June 26th, 2015 at 4:12 pm
Senators Graham and Rubio Unwisely Reintroduce Nationwide Online Gaming Ban Legislation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our federalist system of government, individual states constitute laboratories of democracy and remain free to enact laws as they see fit, absent explicit federal power over a particular area.  That’s a fundamental value of conservatism and libertarianism, so it was disappointing this week to see that Senators Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) and Marco Rubio (R – Florida) were among those reintroducing proposed legislation that would impose a blanket, nationwide prohibition of online gaming.

Such a law would commandeer states’ historical and constitutional right to regulate gaming, never mind that it would mean yet another imposition of federal power into citizens’ entertainment choices and how they spend their own hard-earned dollars.

Stated simply, individual states across the nation have authorized online poker and various other forms of Internet wagering for citizens within their own borders, with many more considering similar moves. Unfortunately, the ill-advised new proposed federal legislation introduced by Senators Graham and Rubio would upend that state of affairs.  The so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act of 2015, which wouldn’t “restore” the Wire Act to its original meaning but rather significantly expand its reach contrary to the Fifth Circuit and Justice Department rulings, aims to impose a de facto prohibition on online gaming in all 50 states and thereby increase federal regulatory power.  Proponents claim that the new bill would protect children and problem gamers, but the more realistic consequence would be shutting down existing law-abiding companies and driving commerce toward criminal sites and unaccountable overseas entities less interested in restricting minors or problem gamers.

The better option is to maintain existing law, which rewards law-abiding domestic companies and ensures greater safety and security.  And as noted above, the proposed legislation would grossly violate the concepts of state sovereignty, free-market principles and individual consumer freedom.  The last thing we need right now is even more federal regulation of states and legal commerce, particularly within the flourishing Internet sector.

Conservatives, libertarians and Americans of every other political persuasion should therefore oppose the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and contact their Senators and Representatives to demand the same.


June 24th, 2015 at 11:01 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Dealing With Iran
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.


June 22nd, 2015 at 3:05 pm
Healthcare Scares: ObamaCare, Government Regulations, and Bioterrorism
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Robert King, Healthcare Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, discusses King v. Burwell, ObamaCare’s impact on small businesses, prescription drugs and government intervention, and whether America is ready for a bioterror attack.

Listen to the interview here.


June 22nd, 2015 at 7:56 am
Video: The Wisdom of Justice Obama
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses how President Obama’s rhetoric regarding ObamaCare and the challenge currently before the Supreme Court to the law’s subsidies is both unseemly and not presidential.


June 19th, 2015 at 9:51 am
WSJ News Item Debunks Leftists’ Anti-Texas Myth
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Texas illustrates the real-world success of less government and free market principles, yet leftists like oft-discredited New York Times columnist Paul Krugman attempt to dismiss it as some sort of demographic or energy fluke.

A news feature this week in The Wall Street Journal, however, offers yet another objective refutation of their efforts.  Entitled “Texas’ Engine Keeps Revving,” the article details how jobs and population continue to grow despite the recent energy sector slump:

The continued economic success of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area, the nation’s fourth largest, with nearly seven million people, is one of the reasons Texas has so far managed to stave off a sharp downturn despite losing thousands of jobs in the oil patch and related industries.  The region lost more than 100,000 jobs during the recession, but it has added nearly four times that number since then…   Dallas isn’t the only Texas region that has diversified.  The San Antonio metro area, which has 2.3 million residents, now has a burgeoning biotech sector.  Austin, with its population of 1.9 million, had the lowest unemployment rate among the nation’s largest metro areas in April as it undergoes a hotel boom.”

That doesn’t happen by accident.  After all, California enjoys a higher population, better weather, diversified economic base and greater access to trade with its vast coastal area.  In other words, the sorts of things that Krugman offers as rationalizations for the Texas boom.  The reality is that Texas continues to flourish despite the rapid drop in oil prices because unlike states like California, Connecticut or Illinois, it opts for lower taxes, less regulation and freer markets.  Hopefully, that lesson will continue to sink in with the rest of the nation and our federal leaders.


