Archive for November, 2013
November 11th, 2013 at 4:13 pm
Shady Environmental Extremist May Have Succeeded in Buying the Virginia Governor’s Race

Last month, I wrote a piece exposing the shady dealings of sleazy environmental activist and billionaire Tom Steyer. If you haven’t been following Steyer’s shenanigans, he has poured millions into a media campaign and a PAC in hopes of preventing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

While Steyer claims his efforts are rooted in his environmentalism, it turns out his opposition to Keystone are entirely economically motivated. As I pointed out, Steyer stands to make millions of dollars because of his investment in the TransMountain pipeline. Without Keystone in the way TransMountain would have a monopoly in transporting oil from Alberta to refineries and shipping terminals in the U.S. and Canada.

Politico released an article today outlining Steyer’s role in the recently concluded Virginia governor’s race between scandal-plagued Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Steyer poured $8 million of his personal fortune into McAuliffe’s campaign, perhaps making the difference in a race decided by just 3 percentage points.

Steyer’s campaign “investment” appears to be just another in his continuing effort to fill the top rungs of government in Washington and beyond with environmental loons and lawmakers who will offer tax breaks and other deals that benefit his investments.

November 11th, 2013 at 4:09 pm
Study Shows Louisiana Municipal Broadband a Boondoggle

A government-owned broadband scheme in Lafayette, Louisiana, is more than $160 million in debt and is losing $45,000 a day, according to Lafayette’s independent auditor. The city’s broadband business is struggling to compete with cable, telephone, wireless and satellite service providers in terms of price, performance and service options, according to a study by the Reason Foundation.

Of course, none of this should come as a shock to anyone who understands basic economic principles or the value of competition.

The government simply lacks the incentive to provide quality service or spend money wisely. After all, if a government-owned/socialist-style enterprise fails, investors don’t lose money, taxpayers lose money. As a result, time and time again, when the government enters an arena already filled by successful private companies, it’s just a matter of time until the government’s offering goes belly up and taxpayers are left paying the bill.

November 9th, 2013 at 6:27 pm
McCarthy: Obamacare Fraud a Reason to Impeach

Leave it to a former federal prosecutor to make the case for impeaching President Barack Obama over the latter’s massive fraud regarding the security of insurance policies after Obamacare.

“Fraud is a serious federal felony, usually punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment — with every repetition of a fraudulent communication chargeable as a separate crime,” writes Andrew McCarthy. “In computing sentences, federal sentencing guidelines factor in such considerations as the dollar value of the fraud, the number of victims, and the degree to which the offender’s treachery breaches any special fiduciary duties he owes. Cases of multi-million-dollar corporate frauds — to say nothing of multi-billion-dollar, Bernie Madoff–level scams that nevertheless pale beside Obamacare’s dimensions — often result in terms amounting to decades in the slammer.”

As everyone knows by now, President Obama has lied repeatedly since at least 2010 that Americans who like their insurance will be able to keep it.

But just because Obama won’t be prosecuted doesn’t mean that his actions should go unpunished. As McCarthy reminds us, the standard for impeachment is “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which Alexander Hamilton argued in the Federalist Papers as relating “chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

I agree with McCarthy that the billions of dollars lost by millions of health insurance consumers seems to qualify as a massive injury to society perpetuated by the man in the Oval Office.

Read the entire piece here.

November 9th, 2013 at 5:58 pm
Obamacare and the Culture Wars

Among other social-engineering priorities, Obamacare’s drafters decided that pricing insurance policies for men and women in relation to the services each group is likely to use is discrimination, since women, unlike men, need access to costly reproductive services.

The solution to this perceived problem is to mandate that all people purchasing insurance under Obamacare – including males covering only themselves – must pay for services like maternity care that they cannot use. The result is another HHS mandate that significantly raises the cost of health insurance on one group (men) for the sake of making it more affordable for another (women).

For a glimpse of where this comes from and where we’re heading, consider the Obama 2012 campaign’s much-maligned “Life of Julia” web video. It shows how a young girl in America progresses through adulthood without ever forming a family. Instead, her entire life requires a series of massive interventions from paternalistic government, including the likes of Head Start, public school, college loans, small business subsidies, child support services, as well as health and pension payments. The creators revel in the fact that all of these programs allow their heroine to live a life completely unimaginable absent such government-coerced public assistance.

