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Entries in CEI (1438)

Wednesday
Jul252012

CEI - Net Neutrality Unconstitutional, Public Interest Groups Tell Appeals Court 

Washington D.C., July 24, 2012 — On July 23, TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with the Free State Foundation and the Cato Institute, filed a brief amici curiae (PDF) with the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit arguing that the FCC’s 2011 “Preserving the Open Internet” Order is unconstitutional. By denying providers their constitutional rights, the groups argue, the FCC’s rule forces consumers to bear the costs of building tomorrow’s networks, foreclosing novel business models in which content companies share part of that burden.

"The FCC’s net neutrality rule violates both the First and Fifth Amendments: It compels Internet providers to speak and deprives them of their property rights without just compensation," said Ryan Radia, Associate Director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “The problems the rule purports to solve are theoretical, but its impact on constitutional rights will be very real. Net neutrality regulation denies Internet providers their First Amendment right to choose what speech to allow on their networks, effectively compelling providers to convey all content companies’ messages—for free. Granting content companies nearly unfettered, free use of Internet providers’ private networks amounts to a permanent ‘virtual easement’."

The brief also rejects the FCC's claims of "ancillary" jurisdiction to regulate matters beyond what Congress has specifically assigned to the agency.

"We're asking the Court to rein in an agency that it's previously criticized for making sweeping claims of authority that would 'virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether,'" said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. "There's no evidence to support the FCC's view that broadband and content providers are fundamentally at odds. But if broadband operators ever do abuse market power by blocking access to competitors, that's a problem existing antitrust laws can address. Those who think current antitrust mechanisms work too slowly should dust off the Digital Age Communications Act, a compromise proposal offered by The Progress & Freedom Foundation in 2005, allowing the FCC to issue rules on the basis of antitrust standards. But if the FCC can simply invent authority to regulate the Internet today, there is no limit to what it might do tomorrow."

The case is Verizon v. FCC (D.C. Cir. No. 11-1355) and this amicus brief is available here. John Elwood and Eric White of Vinson & Elkins LLP served as pro bono counsel on this brief, as they did on an amicus brief in which TechFreedom joined with CEI and Cato last year, challenging the FCC's indecency regulations.

For more on the constitutional violations of the FCC’s network neutrality rule, see:

• Randolph J. May, Net Neutrality Mandates: Neutering the First Amendment in the Digital Age, 3 I/S: A J. of Law and Pol’y for the Info. Soc’y 198, 209 (2007);

• Daniel Lyons, Virtual Takings: The Coming Fifth Amendment Challenge to Net Neutrality Regulation, 86 Notre Dame L. Rev. 66, 97 (2011).

Wednesday
Jul252012

CEI - Farm Bill Boondoggle Won't Cure Draught, Coalition Tells Boehner

Groups Urge Speaker Boehner to Resist Special Interest Pressure

Washington, D.C., July 24, 2012 – Twelve government watchdog groups, including CEI, sent House Speaker John Boehner a letter this morning urging him to hold firm and not give into special interest pressure to schedule a vote on the bloated Farm Bill.

Agricultural interests and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack are pushing for fast consideration of a nearly $1 trillion farm and food stamp give-away, saying that farmers need the bill because of the devastating drought and claiming there is no safety net without the new bill.

That’s nonsense, as current and generous crop insurance will take care of most farmers, and there were private alternatives available.   As the coalition letter states:

“Agriculture already has a more than adequate safety net in the gold-plated federal crop insurance program in which taxpayers pick up, on average, 62% of the premium costs for crop insurance. These policies allow businesses to guarantee up to 85% of their expected revenue.”

So far, Speaker Boehner has withstood this pressure and has staved off bringing the bill to the floor.

“Using the current drought as a pretext to bail out yet another sector of the U.S. economy while expanding the federal government’s role in the business decisions of agricultural enterprises is something taxpayers and our free-market economy cannot afford,” the coalition letter states.

