November 13th, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Senate Dems Turn to Elizabeth Warren for Help
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Expect to see a lot more of Elizabeth Warren over the next two years.

That’s the inescapable conclusion after the Massachusetts senator was presented by soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as the Democratic leadership’s envoy to liberal groups.

It’ll be interesting to see what Warren, popular with the party’s liberal base and thought to be considering a 2016 presidential campaign, will do with this newly created institutional perch. Some on the left fret that she’ll be coopted by the Democratic establishment and tone down her rhetoric in hopes of broadening her appeal.

Her fans, however, see Warren’s addition to the Senate Democratic leadership team as “a sign that her liberal agenda [is] winning the battle for the future of the Democratic Party,” reports The Atlantic.

If true, that’s good news for conservatives.

If losing eight Senate seats to Republicans in an election where, by his own admission, President Barack Obama’s liberal policies were on the ballot, means the Democratic Party needs to sound more like Elizabeth Warren, maybe there’s a chance the Republican hold on Congress will persist beyond 2016.


November 13th, 2014 at 10:16 am
Podcast: From ObamaCare to Title II Internet Regulation
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a recent interview with CFIF, Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, discusses the Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in the ObamaCare subsidies case, how a key architect of ObamaCare made news recently by boasting about taking advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter,” and what’s wrong with President Obama’s intervention in the FCC’s plans to regulate the Internet. 

Listen to the interview here.


November 12th, 2014 at 6:20 pm
ObamaCare’s 2015 Tax Bite
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Too bad the incoming Republican majority in Congress probably can’t repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate before next April, because it looks like millions of middle-income Americans will see their tax refund cut by one-third.

“The financial penalty for skipping out on health insurance coverage [i.e. not complying with the individual mandate] will more than triple to $325 per person in 2015, or 2 percent of income, depending on whichever is higher,” reports CBS News. “Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.”

“Based on the flat-rate method, the maximum dollar amount an uninsured family could be fined is $975,” says the news outlet.

To put this into perspective, the average annual American tax refund is about $3,000, meaning that a $975 IRS penalty would reduce the value by one-third.

This is likely to hit middle-income Americans particularly hard since many may be earning too much in wages or salary to qualify for an ObamaCare subsidy. The Catch-22 facing these families is cutting back on other spending to pay high monthly premiums, or foregoing insurance and waiting to see how much the IRS will confiscate. Either way, the predicament facing millions of middle-income Americans is likely to make them even more hostile toward a law billed as the “Affordable Care Act.”


November 11th, 2014 at 10:47 am
Thank You Veterans
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.


November 11th, 2014 at 9:35 am
Saluting America’s Heroes
Posted by Jeff Mazzella Print

This Veterans Day, the Center for Individual Freedom honors the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.


November 10th, 2014 at 7:07 pm
HHS Reduces ObamaCare 2015 Enrollment Prediction by 30%
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

On Monday, the Obama administration threw out a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that ObamaCare would have 13 million enrollees by February 15, 2015. It also discarded a CBO forecast that the controversial health law would have 25 million enrollees by 2017.

Instead, the federal department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said a more likely scenario would be between 9 and 9.9 million by mid-February – a reduction of 30% from CBO’s calculations. As for 2017 totals, HHS will not commit to any numbers.

“The reduced projection is due to recent data showing ‘mixed evidence’ about how quickly – and how dramatically – people will shift from employer-sponsored health insurance and non-ObamaCare plans into insurance plans sold on government-run marketplaces such as HealthCare.gov,” reports CNBC.

What HHS isn’t saying is how the Obama administration playing politics with statutorily mandated deadlines has fouled up ObamaCare’s implementation timetable. Originally, CBO and others could reasonably anticipate quick and dramatic shifts onto ObamaCare plans because the employer mandate made it financially smart to dump workers onto the exchanges and pay a relatively small fine.

But fearing a voter backlash at such a quick and dramatic change, the Obama administration has delayed implementing the employer mandate at least three times. It now isn’t scheduled to go into effect until 2017 – the first year after President Barack Obama is out of office.

According to an HHS report, “there is considerable uncertainty that a large shift will occur over the new two years”, which, “contributes to an analysis that the ramp up to 25 million will take more than three years.”

In other words, thanks to politically motivated regulators, no one knows when, or if, ObamaCare will meet its most important benchmark – sustainable enrollment.