My hunch is that many Republicans aren’t brave enough to denounce the Democrats’ “War on Men,” for fear of a feminist backlash. But if no protest is lodged, then the Party of Dependency will be encouraged to continue enacting policies that force traditionally conservative constituencies to pay for the lifestyle choices of consistently liberal voters.

November 9th, 2013 at 4:02 pm
Latest Obamacare ‘Fix’ Could Cost Billions

Another day, another leaked attempt to make an end-run around Congress.

In the wake of the widespread insurance policy cancellations forcing individuals onto Obamacare exchanges, Obama administration officials are letting it be known that they are working on an “administrative fix” that would somehow provide financial relief for those affected that don’t qualify for federal subsidies to offset the health law’s higher premiums.

This trial balloon seems to be the necessary corollary to President Barack Obama’s promise Thursday night “to work hard to make sure that [people losing their individual policies] know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Even if that means rewriting the law without Congress, and exploding the cost of Obamacare.

As written, Obamacare subsidies are capped at 400 percent of the federal poverty line, which translates into an annual income of no more than $46,000 per year for an individual.

But, “In June 2009, the CBO evaluated a draft proposal from the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee that offered subsidies as high as 500 percent of the federal poverty level,” writes Philip Klein.

“In the period from 2014 through 2019 alone, CBO estimated that the exchange subsidies would cost $1.2 trillion.” Dropping the cut-off level to 400 percent of FPL reduced the cost estimate to $458 billion over the same six year period.

If the Obama administration elects to go this route, Klein says expect to see another famous presidential pledge come under fire: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. I will sign if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.”

November 8th, 2013 at 1:44 pm
Obama Apologizes, Then Contextualizes His Broken Promises

Last night President Barack Obama issued a half-hearted apology for lying to millions of Americans.

“I am sorry that they [i.e. people who are losing their insurance plans due to Obamacare] are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News Thursday night. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

But even with the mea culpa, Obama couldn’t resist trying to minimize his culpability. His method was trying to make the amount of people affected seem like a rounding error.

“I mean, we’re talking about 5 percent of the population.” Of course, 5 percent of the American population is still 15 million people – enough to swing an election. More importantly, that number would be several times larger if Obama hadn’t already delayed the employer mandate.

A reasonable person in Obama’s shoes would now spend the next month or two in lock-down mode trying to fix his broken website and restore credibility to his administration’s ability to govern. But instead this president is going on the campaign trail to defend the indefensible to a skeptical public.

The president doesn’t seem to realize that achievement is what’s needed now, not tired empty rhetoric. If this keeps up, the odds look good for another Republican wave election in 2014.

November 8th, 2013 at 10:30 am
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:  Is Obama Even Interested in His Job Anymore?
Ellis:  ObamaCare Lies & Incompetence May Be Enough To Bring It Down
Hillyer:  Can Cuccinelli Continue?

Video:  Honoring the U.S. Armed Forces
Podcast:  Six Reasons Why ObamaCare Will Fail
Jester’s Courtroom:  Yelp Writers Sue for Help

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.

November 8th, 2013 at 9:43 am
Podcast: Six Reasons Why ObamaCare Will Fail
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In an interview with CFIF, Lawrence McQuillan, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, explains why ObamaCare will fail and free-market healthcare will succeed, and discusses the book “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis,” which identifies the key problems with and corresponding solutions to ObamaCare.

Listen to the interview here.

November 8th, 2013 at 8:40 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Lying King
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

November 7th, 2013 at 11:12 am Contradicts Obama

It looks like the glitch-ridden federal health insurance portal isn’t the only Obama administration website in need of fixing.

A statement on still parrots President Barack Obama’s recently disavowed promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” reports Fox News.

On a page labeled “health reform details” the following statement appears: “For Americans with insurance coverage who like what they have, they can keep it. Nothing in this act or anywhere in the bill forces anyone to change the insurance they have, period.”

And yet President Obama said to his supporters on Monday, “What we said was, ‘You could keep if [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.’”

The about-face is due to the President of the United States being caught in a multi-year, bald-faced lie.

