February 13th, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Shedding Light on Solar Handouts
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, discusses how rooftop solar companies are cashing in on government handouts at the expense of taxpayers, how the subsidies hamper efforts to achieve real energy independence, and why we should oppose gas tax increases.

Listen to the interview here.


February 13th, 2015 at 11:15 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

February 12th, 2015 at 7:35 pm
Obama Demagogues Staples Over Part-Time Worker Policy
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Apparently, the president who has time to share his Final Four picks on national television can also squeeze in space on his schedule to erroneously charge Staples with oppressing its own workforce.

Earlier this week, Barack Obama was interviewed by BuzzFeed, an online news site. BuzzFeed claimed to have evidence that Staples, the office supply giant, threatens to fire part-time employees who work more than 25 hours a week. The reason – anything more could qualify the worker for employer-sponsored health insurance under ObamaCare. (30 hours per week is the threshold.)

Asked to respond, Obama unleashed his inner community organizer.

“I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security,” Obama replied. “…when I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them.”

On the contrary, shame on the President of the United States.

“Unfortunately, the president appears not to have all the facts,” a Staples spokesman told CNN Money. The cap on part-time work hours has been in place for a decade, and the company has many opportunities for hourly employees to move into full-time positions.

It’s striking that a man who doesn’t blink at proposing a federal budget more than $472 billion in the red next year thinks himself capable of lecturing a private business on how it should spend its profits.

Maybe he should stick with basketball brackets, and let the professionals manage the books.


February 12th, 2015 at 6:36 pm
GOP Senators: Obama Admin Officials “Evading” Whether Backup Plan Exists If Supremes Strike Down Subsidies
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Does the Obama administration have a backup plan if the Supreme Court interprets ObamaCare according to its terms and prohibits federal subsidies to Americans in 36 states?

If so, top administrators at Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury aren’t sharing.

That lack of transparency – and the havoc it could wreck on millions of mandatory ObamaCare users – angers a group of powerful Senate Republicans.

“I want to make certain that the government has notified people who have signed up through the HHS insurance exchange – including the thousands of Georgians who were forced to enroll after ObamaCare cancelled their health plans – of the potential consequences of the Court ruling against the government, especially given the fact that the cost of the program could be significantly increased,” Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said in a statement.

“The Obama administration needs to be forthcoming about its backup plans so my constituents can make their own backup plans.”

Isakson and other Republicans serving on the Senate Finance Committee sent a strongly worded letter to several government agencies demanding details of any contingency plans. In it they charge HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen with “lack of candor” and “evad[ing] the issue when it was raised at hearings before the Committee this week.”

Consider this another unfulfilled promise of “the most transparent administration in history.


February 11th, 2015 at 7:55 pm
Big Insurance Lines Up Behind ObamaCare
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and then fight like hell to save them.

That’s essentially the health insurance industry’s strategy when it comes to ObamaCare.

Unable to derail the Democrats’ health reform train in 2009 and 2010, most of the biggest players in the health insurance industry agreed to make peace with the Obama administration.

For their troubles the insurance companies won policy concessions like the individual mandate to ensure a captive market for their products, and a complicated bailout scheme to subsidize losses.

Then along came King v. Burwell, one of the cases challenging the legality of federal subsidies necessary to make ObamaCare plans affordable. (Necessary, but not, according to ObamaCare’s text, permitted in states that rely on the federal government’s insurance portal.)

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments this spring, and many entities have submitted amicus or friend-of-the-court briefs to persuade the justices their way.

“Among those filing amicus briefs defending health reform are HCA, the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the National Alliance of State Health Co-ops, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the American Cancer Society, and the National Association of Community Health Centers,” reports Bloomberg Business. “The insurance and medical industries share the administration’s goal of seeing millions more people covered because that translates into millions more customers seeking the services of carriers, hospitals, and doctors.”

If given a choice, many established businesses would prefer a guaranteed arrangement with the government rather than rely exclusively on the volatility of the market. It’s easy to see why. But discomfort to the health insurance industry should not trump the rule of law. If the IRS can rewrite ObamaCare to make money available where it has been prohibited, then perhaps another agency hence can also decide to cancel spending that is legally required.

