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January 31st, 2023 at 4:20 pm
Gallup Poll Shows Americans’ Views on U.S. Healthcare Quality Turned Downward with ObamaCare and More Government Control
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Gallup just released a new survey summary under the sobering headline “Americans Sour on U.S. Healthcare Quality,” but what’s perhaps most notable is when the distinctive downturn began — as ObamaCare took effect and government control over our healthcare increased significantly:

 

January 23rd, 2023 at 9:58 am
Potential Appointment of Rep. Darrell Issa to IP Subcommittee Leadership Raises Concern
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Generally speaking and on a wide array of pressing issues, Congressman Darrell Issa (R – California) has proven a reliable leader who maintains solid support among conservatives and libertarians.

The prospect of Rep. Issa leading the House Judiciary Committee’s Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee, however, has sparked significant opposition and pushback from intellectual property (IP) proponents.  And for sound reasons.

For example, in urging new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) not to select Rep. Issa for the role, IPWatchdog’s Paul Morinville lists a litany of concerns based upon Issa’s record:

Issa is the wrong person for the job and has demonstrated that since he joined Congress.  He has sponsored and cosponsored numerous bills that harm small entities for the benefit of Big Tech and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-controlled multinational corporations.  He was one of the key drivers of the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA), which created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the entity that now invalidates 84% of the patents it fully adjudicates.  He has ignored other problems like eBay v. MercExchange, which highly restricted injunctive relief, and Alice V. CLS Bank, which unleashed a demon into the patent system called the ‘abstract idea.’  This trifecta of damage has radically reduced the funding of startups by devaluing the only asset capable of attracting investment: patents.

More broadly and equally troublingly, Rep. Issa conceptualizes IP and Congress’s role in protecting it in an agnostic and passive way, as reconfirmed recently by spokesman Jonathan Wilcox:

As long as there have been patents, there have been disputes about how to regulate them.  Congressman Issa believes from decades of experience the system has too many loopholes that allow litigation and lawsuit abuse to stifle innovation.  Every IP reform he has achieved is to make the system more fair to everyone.

The fact that Rep. Issa views his potential chairmanship as an opportunity to increase government regulation illustrates precisely why the prospect of him leading this important subcommittee has generated such considerable and unified pushback from the IP community.  Patents are a constitutional and natural right, not a platform for increasing government control.

Moreover, centuries of American experience and success tell a different story than he suggests.

Throughout our history, America’s system of strong IP protections has made us the most innovative, prosperous nation in human history, without any close competitor.  From Alexander Graham Bell to Thomas Edison to the Wright brothers, from the film industry to the music industry, from lifesaving pharmaceuticals to software, from the telephone to the television, no society parallels our astonishing record of innovation, influence and prosperity.

That occurred by design, not coincidence.

Namely, our Founding Fathers considered IP a natural right and specifically drafted the Constitution to protect IP in a robust manner.  Even before they drafted and ratified the Bill of Rights, they specifically included IP protection in the text of the Constitution.  Article I, Section 8 provides that, “Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

That obviously creates an active, affirmative Congressional duty, not some sort of passive or optional authority as suggested by advocates of weaker IP laws.

The Founders recognized that, as with every other type of property, protection of IP recognized individuals’ inherent right to the fruits of their own labor while also incentivizing productive activity.  As James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, emphasized, “The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals.”

Similarly, former patent attorney Abraham Lincoln observed that, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

And as the Supreme Court confirmed a century after that, “encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors,” while “sacrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered.”

Accordingly, America’s strong historical protection of IP rights reflects both the importance of economic incentives – the utilitarian angle – as well as the recognition that free people possess a natural right to the fruits of their labor and investment.

Today, the total estimated value of American IP measures approximately $6.6 trillion, which standing alone exceeds the economies of every other nation in the world.  Our IP industries also account for 52% of all U.S. exports, and employ nearly 50 million workers whose average annual earnings exceed non-IP workers’ wages by nearly 30%.

Both at home and abroad, however, our unparalleled system of strong IP rights remains under deliberate assault.

Overseas, nations with weaker IP laws seek to pressure the U.S. to surrender IP protections, such as with our world-leading Covid vaccines and treatments.

And here in the U.S., skeptics and special interests who seek to weaken IP rights claim that the Constitution’s IP protections are utilitarian in nature, as opposed to natural rights.

