Archive for September, 2013
September 20th, 2013 at 11:45 am
Federal Regulators Make Move to Micromanage Company Pay
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Last week, we highlighted the latest in a long line of Dodd-Frank debacles.  Specifically, a federal court unceremoniously vacated a regulation forcing U.S. energy companies working abroad to disclose sensitive proprietary information to foreign competitors who aren’t subject to the same rule.  As we noted, federal bureaucrats were essentially trying to force domestic companies to surrender their playbooks to overseas rivals in the name of worldwide social engineering.

This week, we’re witnessing yet another Dodd-Frank infamy.

On Wednesday, a sharply divided Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a controversial regulation that would require companies to tediously calculate compensation ratios between chief executives and employees for public scrutiny.  Keep in mind that public companies are already required to disclose compensation of top executives, so the proposed new rule won’t provide any useful information about a given company’s financial stability.  Rather, it is nothing more than a sop to activists who obsess over distribution of wealth and who seek to pressure businesses and executives.

To what end?  What business is it of the federal government how private companies choose to compensate every single one of their employees?  Why should companies’ time and resources be wastefully diverted to calculating ratios simply to please Washington, D.C. bureaucrats?  How will this help “protect” investors?  The simple answer is that it won’t.  Instead, it’s a provision sought by anti-corporate activists to foment discord and wage class warfare.

Moreover, the proposed rule may drive subject companies to shift even more workers overseas rather than here in the U.S., since foreign employees may be excluded from the burdensome calculations.  The proposed rule will also incentivize companies to remain or become private, rather than public, in order to escape these pointless burdens.  In turn, that would only serve to punish middle-class investors who don’t possess the wealth to participate in private investment.

While the SEC’s proposed pay ratio disclosure rule has yet to be implemented, the issue of executive compensation has also surfaced in the ongoing American Airlines bankruptcy.  This week, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Sean Lane rejected the compensation package American Airlines’ creditors had approved for the airline’s CEO Tom Horton.  Largely due to the work of Horton and his management team, American’s performance in bankruptcy has exceeded all expectations — the company has experienced an almost total turnaround.  Furthermore, Horton’s compensation package is in line with industry standards.  Executives whose airlines fared far worse in bankruptcy than American received their compensation packages with little to no opposition.

An individual’s compensation at a corporation is a matter that should be decided by its leadership, board, and investors.  The government has no business intervening and micromanaging company pay, whether at American Airlines or all of the other U.S. public companies now moving within its sights.

September 20th, 2013 at 11:36 am
House Votes to Defund ObamaCare

The U.S. House of Representatives just voted 230-189 to pass a stopgap spending bill that will fund the government for the next three months and DEFUND OBAMACARE.

The Senate will begin to take up the House bill on Monday.

September 20th, 2013 at 9:10 am
Podcast: ObamaCare’s Costs Driving Large Employers to Cut Benefits
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In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the proposed October 1 commencement of ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges and how increased medical costs and other costs associated with the Affordable Care Act have forced large corporate and university employers to cut health coverage benefits.

Listen to the interview here.

September 19th, 2013 at 8:11 pm
The Unspooling Global Warming Narrative
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The more time passes, the more global warming’s apostles begin to look like members of a doomsday cult. You can only predict the end incorrectly so many times, after all, without losing your credibility amongst all but the true believers. After early leaks of the upcoming report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that the (Nobel Prize-winning, mind you) IPCC had dramatically erred in calculating global temperature changes, a study in the journal Natural Climate Change found that:

Out of 117 predictions [made during the 1990s], three were roughly accurate and 114 overestimated the amount of warming. On average, the predictions forecasted two times more global warming than actually occurred.

More damning still is this news:

A peer-reviewed climate change study released Wednesday by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change finds the threat of man-made global warming to be not only greatly exaggerated but so small as to be “embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system” and not dangerous.

A more thorough summary is here.

September 19th, 2013 at 10:45 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Uniter-In-Chief
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

September 18th, 2013 at 10:22 am
Detroit’s Idiotic War on Small Businesses

Detroit leaders hoping to revitalize the collapsing city are shooting themselves in the foot by engaging in a war against small business, according to a fascinating article and video on Reason magazine’s website.

“Amidst a bankruptcy and a fast-dwindling population and tax base, the city has prioritized the task of ensuring that all businesses are in compliance with its codes and permitting. To accomplish this, Mayor David Bing announced in January that he’d assembled a task force to execute Operation Compliance,” writes Zach Weissmueller.