View the coalition lettter

> Interview Farm Bill expert Fran Smith


 


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Tuesday
Jul242012

CEI Today: Gov't transparency, Cybersecurity Act, and ethanol mandates

TRANSPARENCY IN REGULATION - RYAN YOUNG & WAYNE CREWS


Washington Times: Season for relief from big government, More transparency would help curb untracked spending


The good news is that this year’s budget deficit will be half a trillion less than last year’s. The bad news is that it still will top $1 trillion.


The worse news is that politicians, those clever creatures, are constantly looking for ways to keep enacting expensive new regulations and dispensing goodies without adding to the budget or the deficit. It’s a way to curry favor with voters, who tend to like freebies but dislike paying the costs. One such trick is the unfunded mandate, and it needs to be reined in.  > Read the full commentary

 


>Interview the authors

 

CYBERSECURITY ACT - RYAN RADIA & BARIN SZOKA

 

Openmarket.org:  Revised Cybersecurity Act Makes Meaningful Progress On Privacy

 

A new version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was introduced last night (PDF), and a vote on the Senate floor reportedly may occur as early as next week. Although we’re still digesting the 211-page bill, its revised information sharing title stands out for its meaningful safeguards regarding what cybersecurity information may be shared by providers and its limits on how government may use shared information. Such prudence is of utmost importance in any bill that gives private entities blanket immunity from civil and criminal laws, including the common law, for activities such as cybersecurity information sharing.  > Read the full commentary on Openmarket.org

> Inteview Ryan Radia

ETHANOL MANDATES - MARLO LEWIS

Globalwarming.org: When Drought Strikes, Should U.S. Policy Endanger Hungry People?

The question answers itself. Of course not. But that is the effect of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), more commonly known as the ethanol mandate.


Under the RFS (Energy Independence and Security Act, p. 31), refiners must sell specified amounts of biofuel each year. The “volumetric targets” increase from 4.0 billion gallons in 2006 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. The amount of corn ethanol qualifying as “renewable” maxes out at 15 billion gallons in 2015. Already, ethanol production consumes about 40% of the annual U.S. corn crop.  > Read the full commentary on Globalwarming.org

>Interview Marlo Lewis

 

 

 


Also featuring...

Pension Fund Activism Threatens Workers’ Retirement Security — And Taxpayers

To Fix The PBGC, Free Its Premiums

Cut Down On Unfunded Mandates, Part II

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

Scaremongering ABC Reporter Brian Ross Blames Innocent Man For Colorado Shootings, Leading To Death Threats Against Him

San Diego Mayor Questioned Over Pension Improvement Initiative

Cut Down On Unfunded Mandates, Part I

CEI Podcast For July 19, 2012: Congress Takes On High-Skilled Immigration Reform

Congress will soon vote on a package of reforms for holders of the H-1B visa for high-skilled immigrants. Policy Analyst David Bier unpacks the proposed reforms, and explains why allowing more high-skilled immigration would help spark economic growth, especially in the technology sector.

 

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Tuesday
Jul242012

CEI Urges Congress to Reject Internet Tax Bill 

Submitted Testimony Makes Case for Origin-Based Taxation

Washington, D.C., July 23, 2012 – Congress should reject legislation to increase taxes collected on Internet and mail order remote sales, argues the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in written testimony filed today with the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.

The Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. on the Marketplace Equity Act of 2011 (H.R. 3179), which would authorize state governments to collect sales taxes from sellers beyond their borders. Several states have already made a joint agreement to do just that; but their agreement—the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA)—does not have Congressional approval. H.R. 3179 seeks to codify SSUTA into law.

Supporters of H.R. 3179 argue that the bill will fix existing tax inequities. But CEI Policy Analyst Jessica Melugin, the author of CEI’s testimony, points out that H.R. 3179 will actually create several new problems for businesses and consumers. Among other things, the bill would:

• increase the amount consumers pay in taxes when shopping online;

• permit double taxation on remote sales;

• raise compliance costs for online retailers;

• destroy the competitive sales tax advantage some states and localities enjoy;

• force states to expand the list of taxable purchases and harmonize tax rates up;

• tax online retailers for remote services they cannot use;

• increase consumer privacy concerns;

• prevent businesses from voting for, or against, the taxing authorities; and

• create new inequities between bricks-and-mortar and online businesses.

