Obamacare Amicus Brief, Protect IP, and Swipe Fees

Obamacare Amicus Brief, Protect IP, and Swipe Fees

Today in the News
May 18, 2011

Obamacare Amicus Brief

Though alarmists have long decried the effects of global warming on Greenland, the Washington Post now reports the island may actually be profiting from warmer weather.

Senior Counsel Hans Bader responds.

"The brief explains how the health care law violates the 'clear statement' rule in the Supreme Court’s Pennhurst decision by imposing vague, indefinite, open-ended additional burdens on states, including massive, unpredictable costs in the billions of dollars. Federal officials have issued over a thousand waivers of burdensome rules imposed by Obamacare, mostly to unions or other entities with political connections. Meanwhile, HHS officials have vastly expanded the reach of other burdensome provisions of the law. For example, they have largely nullified the law’s grandfather clause, which was put into the law to keep Obama’s broken promise to let you keep your existing health insurance if you like it. They also issued a rule rewarding end-of-life counseling, even though such a provision was removed from the bill prior to passage after the so-called 'death panels' controversy."

 

Protect IP

Last week, a handful of senators introduced the Protect IP Act, a bill intended to combat copyright-infringing websites.

Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia compares Protect IP to last year's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).

"As several dozen law professors warned last year, COICA lacked procedural safeguards, was overly broad in its scope, and risked hindering free expression by triggering “false positives” rendering lawful websites inaccessible. Compared to COICA, PROTECT IP represents a more balanced approach to fighting online copyright and trademark infringement while recognizing fundamental civil liberties."

 

Swipe Fees

In his recent Huffington Post column, Dean Baker took the side of "big retailers" against "big banks" when he defended debit card "swipe fee" price controls.

Director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs John Berlau explains how Baker got it wrong.

"In making his case, Baker was on the other side of the facts. He completely misstated the findings of the Federal Reserve in writing the rule in question, asserting that the Fed estimated that the price caps would cover costs of banks and credit unions that issue the debit cards, when in fact the Fed said explicitly said it was setting price controls below-cost. Baker was defending the Durbin Amendment from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which puts price controls on the interchange fees — or 'swipe fees' as retailer critics call them — that banks and credit unions charge merchants to process debit process debit transactions. Retailers pay this fee on each card purchase and in return they get more sales and the guaranteed payment for all purchase that was lacking in the 'good old days' of bounced checks. But in implementing the Durbin Amendment, the Fed is drastically reducing this fee from an average of 44 cents to no more than 12 cents per transactions. The biggest retailers will get the biggest short-term benefits from these price controls."