The only way to turn around a city facing an 18.6 percent unemployment rate, a population that declined from 2 million to 700,000 and a glut of more than 76,000 abandoned houses and businesses is to stimulate job growth by fostering a welcoming climate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Bing’s foolish and vindictive Operation Compliance ignores that reality. His scheme actually began with a stated goal of shutting down 20 businesses a week.

The piece notes that “Operation Compliance unfairly targets small, struggling businesses in poor areas of town and that the city’s maze of regulations is nearly impossible to navigate, with permit fees that are excessive and damaging to businesses running on thin profit margins.”

In just eight months, the program has been responsible for the closure of 383 small businesses – and forcing thousands of additional Detroit residents to the unemployment line.

September 17th, 2013 at 5:47 pm
ObamaCare in Your Bedroom?

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the Goldwater Institute are both warning of dire threats to privacy if ObamaCare’s financial incentives and penalties on doctors aren’t changed soon.

The health law’s ‘reforms’ “aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential,” writes Betsy McCaughey in the New York Post.

Topics include asking whether a patient is sexually active, and if so, with what number of partners. Whether a person has same-sex partners is also an area the feds want to know about.

And don’t forget to add in the required questions about a person’s drug history.

Combine this with all the routine yet highly sensitive health information people share with their doctor, and you’ve got the makings for a single-source document that could ruin someone’s life if made public.

To do this, ObamaCare uses financial pressure to compel doctors to participate. Answers go into federally mandated electronic health records. Highly portable, the records can be accessed and shared among regulators.

Resistance won’t be easy.

“Doctors and hospitals who don’t comply with the federal government’s electronic-health-records-requirements forgo incentive payments now; starting in 2015, they’ll face financial penalties from Medicare and Medicaid,” according to McCaughey. “The Department of Health and Human Services has already paid out over $12.7 billion for these incentives.”

And it’s just going to get worse.

Best advice: Try to convince your doctor to keep two sets of books. One that’s real; the other for the Feds.

ObamaCare: Bringing people together in opposition to their government.

September 17th, 2013 at 12:29 pm
Three MORE Stupid Ways the Government Wastes Your Money

1) No manned space missions to Mars will be possible for at least 25 years, according to NASA projections. Still, NASA spends about $1 million a year “researching and building the Mars menu.” According to Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook” publication, NASA passed out an additional $947,000 in 2012 to researchers at Cornell University and the University of Hawaii to pretend they were on Mars and eat food that could be served on the Red Planet.

2) Because the federal government couldn’t actually afford to fund President Obama’s ill-conceived $833 billion stimulus debacle, American taxpayers will continue to pay for the scheme for years to come — with interest.

Among the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s more outrageous expenditures was a $20,785 handout to the Miccosukee Indian Village in Florida that funded, among other things, a high school-age alligator wrestler. Two other alligator wrestlers from the Miccosukee Tribe have been severely injured performing with gators in recent years. Now, thanks to Obama, taxpayers are helping to pay for a kid to engage in the senseless stunt.

3) In February the Government Accountability Office revealed that American taxpayers spent millions to shuttle the Attorney General and the FBI Director around in two high-tech luxury jets.

The pair of Gulfstream V jets were supposedly purchased for counterterrorism purposes, but were used more than 60 percent of the time for “non-mission flights” from 2007 to 2011. Flying Attorney General Eric Holder, his predecessor in the Bush administration and FBI Director Robert Mueller around on those “non-mission flights” cost taxpayers $11.4 million.

September 16th, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Remember Obama Phones?

Looking for a job? How about getting trained by a government contractor to “forge signatures and falsify data”?

National Review is reporting that a former employee at TerraCom, Inc., a cell phone provider under the federal government’s Lifeline program, was encouraged to use the tactics to help boost the company’s revenues from $32.6 million in 2011 to $52.3 million in 2012.

Though a drop in the bucket for a line-item that costs $2.189 billion, the revelation serves as a reminder for how bad the so-called “Obama Phone” program has been administered.

So does this: “Lifeline’s costs have increased by 166 percent in the past five years,” according to NR.

Hmm… that means the program, around since the 1980’s, dramatically spiked in 2009 and hasn’t stopped since. Any guess as to what – or who – is responsible?

September 16th, 2013 at 6:39 pm
Navy Yard Tragedy Marks Yet Another Failure of Gun-Free Zones

Don’t we ever learn?

Within seconds of initial reports leaking out about Tuesday’s attack that left the apparent killer and 12 others dead in the Washington Navy Yard in southeast D.C., liberals and anti-gun activists took to Twitter to demand tougher gun controls laws.

Apparently in their haste to exploit a tragedy for political capital, these gun opponents didn’t take the time to recognize that the shooting took place in a gun-free zone — in the city with the most restrictive gun laws in America.