As I explain in my column this week, the Obama administration from the president on down has known since at least June 2010 that nearly 100 million Americans would lose their pre-Obamacare health care plans if the law was implemented as written. That’s one reason they delayed the employer mandate, and with it, the vast majority – almost 80 million – of projected policy cancellations. (Consumers in the individual insurance market are the ones being hit as the law intended.)

The conflicting statement on is just more confirmation that President Obama and his administration can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

November 7th, 2013 at 8:04 am
Podcast: Farm Bill Fight in Congress
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Andrew Moylan, Outreach Director at R Street Institute, discusses why Congress is missing a prime opportunity to cut spending and make commonsense reforms with the Farm Bill, and how unfortunately for taxpayers, consumers and farmers it will result in keeping the status quo and rewarding special interests.

Listen to the interview here.

November 5th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Friedman’s World Not Just Flat, but “Racist”

My former boss, Bob Livingston, sent the letter below to the New York Times on Oct. 31. The Times hasn’t published it, so I will. It speaks for itself:

Dear Editor,

Last night, I attended a very nice gathering of roughly 1000 Egyptians and Americans hosted by some wonderful people seeking to enhance commercial and educational relations between Egypt and the US.  For the most part, all of the speakers including your own illustrious Tom Friedman provided positive and uplifting messages of hope and cooperation.

I say for the most part, because there was one notable exception so unexpected and out of context that it was breathtaking.  By that I refer to Mr. Friedman’s categorical and unsupported declaration in his closing remarks that 80% of those who politically oppose the Obama administration’s policies are racially motivated.

As a staunch conservative Republican with multiple friends and business partners not of my own race, I was so shocked by his declaration that I practically fell off my chair.  None of the other speakers found any reason to discuss race relations in either country, so Mr. Friedman’s statement was gratuitous, contextually odd, and completely erroneous.

When the program was over, I approached him and told him exactly what I thought…in words and phrases of my old sailor days.  To his credit, he did not retreat from his position, convincing me that he is either far less intelligent than I thought, or else he saw this gathering as a chance to spread hateful bigotry to an international audience without contradiction.


Robert L. Livingston

Member of Congress (Retired)

November 4th, 2013 at 5:39 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: A Big (Bleeping) Deal!
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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.

November 4th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 (CST)/5:00 pm (EST): Lawrence McQuillan, Senior Fellow at Independent Institute: Six Reasons Why ObamaCare will Fail;

4:30 (CST)/5:30 (EST): Andrew Moylan, Outreach Director and Senior Fellow for R Street: Farm Bill Fight in Congress;

5:00 (CST)/6:00 pm (EST): Ambassador Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See: “The Global Vatican: An Inside Look at the Catholic Church, World Politics, and the Extraordinary Relationship between the United States and the Holy See;” and

5:30 (CST)/6:30 pm (EST):  Open Mic

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

November 4th, 2013 at 2:43 pm
CFIF TechNotes
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(1)  In a Daily Caller commentary entitled “Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support America’s Copyright Protections, Not Malign Them” I highlight the causal connection between U.S. intellectual property (IP) protections and our unmatched artistic and technological dominance:

America’s system of copyright and intellectual property (IP) protections, which incentivize creators and reward their efforts, has resulted in the most innovative, influential, artistic, and prosperous nation in human history.  No country or alternative system even rivals our record of creative preeminence in music, movies, television shows, news, and literature.”

On that basis, I also address some myths regarding proposed Congressional legislation entitled the Free Market Royalty Act (FMRA):

That bill would finally end terrestrial radio’s special government privilege against paying performance rights that artists are allowed to negotiate with all other forms of use.  Simply put, the proposed legislation doesn’t “regulate the market” as Khanna claims.  More accurately, the FMRA seeks to create a more level playing field for all forms of broadcast.  Currently, artists aren’t compensated when their works are played on terrestrial radio, except through a cumbersome licensing process.  This bill would change that and allow them to negotiate.”

(2)  Over at AEI’s, Jeffrey Eisenach and James Glassman wrote that “It’s Time to Move Ahead at the FCC”:

The DISCLOSE Act was proposed in 2010 by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The act, in our view, was genuinely pernicious and in all likelihood unconstitutional.  For example, it would prohibit political contributions by recipients of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money and by any firm that received government contracts of more than $10 million.”

The authors agree with Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas) that it is “understandable and appropriate” to raise questions, but that now the FCC can hopefully move on and act in ways that spawn innovation, incentivize investment and reduce costs for consumers.