The obvious flaw in that claim is that utilitarianism obtained more widespread popular currency decades after the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  They were steeped not in cold utilitarianism, but rather the natural rights theories of John Locke, who observed that, “a person rightly claims ownership in her works to the extent that her labor resulted in their existence.”

Even accepting for the sake of argument, however, that America’s IP protections arose from solely utilitarian rather than natural rights ideals among the Founders, the simple fact is that one cannot identify an alternative IP system in the world today, or throughout human history, that has resulted in greater utility than our own.

That’s why IP matters, and why we must maintain and strengthen America’s system of IP protection, not undermine it.

It’s therefore important that new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan take this to heart in determining who will lead the critical House subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

January 12th, 2023 at 2:09 pm
Elizabeth Warren and Fellow Leftists Demand Government “March-In” on Critical Cancer Drug
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This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Massachusetts) and a group of fellow liberals submitted a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) demanding that the federal government employ so-called “march-in” rights under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 to disregard private patent rights on the critical cancer drug Xtandi.

Here’s why that’s a terrible and potentially deadly idea that the HHS, other lawmakers and the American public must oppose.

Simply put, disregarding patent protections for pharmaceutical innovators will bring innovation to a halt and deprive Americans of lifesaving drugs.  America currently produces two-thirds of all new drugs worldwide, and that’s because our nation honors and protects patent rights, it doesn’t violate them.

It’s especially outrageous that Senator Warren and her cohorts seek to leverage the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 to facilitate their scheme.  The Bayh-Dole Act was passed in order to extend patent rights to universities and nonprofit research entities whose research was assisted by federal funds, not weaken them.  Prior to Bayh-Dole, very few innovations partially funded by federal dollars were ever commercially pursued – only 390 in the year prior to its passage.  Four decades later, however, that number approaches 7,500, with over 420,000 inventions and 13,000 new startup enterprises formed.

That explains why The Economist magazine labeled Bayh-Dole the most important bill of the past half-century:

Possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century was the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980.  Together with amendments in 1984 and augmentation in 1986, this unlocked all the inventions and discoveries that had been made in laboratories throughout the United States with taxpayers’ money.”

Alarmingly, however, this groups seeks to undermine patent rights for Xtandi by exploiting a “march-in” provision within Bayh-Dole to empower the federal government to commandeer new drugs and license the patents on inventions partially funded by federal dollars to third parties.   According to their flawed logic, the market prices of some drugs render them insufficiently available to the general public, and on that basis they encourage federal bureaucracies to forcibly license those drugs’ patent rights to other third parties for manufacture and sale.  That would constitute a frontal assault against private pharmaceutical innovators, disregarding their patent rights and the enormous investments they’ve made over years and decades to conceive, perfect, produce and distribute those drugs.  It would also contravene the statutory terms of Bayh-Dole itself.

Indeed, Senators Birch Bayh and Bob Dole themselves confirmed that the law bearing their names did not intend or allow cost to become a mechanism for imposition of de facto drug price controls:

Bayh-Dole did not intend that government set prices on resulting products.  The law makes no reference to a reasonable price that should be dictated by the government.  This omission was intentional;  the primary purpose of the act was to entice the private sector to seek public-private research collaboration rather than focusing on its own proprietary research.”

That’s precisely why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has rejected every one of the “march-in” petitions that it has received during the Bayh-Dole Act’s existence.  It has consistently and correctly ruled that attempts to leverage price allegations to justify march-in would undermine the very goal of the act and ultimately harm American consumers.

People like Sen. Warren and her cohorts nevertheless claim that federal funding toward pharmaceutical research justify government march-in intrusion, falsely asserting that pharmaceutical innovators somehow enjoy a free ride at taxpayer expense.   That’s false.

Private funding for research and development actually dwarfs public funding.  According to the NIH itself, private sector R&D far exceeds NIH funding throughout recent years and decades.  In 2018, as another example, the NIH spent $3 billion on clinical trials involving new or existing drugs, compared to $102 billion in R&D by the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry.  Indeed, the pharmaceutical industry stands as the single largest source of business R&D funding in the U.S., accounting for 17.6% of all U.S. business R&D.  The next-closest counterpart is the software sector at 9.1%, with the automobile industry at 5.9% and the aerospace industry at 4.1%.

