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May 13th, 2022 at 11:48 am
Quote of the Day: U.S. Leads the World in 5G Rollout, Thanks to Pro-Market Approach
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From economist Thomas Hazlett, in an insightful admonition against crony capitalist government intervention into the telecommunications market entitled “The U.S. May Repeat Mexico’s Wireless Spectrum Mistake” in today’s Wall Street Journal,  offers this little gem and tribute to the positive payoff of America’s comparatively pro-market deregulatory approach:

Meanwhile, 5G networks are spreading more rapidly in the U.S. than in any other nation, with 49% coverage in October 2021.  (China was at 20% that month.)  This rollout benefits from recent U.S. auctions for flexible-use spectrum rights, infusing networks with new capacity that lowers costs and spurs rivalry.  Further liberalization should continue.  Regulators haven’t been able to divert frequencies to selected business models to increase competition.  U.S. policy makers should avoid trying.”

 

May 10th, 2022 at 9:46 am
Image of the Day: Taxpayers Really Fuel EV Programs
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We recently sounded the alarm on how the Biden Administration, political left and crony capitalist big business interests are coalescing on an idea almost too bizarre to be real:  heaping new carbon taxes on traditional energy sources in order to “reduce energy costs.”  We subsequently illustrated one of the main reasons for that novel ploy:  so-called “green” energy sources are non-competitive without government intervention to artificially make more efficient fossil fuel sources more costly.  Courtesy of economist Stephen Moore, we have another biting illustration of that dynamic:

Taxpayers Power

Taxpayers Power “Green” EV Initiatives

 

There’s nothing wrong with electric vehicles, and in fact they offer a promising future technology.  But that should occur via market forces and consumer choice, not artificial government costs and subsidies paid by strapped taxpayers.

April 29th, 2022 at 9:30 am
Image of the Day: High Cost of “Green” Energy Explains Leftist Calls for Carbon Tax
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In our Liberty Update this week, CFIF highlights a bizarre new crony capitalist idea to introduce a carbon tax that some entrenched interests in Washington, D.C., have begun to advocate.  Even more bizarrely, they sell their proposal to begin taxing energy as a way to reduce energy costs.  You can’t make this up.

Courtesy of economist Stephen Moore, we have an illustration that helps explain their motivation.  Namely, “green” energy is far more expensive than more efficient fuel sources.  Accordingly, they need to tax those more efficient fuel sources in order to make their “green” energy boondoggles more acceptable by comparison:

Why Climate Activists Want a New Carbon Tax

Why Climate Extremists Want a New Carbon Tax

April 26th, 2022 at 1:28 pm
Happy World Intellectual Property (IP) Day — Celebrating the Fuel of U.S. and Worldwide Innovation
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Happy World Intellectual Property (IP) Day!

Among the many elements explaining American Exceptionalism in worldwide innovation, power and prosperity, nothing stands above our enduring legacy of protecting IP – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

Since America’s founding, we’ve protected IP like no other nation before or since.  Our Founding Fathers deliberately inserted text protecting IP rights into Article I of the Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall have the 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.”  And as James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers while advocating ratification of the Constitution, protecting IP respected the natural right of individuals to enjoy the fruits of their labors, while also serving the public good by encouraging innovation.

The assurance that one’s creations will enjoy legal protection in turn promotes creative activity, which is why Abraham Lincoln — himself a patent attorney — noted that America’s IP protections, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

Consequently, no nation spanning the entirety of human history even approaches America’s record of patented invention, from the telephone to the airplane, from lifesaving pharmaceuticals like the polio vaccine to the internet.   No society remotely rivals our copyrighted artistic influence, whether in the form of motion pictures, television programming or popular music.  No nation’s trademarks stand recognized in the way that the Coca-Cola or Apple logos are instantly identified across the world.  A direct relationship exists between our tradition of IP protection and our unrivaled success in innovation and prosperity.

That’s why we at CFIF are pleased to join over 100 other free-market, conservative and libertarian organizations here in the U.S. and across the globe in celebrating World IP Day, as highlighted by our collective open letter to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Daren Tang:

IP-intensive industries play a central role in job creation. In the United States, IP-intensive industries account for 44 percent of total employment, and jobs in these industries come with a 60 percent weekly wage premium over jobs in other industries… 

Intellectual property protections are also important for promoting economic growth.  The United States Patent and Trademark Office found that IP-intensive industries contribute $7.8 trillion USD to the U.S. economy, or nearly 41 percent of total U.S. DP.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) further reported that these innovative industries account for over 40 percent of U.S. economic growth.  The role of robust IP protections is clearest when contrasting country scores and their World Bank income classification.  According to the 2021 International Property Rights Index, high-income countries’ scores were 33.5 percent stronger than the average score of upper-middle-income countries and 66.1 percent stronger than the average score of low-income countries.  This IP protection gap must be closed.”