On that note, as reported in USA Today, “The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed venture capitalist Thomas Wheeler to head the FCC and, as a commissioner, Mike O’Rielly, who had been an advisor to Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Tex.”   With these confirmations, the FCC now has a full roster.

to reduce costs for consumers, spawn faster innovation, and incentivize more capital investment. Let’s get on with it. – See more at:
hether the mandatory disclosure provisions of DISCLOSE Lite are constitutional is highly questionable, and we seriously doubt the FCC has authority to impose such requirements on its own.   In any case, it would be completely inappropriate for an independent regulatory agency like the FCC to even attempt unilateral action, especially in the face of strong opposition.  It is perfectly understandable and appropriate for Sen. Cruz to raise these question – See more at:

(3)  At, Richard Bennett writes in a piece entitled “IP Transition:  The One Percent Problem” that “the way forward is to incentivize the formation of private firms operating with diminishing levels of public subsidy”:

The hardest thing to do in Washington is to unwind a body of regulation with a long history, and the telephone has been around forever in technology terms.  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell picked up a telephone and said:  “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.”  In 1913, The Justice Department made an out-of-court settlement with AT&T that allowed it to operate as a government-sanctioned monopoly as long as it provided universal service within a defined territory and allowed other telephone systems to interconnect with its network to serve others.  By 1984, technology changes made this arrangement untenable and the Justice Department’s anti-monopoly suit against AT&T broke the company up into a number of parts.  After 12 years in which the nation’s telecom business was run out of a judge’s chambers, Congress finally passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, imposing new obligations meant to promote competition for local and long-distance telephone service.  By 2010, the Telecom Act was irrelevant as telephone users had began to end their Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) subscriptions in favor of mobile telephony and broadband.  Today POTS is not economically viable.”

(4)  On The Hill’s technology blog, Kate Tummarello and Brendan Sasso update us on events affecting the FCC and FTC:

The government shutdown has forced the Federal Communications Commission to delay the planned auction of the “H block” of wireless spectrum.  The commission had set the auction for Jan. 14, but on Monday, the agency announced that date will be bumped back to Jan. 22.  House FTC hearing postponed: The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee has postponed Thursday’s planned hearing on the future of the Federal Trade Commission.  The House canceled Thursday’s session so members can attend the funeral of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).”

(5)  At Politico, Brooks Boliek writes an update piece entitled “FCC Forced to Play Catch-Up After Shutdown”:

The FCC is delaying high-profile actions, including a key spectrum auction, as it plays catch-up after the government shutdown.  Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn had originally scheduled an auction for the so-called H-Block for Jan. 14.  The auction, which will be the first major airwaves sale since 2008, is now slated to start on Jan. 22, the FCC announced today.  That could push it into next year’s fiscal battles.  The bill that just passed Congress funds the government through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.  The shutdown delays add new pressure to the FCC, which is in the midst of major policy initiatives and stuck at three commissioners with two nominees stalled in Congress.  The H-Block is the first of a string of planned auctions designed to get more airwaves into the marketplace to feed data-hungry smartphones and power high-speed communications systems.  The commission lost critical planning time with most of its nearly 2,000 staffers furloughed for 16 days.  ‘These schedule changes are necessary to give potential bidders and commission staff additional time for planning and preparation,’ the FCC said in a public notice issued Monday.”

(6)  At Mountain View Voice, Angela Hey details online education innovations in “Coursera Educates Five Million Students and Revenues Start Growing”:

Mountain View’s Coursera offers free online courses from the world’s leading universities.  Today, at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Stanford professor Andrew Ng described why he co-founded Coursera, which launched in 2012.  The conference, which is also held in Beijing, features mobile apps, wearable devices and connected cars.  Ng is director of Stanford’s artificial intelligence laboratory.  At Stanford he can teach 400 students.  With Coursera he taught 100,000 students in his machine learning class.  The other co-founder is Daphne Koller, a Stanford professor of computer science.  Five million students have registered Coursera accounts to take MOOCs (massive open online courses).”