Senator Warren and her cosigners also allege that inflation somehow justifies their demand, but the fact is that drug prices significantly trail overall inflation.

Accordingly, the facts show that strong U.S. patent protections and the Bayh-Dole law promote pharmaceutical R&D investment, and there’s simply no legal or logical basis for advocating march-in regarding Xtandi.  Pharmaceutical innovation demands billions of dollars in sunk costs of investment, not to mention potential product liability lawsuits for any errors.  Strong patent protections, which Bayh-Dole codifies, help ensure that those costs and risks will be fairly and sufficiently rewarded.  They provide innovators and investors the incentives to create pharmaceuticals that save millions and even billions of lives worldwide.

The demand by Senators Warren and her cosigners would dangerously jeopardize that.

January 10th, 2023 at 11:50 am
New Study: Government Restrictions Targeting Short-Term Lenders Only Bring More Pain to Working Americans
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As the global economy slows, inflation remains elevated and wages fail to keep pace, we continue to emphasize how government regulators targeting short-term lenders only end up hurting the people they claim to be helping.

Now, a stark new study just released by Gregory Elliehausen of the Federal Reserve among other authors hammers home that point.  Namely, new laws artificially capping interest rates resulted in surveyed borrowers themselves saying that borrowing money when they needed it only became more difficult.  “Disapprobation of high interest rates,” the study begins, “reflects a longstanding and widely held belief that lenders take advantage of needy individuals by charging high interest and imposing harsh terms.”  Their work clearly found, however, that government mandates manifesting that disapprobation inflicted even greater pain:

[W]e find that the interest-rate cap decreased the number of loans to subprime borrowers by 44 percent and increased the average loan size to subprime borrowers by 40 percent.  We examine the welfare effects of the loss of credit access using an online survey of short-term, small-dollar-credit borrowers in Illinois.  Most borrowers answer that they have been unable to borrow money when they needed it following the imposition of the interest rate cap.  Further, only 11 percent of the respondents answered that their financial well-being increased following the interest-rate cap, and 79 percent answered that they wanted the option to return to their previous lender.  Thus, the Illinois interest-rate cap of 36 percent significantly decreased the ability of small-dollar credit, particularly to subprime borrowers, and worsened the financial well-being of many consumers.”  (Emphasis added.)

Rather than harming the very working Americans they claim to be helping, government officials at the federal, state and local levels need to increase access to small-dollar credit by first doing no harm.

 

 

December 27th, 2022 at 11:23 am
Image of the Day: U.S. Census Bureau Shows Americans Fleeing Blue States for Red States
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One can’t accuse the U.S. Census Bureau of right-wing bias, and their visual regarding population shifts signals important things that a lot of leftists would prefer remain unsaid:

Americans Abandon Blue States for Red States

Americans Abandon Blue States for Red States

December 22nd, 2022 at 11:35 am
Image of the Day: Public Trust in Media Sinks to New Low
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In the wake of the outrageous and still-unfolding Twittergate revelations, one can’t intelligently contend that they haven’t earned their unpopularity, but according to a new I&I/TIPP survey that’s worth reading in its entirety, public trust in media has plummeted to a new record low:

Trust in Media Hits New Low

Trust in Media Hits New Low

December 16th, 2022 at 3:23 pm
Stacy Washington Warns Against So-Called “Safe Lending Act” in New Commentary
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Continuing our efforts to warn against the perils of federal, state, and local efforts to target short-term lenders while working families face increasing economic headwinds, Stacy Watson came out with a fantastic new commentary entitled “What’s the Fed Doing to Fight ‘She-Flation?”  She highlights the ways in which inflation can hit women particularly hard, and cautions against counterproductive legislation and regulation that will only make access to financing more difficult:

While the federal government is acting to tame inflation through legislation and monetary policy, there is more that can be done to ease the burdens of she-flation. For one, the government should increase access to liquidity for small businesses. That would incentivize and enable women to become entrepreneurs, seize control of their destinies, and, it is hoped, increase earning potential. Encouraging banks to partner with technology companies that serve underbanked consumers would open access to credit for many single moms and entrepreneurial women.   