Unfortunately, too many political leaders here in America and across the world fail to respect the role of IP in boosting innovation and wellbeing, and actively seek to undermine it.  We cannot let that occur, lest we all suffer.  As we conclude in our coalition letter, “On this World Intellectual Property Day, we urge WIPO, along with other international organizations, national governments, and policymakers around the world, to continue to promote policies which strengthen intellectual property protections and ensure that a healthy innovation environment can thrive for today’s youth and for generations to come.”

 

 

April 18th, 2022 at 9:54 am
Image of the Day: “Light Touch” Regulatory Policies Have Kept Broadband Prices Low
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As Americans express growing alarm over consumer price inflation that commenced in January 2021 under the Biden Administration and Pelosi/Schumer Congress (see here), it’s worth highlighting how critical broadband access on which our economy increasingly depends has diverged from that trend.  It’s also worth highlighting that stems from the fact that internet service has so far escaped Biden Administration regulatory attempts to reverse free-market progress achieved under former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai:

April 12th, 2022 at 3:10 pm
CSIS Study Highlights Just How Badly STEM Talent Wants to Come to America
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In our latest Liberty Update column, CFIF highlights America’s desperate need for more high-skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent, and how the America COMPETES Act contains helpful provisions to meet that growing need.  We also highlight a study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which was named the world’s top defense and national security think tank detailing that need.  A portion in the CSIS study worth highlighting on Page 7 further illustrates just how willing STEM talent is to come to America, versus our chief geostrategic rival China:

While China has successfully boosted its domestic STEM output, America remains a far more attractive destination for international STEM talent.  In this domain of talent competition, China – despite big ambitions and significant investments – has not yet made large-scale gains.

International scientists consistently rate the United States as much more appealing than China.  Figure 5 presents the results from two surveys that asked international scientists and engineers where they would consider moving in the near future.  Although the surveys were held years apart (2012 versus 2019) and involved different fields (STEM broadly versus AI specifically), the results are consistent:  only about 10 percent of international scientists and engineers seemed open to moving to China, compared to nearly 60 percent for the United States.”

Think about that.  Almost 60% of international STEM talent would love to come to America.  Accordingly, it’s now a matter of getting them here to contribute their talents to our economy and innovation.

April 4th, 2022 at 12:05 pm
Image of the Day: Biden’s Silly “Putin Price Hike” Excuse
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Apparently nothing is too preposterous for Joe Biden and his apologists.  They attempt to rationalize out-of-control inflation and wage erosion as a “Putin Price Hike,” but a simple chronology immediately refutes that (unless Vladimir Putin somehow took control of the U.S. economy in January 2021):

 

“Putin Price Hike?”

March 31st, 2022 at 12:49 pm
Congress Mustn’t Tolerate WTO and Biden Admin Proposal Targeting U.S. Pharmaceutical Patent Protections
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This week, the Biden Administration’s United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai appeared before the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, offering an important opportunity to rally opposition to the administration’s agreement with a misguided proposal in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend patent protections for Covid vaccines, treatments and other therapies created by U.S. pharmaceutical innovators (through what’s known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, or “TRIPS”).

Don’t let the esoteric nature of the treaty fool you – this is an extremely dangerous proposal to attack U.S. patent rights.  As The Wall Street Journal observed, “this may be the single worst presidential economic decision” since the Nixon Administration.

That assessment is well-founded.  Strong patent protections provide the foundation for U.S. pharmaceutical innovation, and explain why the U.S. leads the world by accounting for an astounding two-thirds of all new drugs introduced worldwide.  The Covid vaccines and treatments at issue provide just the latest example.  Contravening that obvious causal relationship, however, some WTO members demand that the U.S. surrender those vital patent and other intellectual property (IP) protections for Covid vaccines, diagnostics and other treatments.  Worse, some misguided politicians here in America who should know better echo those potentially destructive demands.