“While sales tax inequities between traditional and online retailers certainly exist and need to be addressed, this legislation is a cure worse than the disease,” writes Melugin in her testimony.

If Congress is to reconsider how existing online sales taxes are collected, CEI encourages it to pursue an origin-based approach whereby retailers remit existing online sales taxes to their home jurisdictions only.

An origin-based approach would create true equity between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers while putting downward pressure on taxes by allowing consumers to “vote with their wallets.” It would encourage online sellers to gravitate toward lower tax-rate jurisdictions and preserve the healthy competition among states and localities nationwide.

An origin-based regime would treat all retailers the same, protect consumer privacy, minimize compliance burdens, and ensure that those taxed maintain their political voice and receive services from their tax dollars.

>> Read Jessica Melugin’s Testimony on the Marketplace Equity Act of 2011

>> See also:

• Melugin’s May 2011 op-ed in The Washington Times: “State Cartel Looking to Hike Internet Taxes”

• Melugin’s April 2011 op-ed in The San Jose Mercury News: “An Alternative to California Proposal to Tax E-Commerce

 


CEI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and markets. For more about CEI, visit www.cei.org/about-cei

Saturday
Jul212012

CEI Today: TSA body scanners, FDA over-regulation, and a court ruling on drug manufacturers

TSA BODY SCANNERS - MARC SCRIBNER


CEI.org: CEI Files Amici Curiae Brief Calling on TSA to Follow the Law

 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should be compelled to at last give the public an opportunity to comment on the agency’s use of full-body scanners in airports, a new brief of amici curiae by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) urges. For more than three years, TSA’s use of body-scanners has affected millions of Americans, yet passengers still have had no opportunity to formally voice their concerns to the agency.  > Read about the lawsuit


>Interview Marc Scribner

 

> See related: CEI Files Amici Brief In Support Of EPIC’s Petition To Force A TSA Rulemaking On Strip-Search Machines


FDA OVER-REGULATION - MICHELLE MINTON

 

Real Clear Policy: More FDA Control Does Not Mean More Safety

 

News outlets are reporting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cited an alarmingly high number of alleged safety and regulatory violations by supplement manufacturers. This may worry some consumers about the safety of their daily multivitamin. It has also prompted some lawmakers to call, once again, for increasing the FDA's control over the supplement industry. While there is no reason to doubt that the FDA found violations of rules in its investigation, more government regulation would do nothing to improve the safety of America's vitamin supply.  > Read the full commentary on Real Clear Policy

> Inteview Michelle Minton
 

DRUG MANUFACTURERS - GREG CONKO

Medical Progress Today: Third Circuit Decision Endorses FTC's Faulty Logic on "Pay for Delay"

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down a decision on Monday holding that reverse payment - or so-called "pay to delay" - patent settlement agreements between innovator and generic drug manufacturers may constitute antitrust violations.

That decision sets up a Circuit split that now seems ripe for Supreme Court review, as the Federal Circuit, Second Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit appeals courts have previously ruled that, in most cases, these settlement agreements are not anticompetitive.

 > Read the full commentary on Medical Progress Today


>Interview Greg Conko

 

 

 


Also featuring...

Europe’s Central Bankers are Running Out of Road

On Dodd-Frank’s Unhappy Anniversary, Main Street Suffers Most

Ethanol Added $14.5 Billion to Consumer Motor Fuel Costs in 2011, Study Finds

i, Mac

CEI Podcast For July 19, 2012: Congress Takes On High-Skilled Immigration Reform

Congress will soon vote on a package of reforms for holders of the H-1B visa for high-skilled immigrants. Policy Analyst David Bier unpacks the proposed reforms, and explains why allowing more high-skilled immigration would help spark economic growth, especially in the technology sector.

 

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.