Lawmakers should also take off the table legislation that would remove access to personal and small business credit, such as the recently reintroduced “Safe Lending Act.” Although the bill purports to protect consumers from deceptive lending practices, what it would actually do is gut access to credit for working-class families, minorities, and women.”

Bravo.

December 8th, 2022 at 10:55 am
Bipartisan Senators’ Letter to NLRB Opposes Destructive Proposed “Joint Employer Rule”
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Many claim to prefer bipartisanship out of leaders in Washington, D.C., and right now we’re witnessing an encouraging example of it.

Specifically, Senators Mike Braun (R – Indiana), Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia), Angus King (I – Maine), James Lankford (R – Oklahoma), Kyrsten Sinema (D – Arizona), and Susan Collins (R – Maine) have written National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman Lauren McFerran seeking reconsideration of the NLRB’s proposed “Joint Employer Rule” that they correctly warn “would have negative effects on workers and businesses during a time that many are already struggling following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For years we at CFIF have sounded the alarm on the Joint Employer Rule that the Senators target, because it would dangerously reverse decades of established labor law by holding businesses liable and responsible for employees of franchisees whom they didn’t hire and over whom they exercise no control:

Under longstanding court precedent and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) interpretation, an ’employer’ for purposes of applying the nation’s labor laws was generally defined to include only those businesses that determined the essential terms and conditions of employment.

As a textbook illustration, imagine a franchise arrangement whereby the franchisee determines whom to hire, whom to fire, wages and other everyday working conditions.  The distant franchisor, in contrast, obviously doesn’t fly every potential franchisee employee in for an interview at corporate headquarters or micromanage its franchisees’ working conditions.

On that logic, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in NLRB v. Browning-Ferris Industries (1982) that the appropriate standard for defining an employer with regard to a particular set of employees was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Boire v. Greyhound Corp. (1964).  It held that only businesses exercising control over ‘those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment’ were subject to collective bargaining requirements and liabilities.

Two years later, the NLRB formally adopted that standard, ruling in separate cases that ‘there must be a showing that the employer meaningfully affects matters relating to the employment such as hiring, firing, discipline, supervision and direction.’  In other words, an ’employer’ for purposes of labor law mandates required direct and immediate control over the terms and conditions of employment.

That stands to reason, since it makes no sense to impose legal liability upon employers that don’t actually control a bargaining unit’s employment conditions.

In August 2015, however, Obama’s NLRB suddenly and needlessly upended that established legal standard by redefining what’s known as the ‘Joint Employer Doctrine.’  Essentially, the Joint Employer Doctrine now allows multiple businesses to be held legally liable for the same set of employees.

Thus, in the infinite wisdom of the Obama NLRB, even employers with indirect or even merely potential ability to affect employment terms could suddenly find themselves subject to federal labor laws.”

In their letter, the Senators highlight the potential harm of the proposed rule.  They note that in the United States, nearly 775,000 franchises employ 8.2 million workers and provide $800 billion of economic output, which is projected to grow in 2022 to nearly 800,000 franchises.   As they further note, the International Franchise Association (IFA) found that the proposed rule could “cost franchise businesses $33.3 billion per year, resulting in 376,000 lost job opportunities, and led to a 93% increase in lawsuits.”

These Senators demonstrate welcome bipartisan leadership, and Americans should contact their Senators to make their support clear.

December 5th, 2022 at 10:56 am
Image of the Day: Sure Enough, Credit Card Balances Are Exploding
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As misguided politicians and regulators continue to target short-term lenders, which provide American consumers with vital financial lifelines when the only alternatives are skipping payments, bouncing checks, running up credit card debts or even going to dangerous loansharks, we’ve consistently noted how short-term lenders’ role becomes increasingly important as the U.S. economy deteriorates and credit card reliance skyrockets.  Sure enough, the New York Fed numbers provide an alarming illustration:

Credit Card Debt Skyrocketing

Credit Card Debt Skyrocketing

All the more reason to protect consumers’ access to legal, reliant, efficient short-term lending rather than irrationally target it.

November 17th, 2022 at 11:48 am
Stat of the Day: Thanksgiving Costs Up a Record 20%, but Prescription Drug Prices Decline
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As we approach Thanksgiving, you may have heard (or personally experienced) that the cost of Thanksgiving dinner this year is up a record 20%.