That would tragically and needlessly undermine the very policies that prompted pharmaceutical innovators to devise and develop the vaccines already providing relief to the world, and leave us less capable of addressing current and future diseases and pandemics.  Ironically, President Biden himself has historically supported patent and other IP rights, including sponsorship of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act that proved so invaluable in promoting innovation, and which The Economist magazine labeled “possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century.”

It’s also important to note that more rational actors like the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and Japan oppose the proposed TRIPS patent suspension.   In contrast, WTO members India and South Africa, which back the effort targeting U.S. patent rights, have even joined international rogues China and Russia to create their own joint “vaccine center.”  That betrays the bad faith of their broader effort.

India and South Africa have joined with China and Russia (and Brazil) to establish a joint BRICS vaccine center.

The proposed TRIPS waiver targeting U.S. drug innovators and patent protections is also unnecessary, because treatments are already being provided to impoverished nations across the world, and patent rights are already being licensed at abnormally low prices or even free of charge.  To the extent that difficulties in immunizing impoverished populations remain, as emphasized by the Africa Centres for Disease Control, the problems center on local logistical distribution problems and vaccination hesitancy among the unvaccinated, not supply shortages.  Indeed, biopharmaceutical manufacturers already possess the ability to produce 20 billion vaccine doses in 2022.

More broadly, lawmakers and American consumers must consider the dangerous signal that suspending patent rights for pharmaceutical innovators would send, and the long-term disincentives that would follow if pharmaceutical patent rights were weakened rather than protected.  Pharmaceutical innovation demands billions of dollars in sunk costs of investment and testing, not to mention potential product liability lawsuits for any error.  To suddenly signal that those costs and risks won’t be sufficiently and fairly rewarded through ensuing patent protections would have catastrophic effects over both the short and long terms.  That will increasingly become the reality if we accept policies that deprive innovators and investors of the incentives to create drugs that save millions and even billions of lives.

American patent protections are the leading reason why we continue to produce the overwhelming share of new drugs worldwide, including the Covid vaccines themselves.  The WTO and Biden Administration must recognize and respect that reality, and Congress must act to stop this potentially catastrophic WTO proposal.

March 18th, 2022 at 4:30 pm
Congress Should Pass the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) to Bring Fairness to Performance Artists
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For years, we at CFIF have joined fellow conservative and libertarian organizations to spotlight the unfairness under federal law by which songwriters and others receive royalty payments when their songs are played on AM-FM terrestrial radio, but the performing artists themselves do not.

Exacerbating the illogic, performance artists do receive compensation when their songs play on digital broadcast platforms like the internet, satellite and over cable.  Yet terrestrial radio broadcasters remain exempt under existing law from having to pay that same compensation.

There’s no logical or legal justification for that paradox.  It amounts to crony capitalism in the form of a special government carve-out, and we’ve called for changes in federal law to finally correct it.

Fortunately, we can report good news in Congress on this unresolved issue.

New legislation before the House of Representatives entitled the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) would finally secure a performance right for artists whose recordings are played on terrestrial radio, with exceptions allowed for smaller mom-and-pop stations.

As we and fellow conservative and libertarian organizations wrote in our coalition letter to the House in 2021, that would 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 might illogically allege that the proposal would introduce needless regulation of the market.  The truth, however, is that the market is already regulated in the discriminatory manner described above.  The proposed law would simply level the playing field and better respect the value of the artists’ works.

Opponents might also falsely attempt to portray H.R. 4130 as creating a “tax.”  As Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform cogently answered, however, a tax is a compulsory payment to government while royalties at issue here 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.”

Here’s the bottom line:  Performing artists have a natural right to enjoy the fruits of their labor and creativity, just like any of us do for our work.  Indeed, artists already receive payment from non-terrestrial radio stations, reflecting the value of the artists’ work.  Accordingly, the existing federal carve-out is unfair and illogical, and this bill simply corrects that imbalance.

It’s therefore time for Congress to pass the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) and achieve common-sense reform at last.