In fact, the mass shooting sprees at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Virginia Tech, the Cinemark Theater in Aurora, Colo., and Tuesday’s appalling episode at the Navy Yard all occurred in gun-free zones.

The reality is that mass gun violence almost only occurs in gun-free zones. Economist John Lott, recently discovered that “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”

Why are gun-free zones so ineffective? The answer is obvious:  A gunman knows the innocent people inside gun-free zones will be sitting ducks, unable to defend themselves or mount a resistance against someone carrying a gun.

No matter how much gun opponents want to claim otherwise, implementing more silly gun control measures or increasing the number of gun-free zones will only lead to more mass shootings. The easiest way to prevent tragedies like the Navy Yard shooting is to allow more responsible adults to take guns more places.

September 16th, 2013 at 10:44 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Syria Policy
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

September 13th, 2013 at 2:19 pm
New Study Shows Members of Congress are Overpaid

Even though Congressional approval ratings remain near an all-time low, Congressional compensation is at an all-time high according to a study released  last month by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

The report found that, in addition to a salary of $174,000, members of Congress receive over $100,000 a year in benefits and perks. In total, the 435 House Members and 100 Senators each receive compensation of $286,000 annually.

Among Congress’ more questionable perks are months of paid time off every year, taxpayer-funded health and life insurance plans and, most shockingly, publicly financed “contributions toward retirement benefits equal to around 47 percent of their annual salaries, or about $82,000.”

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance points out that, on salary alone, members of Congress “make 3.4 times more than the average full-time American worker.” That’s a particularly startling fact when you consider that, for much of America’s history, service in Congress was considered a part-time job.

Writing for, Taxpayers Protection Alliance president David Williams highlighted the reality that U.S. Congressmen are paid much more handsomely that their counterparts in other wealthy nations:

Members of the United States Congress are among the highest-paid legislators in the world. On average, legislators in other parts of the world receive salaries equal to 2.3 times the average wage. In only one other country – Japan – are legislators paid more relative to the citizens they govern. In the United Kingdom, for instance, members of Parliament receive salaries equal to 2.2 times the average full-time worker wage.

When compared to either average hardworking Americans or national lawmakers from other countries, it is clear that members of Congress are overpaid. And, since taxpayers fund their bloated salaries and the nation is mired in suffocating debt, that’s a serious problem.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance study encourages lawmakers to reduce their salaries to a more realistic $100,000 a year. That commonsense approach to getting Congressional salaries in line with the pay of regular Americans would save taxpayers $39 million annually.

September 13th, 2013 at 12:50 pm
Podcast: Executive Power and Syria
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In an interview with CFIF, Captain Glenn Sulmasy, Fellow for Homeland and National Security Law at the Center for National Policy, discusses whether President Obama has the constitutional authority to strike Syria without Congressional approval, the chances of an escalation of hostilities in Syria if America does strike, and Russia’s latest proposal regarding Syria’s chemical weapons.

Listen to the interview here.

September 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  America’s Fascist Moment
Ellis:  Colorado Recall a Wake-Up Call to Overreaching Liberals
Lee:  Another Embarrassing Judicial Defeat for the Obama Administration

Podcast:  Executive Power and Syria
Jester’s Courtroom:  Prisoner Not Barred from Filing Frivolous Lawsuit

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

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

September 12th, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Delay ObamaCare, Spend Savings on Sequester?

House Republican conservatives are considering an alternative to using the upcoming budget fight as an attempt to defund ObamaCare. In its place, the GOP would vote to delay all of ObamaCare for a year and use the money saved to restore budget cuts caused by the sequester, reports the Washington Examiner.

To entice Democrats, the proposal would also raise the government’s debt ceiling, which is estimated to be reached sometime in late October.

On the plus side, the one-year delay puts President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on the defensive. After delaying the employer mandate and income eligibility requirements, it would be difficult to justify opposing the whole scale delay of a law that is turning into a “train wreck” to implement.

Shifting the money saved on ObamaCare implementation also lets Republicans take credit for restoring budget cuts, but here the plan starts to look less favorable. Conservatives want to restore funding to the military, but liberals are likely to demand restoration across the board – including budget items that Republicans would otherwise like to see shrink or eliminated.

Besides, if at the end of the year the sequester gets “paid for,” what was the point of going through all the downsizing? Angling for praise for restoring spending in a budget that doesn’t balance seems like an odd goal for fiscal conservatives.