No businessman wants to be on the wrong side of a one-way contract. Yet that’s precisely what will happen if the federal bureaucracy gets to change the terms of ObamaCare whenever it sees fit.


February 11th, 2015 at 12:48 pm
Gallup: Obama on Track to be Most Polarizing President Ever
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

President Barack Obama is on pace to have the most polarized approval ratings in history, according to a new Gallup poll.

Polarized approval ratings mean the gap between those in a president’s party that approve of him compared to those in the opposition party that don’t. “So far in his presidency, there has been an average party gap of 70 points in Obama’s approval ratings, which, if it continues, would be easily the highest for a president to date,” says the Gallup summary.

For context, former President George W. Bush “is second with a 61-point gap throughout his presidency, followed by Clinton (56) and Reagan (52). The other presidents [going back to Eisenhower] had party gaps of no more than 41 points.”

As Tim explained in his column last week, it’s no surprise that people concerned about the country’s fiscal future disapprove of Obama’s job performance. Economic growth is in a nine-year rut, the percentage of the U.S. population with jobs is as low as when Jimmy Carter was in office, and the median income has actually declined since Obama’s economic “recovery” was announced.

The real question after reading through the Gallup results isn’t, What’s the matter with Republicans? It’s, How in the world can Democrats see the current president as worthy of such lofty praise?


February 10th, 2015 at 8:55 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Budget
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 9th, 2015 at 2:57 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:  Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayer’s Union – Tax and Spend Mess;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  Charles C. Johnson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gotnews.com – NBC’s Brian Williams and Media Integrity;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager at Taxpayers Protection Alliance – What Solar Energy is Costing Taxpayers; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Dr. Gerard Gianoli, Doc Squads Member – ObamaCare and Physician Innovative Solutions.

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


February 6th, 2015 at 4:43 pm
Avik Roy Weighs In on the GOP’s Patient CARE Act
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Avik Roy, a conservative health policy expert, penned a very helpful primer on the latest GOP ObamaCare alternative.

The plan – the Patient CARE Act – is an updated version of similar reform concepts presented last year by three leading Republican members of Congress.

Along with other intriguing ideas, the Patient CARE Act replaces ObamaCare’s restrictive subsidy system – i.e. the money can only be spent on federally-approved insurance plans – with “a means-tested tax credit that individuals could use to buy a far broader range of insurance products, or deposit the funds in a health savings account.”

As a tremendous service to readers, Roy also summarizes how the Patient CARE Act compares to other conservative health reform alternatives: his Transcending ObamaCare and one championed by the 2017 Project. All three are serious proposals and deserve attention.

More on these and other ObamaCare alternatives as they develop…


February 6th, 2015 at 11:50 am
We’re Still # 1: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center Releases Third International IP Index
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center released its third annual GIPC International IP Index, and it provides some welcome good news.

Namely, the U.S. retains its top global ranking in a survey that expanded this year to include 30 nations, “comprising nearly 80% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).”  The Index provides critical “empirical literature showing a robust relationship between strengthening levels of IP protection and an increase in economic benefits such as foreign direct investment, job creation, technology transfer, and economic development.”

We at CFIF often note the way in which strong IP protection is the causal factor explaining why the U.S. stands as the most innovative and prosperous nation in human history – by far.  With the release of this year’s Index, the Chamber and GIPC provide the latest empirical support for that critical causal connection.


February 6th, 2015 at 11:33 am
Video: Respect Our Military…or Shut Up
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino expresses a simple message for some Hollywood liberals vocally reacting to the new film American Sniper: “Show some respect or keep your mouths shut.”

Tags:

February 6th, 2015 at 11:00 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

February 5th, 2015 at 8:27 pm
New GOP ObamaCare Alternative
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Here’s a look at the newest Republican alternative to ObamaCare.