 

February 2nd, 2022 at 4:20 pm
Opposition to Biden FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Reaches Critical Mass
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For months, CFIF has articulated why the U.S. Senate must reject the Biden Administration’s nomination of hyperpartisan Gigi Sohn to sit on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including our expression of support for Senator Roger Wicker’s (R – Mississippi) demand for rehearing based upon potential ethical concerns regarding Ms. Sohn after reviewing the substance of a $32 million litigation settlement between television broadcasters and the defunct Locast streaming service following her nomination.  Sohn sat on the board of Sports Fan Coalition, a nonprofit organization that operated Locast:

As Senator Wicker rightfully notes, the FCC oversees and regulates companies that were party to the $32 million settlement in question. Accordingly, the possibility of Ms. Sohn’s future financial liability to companies over which she would wield power if confirmed to the FCC merit immediate and full investigation. In addition, the timing of the settlement following her nomination by the Biden Administration offers additional reason for full public hearing to resolve any ethical questions.”

Now, The Wall Street Journal joins the accumulating chorus of opposition, bluntly asking, “Does an independent agency nominee who has deceived Senators about her business conflicts deserve to be confirmed?”

After the hearing Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker followed up with a written question:  ‘Where did the money come from for the payment of the $32 million settlement in connection with the Locast case?’  If a company donated the funds, she might have to recuse herself from matters involving the donor.  She responded that the ‘settlement funds come from amounts collected to fund [Sports Fan Coalition NY] after SFCNY pays its vendors.’  SFCNY is the name of the nonprofit that operated Locast.  This was an odd answer because SFCNY’s IRS 990 form showed only $794,159 in assets and funds at the end of 2020.  Where did the other $31 million come from?

Ms. Sohn declined the Senate’s request for a copy of the settlement, and now we know why.  Bloomberg Law reported this week that the settlement was signed Oct. 27 — one day after President Biden nominated her.  Locast only agreed to pay $700,000.  We’ve independently reviewed a copy of the settlement, which has Ms. Sohn’s signature.  In other words, on the day after she was nominated to her powerful regulatory position, broadcasters agreed to a settlement that cut the liability of her nonprofit by 98%. Interesting timing.

Why didn’t Ms. Sohn correct Mr. Wicker about the ‘$32 million settlement’?  Even if there was nothing improper about the settlement agreement, her lack of candor is a problem.  The settlement also creates the appearance of a conflict given her pending power over broadcasters, which she must pledge to avoid in an FCC ethics agreement.”

Beyond her ethical failures as articulated by Senator Wicker and The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Sohn’s nomination gravely threatens America’s thriving internet sector.   Specifically, she seeks to more heavily regulate that sector in the image of European internet service, which performed poorly throughout the Covid pandemic compared to the United States.  Despite nationwide quarantines and surges in internet use, U.S. broadband speeds actually increased by 91% in 2020.  Europe, in contrast, suffered service bottlenecks and overload, prompting regulators to ask content providers to throttle back.  Ms. Sohn would undermine the private U.S. broadband sector and remake it in that demonstrably inferior European image.  She has signaled support for rate regulation of broadband and is a staunch advocate of government-owned broadband, which would undermine private investment and network expansion, as well as the jobs that investment and expansion create.

Sohn also favors radical reimposition of Title II so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations, which would regulate private internet service as a “public utility” under 1930s statutes aimed at copper-wire telephones.  After the Obama FCC first imposed those regulations in 2015, the negative effects were immediate:  For the very first time ever outside of an economic recession, private internet investment actually declined.  When the Trump Administration FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai subsequently reversed the Obama FCC’s Title II regulation, private investment rebounded and internet service speeds immediately increased.

Our internet service sector mustn’t be subjected to the sort of disruptive overregulation that Sohn would bring if confirmed to the FCC.  She’s also notoriously weak on U.S. intellectual property rights, and advocates imposition of consumer privacy laws in a crony capitalist manner.  She’s simply too radical to be confirmed to the FCC at a time when Americans rely more than ever on a thriving internet service sector, and Senator Wicker is to be applauded for his leadership on this issue.

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January 31st, 2022 at 5:17 pm
NM House Bill Targeting Consumer Lending Would Harm Vulnerable Consumers It Falsely Claims to Protect
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Whenever governments at any level artificially cap interest rates on consumer installment loans, they claim to be acting on behalf of vulnerable and lower-income Americans.

For straightforward reasons according to the laws of economics, however, such efforts only end up counterproductively harming the very people they allegedly help.

Sadly, we’re witnessing yet another effort tempting that destructive spiral in New Mexico, where the House of Representatives Consumer and Public Affairs Committee has approved by a narrow 3-2 margin H.B. 132, a proposal that would cap interest rates on consumer loans.