Finally, there’s the debt ceiling issue. Between the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republican leadership there appears to be agreement that the debt ceiling should be raised. While that’s certainly the politically correct thing to do, it too seems contrary to the fiscal instincts of conservatives.

And yet, this trial balloon proposal might be attractive to House conservatives, also known as the best hope for imposing any kind of spending discipline in Washington. If this is the best they think they can do, then it means momentum inside Congress for defunding ObamaCare is dead.

If that’s true, let’s hope they can get a full and complete delay. Otherwise, capitulating on those terms will lead to more spending, more debt and more regulations. Not exactly a win for conservativsm.

September 12th, 2013 at 8:58 am
Podcast: Why Investigative Reporting Should Not Be A Lost Art
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In an interview with CFIF, Richard Miniter, President of the American Media Institute, discusses the importance of investigative reporting and today’s biggest stories dealing with violations of public trust, government, business and labor.

Listen to the interview here.

September 11th, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Never Forget
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Michael Ramirez on 9/11

September 11th, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Government’s Response to 9/11 Attacked American Values

On this anniversary of 9/11, the most devastating and tragic day in recent American history, it’s only natural for our minds to turn towards the 2,996 innocent lives taken by terrorists. As Americans, we must also never forget the rights and liberties taken by our own government in response to 9/11.

During a 14-month period following 9/11, the federal government expanded and the rights of Americans shrank faster than at any other point in U.S. history. During that time, Washington launched the War on Terror, ratified the Patriot Act, founded the Transportation Security Administration and created the Department of Homeland Security.

These measures did little, if anything, to make Americans safer. They did, however, manage to empower government to harass air travelers; spy on citizens; force the release of records from telecommunications and financial services companies without any court orders; imprison American citizens without proper due process, and largely strip the Fourth and Tenth Amendments of any practical value.

Since 9/11, largely as a result of government’s response to terrorism, the federal budget doubled from $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3.8 trillion today. Annual per capita federal spending spiked from $6,752 in 2001 to well over $12,000 in 2013.

In the days following 9/11, Americans promised not to let the terrorists win. And we didn’t. What we didn’t realize at the time, though, were the threats to American principles of limited, constitutional government posed by our own government.

September 10th, 2013 at 5:56 pm
Welcome to California Higher Ed, Janet

If you think President Barack Obama has a difficult job delivering an on-the-fly speech about the situation in Syria, consider what his former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is about to step into.

In language that’s better suited for an updated version of the movie PCU, a gaggle of liberal student groups in the University of California system sent a letter to Napolitano, who became UC’s first female president upon leaving the Obama administration.

After introducing themselves as “student leaders in the statewide multicultural progressive coalition that represents students who are underrepresented and marginalized within the UC System,” the petitioners “demand that you [Napolitano] implement the following across the UC system.”

These include “making the system a ‘sanctuary’ for illegal immigrants, barring the use of system funds or resources going to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which Napolitano oversaw in her previous job), impose mandatory sensitivity training on campus police and prohibit police from interfering with student demonstrations,” according to Fox News.

The letter, posted on Sunday, demands a meeting with Napolitano on Wednesday. For her trouble, the students promise to “do our best to cooperate with you in setting this up so all parties can have a productive conversation.”

Funny as it is to see a liberal like Napolitano have to take such people and demands seriously, it is still ridiculous that a highly compensated public official like her has to spend precious time and resources stoking the entitlement mentality of perennially aggrieved people.

Then again, that’s part of the job description when leading many modern higher education bureaucracies.

September 10th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Obama’s Peculiar Habit of Persuading Americans… to Oppose His Position
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It’s a particularly strange dynamic for an attorney and politician, given those professions’ reliance upon the art of persuasion.  But the more Barack Obama talks, the more he seems to dissuade rather than persuade.  Recall the signature act of his presidency to date, ObamaCare.  The more Obama has attempted to sell it both before and after its enactment, the less popular it has become.

Today, we’re witnessing that same lack of persuasive skill with regard to the question of military intervention in Syria.  According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released this morning, public opinion on intervention has reversed in the past two weeks, from 50% to 44% in favor to 51% to 44% opposed:

At the end of August, and NBC News poll found that half of Americans backed a limited set of airstrikes to destroy Syrian military units in response to an alleged government-directed gas attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians.  In less than two weeks since then, support for a limited attack dropped to 44%, the new poll found.  ‘As the public hears more information, they are coming down on the side of ‘don’t do it,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey with Democratic pollsters Fred Yang and Peter Hart.”

I was asked yesterday on Cam & Company on NRA News whether Obama can recover politically from his current debacle.  Given his performance to date in the art of persuasion, that prospect certainly doesn’t appear likely.

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