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Archive for February, 2019
February 26th, 2019 at 3:13 pm
Want “Green Energy?” Go Nuclear
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Amid public ridicule of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” monstrosity, The Wall Street Journal includes a brilliant commentary in today’s edition addressing a truly beneficial way to advance safe, reliable, carbon-free energy – nuclear.   Importantly, authors John Rie and Alan Emery detail nuclear energy’s remarkable safety record through the decades:

Is nuclear power generation dangerous?  The only major nuclear accident in the U.S. — Three Mile Island, in 1979—caused neither death nor increase in cancer areawide.  The 2011 ‘disaster’ at the Fukushima plant in Japan also directly caused neither deaths nor disease from exposure to radiation.

World-wide, there have been fewer than 150 deaths from nuclear plants, mostly from the 1986 Chernobyl accident, in which bad design and a series of operator errors led to a significant release of radiation into the environment.  Thanks to the Soviet government’s attempt to keep it secret, lifesaving efforts such as the provision of iodine pills to local residents never happened.  For comparison, according to a 2012 World Health Organization report, urban outdoor air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass is estimated to cause three million deaths world-wide each year.”

It’s an excellent piece worth reading in full, not least for its corrective of the all-too-common myth that nuclear power somehow maintains a comparatively weak safety record.

February 22nd, 2019 at 6:21 pm
Time to End the Federal Government’s Wasteful Electric Car Tax Subsidy Program
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Whatever one’s opinion of electric automobiles, all reasonable people can agree that the federal government shouldn’t be wasting billions of dollars to pick winners and losers in a functioning market.

That’s especially true when nearly 80% of the federal subsidies go to households earning over six figures, making it essentially a regressive tax in addition to wasteful spending and a market distortion.

But that’s precisely what the existing federal electric vehicle tax credit does.  In 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law a bill passed by the Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer Congress to provide $7,500 tax credits for the purchase of electric cars.  Shortly thereafter, Barack Obama extended that credit to cover the first 200,000 electric autos sold by any and all car manufacturers in the United States.  By 2017, the total cost exceeded $2 billion.

And here’s the real kicker, as captured by Congressman Jason Smith (R – Missouri):

Currently, the electric vehicle tax credit rewards buyers of electric vehicles with up to $7,500 in taxpayer-funded subsidies.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the credits have been rewarded to people who don’t need government assistance to purchase vehicles, as 80 percent of the subsidies are given to people making more than $100,000 per year.”

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But believe it or not, some in Congress actually seek to expand this indefensible program.  Under their plan, all existing caps would be removed, which the Institute for Energy Research estimates would cost an astonishing $95 billion between 2020 and 2035, and costing every American household up to $70 per year over that 15-year stretch.

But Congressman Smith and Senator John Barrasso (R – Wyoming) offer different and better legislation.  Their Fairness for Every Driver Act would eliminate the tax credit scheme for high-cost electric cars and save billions of taxpayers dollars:

The legislation would help fund new infrastructure projects by requiring users of alternative fuel vehicles to contribute to improving the nation’s roads and bridges…  Eliminating the electric vehicle tax credit is estimated to save taxpayers $20 billion over the next ten years.”

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“Gas, electric and alternative fuel vehicles all use the same roads and put the same amount of wear and tear on those roads,” Senator Barrasso notes, and “every driver should contribute to maintain America’s highways.”

He’s right, and it’s time to put an end to this wasteful, market-distorting subsidy to wealthy car buyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 18th, 2019 at 4:03 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
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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/99.1FM 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: Ross Marchand, Director of Policy at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance: U.S. Postal Service;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Quin Hillyer, Associate Editor of the Washington Examiner and Nationally Recognized Authority on the American Political Process: the Decline of the Humanities and the Rise of Prejudices;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Ashton Hayward, III, President of Andrews Research & Education Foundation: AREF’s Mission and Projects;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT: Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Green New Deal;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Myra Van Hoose, President of the Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida: Women in Politics and Upcoming Events;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT: Larry G. Salzman, Senior Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation: Florida’s Hearing Aid Regulations; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: William J. Conti, Partner at Baker & Hostetler: Presidential Authority in a State of Emergency and the Latest on the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates.