Making matters worse, the Committee even gutted funding for financial education in New Mexico, thereby evading reference to the House Appropriations Committee, in deceptive fashion to rush the bill through.

At a simplistic level, government laws regulating lending services and capping repayment rates may seem helpful to Americans struggling paycheck-to-paycheck.  But the real-world impact only eliminates a source of reliable, legal short-term loans to get them through temporary emergencies.

According to a 2018 Federal Reserve System Board of Governors study on the economic wellbeing of U.S. households, nearly 40% of American families don’t possess sufficient savings to cover even a $400 emergency expense.  Alarmingly, that same study noted that 51% of military service members live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Because of their credit profiles, credit cards aren’t always a viable option for such people, and traditional bank loans aren’t an option due to the small amounts at issue.  Whereas higher-income Americans with stronger credit history can borrow from banks, use assets they possess as leverage or access savings amounts, American consumers with lower credit scores and insufficient savings cannot.  In fact, 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.

That’s where consumer finance loans come in, providing a critical life preserver for lower-income Americans and New Mexicans.

In such circumstances, struggling Americans can access the money they need for short-term emergencies via consumer finance loans.  But under H.B. 132 as contemplated by the New Mexico House, consumer finance lending will only become economically unsustainable and therefore less available.

In turn, the unintended consequence will be more people seeking out illegal loansharks, suffering overdrafts, or simply being unable to cover their temporary costs.  As the World Bank aptly summarized, regulatory and legislative proposals like H.B. 132 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.”

Obviously, that quickly ends up punishing the very people that legislation like H.B. 132 claims to protect.  It only threatens to make consumer finance lending more difficult, more expensive and less available.

 

January 24th, 2022 at 12:44 pm
Image of the Day: Americans Remain Highly Positive Toward Free Enterprise and Business Over Government
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In what sometimes seems like an era of constantly expanding government and demonization of free markets, a recent Gallup poll offers refreshing news – Americans overwhelmingly view free markets positively, especially relative to the federal government:

"Free

Political candidates would be wise to emphasize this in an election year 2022, and elected leaders would be wise to translate Americans’ preference into concrete action.

January 10th, 2022 at 10:11 am
Image of the Day: Biden, Pelosi and Schumer Faceplanted On Jobs in 2021
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On the heels of Friday’s unsettling jobs report from the Labor Department, we can now judge the performance and promises of Joe Biden and the Pelosi/Schumer Congress against actual reality.  They promised 10.3 million jobs would be created in 2021 if their massive spending and regulation blowout passed, versus 6.3 million jobs if their agenda wasn’t passed.  So how did it turn out?  Their agenda was passed, but only 6.1 million jobs were created as the U.S. economy slowed and struggled to recover from the Covid dip, as AEI’s Matt Weidinger highlights.  They apparently made things worse, not better, illustrating the sardonic adage, “Don’t just do something – stand there.”

Biden Jobs Performance: Worse Than Doing Nothing

Biden Jobs Performance: Worse Than Doing Nothing

 

January 3rd, 2022 at 9:01 am
Hypocrisy: Pay Attention to What Leftists Do, Not What They Preach
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By now you’ve probably seen the images exposing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – New York) vacationing maskless in Florida despite constantly maligning the state as some sort of death-ravaged hellhole under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, and her even more hilarious rationalization when called out on her hypocrisy that it’s all because “Republicans are mad they can’t date me.”   Right.

Well, she’s hardly alone in her hypocrisy.  Take a look at the updated state migration data from Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Americans and businesses ‘vote with their feet’ when they relocate from one state to another, and the evidence suggests that Americans are moving from blue states that are more economically stagnant, fiscally unhealthy states with higher tax burdens and unfriendly business climates with higher energy and housing costs and fewer economic and job opportunities, to fiscally sound red states that are more economically vibrant, dynamic and business-friendly, with lower tax and regulatory burdens, lower energy, and housing costs and more economic and job opportunities.”

 

What Leftists Do Versus What Leftists Preach

What Leftists Do Versus What Leftists Preach

 

Do as leftists say, not as they do, right?

 

December 27th, 2021 at 10:03 am
Image of the Day: Biden Economy Slowing, Not Accelerating
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So the latest talking point from the political left is that the Biden Economy is doing just great, and you rubes who believe otherwise just don’t get it that he’s somehow turbocharging it.  In other words, whom are you going to believe – Joe Biden and his apologists, or your lying eyes?  Biden himself even said that his policies have accelerated growth and unless his monstrous “Build Back Better” overcomes Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition and passes in the new year, our economy is “not going to grow.”  Yes, he literally said that.