Meanwhile, guess what’s actually declined in price, according to the federal government itself.  That would be prescription drug prices, which declined 0.1% last month alone.

Perhaps the Biden Administration should focus on helping everyday Americans afford Thanksgiving, rather than artificially imposing innovation-killing government price controls on lifesaving drugs, which are actually declining in price and nowhere near the inflation rate afflicting other consumer costs.

November 4th, 2022 at 11:12 am
USC Healthcare Fellow: Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act” Already Killing Potential Pharmaceutical Cures
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We at CFIF often warn how attempts at “drug price controls” will only succeed in killing lifesaving drug innovation, in which the U.S. leads the world without a close second.

Joe Biden’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” constitutes a perfect illustration, and in a Wall Street Journal piece entitled “The Inflation Reduction Act Is Already Killing Potential Cures,” USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics fellow Joe Grogan shows how “we’re already getting signs of the damage”:

One poorly crafted provision is driving companies away from research into treating rare diseases.  In its Oct. 27 earnings statement, Alnylam announced it is suspending development of a treatment for Stargardt disease, a rare eye disorder, because of the company’s need ‘to evaluate impact of the Inflation Reduction Act.’  Alnylam’s decision turns on a provision in the Democrats’ bill that exempts from price-setting negotiations drugs that treat only one rare disease.  The company’s drug is currently marketed as treating only amyloidosis, and thus is exempt from Medicare’s price setting.  If Alnylam proceeded with research into treating Stargardt, it would lose its exemption.”

And that’s not even the end of it.  Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced termination of a blood cancer drug because, “In light of the Inflation Reduction Act, this program no longer met our threshold for continued investment.”

Mr. Grogan proceeds to offer a must-read primer on how and why this is happening, then concludes by admonishing the next Congress convening in January to abandon this instant disaster and promote innovation instead of cheap Biden Administration talking point schemes:

The Democrats may have achieved a short-term talking point for the midterm elections, but in the long term this partisan healthcare bill will prevent patients from receiving innovative, lifesaving treatments.  A new Congress would serve Americans well by replacing the Inflation Reduction Act with an approach that recognizes the need for economic incentives to bring new treatments to patients.”

Good advice.

October 28th, 2022 at 3:15 pm
Anti-Patent Group Seeks to Weaken U.S. Pharmaceutical Innovation and Intellectual Property Advantage
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When pondering the origins of American Exceptionalism, and what makes us the most innovative, prosperous nation in human history, look first to our tradition of protecting intellectual property (IP) – patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret property rights.

After all, other nations match or even exceed the U.S. in free market rankings (24 nations in the latest annual Index of Economic Freedom, in fact).  No nation, however, can match us for sheer innovation.  America accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population, and even with the world’s largest economy we account for under 25% of the global economy.  In contrast, no nation can match our scientific innovation, from flight to space exploration to the internet.  Nor can any nation match our artistic leadership, from the film industry to television to music, or claim as many instantly recognizable trademarks, from Coca-Cola to Apple.

Year after year, that’s why the U.S. leads global rankings of IP protection.

Perhaps most conspicuously, the U.S. accounts for fully two-thirds of all new lifesaving pharmaceuticals introduced to the world each year.  In an era increasingly reliant on pharmaceutical treatments for everything from Covid to cancer to Alzheimer’s, that is a leadership of which we should remain both proud and protective.

Inexplicably, however, some voices seek to undermine that IP leadership position.  A group called I-MAK offers the latest assault, with a “study” entitled “Overpatented, Overpriced,” which attempts to show “how excessive pharmaceutical patenting is extending monopolies and driving up drug prices.”  We employ scare quotes around the term “study” because I-MAK’s work has been previously debunked and exposed by leading IP scholars like George Mason University and Antonin Scalia Law School Professor Adam Mossoff and Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) for using defective and non-transparent supporting data.

Indeed, we highlighted earlier this year how drug prices have remained far, far below overall inflation.  Efforts like I-MAK’s would only end up suffocating drug innovation, not reducing prices, as we’ve also highlighted:

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers.  Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in Canada, 50% in Japan, and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.”

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that overseas consumers’ lower access to pharmaceutical innovations stems from their governments’ imposition of price control regimes:

‘Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.’”