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

February 14th, 2019 at 5:08 pm
Want to Address Drug Costs? Avoid Price Controls, Eliminate PBMs and Don’t Weaken Patents
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In an excellent piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Scott Atlas of Stanford University highlights how Americans enjoy far greater access to new lifesaving drugs than patients in Europe and elsewhere, and how the movement to impose government price controls would only restrict access to new drugs and degrade Americans’ health outcomes, as we at CFIF have been emphasizing:

America has superior treatment results for virtually all serious diseases reliant on drug treatment, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.  Price controls would jeopardize that advantage…

Pegging drug prices to those of foreign countries, as both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have proposed, would ultimately lead to the same consequences Europeans endure – reduced access to critical drugs and worse outcomes, including more deaths from disease.”

Mr. Atlas also notes how the Trump Administration has taken positive steps toward actually reducing drug prices, by targeting rebates received by pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs) from drug manufacturers:

The Trump Administration has announced a proposal to do away with rebates paid by drug manufacturers to pharmacy-benefit managers, replacing them with discounts to beneficiaries at the point of sale.  PBMs are middlemen that control ‘formularies,’ the lists of drugs covered by a plan.  Rebates from drug companies to PBMs are payments for influence – either to position a drug on the formulary as ‘exclusive’ or to give it preferred status over competitors.

PBMs act counter to patient interest while aggravating the lack of price transparency.   These complex behind-the-scenes payments – $179 billion in 2016 – reward inflated list prices, on which patient premiums are often based.  This prevents patients from taking account of price…  Go-betweens like PBMs should be eliminated.”

Finally, and just as critically, Mr. Atlas adds that weakening patent and intellectual property (IP) rights would constitute a particularly destructive course:

Drugs are the most significant reason for the past half-century’s unprecedented gains against deadly disease.  But policies that aim to reduce drug prices – price regulation and weaker patent protection – are also associated with delayed availability, less innovation, and limited access.”

Mr. Atlas delves into statistics showing the enormous advantage that Americans enjoy in terms of new drugs and health outcomes, and his piece is well worth the full read.  Hopefully policymakers at all levels of government are listening.

February 12th, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Image of the Day: Bad News, Socialized Medicine Advocates
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Bad news, socialized medicine advocates.  The latest Gallup survey on the issue shows that Americans still overwhelmingly rate their healthcare as positive.

Notably, ratings have improved since Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama, and began chipping away at ObamaCare.

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Bad News, Socialists

Bad News, Socialists

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Socialized medicine advocates thus have their work cut out for them in selling their program to the American electorate.

 

 

February 8th, 2019 at 10:10 am
New York Agrees That a T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Serve the Public Interest
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Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, the New York State Public Service Commission approved the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger as “in the public interest” after considering all of the relevant facts and competing arguments.

As CFIF and others have emphasized since the proposed merger’s announcement, the transaction would provide an enormous net benefit to the American economy and consumers, and there’s simply no reason for needless delay or misplaced opposition from federal, state or local governments.  In terms of faster 5G transition in the U.S., more jobs, more private telecommunications investment, greater market competition, broader nationwide coverage for consumers, capacity improvements, performance improvements and lower prices (as we highlighted just yesterday), this merger is a no-brainer.

Importantly, among other benefits to the public that we’ve emphasized, the New York Commission yesterday noted how the merger would result in a new entity whose whole would be greater than the sum of its current parts:

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[T]he Petitioners have addressed concerns related to the broader issues raised by others in this case…  In response to claims that T-Mobile and Sprint would have built 5G networks in any case, the Petitioners assert that the new T-Mobile will be able to build a larger, more robust network in a more timely fashion, than either of the two companies on their own.”

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We at CFIF applaud the Commission’s common-sense finding, and hope that other authorities will demonstrate similar rationality.  In particular, next week the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees will hold a joint hearing on the proposed merger.  As Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – New Jersey), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D – New York), Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D – Pennsylvania) and Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D – Rhode Island) explicitly stated in their joint announcement, “We look forward to examining this merger from the perspective of what is in the best interest of consumers and hardworking people.”

Well, New York authorities examined that same question yesterday, and the answer was obvious in the affirmative.

 

February 7th, 2019 at 7:20 am
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Already Bearing Fruit
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For months since its announcement, CFIF has enthusiastically supported the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, based upon the myriad benefits that it offers the American economy and consumers.

Among those benefits, lower consumer prices stand among the most prominent.  Well, that prospective benefit is already coming to fruition.

Specifically, in a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere committed to maintaining “the same or better rate plans” for the next three years as the merger occurs:

Critics of our merger … have principally argued that we are going to raise rates right after the merger closes.  I want to reiterate, unequivocally, that New T-Mobile rates are NOT going to go up.  Rather, our merger will ensure that American consumers will pay less and get more…                   

If we broke faith by raising rates and cutting back benefits, we would lose our loyal customers and destroy the future of our brand.  I want to assure you that we would never do this.  My management team and I can make this personal commitment because we believe in delivering on our promises, and we k now if we do not, we will lose credibility and the trust of our customers.  Our business plan and our future success are centered around building a world class 5G network for everyone and delivering more to consumers for less.                     