(7)  Over at Forbes, Steve Forbes himself laments how telecom sector regulations simply aren’t keeping appropriate pace with technological change in “Government Should Mandate that Car Makers Invest Billions in Horse-Drawn Carriages!”:

Should Ford Motor have to reintroduce the Model T instead of investing in new cars that meet the needs of today’s consumers?  Should Apple be made to bring back the Apple II instead of investing in new products?   Should dental device makers be forced to invest in drills powered not by electricity but by foot pedals?  Crazy?  Not in telecommunications.  Special interests want to require traditional landline telephone companies like Verizon and AT&T to increase investment in antiquated technologies like copper-based telephone services that most consumers are choosing not to use.  These phone companies are restricted by archaic regulations that were put in place back when the Bell system was a monopoly.  Consumers then had one option, the landline phone.”

(8)  Finally, over at Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton writes on points of left-right agreement and disagreement in “Public Knowledge, AT&T Weigh in with Hill on IP Trials”:

Public Knowledge and AT&T agree on five touchstones for the IP transition but disagree on AT&T’s suggested trials, according to testimony for an Oct. 23 House Communications Subcommittee hearing on the transition.  Harold Feld, senior VP of Public Knowledge, delineated those values in his testimony as follows:  service to all Americans, interconnection and competition, consumer protection, reliability, and public safety.  Feld adds that AT&T’s suggested IP transition trials should be rejected.  However, AT&T countered Feld’s statement, saying the FCC should expedite those ‘real world tests.’  Feld will tell the legislators that test trials are needed, but they must be guided by those values and they should not be the trials AT&T has offered up.  In his prepared testimony AT&T senior VP James Cicconi complimented Feld on ‘identifying the key consumer protections needed for a successful IP transition.  We may end up differing on details,” he said, “but their framework is sound.  Clearly the fundamental principles of universal connectivity, interconnection, consumer protection, reliability and public safety are hallmarks of our Nation’s commitment to communications and cannot be lost in this process.’  Cicconi says its trials offer ‘clear benefits’ with no costs and says AT&T is not looking for the IP world to be a regulation-free zone.  ‘We understand that there will be a set of core consumer protections that exist,’ he said.  ‘While I might disagree with the FCC on particular matters, I would concede readily the FCC can play a strong role in protecting consumers, and it has demonstrated that in recent years.  Public safety should fall within the FCC’s consumer protection mandate as well.'”

And those are your CFIF TechNotes for this week!

November 2nd, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Obamacare Launch Much Worse Than Medicare Part D Rollout

A meme circulating through the liberal punditry claims that the jaw-droppingly bad launch of, the federal Obamacare insurance website, is nothing to get all hot-and-bothered about. Remember the Bush administration’s poor rollout of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit? Its website was glitch prone at the start, but now the portal and the program are considered successful.

The same fate awaits Obamacare.

Or so supporters claim.

The analogy doesn’t hold though.

For starters, Part D was a far simpler program than Obamacare because it (1) added a new benefit to an existing federal scheme, and (2) could tap into existing relationships between Medicare and the intended beneficiaries. By contrast, Obamacare’s exchange model fundamentally changes how millions of individual Americans must buy health insurance; including those without any previous history of doing so.

Unlike liberal sympathizers who want to blur the distinctions in order to obscure Obamacare’s much more significant problems, thoughtful analysts like health expert Yuval Levin see the analogy pointing in a very different direction.

“The fact that even a much simpler federal undertaking ran into real problems should lead us to think that Obamacare could well encounter far, far worse and more difficult problems, on a scale that may not be readily addressable – as in fact seems now to be happening,” writes Levin. “It doesn’t suggest everything will be fine, it suggests the government hasn’t been good at even much easier tasks than the ones now set before it.”

Time will tell if the Obama administration’s “tech surge” fixes the glitches, but in the meantime it would be better if liberals stopped hiding behind false analogies, and admit that their big gamble to remake health care is dangerously close to an unprecedented failure.

November 2nd, 2013 at 10:35 am
Obamacare’s ‘Origination Clause’ Problem

Daniel Himebaugh, a friend and lawyer at Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), sends along an update about his firm’s ongoing challenge to Obamacare as violating the Origination Clause. Under the clause, all bills raising revenue via taxes must originate in the House of Representatives.