Well, here’s more for those lying eyes of yours, from the federal government’s own official numbers.  The U.S. economy isn’t accelerating under Biden, it’s slowing in a disturbing way:

 

Biden Economy Slowing, Not Accelerating

Biden Economy Slowing, Not Accelerating

 

Something to keep handy as the Biden Administration and its cheerleaders feed falsity in pursuit of their agenda as the 2022 elections approach.

December 22nd, 2021 at 9:30 am
AEI’s Bret Swanson: “The Federal Aviation Administration’s Embarrassing Attempt to Put 5G Wireless on ‘Airplane Mode’”
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In recent months CFIF has highlighted the destructive way in which the aviation industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continue to unreasonably oppose deployment of super-fast 5G wireless in the U.S., placing us at an alarming technological and economic disadvantage globally.

Our friend Bret Swanson at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) just added his own expert perspective of the needless delay due to the FAA’s laughable suggestion that “planes might fall from the sky”:

Nearly 40 nations already have networks operating in the mobile C-band frequencies, and planes are doing just fine.  What’s more is that the US has an extra layer of protection in the form of a wider guard band — more than 200 MHz of empty space between the mobile radio and airplane frequencies.  This safety buffer is far more than most nations employ.  The US military also employs radar technologies close to the altimeter band that pump out radio waves at 10,000 times the power of the commercial mobile C-band radios.  Again, no problems.

The wireless and aviation industries — and their regulators — have discussed these technical matters for years, and the resolution enshrined in the FCC’s C-band auction rules was more than sensible.  The aviation industry has even been boasting about the possibilities 5G wireless will bring to flight operations.”

Swanson adds an interesting note on the potential cronyism and territorialism that may explain this stubborn opposition:

Many seasoned observers think the aviation industry is really looking for Washington (i.e., taxpayers) to buy them new altimeters to replace the old ones now operating in most of the fleet.  Delay 5G with scary ‘falling planes’ rhetoric, then back off when the new equipment is promised.”

He concludes by nicely summarizing what’s at stake here:

Delays aren’t free, however.  5G is now, with the internet, a fundamental platform for the entire economy.  Delays in the most important component of 5G — this huge addition of new spectrum and thus capacity and capability — would push back all kinds of economic activity in smartphones, transportation, smart infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and construction, and much more.  The FAA’s antics also threaten to upend well-functioning spectrum auctions and investment incentives…  The mobile internet has been the most powerful and successful facet of the US economy over the last decade.  Putting 5G on ‘airplane mode’ would be economically devastating.”

Well said, and hopefully the relevant authorities take heed of Swanson’s warning sooner rather than later…

 

December 10th, 2021 at 5:06 pm
Aviation Industry and FAA Continue to Needlessly Fight U.S. 5G Rollout
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We recently sounded the alarm on how the domestic aviation industry and overly-protective Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are unreasonably fighting deployment of super-fast 5G wireless service here in the U.S.:

The FAA’s immediate complaint centers on middle frequency C-Band spectrum, which is crucial to the full deployment of 5G in the U.S.   The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency with the actual expertise and experience necessary to decide spectrum issues such as this, has spent years studying the potential for 5G interference with aviation and has determined that establishing a 220 megahertz “guard band” around the portion of the C-Band aircraft use will more than protect them.  The FAA has nevertheless decided to intervene in an area outside of its expertise, and contests the FCC’s determination.”

We further emphasized how there’s zero experience or substantive evidence to suggest any interferrence threat they are claiming.  5G base stations are already in place in the U.S. and 40 other countries, with no incidents of interference.  Any threat would’ve become evident by now.

Nevertheless, wireless companies AT&T and Verizon offered compromises to resolve this needless standoff, limiting some of their 5G wireless services for 6 months to allow regulators to review the data that confirms no threat to aviation service.  The FCC itself called the carriers’ compromise “one of the most comprehensive efforts in the world to safeguard aviation technologies.”

But apparently even that’s not enough, as reported by Reuters:

The U.S. aviation industry said on Monday new precautionary measures offered by AT&T and Verizon Communications were insufficient to address air safety concerns raised by the planned use of C-Band spectrum for 5G wireless.  The Aerospace Industries Association said in a letter to Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel that the telecom plans ‘are inadequate and far too narrow to ensure the safety and economic vitality of the aviation industry.'”