June 17th, 2015 at 9:19 am
Ramirez Cartoon: ISIS Policy
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.


June 16th, 2015 at 1:13 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. 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:  Lawrence J. McQuillan, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute – “California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Robert King, Healthcare Correspondent for the Washington Examiner – High Drug Prices, Bioterror and ObamaCare;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Mark Bauerlein, author and editor of “The State of the American Mind” – The Fall of Civics, a Profile of the American Mind and National Consequences; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Scott Blackburn, Research Fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics – Get IRS Out of Speech Police Business.

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


June 15th, 2015 at 2:33 pm
Gallup: Other Than Military and Small Business, Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Institutions at Historic Lows
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As an organization whose very name prizes individual freedom, it cannot escape notice that as liberty in all aspects of American life seems under siege, citizens’ confidence in major institutions reaches historic lows.  According to a Gallup survey released today, only the military and small business remain notable (and telling) exceptions:

Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one.  Only the military (72%) and small business (67%) – the highest-rated institutions in this year’s poll – are currently rated higher than their historical norms, based on the percentage expressing ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the institution…  From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”

As the 2016 presidential race accelerates, this has important implications for the candidates and potential candidates.  That’s particularly ominous for Hillary Clinton, who in effect demands “Four more years!” from the American electorate in the face of historical fact that only once since World War II has a party been elected to a third consecutive White House term (George H.W. Bush in 1988).


June 12th, 2015 at 12:55 pm
Podcast: How Pointless Regulations Hurt Patients
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Thomas P. Stossel, M.D., American Enterprise Institute Scholar, discusses his book Pharmaphobia: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation, how heavy regulation makes medical innovation difficult and expensive, and how bureaucrats, reporters, politicians, and predatory lawyers have built careers attacking the medical products industry.

Listen to the interview here.


June 12th, 2015 at 10:30 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

June 11th, 2015 at 12:32 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: How the World Sees Obama
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.


June 5th, 2015 at 3:52 pm
Bipartisan Copyright Office Modernization Legislation Introduced in Congress
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The U.S. Copyright Office is in need of modernization, and this week brought positive news in that regard.

Congressman Thomas Marino (R – Pennsylvania) and Judy Chu (D – California) introduced draft legislation entitled the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy (CODE) Act to improve the way the office operates.  Although not typically in the headlines every day or in the forefront of public attention, the Copyright Office not only helps set policy as it relates to both domestic and international copyright matters, it administers broad aspects of existing laws.  Copyright-related industries – especially creative industries like entertainment that dominate the globe – constitute an estimated $1 trillion portion of the American economy, and account for an estimated 5.5 million jobs.  Moreover, it’s an export sector that continues to grow.  And with the constant transition to a digital world marketplace, the strain upon our Copyright Office only increases each day.

Among other things, the CODE Act would:  (1) establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency; (2) allow it to physically relocate from the Library of Congress into its own federal building;(3) transfer administrative functions and legal duties from the Library of Congress; (4) allow appointment of a director for one ten-year term following review by a bipartisan and bicameral commission and then consent of the Senate;  and (5) allow the Copyright Office to deliver any and all communications directly to Congress, free of mandatory White House review.

Given the enormous and growing importance of copyright industries, legislation to bring reform and modernization to the Copyright Office is to be welcomed.  The merits of the bill and its individual provisions must still be discussed and debated, but this is a positive first step.  To modernize the office would not only constitute a bipartisan accomplishment for Congress, it would amount to a victory for American consumers, creators and innovators.


June 5th, 2015 at 10:58 am
Additional Thoughts on Criminal Justice Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

A couple of additional points on the need to tread carefully on criminal justice reform, the topic of my commentary this week.