As Dan explains in a blog post, “We contend that the legislation that eventually became Obamacare failed to comply with the Origination Clause because it contains a tax on individuals that originated in the Senate. That’s where Majority Leader Harry Reid took a bill the House had already passed – HR 3590, which would have provided incentives for veterans to buy their first homes – and replaced all its contents with what became the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’”

Importantly, none of the Supreme Court’s existing exceptions to the Origination Clause apply to the circumstances of Obamacare. Thus, striking down the entire law could be as straightforward as finding that the Senate failed to follow the constitutional process for passing a revenue bill.

PLF’s case, Sissel v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, is beginning its appellate journey in the D.C. Circuit, with an opinion anticipated early next year. CFIF readers and all lovers of liberty would do well to acquaint themselves with the details of the lawsuit, which the firm makes easy with links to a case page, an in-depth backgrounder and its opening brief.

Like the other legal challenges to Obamacare working their way through the court system, PLF’s case deserves not only a hearing, but a favorable result.

November 1st, 2013 at 8:08 pm
Obamacare Website Enrolls the Cast of “Friends”
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Since President Obama was—prior to its implosion—so hung-ho about comparing to cutting edge private sector companies like Apple, Amazon, and Kayak, he certainly can’t mind the kind of data scrutiny that such companies thrive on. Try this one on for size: According to the Los Angeles Times:

Just six enrollments occurred on the opening day for, the troubled Obamacare website, according to documents released late Thursday by a House oversight committee.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, obtained the tally from meeting notes compiled by officials inside the “war room” at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which was overseeing the rollout of the insurance marketplace.

If Apple had first-day numbers like that, someone (actually, many someones) would be fired. Mr. President?

November 1st, 2013 at 4:51 pm
More Legal Woes for Obamacare

Though Obamacare’s individual mandate barely survived the Supreme Court last year, there’s no guarantee that some of the law’s other elements will be so lucky.

Last week, Tim explained that litigation challenging the health law’s federal subsidy structure is proceeding toward the Court. If the Court’s four consistent conservatives and swinger Anthony Kennedy stay true to the text, citizens in 34 states won’t be eligible for subsidies that make Obamacare-approved insurance plans (somewhat) more affordable.

Another series of cases challenge the controversial ‘HHS mandate’ that requires all non-houses of worship to provide employees with access to contraceptives and abortion-related services; despite the objecting employer’s religious beliefs. Appellate level decisions are split between the government and private business, meaning the Court is very likely to decide the issue as a way to provide continuity throughout the nation.

If recent trends hold, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in both lines of litigation sometime next spring, releasing a high-profile opinion in mid-summer.

As long as Obamacare is the law of the land, there will be no end to the headaches it creates.

November 1st, 2013 at 4:33 pm
New Research Confirms Need for Corporate Tax Reduction and Reform
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The United States keeps shooting itself in the proverbial foot with our foolishly high and complex corporate tax rate.  Fully 31 of the world’s 34 leading economies have lowered their corporate tax rates since 1997 alone, but the U.S. is not among them.  Consequently, as all other competitor countries lower their rates, corporations flee for better shores, never to return.  And with those corporations go critical American jobs.

Maintaining a federal corporate tax rate of 35% in addition to various state corporate taxes – the highest in the developed world – doesn’t just impede American businesses.  The code is also riddled with Byzantine loopholes that warp decisionmaking and dictate winners and losers.  And contrary to popular myth, most of those loopholes aren’t accessible to most companies.  To the contrary, new research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reveals that the effective tax rate for corporations was 36.2% from 2004 – 2010.  Stripping out many of the false assumptions of the GAO report that claimed an effective U.S. rate of approximately 13%, the PwC report is a devastating indictment of our tax code that highlights its unfair and punitive nature.

Our economy continues to struggle, and with so much regulatory uncertainty and chaos in Washington it would be nice to focus on something on which everyone sees eye-to-eye.  Reforming the corporate tax rate is precisely that sort of bipartisan solution, something widely acknowledged by both sides as the correct move.  Even President Obama, whose policies have done so much to impede economic and job growth, has gone out of his way to emphasize that reality.  We simply must reduce corporate tax rates and reform our tax code so that our economy isn’t permanently crippled by it.  Although pronouncements of the downfall of the United States are greatly exaggerated, it would be wise for us to avoid heading down that path due to outdated corporate tax policies that nobody supports.

The time for reduction and reform is now, before it really is too late.