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February 21st, 2017 at 8:42 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Mainstream Media Inc.
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 16th, 2017 at 6:05 pm
What Happened to the Millions of Dollars Raised by Standing Rock Protesters?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Over the past seven months, millions of dollars have poured into online crowdfunding accounts associated with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s unjustified crusade against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  To date, the violence-plagued protest has cost North Dakota taxpayers more than $33 million dollars, and diverted countless resources to assist local law enforcement.

Through February 14, over $13.5 million has reportedly been raised for the protesters through at least 350 different online accounts setup on sites like GoFundMe and FundRazr.  While the list represents some of the more serious fundraising efforts, it’s estimated that upwards of 20,000 individual campaigns exist, likely equating to millions in additional income.

So where is all of that money going?  Nobody really knows.

There’s little to no accountability or transparency on how the money raised is allocated and spent.  For example, the Sacred Stone Camp boasts of GoFundMe balance of over $3.1 million dollars, but where has that money gone?  The camp’s founder, LaDonna Allard, says the organization is a registered 501 (c) (3) charity, but at least one exhaustive search of state and federal nonprofit registries produced no evidence to support claim.

Other six and seven figure campaigns include, “Tattoos in Support of Standing Rock” ($150,826), “Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund” ($2,924,705), and “Veterans for Standing Rock #NoDAPL” ($1,155,780).   Again, where did this money go?  Has $13.2 million now just joined the abandoned mountain of trash left by protesters now threatening to contaminate the Cannonball and Missouri rivers?

Fortunately, all of that questionable funding isn’t just raising the eyebrows of everyday Americans.  It also grabbed the attention of the North Dakota tax authority who recently told the Washington Times that he plans to launch an investigation if income tax forms reflective of these earnings are not submitted.

There’s one thing of which we can be sure: This disturbing story isn’t going away anytime soon.

February 15th, 2017 at 5:21 pm
The Tax Code Isn’t Working for America
There’s perhaps no greater defining mark of American politics today than the polarization that plagues our discourse.  Acrimony has become the default posture of the major political parties and their supporters on even the most mundane issues.

But there is one issue—a major issue—that holds enormous bipartisan potential, despite the political animus:  the need for comprehensive tax reform.  Yes, disagreement naturally exists over some of the details on how to reform the tax code, but few argue against the need and urgency to do so.

The U.S. tax code is almost surreal in its complexity, making it impossible for most people and businesses to prepare their own returns. Roughly 70% of Americans rely on some form of paid assistance with their taxes, and the tax preparation industry is forecast to generate an incredible $11 billion in revenues in 2018. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent in productive ways in the real economy.

Small businesses, in particular, bear the brunt of the tax code’s many problems, creating significant and ongoing drag on our economy.  And all U.S. businesses have to contend with a growth-killing 35% corporate tax rate, the highest among OECD countries.

Today, most businesses’ competitors reside not just next door and down the street, but across the globe.  It’s no wonder why most of America’s global competitors have been cutting corporate tax rates for many years—to make it easier for their businesses to compete in the global marketplace. With its enormous complexity and sky-high rates, the U.S. tax code, meanwhile, actively stifles growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, investment and job creation.

The current tax code is broken. It must be simplified and set fair rates for businesses of every size. Only when this happens will the United States once again be the best place in the world to start and run a business.

The time for tax reform is now!

February 13th, 2017 at 4:22 pm
Poll: Right Track/Wrong Track Positivity Under Trump Continues Near Record High Levels
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Whatever your opinion of Donald Trump, one must admit that this stunning new survey result scores a point toward the idea of “Making America Great Again”:

Forty-five percent (45%) of likely U.S. voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending February 9.  That’s down a point from the previous week and down two points from the week before that, which was the highest level of optimism in over 12 years of regular surveying.  By comparison, the weekly finding was in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016.”