November 10th, 2014 at 3:21 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff 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: Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment: Election 2014, why Democrats will never fix ObamaCare and American Commitment’s big win in Moveon.org’s video contest;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Troy Senik, CFIF Senior Fellow, Senior Editor of Ricochet and Columnist with OC Register: What to look for in 2016;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EDT:  Catherine Englebrecht, Founder of True the Vote: Lawsuit against IRS, election fraud and Obama’s AG appointee;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: David Adesnik, Fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative: Tea Party Hawks, rebuilding U.S. Military, ISIS and Iraq; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies: President Obama’s planned Executive Order on immigration.

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


November 7th, 2014 at 6:16 pm
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the Mix for 2016
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker won his third gubernatorial election in four years this week, and he’s already drawing fire from national liberal pundits trying to squelch any idea he could be the GOP presidential nominee in 2016.

Welcome to Walker’s victory lap.

After coming into office on the 2010 Republican wave election, Walker survived a 2012 recall attempt spurred by his reforms that loosened the public labor unions’ grip on the state’s budget. Walker’s 2014 reelection – by the same six point margin as in 2010 and one point shy of his 2012 mark – gives him an excellent springboard to run as a reformer-with-results. What other potential GOP White House hopeful can boast such an impressive policy and electoral record in a purple state?

Officially undeclared, Walker remains a dark horse candidate in a field that will likely be crowded with more familiar names like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Still, based on record Walker compares favorably. Bush has been out of office since 2006 and all the other top shelf contenders are sitting U.S. Senators who have labored in the minority for their entire tenure.

Walker knows what it takes to get big ideas implemented, and he has the battle scars to prove it.

Of course he’ll need to cultivate a national profile, but the release of his memoir, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, is likely to be just the first step in that process.

Come January 2015, we may be hearing even more from the Wonder Worker of Wisconsin.


November 7th, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Supreme Court to Hear ObamaCare Subsidy Challenge
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

In a surprise move, the United States Supreme Court announced today it will hear a third challenge to ObamaCare in as many years.

The case, King v. Burwell, is one of many lawsuits challenging a controversial IRS decision to extend federal subsidies to any person eligible to buy insurance on an ObamaCare exchange. The legal fight is over whether the text of ObamaCare permits subsidies to be given to citizens purchasing health insurance through Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, when the law clearly says they cannot.

Supporters of ObamaCare say the disputed statutory language amounts to typos inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of the law. Opponents insist that the plain meaning of the words be honored, or risk the rule of law taking a back seat to bureaucratic whim.

The timing of the Supreme Court’s decision means that oral arguments will be held sometime in the spring with a final decision likely next summer. If the challengers are successful, King v. Burwell may go down in history as the lawsuit that signaled the beginning of the end of ObamaCare.


November 7th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
WSJ’s Gordon Crovitz Veers Off Course on Intellectual Property Rights
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Each Monday, The Wall Street Journal’s “Information Age” column by L. Gordon Crovitz is a must-read.  His analyses are invariably intelligent and his policy positions are usually wise.

On intellectual property (IP), however, Crovitz occasionally hits discordant notes.  Unfortunately, this week provided another example.

In “Even Silicon Valley Tilts Republican,” he highlights the surprising news that this year, technology companies reversed tradition and gave 52% of their political contributions to Republicans.  He also touches upon the topic of patent law reform, which CFIF has broadly supported.  But then he veers off logical course by maligning patent rights, specifically with regard to software patents:

Patents make little sense for software, which almost always builds on an earlier work.  There are some 250,000 potential patent violations in smartphones alone.  Companies known as ‘patent trolls’ stockpile patents to extract huge settlements from technology companies, not to build products.  Plaintiff lawyers joke that their focus has gone from ‘PI to IP.’  Now that personal-injury litigation has been reformed in many states, they’re turning to intellectual property lawsuits such as patent infringement.”

It’s difficult to fathom how Crovitz continues to make such a claim.

The United States maintains by many measures the world’s strongest patent and IP protections.  It also leads the world in technological innovation, including software and smartphones.  That’s not coincidence.  It’s cause-and-effect.  In an excellent recent piece for IPWatchdog.com, patent attorney Gene Quinn offers a superior analysis on IP rights and innovation in such areas:

Why will anyone invest the extraordinary sums of money to create the innovations we want without an expectation of exclusivity that will allow for a recoupment of the investment plus a reasonable return on investment?  ‘The Truly Staggering Cost of Inventing New Drugs unveils a Forbes study finding:  ‘The average drug developed by a major pharmaceutical company costs at least $4 billion, and it can be as much as $11 billion.’  And it is pure fiction to believe that software development doesn’t follow the same economic realities.  When IBM produces one of their large-scale projects, there will have been many hundreds of people working on the software solution for at least several years.  The same is true for a new Apple operating system, or the next version of Microsoft Windows.  It is pure fantasy to believe that software programs are written over a long weekend by a single person who is merely a second-year engineering student.  Software that is compatible, secure and actually works is rare these days, and takes real development effort, which costs real sums of money.  The quickest way to get less innovation is to destroy the patent system.”