The irrefutable reality is that U.S. patent protections explain why we produce the overwhelming share of new drugs worldwide, including the Covid vaccines.  Efforts like I-MAK’s latest “study” continue a bizarre ongoing affront to property rights, the rule of law and IP.  If successful, they would only mean fewer future vaccines and treatments, and must be flatly rejected.

 

October 3rd, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Image of the Day: Biden’s “Make America an Energy Importer Again” Presidency
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What was once a decades-long dream became reality during the Trump Administration, as the U.S. finally became an energy exporter again.  As Laffer Associates highlights, Joe Biden has inexplicably put that into reverse gear, and now gas prices are on their way back up.  This is progress?

Biden's Reverse-Midas Touch on Energy

Joe Biden’s Reverse-Midas Touch on Energy

 

September 22nd, 2022 at 4:58 pm
New Lung Cancer Breakthrough Illustrates the Potential Peril of Drug Price Controls
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We at CFIF often highlight the clear and present danger that drug price control schemes pose to American consumers, who benefit from our private pharmaceutical sector that leads the world – by far – in innovation.  A new lung cancer treatment breakthrough in the form of Amgen’s Lumakras illustrates that interrelationship.

Simply put, Lumakras reduced the risk of progression by 34% compared to chemotherapy in patents with advanced lung cancer, which is particularly welcome considering lung cancer’s especially low survival rate (18.6% over five years, and just 5% for advanced forms).  The breakthrough required years of research and enormous amounts of investment, however, which The Wall Street Journal notes makes Lumakras the type of innovation put at risk by new drug price controls recently enacted by Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration:

The drug is by no means a cure, but progress occurs at the margin and some patients who had what amounted to a death sentence now have hope to live.  Lumakras is also much less brutal than chemotherapy.

Yet the drug might not have been developed had the Medicare take-it-or-leave-it negotiations that Democrats recently enacted been in effect earlier.  Their price controls will penalize in particular small-molecule drugs like Lumakras that have the potential to help large numbers of patients.  Within six years, Lumakras could be targeted by bureaucrats for price controls and the payoff on Amgen’s investment could vanish.

The reason for that is simple.  Straightforward economic principles dictate the inevitable negative blowback from government price controls, whether in the form of 1970s gas lines here in the U.S. or food shortages in Venezuela.

Even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warns explicitly about these negative consequences of price controls on drug innovation:

[P]rice controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.  

Closer to home, a recent University of Chicago study quantified the destructive effect of drug price controls on future lifesaving innovations:

The United States has fewer restrictions on price than other countries, but the Biden Administration has announced their goal to lower drug prices through greater price regulation…  [N]ew drug approvals will fall by 32 to 65 approvals from 2021 to 2029 and 135 to 277 approvals from 2030 to 2039.  These significant drops in new drug approvals will lead to delays in needed drug therapies, resulting in worse health outcomes for patients.  

As the University of Chicago points out, the U.S. maintains a more market-oriented approach to pharmaceutical innovation than other developed nations, which benefits American consumers.  Of 270 new medicines introduced here in the U.S. since 2011, for instance, Canadians could only access 52% of them, the Germans 67%, the British 64%, the French 53%, the Japanese 48% and the Australians just 41%.  Moreover, the U.S. accounts for two-thirds of all new drugs introduced to the world.

The real-world numbers speak for themselves.  Americans benefit immensely from our world-leading pharmaceutical sector, and Lumakras offers just the latest welcome example.  The sooner the recent drug price control schemes are repealed or scaled back, the more Americans who suffer from cancer and other ailments stand to benefit.

 

September 8th, 2022 at 1:04 pm
Image of the Day: Biden’s War On Drilling
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Joe Biden has leased fewer acres for oil and gas drilling than any other president.  Don’t dare suggest that he bears any responsibility for skyrocketing energy prices during his presidency, though.

Biden Administration's War on Drilling

Biden Administration’s War on Drilling

August 31st, 2022 at 6:18 pm
Senate Should Take Up Companion Legislation to the House’s American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130)
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Congress doesn’t maintain a spotless record of affixing accurate titles to proposed legislation, but in the case of the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130), the House of Representatives nails it.

Now it’s time for the Senate to take up companion legislation and bring greater fairness to performance rights in the music industry.