February 13th, 2017 at 3:20 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:  David Adesnik, Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative – National Security;

4:15 CST/5:15 pm EST:  Peter Cove, Nationally-Acclaimed Advocate for Private Solutions to Welfare Dependency – “Poor No More: Rethinking Dependency and the War on Poverty”;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Andrew M. Grossman, Partner in the Washington, DC office of Baker & Hostetler – SCOTUS Nominee Neil Gorsuch;

4:45 CST/5:45 pm EST:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – An Update on Dakota Access Pipeline, Cuomo’s Green Energy, and the EPA;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Quint Studer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Mentor – Studer Community Institute and Pensacola-Early Learning City; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Greg Brown, Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser – News and Developments from SRCPA.

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

February 10th, 2017 at 2:49 pm
New York: Even the Albany Times Union Excoriates Gov. Cuomo’s Green Energy Subsidy Boondoggle
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Things are going from bad to worse for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s crony capitalist green energy subsidy boondoggle.

For readers who remain unaware of this catastrophe, last August the state’s Public Service Commission (appointed entirely by Gov. Cuomo himself) rushed through a “Clean Energy Standard” requiring 50% of state power to come from green sources by 2030.  It forces healthy power companies to buy “Zero Emission Credits” from a state bureaucracy, whose proceeds in turn go to struggling upstate plants.  And here’s the kicker.  In addition to costing New York citizens and businesses $1 billion in its first year and an estimated $8 billion over the course of the scheme, all of those subsidies go to plants owned by a single company named Exelon.  In other words, a state-level Solyndra.

The plan is so objectionable that even environmentalists and those on the political left have turned against it, and the Cuomo Administration has already been forced to dramatically scale it back.

Now even the left-leaning Albany Times Union is excoriating this debacle in a new piece entitled “A Surprise Tax on the Way”:

By its own account, 2016 was a ‘monumental year’ for Exelon, for good reason.  It’s not every year that a company gets a $7.6 billion boost courtesy of New Yorkers.

Exelon is slated to reap that windfall over the next 12 years through a fee on just about anyone who gets an electric bill in New York, all to support its nuclear power plants in the state.  That’s an energy tax by any other name, but as a fee levied by a state commission, it has drawn far less attention that, say, an income tax increase of that scale would receive…

One might be tempted to say, fine, let communities make up their own minds about nuclear power, except for this:  The entire state will have to foot the bill for a $7.6 billion economic development program to pay for 2,100 jobs for just a dozen more years and directly enrich one of the nation’s wealthiest power companies.  All this was decided by the governor and three members of the Public Service Commission (which will shortly be down to only two).  Hardly taxation with representation.”

The good news, as the Times Union notes, is that the state legislature can quickly remedy the situation:

Lawmakers, however, will have a chance to take a closer look at this huge corporate subsidy for a company with an annual net income of more than $2 billion…

With the fee due to take effect in April, and the legislature next week scheduled to review the energy and environment portions of the governor’s budget, it’s a good time for lawmakers to consider if this is the best route to a clean energy future, the best way to help upstate communities, and the best use of the public’s money.  They may agree this is a reasonable short-term strategy.  Or they may conclude there are far better investments the state could make in these areas and in clean energy, at far less cost to hard-working New Yorkers.”

For the sake of New York consumers and businesses, hopefully legislators will heed that advice and put an end to a program that has already proven a disaster, and will only get worse if allowed to continue into the next decade.

February 9th, 2017 at 10:21 am
CFIF Reiterates Concerns Re: Proposals to Restructure Nation’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) System
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a letter sent to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee  members today, the Center for Individual Freedom reiterated its deep concerns regarding  proposals to restructure the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system.

In addition to pointing out ongoing concerns outlined in a coalition letter that was sent back in August, CFIF highlighted new concerns:

Since that letter, the Defense Department stated just last week that creating a separate new ATC organization “raises serious concerns.”  In its analysis, the Pentagon said, “The establishment of a new entity separate from the FAA raises serious concerns regarding the disposition of certain unique National Defense procedures, programs and policy.”  It noted, “It is significant to note that the DOD relies on FAA ‘command and control’ capabilities in the execution of the national defense mission.”

Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined last year that creation of a nonprofit ATC corporation would widen the federal budget deficit by $20 billion between 2017 and 2026, and increase net direct spending by an alarming $90 billion over that same period.  Separately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also determined that the proposed ATC restructuring may delay implementation of the NextGen air transportation system while necessary new safety oversight procedures were developed.

Read CFIF’s full letter here.

February 5th, 2017 at 10:05 am
The Pressing Opioid Epidemic
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Satel, M.D., Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses how to treat America’s pressing opioid epidemic, mental health policies, and political trends in medicine.

Listen to the interview here.

February 2nd, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Image of the Day: Obama’s Legacy = Worst Economic Growth Record
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The  Obama Legacy:  the worst economic growth rate of any president since official recordkeeping began.

Obamas Economic Legacy

Obama's Economic Legacy

January 31st, 2017 at 8:33 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Doing What He Promised…
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.

January 30th, 2017 at 2:59 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:  Aparna Mathur, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – Paid Family Leave;

4:15 CST/5:15 pm EST:  David North, Fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies – 180,000 New Jobs with the Stroke of a Pen;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Matthew Clark, Senior Counsel for Digital Advocacy with the American Center for Law and Justice – SCOTUS Nomination;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Lt. Col. David Glassman, USMC (ret.) – Fishing for AHERO; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Sandi Eubanks, Treasurer of Citizens for Education – Santa Rosa School District Half Cent Sales Tax Renewal.

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

January 28th, 2017 at 10:40 am
The Myth of the “Scandal-Free” Obama Administration
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, discusses why it is disingenuous to deem the Obama presidency as “scandal-free,” how the myth has been perpetuated by the media and Mr. Obama’s penchant for secrecy.

Listen to the interview here.

January 24th, 2017 at 11:39 am
CFIF Applauds Trump Order Granting Approval to Dakota Access Pipeline
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Today, President Trump signed executive actions advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline, thereby helping restore faith in due process of law.   Company officials followed the letter of the law in their completion of the approval process, and it is a relief to see that diligence recognized by President Trump.

CFIF anticipates a timely completion of Dakota Access, which paves the way for safe, reliable access to critical energy resources across the region.

January 24th, 2017 at 9:12 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Failed Policies
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.

January 23rd, 2017 at 3:43 pm
Intellectual Property: Trump Administration Can Reverse Eight Years of Erosion Under Obama
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In Forbes today, intellectual property (IP) attorney Howard Hogan highlights the importance of IP to the American economy (38% of GDP and 30% of jobs) and considers the opportunity for positive change under a Trump Administration after eight years of poor leadership under Barack Obama.

Hogan highlights the pernicious influence of Google during the past eight years, given its self-interest in weakening America’s historic protection of IP rights and free-riding off of others’ creations:

Arguably, no company has been more influential than Google in setting policy in America in recent years…  White House officials met with employees of Google or related companies 427 times – an average of more than once a week, while approximately 30 Google personnel have taken positions in the Obama Administration, and about 20 former members of the White House staff have landed at Google…

One of the consistent goals of this political machine has been to promote policies that have the effect of weakening legal protections for IP rights.  The reason for these policy preferences lies in Google’s role as content distributor and advertiser.  Google does not create the overwhelming majority of the content that its users seek;  it generates much of its revenue by displaying ads while connecting users to content created by others, or by selling platforms to access such content.  For Google, the ability to distribute popular third-party content or sell rights to use other companies’ trademarks with few strings attached is tantalizingly profitable.”

Among the destructive agenda items pushed by Google?  The “set-top box” proposal within Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which we at CFIF continue to emphatically oppose:

A recent example was the so-called ’set-top box rule’ proposed by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  The proposal would have used a statute designed to promote competition among cable television set-top boxes as a vehicle to force cable companies to give tech companies like Google free access to raw video and data feeds that cable companies provide to their customers.