Quinn is correct, and the real-world facts speak for themselves.  Strong patent protections spur the innovation for which America and its tech sector are known.  Moreover, there isn’t anything inherently wrong if a patent holder with no ability or intention of manufacturing or marketing an invention sues for violation.  A patent right is simply a property right enforceable by law, just as a songwriter can rightfully sue for infringement even if he or she didn’t have the ability to sing the song, assemble a band, reserve a recording studio or find an agent.

That obviously doesn’t mean that we should in any way condone the filing of frivolous lawsuits based upon false claims of patent infringement.  But it does mean that much of the “patent troll” problem can be resolved via litigation reform, such as requiring greater specificity in court pleadings and shifting of attorneys’ fees and costs to more of a “loser pays” system.

What we don’t want to do is demonize patent rights, which have been the foundation for American innovation through the decades and centuries.


November 5th, 2014 at 3:08 pm
Can Congressional GOP Hang Together on ObamaCare?
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

Conservative health policy experts Avik Roy and Gracie-Marie Turner both have interesting long reads on what the new Republican majority in Congress should do to transition away from ObamaCare towards a more market friendly alternative.

Both call for a unified strategy focused on repealing ObamaCare’s most unpopular elements and daring President Barack Obama to veto. Importantly, both want the GOP to leave the door open for a truly patient-centered alternative that reduces the government’s role while increasing access to quality health care. It’s a tall order with little consensus.

Roy and Turner each have specific pathways for achieving their goals, and it’s worth reading their articles to get a sense of where conservative health policy may be heading. However, the success of a conservative ObamaCare alternative ultimately comes down to whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can corral enough of their members around a unified endpoint. That job is made trickier by the fact that the 2016 presidential campaign will soon be underway, with lots of Republican candidates keeping the specifics of their own ObamaCare alternatives close to the vest.

Going forward, the real goal for Boehner and McConnell is to get rid of what they can, minimize what they can’t and leave enough room for the 2016 presidential nominee to maneuver toward an alternative the public will support.

Easy? No. The price of leadership? You betcha.


November 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm
10 New GOP Senators Want to Repeal ObamaCare
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

In the debate over whether to repeal or reform ObamaCare, the pro-repeal caucus just added ten new members.

And they’re all in the U.S. Senate.

“Every newly elected GOP senator who won in last night’s election campaigned on repealing ObamaCare,” reports CNS News.

Here’s the list:

  • Cory Gardner of Colorado
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska

The election of these ten senators moves the chamber’s new GOP majority in a repeal-friendly direction, perhaps making it easier for Republicans – who extended their majority in the House of Representatives – to demand more concessions from a now isolated President Barack Obama.

Of course, just because a majority in Congress wants to repeal ObamaCare doesn’t mean its namesake in the White House will go along. It does mean, however, that conservatives in Congress have a deeper well of support to draw from over the next two years in trying to reduce and eliminate as much of ObamaCare as they can.

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November 3rd, 2014 at 5:09 pm
Fed Court Blocks Contraception Mandate Reporting Requirements
Posted by Ashton Ellis Print

With its newest batch of regulations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) essentially is telling non-profit religious employers that they can claim an exemption from ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, so long as they provide all the information necessary to violate the deeply held beliefs that justify the exemption.

As Lyle Denniston of SCOTUS Blog explains, the rules “also required the organization to tell the government what its health coverage plan for its employees was by name and type, and to provide contact information to the insurer operating the plan.

“The added information was designed to enable HHS to then take the initiative to arrange for the religious organization’s female employees to have contraceptive coverage at no cost, and with no cost to the organization itself.”

The controversial HHS rules came to light because of a legal challenge filed by a Catholic university in Florida. A federal judge blocked enforcement of the rules pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

A couple of observations immediately come to mind. First, there is no such thing as free contraception. If the insurance company must provide it “free” to some customers, it will then pass on the cost to others (e.g. higher premiums). Even the manpower at HHS spent on coordinating this run-around the First Amendment costs taxpayers money.