First, Michael Barone, the dean of American politics, emphasizes that same theme in his column today:

Are we seeing a reversal of the 20-year decline in violent crime in America?  A new nationwide crime wave?  Heather MacDonald fears we are, and as a premier advocate and analyst of the policing strategy pioneered by Rudy Giuliani in New York City and copied and adapted throughout the country, she is to be taken seriously.  And the statistics she presented in an article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal are truly alarming.

Gun violence is up 60 percent in Baltimore so far this year compared to 2014.  Homicides are up 180 percent in Milwaukee, 25 percent in St. Louis, 32 percent in Atlanta and 13 percent in New York in the same period.

Why is this happening?  MacDonald writes, ‘The most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months.’”

Barone concludes:

We must hope that the fire does not spread and dies down.  Perhaps it will if police resume the tactics that have proven so successful.  The alternative, for those of us who have witnessed the last half-century, is terrifying.”

Second, Rick Perry’s entry into the 2016 presidential race highlights another example of the danger of overzealous prosecution and overcriminalization.  Recall that Perry was preposterously charged with felonies for simply exercising his powers as governor.  Specifically, he merely threatened to veto funding for a state district attorney’s office unless one of its prosecutors who had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and behaving abusively toward officers – all captured on profane video – resigned or was fired.  As today’s Wall Street Journal notes, “Unlike many of President Obama’s actions, this was a constitutional exercise of executive power.”  The awful tale of the late Senator Ted Stevens (R – Alaska) is yet another example.  Stevens was convicted on the basis of prosecutorial corruption, he subsequently lost his reelection bid by an extremely narrow margin (which proved the decisive vote in passing ObamaCare), but then was cleared after his death and his prosecutors were themselves disciplined.

Barone’s piece and those two additional examples help confirm that we need criminal justice reform, but that we must do so carefully.


June 4th, 2015 at 3:19 pm
New Study: The Economic Case for Crude Oil Exports is Clear
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, Dr. Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), and William Shughart, former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) economist and professor of economics at the Jon. M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, convincingly set out the economic case for finally allowing the export of U.S crude oil in a study entitled, “The Economic Case for Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban.”

In their paper, the two notable economists analyze multiple macroeconomic studies by highly-respected public policy think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, IHS, the Aspen Institute and ICF International.  All reached the same conclusion:  Removing the crude oil export ban will bring measurable economic advantages to our economy and our nation.

And what are those economic advantages?  First, allowing oil exports will  create high-paying jobs, increased economic investment, higher gross domestic product (GDP) and downward pressure on fuel prices.  Specifically, the Brookings Institution study analyzed by Thorning and Shughart found that lifting the ban will reduce unemployment by an annual average of 200,000-400,000 jobs between 2015 and 2020. For its part, ICF predicted gains of up to 300,000 new jobs by 2020.

Accordingly, continuing to observe our outdated and restrictive crude export policy, we are demonstrating a blatant disregard for economic growth and expansion, particularly in the jobs sector.

Along with the significant economic benefits, we also possess an opportunity to strengthen ties with our trading partners in the global market, upholding the very free trade principles we encourage other countries to practice.

Additionally, the new paper highlights the contradictory nature of the U.S. prohibiting crude oil exports while professing to the world that we practice free trade. Crude oil is no different than other domestically produced products bought and sold daily in the global economy, and removing the ban and instituting a more truly free market boosts our credibility as a nation that practices capitalism and open trade.

Simply put, changing our outdated energy policy on crude exports would be a sound economic approach that takes advantage of our current domestic energy abundance. The U.S. would benefit on the economic front and position ourselves to become a top player in the global energy market while more truly embracing a free trade doctrine.

That’s a win-win for our economy and the American people.


June 2nd, 2015 at 11:58 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obamanomics
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.