By way of background, federal law currently secures royalty payments for songwriters and others when their songs are played on AM-FM terrestrial radio, but not for the performing artists themselves.  Deepening that odd paradox, performance artists receive compensation when their songs play on digital broadcast platforms like the internet, satellite and cable.  Terrestrial radio broadcasters, however, somehow remain exempt under existing law from having to pay that same compensation.  There’s no logical or legal justification for that paradox, which amounts to crony capitalism in the form of a special government carve-out.

Fortunately, the American Music Fairness Act currently before the House would finally secure performance rights for artists whose recordings are played on terrestrial radio (with exceptions maintained for smaller mom-and-pop stations).  In 2021, we at CFIF joined numerous fellow conservative and libertarian organizations in a coalition letter to the House amplifying the need to pass this legislation to protect artists’ natural intellectual property (IP) rights:

The Constitution protects intellectual property rights and specifically delegates to Congress authority to protect creative works.  Artists who produce music therefore have the right to protect their intellectual property, including both the writer and performer of a given recording.  When a given work is transmitted, common sense and basic fairness dictate that the medium of transmission should not affect the existence of these rights.  Yet, under the current regime, a performer does not hold effective or enforceable rights to his or her product when it is distributed through terrestrial radio.”

Opponents of the American Music Fairness Act illogically suggest that it would somehow introduce needless market regulation, but the obvious reality is that the market is already regulated in the discriminatory manner described above.  The American Music Fairness Act would merely level the playing field and respect the value of the artists’ works.

Some opponents of H.R. 4130 also falsely attempt to portray it as creating a “tax.”  As leading anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform answers, however, taxes are compulsory payments to government, whereas royalties are voluntary payments to broadcast others’ creations:

[W]hat is proposed is not, in fact, a tax but a royalty.  The definition of a tax is the transfer of wealth from a household or business to the government.  Taxes aren’t voluntary; paying a royalty is.  It is completely within the rights of broadcasters to decide not to pay for the use of a performer’s song by simply not using the song.  This may not be an ideal option, but these songs actually are the property of someone else…  Just as dishonest as calling a tax a fee or fine, so too is it wrong to apply the word ‘tax’ to a royalty payment.  Creating the negative perception that this legislation creates a new tax may be convenient in the short term and assist opponents in gaining political support;  in the long run it is incredibly unhelpful to those who work to reduce the burden of government in our everyday lives.”

By any standard of fairness and logic, performing artists possess a natural right to enjoy the fruits of their labor and creativity, just like any of us do for our work.  After all, artists already receive performance payments from non-terrestrial radio stations, reflecting the value of their work.  The American Music Fairness Act simply corrects an unfair and illogical federal carve-out.

Accordingly, the House should promptly pass this long-overdue legislation, and the Senate should similarly take up companionate legislation.

August 26th, 2022 at 2:31 pm
AEI’s Shane Tews Highlights Another Peril of Government-Owned Broadband: Cybersecurity Weakness
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For years we at CFIF have highlighted the failures and peril of government-run broadband boondoggles.  Government-owned networks (GONs) have an uninterrupted history of failure both domestically and overseas.  They compete with private investment in commercial networks, they create more debt for taxpayers who ultimately become liable for them, they rarely if ever manage to break even financially, and they offer substandard quality.

In that vein, our friend Shane Tews of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) offers an excellent new analysis highlighting yet another fatal defect of GONs:  weaker cybersecurity:

Local governments are good at many things, but asking them to understand how to keep local networks safe and protect connections to the nation’s internet infrastructure is a stretch.  Cybersecurity plans deserve more scrutiny at every level — especially given the possibility of local weaknesses in our network fabrics via government-owned and -operated broadband networks that often lack the tools to detect cyber intrusions.”

She rightfully contrasts the superior comparative performance of private broadband, and suggests a better option:

Commercial broadband providers, on the other hand, spend tens of billions of dollars annually to keep things running safely. They invest heavily in network security, pay hundreds of professionals to guard their network operations, and endlessly brainstorm ways to protect customers’ information.

We should build on what the COVID-19 work-from-home period has taught us: that our networks work extraordinarily well. Rather than overbuilding duplicative networks in areas that already have good broadband coverage, the state should partner with the private sector to close coverage gaps and build secure networks that give new internet users safe access. There is almost no question that the size and nature of these cyber threats will continue to escalate. We need to strengthen our network defenses — not build new, defenseless networks.”