While much about the proposed rule remains controversial, there is no doubt that it would have benefited the Googles of the world, who could sell devices and advertising based on content that they had not licensed from copyright owners, without paying royalties, and with little fear that the owners would be able to enforce the licensing restrictions that led them to offer the video content to cable companies in the first place.  Google and its allied advocacy groups all filed comments in support of the proposal.  Even President Obama threw his support behind the rule, prompting some to question whether he was exerting undue pressure on a supposedly independent agency.”

As Howard concludes, companies like Google contribute a great deal to the American economy and our lives, but we must also do a far better job of protecting American IP rights, which may be our greatest comparative advantage over other nations in an increasingly competitive global information economy.

January 16th, 2017 at 2:12 pm
Stat of the Day: Terrible Deterioration of Race Relations Under Obama
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our Liberty Update commentary last week, we noted the many failures of Barack Obama as president over the past eight years.  Today, as the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a Washington Post-ABC News survey shows just how disastrously race relations have declined under his watch:

In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 63 percent of Americans think race relations are ‘generally bad.’ Shortly after Obama took office, that number was 22 percent. In the same time period, those who think race relations are ‘generally good’ plummeted from 66 percent to 32 percent.”

Of his failures and disastrous legacy, this may be the most depressing.

January 15th, 2017 at 11:18 am
Podcast: Obama’s Legacy
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Genevieve Wood, Senior Fellow in Communications at The Heritage Foundation and Senior Contributor at The Daily Signal, discusses President Obama’s failed legacy and broken promises in areas such as foreign policy, regulations, constitutional powers and the judiciary.

Listen to the interview here.

January 13th, 2017 at 2:37 pm
ObamaCare: Repeal and Replace, Not Repeal and Delay
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the fate of ObamaCare, why Congress should not delay ObamaCare’s repeal and different options for its replacement.

Listen to the interview here.

January 11th, 2017 at 4:04 pm
Image of the Day: Over Half of Military Members Hold Unfavorable View of Obama
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Ouch.  According to a new Military Times survey, approximately 52% of military members surveyed hold a “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of Barack Obama after eight years of his leadership, while only 36% hold a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of him.

Military Times Poll

Military Times Poll

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January 10th, 2017 at 5:04 pm
CFIF Submits FOIA Requests on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Tribal Chairman’s sister previously worked at the White House and Department of Interior

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Over recent days, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) has sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to five government agencies seeking information on communications between officials at those agencies and Jodi Gillette, the sister of the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dave Archambault.

“There have been a lot of rumors about the backroom dealings that led to the Administration’s decision to not issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs.  “We would hope that the self-purported ‘most transparent Administration in history’ would provide the American people with the background and information that went into this important decision to halt an infrastructure project that had already been approved and was more than 90 percent complete.”

From the FOIA requests:

There is growing concern about the relationship between Dave Archambault II’s sister, Jodi Gillette, and the Obama Administration.  Mr. Archambault is the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) and a critic of the project.  Ms. Gillette is a former senior advisor to the President and Secretary of the Interior, and is currently a lobbyist on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux with Sonosky, Chambers, Chambers, Endreson & Perry, LLP.  We seek to ensure that Mr. Archambault and Ms. Gillette haven’t wielded improper influence over the Administration’s policies that have resulted in delays in the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline project

I request access to and copies of all records since February 1, 2016, related in any way to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Jodi Gillette. This request includes, but is not limited to, all emails, other correspondence, correspondence logs, records of meetings, records of appointments and visitor logs.

CFIF sent the FOIA requests to the Departments of Interior, Justice and Energy, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Due to the scope of the project and the consequences of the Administration’s decision, we are currently reviewing other potential FOIA requests on the matter,” Mr. Lee added.

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