Apparently, when it comes to 5G deployment, nothing will satisfy the FAA, which continues to be more concerned with protecting its bureaucratic turf by erecting dubious hurdles than allowing the launch of critical U.S. 5G networks. 

Every additional delay of this sort places us at a greater and greater disadvantage versus China, which presses forward without this sort of bureaucratic turf warfare.  American consumers, elected leaders and government officials mustn’t tolerate this.

December 10th, 2021 at 12:39 pm
Image of the Day: “Build Back Better?” More Like Build Back Bigger Inflation
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As if enough reasons to oppose Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, from destructive drug price controls to higher taxes, didn’t already exist:

Build Back Bigger (Inflation)

Build Back Bigger (Inflation)

 

December 6th, 2021 at 12:19 pm
AEI’s Michael Rosen: “Omicron Variant Sows Chaos but Doesn’t Move Needle on Patent Waiver Debate”
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In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an eye-opening new study confirming how drug price controls kill pharmaceutical investment and innovation at the worst possible time, when America and the entire world depend upon them more than ever.

In similar vein, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Adjunct Fellow and healthcare expert Michael Rosen nicely illustrates how the omicron variant of Covid has paused the destructive global effort to suspend enforcement of patent rights belonging to lifesaving vaccine developers:

But the new omicron variant of the virus has intervened, shelving the planned WTO meeting and throwing into continued contrast the supposed haves and have-nots of vaccine protection…  But the EU has held firm in resisting the vaccine waiver, and rightly so.”

Unfortunately, even the EU remains too accommodating of calls to kill the goose that lays the golden vaccine eggs, but hopefully this latest experience brings greater collective wisdom.  If we seek to maximize healthcare and pharmaceutical innovation, the solution isn’t any secret.  Get bureaucrats and suffocating price controls and patent threats out of the way.

December 1st, 2021 at 11:53 am
Former U.S. Attorney General Agrees: “Hyperpartisan Gigi Sohn Doesn’t Belong at the FCC”
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In our recent Liberty Update, CFIF sounded the alarm on Gigi Sohn, Joe Biden’s dangerously extremist nominee to the Federal Commission (FCC), noting that, “Ms. Sohn is simply too radical to be confirmed to the FCC at a time when Americans rely more than ever on a thriving internet service sector, and the Biden Administration has only itself to blame for its delay in nominating her.”

In today’s Wall Street Journal, former acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker brilliantly echoes the growing consensus that Ms. Sohn is simply too radical in a commentary entitled “Hyperpartisan Gigi Sohn Doesn’t Belong on the FCC”:

In addition to her hyperpartisan social-media presence, Ms. Sohn has dubbed Fox News ‘state-sponsored propaganda’ and has urged the FCC to look into whether Sinclair Broadcast Group is ‘qualified to be a broadcast licensee at all.’  Set aside that Ms. Sohn is wrong on the facts — Fox is privately owned, not state-owned, and Sinclair has long proved its ability to be a broadcaster.  What is breathtaking is her belief that the FCC’s powers ought to be used to crack down on conservative speech.   Were the tables turned — had then-President Trump nominated an FCC candidate who endorsed a close look at MSNBC — the Twitter verse would be horrified about the politicization of the FCC.”

It’s important to highlight that opposition to Ms. Sohn isn’t simple, reflexive partisanship, since the Biden Administration could’ve nominated any number of qualified people who don’t pose the same threat to America’s flourishing communications and internet sector:

Other possible Democratic FCC nominees haven’t insulted Republicans on Twitter, nor have they insinuated that the government should suppress right-leaning views.  In her no-holds-barred partisanship, Ms. Sohn is a uniquely dangerous and utterly unqualified FCC nominee.  Her nomination should concern the press, no matter their politics…  Republicans accommodated the Biden administration’s decision to make Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel the commission’s chair (she had been serving as acting chair).  Despite some disagreements with her policy positions from Republicans, Ms. Rosenworcel is seen as an honest broker.  Ms. Sohn is a different matter.  Ideologues aren’t a good fit in a job like this.”

As Mr. Whitaker wisely concludes, Senate Republicans and moderate Democrats must flatly reject Ms. Sohn’s nomination, forcing the Biden administration to nominate someone who doesn’t pose this clear and present threat to free speech and the U.S. communications sector.