For over two weeks now, failed retransmission negotiations between AT&T and Nexstar Media Group…
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TV Blackouts Reconfirm Need for Free Market Regulatory Reform

For over two weeks now, failed retransmission negotiations between AT&T and Nexstar Media Group have deprived customers across the United States of 120 Nexstar television stations in 97 markets.

That's unfortunately something to which far too many Americans have become accustomed recently, as 2019 has already witnessed more TV blackouts than any year in history.  And the news only gets worse:  CBS is now warning that stations in numerous major markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and others, could be blacked out as this week concludes.

Here's the overarching problem.  Current laws dating all the way back to 1992 empower the federal government to pick TV market winners and losers by tipping the scales during negotiations.  Those laws governing what…[more]

July 18, 2019 • 08:58 pm

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Crony Capitalism Looms Large Over Pennsylvania Special Election to Replace John Murtha Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, April 28 2010
The people of the 12th district have been disserved by decades of crony capitalism, and their economic lives are about to change no matter who wins the May 18th special election.

As with any contested race, there are plenty of differences between Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz, the two men vying to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), in the May 18th special election.  For all the boilerplate disagreements, though, one issue has the potential to define not just the candidates, but their national parties as well: job creation. 

Specifically, the source of job creation.  To Beltway insiders, John Murtha was known as a member of the congressional version of the “college of cardinals” – a reference to his perch as a powerful subcommittee chairman on the House Appropriations Committee.  When these subcommittee chairmen speak, their colleagues listen.  In Murtha’s case, so did defense contractors.  As chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, Murtha funneled $2 billion to his Southwestern Pennsylvania district, directing funds to companies that set up shop in his hometown. 

Some might call that pork barrel spending.  But Murtha’s fellow residents of Johnstown, PA, could be forgiven if they viewed the ex-Marine and Nancy Pelosi confidante as a job creator.  Technically, he was responsible for wooing Concurrent Technologies Corporation and the National Drug Intelligence Center to locate near his hometown.  As of 2007, the companies employed 800 and 300 local workers, respectively. 

So, maybe that’s the dog whistle Murtha’s former staff member, Mark Critz, is trying to blow into the ears of 12th district voters.  Critz is running television and YouTube ads touting his experience as Murtha’s Director of Economic Development, a position it would be hard to interpret as much more than coordinating no-bid contracts to coincide with corporate relocations. 

But Critz’s line of attack is sharpening against his Republican opponent, Tim Burns, a self-made businessman who might be vulnerable on the job creation issue.  After starting a medical technology company in his basement, Burns sold his business for millions only to watch many of the 400 jobs he created be transported overseas by the new owners.  With polling data showing the race to be a toss-up, Critz could make headway if he starts strongly implying that private sector jobs are too illusory when compared to the stability offered by taxpayer-funded, congressman-directed “economic development.” 

That would put Tim Burns in a tough situation.  No politician wants to inform the working public that job creation in a free market responds to the same price signals that communicate good and bad opportunities for other actors.  If the price of doing business in Pittsburgh is more expensive than operating overseas, businesses will relocate.  Ironically, it’s the same incentive structure that made John Murtha the number one job creator in Johnstown.  Except that in Murtha’s case, he was responsible for both the supply and the demand. 

Of course, the problem with allowing politicians to impose contracts the military doesn’t want in areas where they otherwise wouldn’t be performed is that it corrupts the appropriations process, and by extension, the practice of taxation.  While government-generated job growth seems like the gift that keeps on giving, the 12th district’s employment largesse comes at the expense of every other American taxpayer.  And since Murtha-style earmarks are mostly only possible when an enterprising congressman wields a chairman’s gavel, Johnstown residents shouldn’t be surprised when the next “King of Pork” gets rent-seeking defense contractors to relocate to another district.

Not that Burns needs to denigrate major local employers to make the point that what Murtha termed “job creation” and Critz suggests is “economic development” is any more stable than a small business grown in a free market.  Instead, Burns should consider turning the Democrats’ public-private partnership model on its head, arguing that jobs will multiply when companies see the federal government cleaning up its regulations to be clearer, simpler and less hostile to wealth creation. 

Conservatives like Tim Burns owe their voters the truth about the damaging effects of market distorting government interventions.  The people of the 12th district have been disserved by decades of crony capitalism, and their economic lives are about to change no matter who wins the May 18th special election.  Critz lacks the power to keep the contractors near Johnstown, and Burns is unlikely to become the avatar of John Murtha.  In the final push towards Election Day, conservatives would be wise to help Burns test out a theme that will have national appeal come November: congressmen don’t create jobs – entrepreneurs do.   

Question of the Week   
On July 20, 1969, the first man to walk on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, making “one giant leap for Mankind.” Who was the last person to walk on the Moon?
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"Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of the many faces that make up the progressive left within the Democratic Party. He's an unapologetic democratic socialist. He has an economic agenda that would cost us trillions of dollars. And he's staunchly pro-labor union. That is until his campaign staff starts making demands for better pay, right? Yeah, it seems so. The Sanders campaign has unionized and is demanding…[more]
 
 
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— Matt Vespa, Townhall.com Senior Editor
 
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