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June 1st, 2015 at 9:39 am
Bankruptcy for Puerto Rico? Bad Idea
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Puerto Rico’s years of fiscal mismanagement, cronyism and corruption have come to a head.  The island territory is at least $73 billion in debt, and guess who Congressional Democrats think should pick up the tab:  American taxpayers, savers and seniors.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierliusi and Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla are working with fellow Democrats to lure Republicans into passing a bill (H.R. 870) that would give Puerto Rico a bailout, and allow Puerto Rico to walk away from its debts.

We at CFIF are concerned that some Republicans in Congress are receptive to this taxpayer bailout.  Representative Goodlatte of Virginia, who chairs the House Judiciary, recently visited Puerto Rico to explore pursuing Chapter 9 having set the legislative process in motion when he consented to having a public hearing on the proposal back in February.

Chapter 9would hurt thousands of hardworking Americans on the mainland and in Puerto Rico who have invested savings in Puerto Rican bonds.  And longer-term, it would do nothing to reform a broken Island.  Furthermore, a Chapter 9 bailout flies in the face of principles for which Republicans are supposed to stand:  limited government, fiscal responsibility and the rule of law.  Some Puerto Rican apologists have even suggested that if Puerto Rico is not granted Chapter 9, the Island will just come calling for a bailout.  But that is a false choice, and a stick-up by San Juan and their cronies.

Fortunately, better alternatives exist.

For example, the Puerto Rican Government could actually pay the hundreds of millions of dollars it owes to the power authority (PREPA) or Congress could also impose greater oversight over Puerto Rico. Remember, a financial control board was effective in reforming the District of Columbia’s finances 20 years ago, accomplished on a bipartisan basis by a Republican Congress and a Democratic President.  Ultimately, that might be the way to put in place comprehensive, structural reforms so that Puerto Rico never again spirals out of control.

This brings us back to the Republican Congress, specifically Rep. Goodlatte.  At a minimum, holding a hearing signals openness to the bill.  Yet, this changes the rules in the middle of game and can have economic consequences, which Rep. Goodlatte has acknowledged.

Now that Rep. Goodlatte has met in Puerto Rico with its leaders, fellow conservatives are looking to him to put the brakes on this bailout.  As Jay Marts of the Virginia Northern Shenandoah Tea Party writes, “H.R 870 is not a conservative solution,” but “a gift to the Democrats.”

American taxpayers should not be saddled with yet another bailout and force Americans saving for retirement to take a financial hit.  Instead, Congressional Republicans should guide Puerto Rico into doing the right thing:  trim spending and taxes, stand up to unions and undertake badly-needed governing reforms.  The time is right for a control board.


May 29th, 2015 at 11:03 am
Pass Free Trade Legislation, But Ignore Calls to Insert “Fair Use” Provisions That Weaken American IP Protections
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF strongly advocate both free trade and intellectual property (IP) protection.  Although typically distinct policy questions, they are currently intertwined as Congress finally and fortunately moves toward passing free trade legislation.

The pending legislation rightly demands that trading partners recognize American IP rights, but that has naturally drawn fire from some of the usual suspects (e.g., Google, the Internet Association, et al.) who tend to oppose stronger IP rights because those protections tend to run contrary to their own particular business interests.  Specifically, those interests seek to include copyright limitations in free trade bills, including mandatory “Fair Use” exceptions.

That would be a bad idea.

Among other problems, those voices misstate domestic law in suggesting that “generally, an Internet company in the U.S. is not held liable for the conduct or content of third parties who use its platform.”  While existing law provides a level of immunity for Internet companies, such immunity is limited and does not excuse violations in numerous circumstances, including:  (1) when the interactive computer service materially contributes to the illegal content; (2) when the interactive computer service itself engages in fraud/misrepresentation; (3) when the interactive computer service engages in, or aids and abets, criminal activity; or (4) if the illegal activity violates IP laws.  Accordingly, omitting discussion of an Internet company’s liability for copyright infringement is particularly and intentionally misleading.  American law regarding the liability of intermediaries is infinitely more complicated, and intermediaries may face liability under a variety of circumstances, including where they induce the infringement of third persons (the Grokster standard), and in other circumstances in which they meet the standards of contributory infringement or vicarious liability.  Additionally, “safe harbors” under applicable law remain conditioned on a number of affirmative acts on the part of intermediaries, such as promptly taking action once they learn of infringing content (rather than merely upon receiving formal notice), maintaining policies with regard to repeat violators and adoption of standard technical measures designed to prevent infringement.