To remove any remaining doubt or concerns about New T-Mobile’s prices while we are combining our networks over the next three years, T-Mobile today is submitting to the Commission a commitment that I stand behind – a commitment that New T-Mobile will make available the same or better rate plans for our services as those offered today by T-Mobile or Sprint.  We believe this merger makes consumers better off, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.  Period.

Of course, that’s not the only benefit to the American economy and consumer marketplace, as we’ve detailed.

Among other important improvements, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger would add another major competitor to the existing marketplace, and combine their current differing but complimentary assets.  The result will be more jobs, faster wireless, quicker transition to 5G technology in America, more choices for consumers, greater private telecommunications investment and all of the consequent innovation that market competition entails.

Nevertheless, the fact that the benefits to American consumers in terms of pricing are already arriving confirms the soundness of this proposed merger.

It’s certainly something for the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees must acknowledge at their joint hearing next week.  The alternative to a T-Mobile/Sprint merger is less investment, fewer jobs, less market competition, more harmful government intervention into the economy, slower 5G deployment and one fewer competitive market participant.

That’s simply an unacceptable and indefensible alternative.

February 6th, 2019 at 4:13 pm
The State of the Union
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Below is two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez take on this week’s State of the Union.

February 4th, 2019 at 2:31 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
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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/99.1FM 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: Dr. Robert McNab, Professor at Old Dominion University – Improving Rural Broadband Access;

4:15 CST/5:15 pm EST: Devin Watkins, Attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – California’s Soda Labeling Ban;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST: Nicole Kaeding, Director of Federal Projects at the Tax Foundation – Senator Warren’s Wealth Tax;

4:45 CST/5:45 pm EST: Riley Walters, Policy Analyst, Asia Economy and Technology at The Heritage Foundation – Trade Deal with China;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST: Max Eden, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute – School Safety, Leniency Programs, and Governor Ron DeSantis’ Plans for “Guardian” Money;

5:15 CST/6:15 pm EST: Greg Brown, Santa Rosa County Property Tax Appraiser – Latest News and Updates; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST: Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Free Speech and Economic Freedom.

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

February 1st, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Be a Win for American Consumers
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On February 13, the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees will hold an important joint hearing on the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger that promises greater innovation, more jobs, more private telecommunications investment, increased market competition, faster wireless and greater choice for consumers as America proceeds toward our much-anticipated 5G technological rollout.

Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – New Jersey), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D – New York), Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D – Pennsylvania) and Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D – Rhode Island) state in their joint announcement that, “We look forward to examining this merger from the perspective of what is in the best interest of consumers and hardworking people.”

Well, the answer to that question is clear.

Compared to the current telecommunications marketplace, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will mean an enhanced array of consumer services.  Sprint and T-Mobile currently possess differing but symbiotic assets, rather than overlapping ones that might otherwise simply mean a bigger company instead of two smaller (and less competitive) ones.  As a result, the new entity would create a new network with broader nationwide coverage, capacity improvements and improved wireless performance for customers compared to what American consumers currently enjoy.  As has been exhaustively demonstrated by CFIF and others, the proposed merger also promises lower costs for consumers, new jobs and necessary network upgrades.

In particular, the proposed merger offers significant potential benefits through deployment of the first 5G wireless network in the U.S., as CFIF has noted:

With an anticipated $40 billion investment in 5G, consumers will enjoy data delivery at a lower cost, and the incentive for competitors to similarly lower prices to consumers.  That will also prompt market competition to expand spectrum in rural areas in addition to urban centers, as well as capacity improvements for consumers.           

That’s how market competition works.  A T-Mobile/Sprint merger and its 5G deployment would also mean billions in new private infrastructure investment and countless new jobs.  In contrast, the absence of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger would mean slower deployment of a 5G nationwide network, and the absence of a market competitor of greater scale.  Ultimately that means consumers would lose.

There is simply no point in needless delay or contentiousness when the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees convene on February 13.  The proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger offers only benefits to American consumers compared to the existing status quo.  The Committees must recognize that reality, lest we pay an unnecessary price in terms of slower 5G, fewer consumer choices, fewer jobs, less investment and less market competition.