According to the plan’s authors – Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, plus Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah – the plan would rein in Medicaid’s burgeoning costs by turning it into a block grant.

That’s not all.

Among other things, the Patient CARE Act would:

  • Enact medical malpractice reforms to reduce frivolous lawsuits
  • Require basic price transparency to inform and empower patients
  • Cap the exclusion of an employee’s employer-provided health coverage
  • Create a targeted tax credit to help buy health care

Billed as a “Bicameral Republican Blueprint,” this proposal has support from three powerful members of the GOP in Congress. Once they produce more details, then we’ll see how many votes they can muster.


February 5th, 2015 at 4:25 pm
Podcast: Africa, Counterterrorism and Security
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF,  Caitlin Poling, Director of Government Relations at the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses Boko Haram, Nigeria’s failure to respond to actionable intelligence, security issues and human rights violations. 

Listen to the interview here.


February 5th, 2015 at 9:54 am
Rep. Chaffetz Reintroduces Proposed Nationwide Internet Gaming Ban That Died a Rightful Death Just Two Months Ago
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Two short months ago, we sounded the alarm regarding proposed Congressional legislation that would’ve banned online gaming in all 50 states, improperly federalizing what is rightfully an individual state law concern.

The proposed bill rightfully died a quick death.  Unfortunately, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) apparently considers the week of Groundhog Day an appropriate time to reattempt the blanket nationwide ban.

Nothing has changed in the intervening two months to justify his repeat attempt, and the grounds for opposing the proposed bill then still apply today:

The so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 in the House and S. 2159 in the Senate), 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.”

Representative Chaffetz is generally a valuable defender of conservative and libertarian principles in Congress.  But he should know better than to reintroduce this bad idea.  Accordingly, conservatives and libertarians should contact their elected representatives and confirm their opposition to a bill that deserves to fail in the same swift manner as its predecessor last December.


February 4th, 2015 at 1:11 pm
IRS Delays Enforcement of ObamaCare “Clawback”
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome another politically-motivated ObamaCare delay to the stage!

Megan McArdle sums up the IRS’ decision to let those who received too much in ObamaCare subsidies last year get extra time to pay back the difference (called the law’s “clawback” provision).

“It’s not relieving you of the obligation to repay; it’s just saying that you won’t be liable for a penalty if you don’t repay by the deadline,” explains McArdle. “Interest will continue to accrue, but the interest rates that the IRS charges are actually pretty reasonable (and probably much better than what your credit card company charges). It’s the failure-to-pay penalties it layers on top – half a percentage point a month, with even stiffer penalties for failing to file – that really make your tax bill add up fast.”

That is, if the Obama IRS ever gets around to enforcing the parts of laws it doesn’t like. McArdle writes, “The IRS emphasizes that this is a one-time deal, just for 2014. But I’m not sure if you should believe it. This emphasizes one of the problems we’ve spoken about a lot in this space: The political will to impose the costs of the Affordable Care Act is a lot less strong than the will to distribute the benefits.”

The Republican establishment was once derided as the tax collector for the welfare state. If Obama and the Democratic Party can’t be bothered to administer both the costs and the benefits of their so-called health reform law, the GOP shouldn’t shoulder the burden of balancing its books.

Every politically-motivated delay in enforcing an aspect of ObamaCare is a tacit admission by its supporters that the law is unworkable in practice. Republicans should acknowledge the obvious and start afresh.


February 3rd, 2015 at 7:36 pm
Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats Vote to Shut Down DHS; Time for GOP to Play Hardball
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Harry Reid (D-NV) and his Senate Democrats voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security today.

The piece of legislation they voted down was a Republican bill to fund DHS for the rest of the fiscal year with the caveat that no funds could be spent implementing President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty. Currently, the DHS budget is set to expire at the end of February.

The decision probably didn’t involve too much deliberation or anguish since Reid & Co. can count on a sympathetic media to frame the result as Republican obstruction, i.e. not letting Obama and the Democratic Party run roughshod over federal law to curry favor with millions of potential future voters.