This brings up another point. How can it be that the federal agency charged with implementing ObamaCare has the resources and personnel available to investigate, negotiate and procure “free” contraception to the thousands (and more) employees working at exempt religious employers?

It’s not like there’s a public health crisis over lack of access to contraception. If HHS has so many extra people and dollars laying around, it should funnel them to real priorities like fighting Ebola, or perhaps, finishing ObamaCare’s main insurance portal before the second enrollment period begins in a matter of days.

Instead we get demands for information in order to make religious objectors participate in the very activity they cannot abide.


November 2nd, 2014 at 10:55 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Halloween Is Over…
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.


October 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am
ObamaScare: The ObamaCare Nightmare Continues
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and the Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses how the nightmare continues with the second open enrollment season for ObamaCare commencing November 15th, days after the mid-term elections, and why ObamaCare may be on shaky ground as court battles loom.

Listen to the interview here.


October 28th, 2014 at 9:44 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Hello? Tattoo Removal Service?
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.


October 27th, 2014 at 2:48 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show 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:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment — Election 2014, why democrats will never fix ObamaCare and American Commitment’s big win in Moveon.org’s video contest;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Steve Bucci, Director for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation — “Lone Wolf” terrorist attacks;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Mike Wendy, President of Media Freedom — Net Neutrality;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EDT:  Jonathan Last, Senior Writer at the Weekly Standard — “The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell”; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Sally Pipes, President and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute — ObamaScare and Ebola.

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



October 27th, 2014 at 10:22 am
Title II Reclassification: Not Just Unwise, But Also Illegal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Those of us who oppose the Obama Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) effort to bridle the Internet  with so-called “net neutrality” regulation have explained at length why reclassifying the Internet as some sort of 1930s-style public utility under Title II is a dangerous idea.

Perhaps we we haven’t devoted appropriate time, however, to explaining why it’s almost certainly illegal.

As a broader policy matter, the vague and muddled calls from the extremist left to reclassify broadband typically don’t extend beyond an emotional demand for federal bureaucrats at the FCC to “do something.”  Or, as we often put it, they seek to impose a “fix” for an Internet that isn’t at all “broken.”  Accordingly, they go about offering substantive policy proposals as if lunching at a salad bar stocked with bad ingredients.  They pick and choose bad items, assembling what they consider a perfect combination.

But what they instead create is a Frankenstein-like monstrosity.

And in terms of legality more specifically, the FCC would be treading onto extremely unstable ground if it opts to follow the demands of far-left activists by rushing headlong into this dubious Title II reclassification proposal.  The fact of the matter is that the FCC has long contended that the Internet is a Title I service.  Therefore, in order to reclassify, the law requires it to meet a higher burden of proof as to why it got the initial classification wrong.  Hysterical activism from the far left that has tended to characterize this debate won’t suffice, whether as a matter of law or a matter of logic.  The FCC has already twice lost this legal battle in court (first in 2010, and again in 2014).  Rather than stubbornly tempt a third judicial rebuke of its effort to impose “net neutrality,” it would be better to learn its lesson as it proceeds with its rulemaking effort.

And that’s only with regard to traditional wired networks.  When it comes to wireless Internet (like the 4G/LTE smartphone technology), the law actually expressly prohibits the FCC from imposing Title II-type rules.  That clarity may not discourage the net-roots fringe from demanding reclassification, but it most certainly should stop the FCC from exceeding its legal mandate and once again blatantly flouting both the letter and spirit of applicable law.

Despite six years of effort to the contrary from the Obama Administration, we remain a nation of laws, not men.  That timeless principle does not yield to extremists’ pursuit of the “net neutrality” unicorn.

To date, and through previous administrations of both parties over the past two decades, the FCC has avoided attempting to classify Internet service under Title II for good reason:  it is bad policy and bad law.  Everyone except those clinging to an ideologically extreme position on the matter have recognized that reality.  We therefore cannot allow such Title II extremists to suddenly divert us from the “light touch” regulatory course that has made the Internet one of the most beneficial and revolutionary innovations in human history.  There’s too much to lose.


October 24th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
Video: The Forgotten Amendment
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino questions what limits exist on the federal government and the importance of state and local sovereignty as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.


October 24th, 2014 at 11:09 am
Governors Graded on Efforts to Restrain Government
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at Cato Institute and Editor of DownsizingGovernment.org, discusses the 2014 fiscal policy report card on America’s Governors and how state and local taxes harm America’s competitiveness.

Listen to the interview here.