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  • Did Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Violate the Hatch Act?

    July 21, 2014 12:17 PM

    Sadly, but unsurprisingly, it appears that former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis may have violated the Hatch Act—which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty—by soliciting funds for President Obama’s reelection campaign during work hours.  

    The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darell Issa (R-Calif.), broke the story when it released a voicemail of Solis calling a Department of Labor subordinate “off the record” to get help for Obama’s 2012 campaign. The release of the voicemail came as a result of a larger investigation into the Obama administration’s political activity during the 2012 election cycle.

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    July 21, 2014 6:46 AM

    In addition to 100 final regulations, 62 proposed regulations made their way to the Federal Register last week.

  • The Future of the Internet in America

    July 18, 2014 5:10 PM

    In January 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the core provisions of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order, vacating rules that required broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. Since then, the FCC has published a notice of proposed rulemaking, while many have called for the agency to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under the Communications Act.  Two of the main purported justifications for this reclassification are that U.S. Internet speeds are lagging behind those in other developed countries and that U.S. broadband providers have spent too little on upgrading and expanding their existing networks. 

    But according to data from Akamai – which operates a content distribution network responsible for serving between 15 and 30 percent of the world’s Internet traffic – neither of these claims hold true.

  • Red Tapeworm 2014: Federal Regulatory Disclosure Becomes More Confused

    July 17, 2014 8:12 AM

    The Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” normally appears in the Federal Register each fall and (minus the Regulatory Plan) each spring.

    In normal circumstances, the agenda helps give the researcher a vague sense of the flow in the regulatory pipeline, by detailing rules recently completed, plus those anticipated within the upcoming 12 months by federal departments, agencies, and commissions. (There are 60 in the newest edition). As a cross-sectional snapshot of rules moving through the regulatory pipeline, the agenda compiles agency-reported federal regulatory actions at several stages:

    • Prerule actions;
    • Proposed and final rules;
    • Actions completed during the previous few months; and
    • Anticipated longer-term rulemakings beyond a 12-month horizon.

    The rules it contains may often carry over at the same stage from one year to the next, or they may reappear in subsequent agendas at different stages. The agenda’s rules primarily affect the private sector, but many also affect state and local governments and the federal government itself.

  • Labor and Employment Scorecard: Pension Smoothing as a “Pay-For” in Highway and Transportation Funding Act

    July 16, 2014 4:57 PM

    On July 15, 2014, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) scored U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote #414 on final passage of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021), a bailout of the Highway Trust Fund and extension of the current federal transpiration law, MAP-21. 

    Critically, funding for this bill involved “pension smoothing,” a pernicious accounting gimmick that encourages deficit spending and increases the risk of pension insolvency.

    The vote is included in CEI’s Congressional Labor and Employment Scorecard, which can be found at CEI’s labor and employment policy project,

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute opposed final passage of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R.5021):

  • Your Tax Dollars at Work: Justice Department Investigates Anti-Obama Parade Float

    July 15, 2014 5:00 PM

    The Justice Department has responded to an anti-Obama float in a parade by treating it as a “discrimination dispute” necessitating federal intervention. One more example of your tax dollars being wasted:

    The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a float that appeared at the annual Fourth of July parade in the small town of Norfolk, Neb. because the float featured a blue flatbed truck carrying a zombie-looking mannequin in overalls on the door of an outhouse labeled “OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY.”

    The Justice Department sent a member of its Community Relations Service team to Norfolk (pronounced “Norfork” by many locals), reports the Omaha World-Herald.

    The Community Relations Service team investigates disputes concerning discrimination.

    To a lawyer like me, the Justice Department’s notion of “discrimination” seems strange. The float’s creator denies any racial animus, and says it is meant as a criticism of the Obama administration over the Veteran’s Administration scandal:

    The man behind the controversial float, Dale Remmich, has explained that the overalls-clad mannequin in front of the outhouse represented himself — not President Barack Obama. The point he was trying to make concerned his frustration with Obama’s mismanagement of the Veterans Affairs Department.

  • Ten Reasons to Abolish the Export-Import Bank

    July 15, 2014 3:23 PM

    A new CEI study released today compiles ten reasons to abolish the Export-Import Bank. The bank subsidizes companies that export goods abroad, and foreign companies that buy those goods. Whatever the intentions behind the bank, the result is one of the federal government’s largest corporate welfare programs. Ex-Im did $37 billion of business in 2013, and has a total portfolio of nearly $140 billion.

  • CEI Podcast for July 15, 2014: Time to Close the Export-Import Bank

    July 15, 2014 1:04 PM

    CEI Fellow Ryan Young is author of the new CEI study, "Ten Reasons to Abolish the Export-Import Bank." Click here to listen.

  • Red Tapeworm 2014: When Regulations Get Delayed

    July 14, 2014 3:24 PM

    I tend to think bureaucratic regulation often creates tremendous harm, so it’s interesting when those who disagree decide to hold off on regulation when it suits them.

    Politics play a role in delaying regulations sometimes, and 2012 appeared to be an extreme case with the delay of many big, expensive rules ahead of the election. For example, a Washington Post headline proclaimed, “White House Delayed Enacting Rules Ahead of 2012 Election To Avoid Controversy.” A former White House official detailed the “mother-may-I” environment that prevailed at the time, “As we entered the run-up to the election, the word went out the White House was not anxious to review new rules.”

  • FDA’s Trans Fat “Ban” a First Foray into Controlling Americans’ Diets

    July 14, 2014 1:00 PM

    Last November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its plan to revoke the “Generally Recognized As Safe” designation for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which would create a de facto ban on the additive that is still used in foods such as pie crust, pastries, shortening, frostings, and fried foods.

    Many health-conscious Americans make an effort to avoid PHOs or trans fats—carefully reading labels to make sure the disfavored fat is limited in their diets. The ingredient is already considered by most to be something consumed as little as possible, evidenced by the fact that Americans have voluntarily reduced consumption from an average of 4.6 grams a day in 2003 to around 1 gram a day in 2012. This, as I’ve argued in the past, is why the FDA targeted trans fats for its first-ever attempt to regulate ingredients it finds not harmful in the acute sense, but unhealthy; because they knew few would protest the banishing of an ingredient most already find distasteful. But, this sets the precedent that will make it possible for the FDA to go after other ingredients in the future, like salt, sugar, and caffeine.


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