If anything Reid and his allies probably think they helped Obama save face by shielding him from having to veto common sense legislation for naked political reasons. Now, Obama can blame Congress for not working, even though it’s the members of his own party that are throwing up roadblocks.

One thing that is clear is that Reid never would have whipped his entire caucus in opposition unless Obama had authorized it. So, call this an indirect veto of Republicans’ immigration funding maneuver and we’re right where we would have been had the bill passed and been rejected.

Obama and Reid play on the same team, so Republicans can’t let the media portray this as anything other than what it is – a high stakes dispute over whether policy gets decided according to the rule of law or the whim of one.

If the president wants to start the negotiating process earlier than expected, so be it. Republicans in Congress shouldn’t use this an excuse to cave.

There had to be a strategy to overcome the veto, at least in the court of public opinion. After today’s vote, it’s time to accelerate the time line.


February 2nd, 2015 at 8:03 pm
White House Considering More ObamaCare Exemptions
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Here’s everything you need to know about the corrupting tendencies of the modern administrative state.

When the ruling elite’s social engineering policies threaten to weaken its grip on power, the law can be bent in any way that pleases them.

Exhibit A is a news article from the New York Times, which begins, “Obama administration officials and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act say they worry that the tax-filing season will generate new anger as uninsured consumers learn that they must pay tax penalties and as many people struggle with complex forms needed to justify tax credits they received in 2014 to pay for health insurance.”

The solution: “The White House has already granted some exemptions and is considering more to avoid a political firestorm.”

You read that correctly. If lots of people will be angry because ObamaCare is slated to work as designed – by ensuring that the people who received insurance subsidies actually qualified for them – it’s completely permissible to just exempt them from compliance.

This is interest group politics run amuck.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating. If Mitt Romney had said during the 2012 presidential campaign that all he needed to repeal ObamaCare was to be elected so he could not enforce the law, the Left would have been up in arms swearing to sue him in court for dereliction of duty. When Barack Obama does the same thing it’s suddenly accepted as executive discretion.

One day liberals may see a conservative reap a policy windfall thanks to Obama’s careless actions. If this is the way it’s going to be in the future, don’t be surprised to see presidents of every partisan stripe erode the rule of law by carving out exemptions for their political base. Today it’s the working poor. Tomorrow it might be trust fund kids who see their capital gains taxes go uncollected.

And then, we’ll be Greece.


January 30th, 2015 at 11:30 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

Ellis:  CBO: ObamaCare Increases Deficit by $1.35 Trillion
Lee:  The Obama Record: U.S. Stagnates in Annual Index of Global Economic Freedom

Podcast:  No New Gas Taxes Needed!
Jester’s Courtroom:  Letting It All Hang Out

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.


January 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am
The Obama “Recovery”: Home Ownership Fell Again in 2014
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our Liberty Update this week, we highlight two panoramic measures of the Obama Administration’s failed presidency:  the long-term plummet in U.S. economic freedom compared to the rest of the world, and the fact that more Americans today than in January 2009 consider the U.S. a nation in decline.  That wasn’t supposed to happen under Obama’s magical leadership.

Today, the Commerce Department released a more particularized measure of the Obama Administration’s failure:

The U.S. home ownership rate fell to its lowest level in 20 years at the end of 2014 – a level last seen when national leaders embarked on a broad push to expand home ownership in the mid-1990s.  Estimates published Thursday show that, after adjusting for seasonal factors, 63.9% of U.S. households owned their homes in the fourth quarter, a rate last recorded in 1994, according to the Commerce Department.  Home ownership hasn’t fallen below that level since 1988.  The rate stood at 65.1% at the end of 2013.”

Accordingly, ownership isn’t just down since the government-inflated housing bubble burst almost ten years ago, or even since the recession officially ended all the way back in June 2009.  It’s down over the past year, despite the supposed Obama economic recovery.  Home ownership obviously rose too high during the bubble, as the result of government-imposed mandates and too easy credit, but the fact that it declined since even last January 1 offers a reminder of the sluggishness of the economy under Obama.