’s now 2015, the bills are coming due, and the Obama administration effectively said, “Never mind.”

Whether the domain is immigration or ObamaCare, the default setting for this administration seems to be that if it can’t get what it wants the legal way, it’s just as good to go around the law.

February 26th, 2015 at 1:44 pm
Boehner Stands Firm on Tying DHS Funding to Amnesty Ban

Kudos to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for declining the Senate GOP’s offer to cave to Democrats’ demand for a so-called “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

As I discuss in my column this week, some Senate Republican leaders are getting gun shy about following through with the party’s promise to condition funding for DHS on new legislative language that specifically prohibits immigration agencies from implementing President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty program. They warn that Republicans will be blamed for the shutdown that would start on Sunday when the DHS budget ends, if no new bill is passed. Better, they argue, to appropriate the money now and hope the federal judiciary holds Obama accountable in the future.

At a press conference today, Boehner reminded everyone that – at least publicly – “All Republicans agree that we need to fund the Department of Homeland Security and we want to stop the president’s actions in response to immigration.”

Ever the politician, Boehner “would not say whether he would back a Senate funding bill without provisions that would defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration,” reports National Journal.

Still, it’s encouraging to hear the Speaker of the House sound resolute in defense of the rule of law when so much of the political class is aching to cut a deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 24th, 2015 at 4:26 pm
Fed Regs May Level Playing Field between California & Texas

Texas has long been held up as the free market alternative to California’s regulation-heavy approach to public policy. Companies like Raytheon and Toyota have relocated because of the cheaper price of doing business, as have thousands of individuals.

But the competitive advantage that Texas enjoys over California could come to a screeching halt if the federal government imposes California-style regulations on the states.

The description of a March 12 event in Houston explains the threat.

“California’s tough environmental rules and planning represent the wave of the future to many planners and pundits, as well as to large parts of the federal government,” says the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. “The goal is to rein in ‘sprawl,’ based largely on questionable environmental and urban design considerations. California consciously seeks to impose a high-density, transit-focused future on the residents of the state.”

It continues, “But California’s policies do not just affect Californians. Many federal agencies, including the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife Service, have embraced the Golden State’s regulations on climate change, wetland and endangered species protections, as role models to be adopted nationally. As California-style regulations diffuse through the federal government, Texas business could soon be subject to many of the same programs and policies.”

This is a good reminder that vigilance at the federal level is necessary to protect economic freedom back home.

February 24th, 2015 at 2:26 pm
Is Obama’s Diva Status a Reason to Accelerate Amnesty Lawsuit?

Consider the following as an example of how much President Barack Obama and his administration think the rule of law should bend to suit their political calculations.

The Justice Department asked a federal court on Monday to reverse its decision to halt the president’s unilateral amnesty directive within 48 hours so that Obama could assure activists attending a town hall in Miami on Wednesday that deportation waivers and work permits would be in the mail.

The expedited timeline is being objected to by Texas and the 20+ other states suing to require the Obama administration to follow federal law and give advance notice and a comment period to the public, reports the LA Times.

Fairness suggests that if the Justice Department took a week to file its request to reverse, Texas and its fellow challengers should get at least as much time to defend their position.

The Justice Department’s self-serving request highlights the central problem driving this litigation – Obama is a diva whose political calculations trump the rule of law.

The federal courts should slap down that dangerous misconception, early and often.

February 23rd, 2015 at 6:36 pm
Gov. Abbott: 20,000 Crossed Texas Border Since January 1

It looks like the surge of illegal immigration across the southern border isn’t getting any better.

“Already this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people come across the border, apprehended, unauthorized. And so we have an ongoing problem on the border that Congress must step up and solve,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said while appearing on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday.

Abbott said that to stem the tide he is posting an additional 500 Texas Rangers near the border. The cost for the expanded presence will come from the state’s budget, even though responsibility for securing the border belongs to the federal government.

Abbott was on the show to discuss the Texas-led lawsuit he initiated challenging President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty program because it failed to follow federal law granting the public a notice and comment period before being implemented. Last week a federal district judge agreed with the challengers and granted a temporary injunction to halt Obama’s program.

Barely a month into office, Abbott is proving himself to be a conservative leader who knows how to get results in the courtroom and the court of public opinion.

February 23rd, 2015 at 4:48 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The WH Summit to Avoid Using the Term “Radical Islam”
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 20th, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Feds Send Out 800,000 Incorrect ObamaCare Tax Forms

First Uncle Bear, now Uncle Sam.

“The Obama administration says it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers the wrong tax information, and officials are asking those consumers to delay filing their 2014 taxes,” reports CNBC.

The massive blunder comes on the heels of a similar admission by California officials that the state sent out approximately 100,000 error-laden tax forms to residents using the state’s ObamaCare exchange, Covered California.

No timeline was apparent on when revised forms would be sent out, or whether early tax filers would be penalized by the Internal Revenue Service for submitting unknowingly false information.

Another item in the CNBC report may foreshadow the next move. Due to concerns that some people will be angered for being penalized for not buying insurance to comply with ObamaCare’s coverage mandate, the Obama administration is creating another sign-up extension.

Perhaps the IRS will get similar instructions from on high and bump back the filing deadline.

If so, expect to hear the millions of non-ObamaCare customers clamor, “Me too!”

February 20th, 2015 at 10:36 am
Video: Stop the Government’s Internet Takeover
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute video, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the plan by President Obama and the FCC to seize unprecedented regulatory control over the Internet by reclassifying Internet service as a public utility. 

February 20th, 2015 at 9:34 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
February 20th, 2015 at 8:22 am
How Physicians Can Help Reform Healthcare
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Gerard Gianoli, a Neuro-otologist in Louisiana and Doc Squads member, discusses how it is time for America’s doctors to put forward innovative solutions to solve the problems in our healthcare system that have only been made worse by ObamaCare, and how to say goodbye to third-party medical payments through alternative practice models.

Listen to the interview here.

February 19th, 2015 at 12:43 pm
Take a Stand to Fight Regulatory Overreach

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is pushing the boundaries of its regulatory authority, as it’s set to issue a rulemaking on the basis of outdated data and faulty reasoning.

Specifically the CPSC, long known for its overzealous overregulation, voted to move forward in late December (in the midst of the holidays), with a draft rulemaking that would ban a class of chemicals called phthalates from some consumer products. Phthalates are used in a variety of consumer goods to make them more durable and to prevent plastics from shattering. CFIF’s Timothy Lee covered the issue more in-depth last week.

The circumstances surrounding CPSC’s ruling truly fly in the face of any pretense of scientific objectivity or transparency. The Commission completely ignored four years of the most recent data and made sure that no pesky third party scientists would point this out by refusing to open the peer review process to the public.

Placing the review behind closed doors also left the public in the dark about a new review process CPSC used called a cumulative risk assessment.  This method is so new and untested that the EPA, an agency not exactly renowned for being a model of scientific integrity, has decided to review it before using it for its regulatory decisions. The result of using this method and general overreach of the Commission could be previously safe chemicals being banned in everyday products and replaced with unknown and potentially unsafe alternatives. The level of overreach has prompted two of CPSC’s own commissioners to question its validity.

Fortunately, the CPSC has started its public review and has opened the docket for comments from the public.  Take a stand now and tell CPSC that this type of overregulation is exactly what we don’t need from them. Follow the link here to take action and comment now.