Her pieces always merit full reading, and she hits the nail on the head by encouraging government to partner with private broadband providers that work extraordinarily well, not needlessly compete against them.

 

 

August 18th, 2022 at 6:01 pm
Amid Recession and High Inflation, Groups Like the “National Consumer Law Center” Seek to Narrow Rather Than Expand U.S. Consumer Lending Options
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As inflation continues to spiral upward at multi-decade highs and with the U.S. economy now in recession, maintaining an “all of the above” array of lending options for American consumers becomes more and more important.  Unfortunately, activist groups like the “National Consumer Law Center” aim to do the opposite and limit rather than expand consumer options.

For a sense of consumers’ growing desperation, consider a Federal Reserve report on exploding credit card debt, as highlighted by Steve Cortes:

How have consumers dealt with these skyrocketing prices? The simple answer, unfortunately: via credit cards, particularly for working-class households. Just last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued a damning report on this credit binge for consumers, into a pronounced economic slowdown.

Total consumer debt rose a staggering $40 billion in June, far surpassing Wall Street expectations of a $25 billion increase…

A huge portion of this new debt flows from costly, risky credit card use. In fact, for the April-June second quarter of 2022, total credit card debt rose a staggering $46 billion, the biggest jump in 20 years. Americans pile into new accounts to accomplish this borrowing, opening up a whopping 233 million new cards during that second quarter, the most new cards since 2008. Such comparisons to the Great Recession should worry everyone.”

Additionally, credit cards aren’t always a viable option for many Americans, and traditional bank loans aren’t always an option due to small amounts needed for short-term emergencies.  Whereas higher-income Americans with stronger credit history can borrow from banks, utilize assets they possess as leverage or use their savings, consumers with lower credit scores or lacking sufficient savings cannot.  Indeed, according to the Fair Isaac Corporation, some 46% of consumers possess credit scores below 700, meaning that traditional bank loans aren’t possible for them.

In such circumstances, struggling Americans can access the money they need for the short-term via consumer finance loans.

Groups like the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), however, want to limit the availability of such options, which they falsely characterize as some sort of scheme “to snare consumers into predatory loans for auto repairs, tires, furniture, and even pets.”

In reality, however, the unintended consequence of efforts like that of the NCLC will be to drive temporarily strapped consumers to seek out illegal loansharks, suffer overdrafts, or simply be unable to cover their temporary costs.  As none other than the World Bank found, such limitations lead to “increases in non-interest fees and commissions; reduced price transparency; lower number of institutions and reduced branch density; and adverse impacts on bank profitability, in addition to the lack of access for smaller and riskier borrowers.”

That doesn’t help the people whom groups like the NCLC claim to protect, it hurts them.  Accordingly, American consumers and elected leaders should recognize the peril that NCLC and similar groups present.  Their efforts would only make consumer lending more difficult, more dangerous and more expensive.

August 12th, 2022 at 11:54 am
Image of the Day: IRS Collected Record Taxes Through July
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Our latest Liberty Update highlights the danger of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that’s about to enjoy a doubling of funding and personnel via the abominable Manchin-Schumer “compromise” tax-and-spend-and-regulate bill.  Apologists for the bill rationalize that a turbocharged IRS is necessary to collect more taxes from the American people (and we highlight in our piece how Americans earning under $200,000, not the “rich,” will be the primary targets).  The U.S. Treasury Department, however, just reported that the federal government just collected a record amount of taxes so far this fiscal year.  The obvious problem isn’t insufficient funding of the federal government, but rather excessive spending:

 

August 5th, 2022 at 11:25 am
Image of the Day: Prescription Drug Prices Aren’t the Inflationary Problem
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As Senators Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D – Arizona) betray their “moderate” charade and join Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D – New York) latest tax-and-spend monstrosity, we’ve highlighted the preposterousness of the claim that imposing drug price controls will in any way address out-of-control inflation.  Price controls will kill innovation, but do nothing to reduce inflation, because prescription drug prices simply aren’t the problem.  Once again, economist Steve Moore offers a handy illustration of that truth:

Prescription Drug Costs Aren't the Problem

Prescription Drug Costs Aren’t the Problem