Thus, domestic law does not extend some blanket, general exemption from liability for Internet companies with regard to the conduct of third parties, and the scope of liability in the U.S. continues to evolve, both from a judicial standpoint and a legislative one.  Furthermore, Congress is presently considering the appropriate contours of the safe harbors established in the 20-year-old DMCA, with many members expressing concerns about the levels of piracy that prevail, and the fact that “notice and takedown” has been largely ineffective in reducing piracy levels, with a particularly devastating impact on individual creators and actors who can ill afford to pursue takedowns only to have the same content immediately re-uploaded.  Accordingly, it remains unclear exactly what liability regime the US should be seeking to export.  But it’s absolutely clear that American interest in foreign markets remains primarily in promoting greater discipline and accountability to reduce piracy levels that deprive the US billions of dollars in earnings.

Furthermore, U.S. trade agreements already include provisions relating to exceptions and limitations.  They also already recite the relevant provisions of international law that define the scope of permissible exceptions and limitations.  Those binding provisions are contained in a variety of agreements, including the Berne Convention, TRIPS, the WIPO Treaties (WCT and WPPT), and each of our free trade agreements.  Other nations have employed different means to achieve what they believe is a proper balance between protection and limitations, but remain they bound by the provisions of international law.  A particularly wide variance exists in how common law and civil law nations approach exceptions and limitations.  More specifically, courts in civil law countries are not permitted to interpret general provisions, and legal standards that require the weighing of different factors are a poor fit.  As a result, legal provisions such as Fair Use are ill-suited to the jurisprudence of most countries across the globe.

Moreover, as the world’s leading producer and exporter of copyright protected materials, the U.S. maintains a tremendous economic interest in ensuring the effective protection of copyright works.  While all parties strongly endorse balanced copyright protection that both protects works and provides reasonable flexibility, the biggest problem in foreign markets is lack of discipline, and not overboard protection.

It is critical that Congress passes free trade legislation currently on its agenda, and those who seek to exploit it as a device to weaken American IP protections must be rejected.


May 29th, 2015 at 8:47 am
Is Global Warming Really the World’s Biggest Threat?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, discusses why global warming is not the world’s greatest threat, why Vice President Joe Biden was wrong on his 2010 prediction about Iraq proving to be one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration, and why former President George W. Bush is not to blame for ISIS.

Listen to the interview here.


May 26th, 2015 at 8:25 pm
Fifth Circuit Maintains Roadblock to Obama Immigration Amnesty
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift an injunction prohibiting the Obama administration from implementing an executive amnesty program for millions of illegal immigrants.

Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas who is leading a 26 state lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s amnesty order, applauded the court for stopping “a drastic change in immigration policy” since the program bypassed congressional approval. Texas is alleging significant financial burdens on state taxpayers if the federal government is allowed to proceed.

The Obama administration is now considering whether to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move which could backfire and derail a policy goal long sought by immigration activists.

This much we know: the rule of law has been preserved, at least for today.

H/T: New York Times


May 26th, 2015 at 3:05 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. 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:  Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Lessons from the Opt Out Debate;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Florida Senator Don Gaetz – 2015 Legislative Session Continues;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Steven Bucci, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – ISIS;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Daniel Allott, Deputy Commentary Editor at the Washington Examiner – The GOP Field Grows; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Current News Regarding the FCC, ISIS and other Issues.

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