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OpenMarket: October 2012

  • Where Is Obama's Unified Agenda Of Federal Regulations?

    October 10, 2012 11:48 AM

    Two primary federal documents by which we judge the regulatory record of the administration are missing in action this year.

    We at least can say, as of today, there are 61,720 pages in the Federal Register, and that 3,045 rules have been finalized.

    But every year since 1981, the federal Regulatory Information Service Center (RISC) has issued the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. It has regularly appeared as part of the Federal Register each spring and fall, and bound separately besides. The rise of the Internet naturally brought us the online version a few years ago. Last year, the database was improved to allow easier segregation of "Active," "Completed," and "Long-Term" actions.

    However, as may be seen on the RISC website, we have yet to get even the Spring 2012 edition, let alone the nearly due Fall edition. The Fall edition has been supplemented annually with the Regulatory Plan to provide additional clarity on agency visions and regulations' effects.

  • Today's Links: October 10, 2012

    October 10, 2012 10:16 AM


    MIKE RIGGS: "Obama Says He Wants to Debate Civil Liberties With Romney; Here's Some Atrocious Decisions He Should Explain"
    "'If Obama wants to discuss civil liberties, he should be held accountable for the obliteration of the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments occurring under his watch, if not under his direction,' writes Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project. If Radack were moderating, Obama would have to answer for his secret kill list, expanded surveillance, his assassination of American citizens, secret laws created by the PATRIOT Act, and his war on both whistleblowers and journalists."

    TORIE BOSCH: "When It Comes to Science and Tech, Are There Really Any Differences Between Obama and Romney?"
    "Which presidential candidate would do the most to further scientific and medical research, technological advancement, and STEM education? Do their differing philosophies on regulation, government funding of R&D, and even the human role in climate change actually matter in the long run?"

    ILYA SHAPIRO: "Unbridled Use of Race in School Admissions Must be Curtailed"
    "In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, to be argued October 10, 2012, the US Supreme Court wades back into the affirmative action thicket, taking up the issue of the proper role, if any, of race in college admissions. Abigail Fisher, who is white, was denied admission to University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) even though her academic credentials exceeded those of many admitted minority applicants. She challenged the school's use of race in selecting its incoming freshmen but lost before the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in light of the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger."

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

    October 9, 2012 9:26 AM

    88 new regulations, from background checks for volunteers to silky sharks .

  • Today's Links: October 9, 2012

    October 9, 2012 9:16 AM


    DAMON LAVRINC: "Auto Dealers Whine That Tesla Stores Are Illegal"
    "Buying a new car has always meant one thing: going into a dealership, finagling a price and driving something off the lot. Tesla Motors is turning that business model on its head with high-end retailers that have automotive dealership associations crying foul. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, among others, is waving around a decades-old law as it calls the Silicon Valley automaker’s network of 'Tesla stores' illegal. Dealership associations have long lobbied to make it illegal for automakers to sell cars directly to consumers. The idea behind the protectionist law is to prevent automakers from killing competition and driving independent franchises out of business."

    NICK SCHULZ interviewing VIVEK WADHWA: "Is the Nation of Immigrants Becoming a Nation of Emigrants?"
    "Nick Schulz: If a spaceship were to land in the United States and extraterrestrial visitors were to listen to the nation's discussion on immigration, they would conclude America is being overwhelmed by immigrants. And yet you have published a book called The Immigrant Exodus. What's going on?"

    AMESH ADALJA: "Universal Health Insurance Mandates, And The Emergency Care Myth"
    "Advocates of single payer healthcare often cite the fact that the emergency care delivered to the indigent by healthcare facilities and providers prompts a “cost shift” to insured individuals to recoup the losses incurred. This scenario results, these advocates say, in all insured individuals being indirectly forced to bear the burden of uncompensated emergency care—which, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), amounts to 55% of emergency care. [...] However, there is much more to the story that is neglected by the majority of healthcare commentators, including the origins of this system (in which policymakers from both parties played roles)."

  • Deficit Exceeds $1 Trillion For Fourth Straight Year

    October 7, 2012 11:32 AM

    The federal budget deficit "for the just-completed 2012 budget year" is around "$1.1 trillion, the fourth straight year of trillion dollar deficits on President Barack Obama's watch," notes the Associated Press. In 2011, the deficit was $1.3 trillion. The budget deficit has gotten so big that it is now larger in some months than it used to be in entire years. "The Obama Administration" ran “up the largest" monthly "budget deficit in American history in February of 2010, a whopping total of $220.9 Billion in just one month. February 2010’s unprecedented total is more than most year-long budget deficits in American history, including 2007’s year-long total of $161 Billion.”

    In the 2008 campaign, Obama promised a “net spending cut,” but as soon as he was elected, he proposed massive spending increases.

    In 2010, The Washington Post described the vast scale of these spending increases: "President Obama's policies would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. . .The 10-year outlook by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is somewhat gloomier than White House projections, which found that Obama's policies would add $8.5 trillion to the debt by 2020."

  • Today's Links: October 5, 2012

    October 5, 2012 12:58 PM


    CASS SUNSTEIN: "Why Should Regulators Have to Listen to You?"
    "In light of the defining importance of the due process clause, many people are stunned to learn a remarkable fact: When the government issues regulations, the Constitution doesn’t require officials to listen to you, even if your liberty and your property are at stake. [...] For regulations, these words have an unmistakable implication. If the Agriculture Department issues a rule significantly affecting farmers, or the Transportation Department issues a rule imposing big costs on the railroad industry, or the Labor Department issues a rule with major effects on workers, the Constitution does not create any right to a hearing. As far as the Constitution is concerned, the government can act unilaterally. 'Regulatory due process' has been like a unicorn or a time-travel machine or a bipartisan Congress. It doesn’t exist. This state of affairs was far from satisfactory in 1915, and it is even less satisfactory today."

    LAURA HELMUTH: "Who Will Win a Nobel Prize?"
    "As with the Olympics, it’s more fun to follow the competition if you know who the contenders are. And as with Olympic-level athletics, Nobel-level science has plenty of rivalries, scandals, and miscarriages of justice. The scientist who got a Nobel for the discovery of the antibiotic streptomycin took credit for his student’s work. Margaret Burbidge, Geoffrey Burbidge, William Fowler, and Fred Hoyle discovered that most chemical elements were forged in dying stars; only physicist Fowler was awarded a Nobel, possibly because of a bias against astronomers by the physics committee.* Two teams simultaneously discovered that our universe is not just expanding but accelerating in its expansion. There was a lot of tension between them over who should get credit, which was mostly resolved last year when the Nobel committee settled the matter by picking its three laureates."

    ELIAS ISQUITH: "Paul Ryan's Debt to Barry Goldwater—Who'd Be Mortified by Paul Ryan"
    "As his recent appearance at the Family Research Council's annual Values Voters summit attested, Ryan's a man of the entire Republican Party. He doesn't pick and choose. It's a kind of intellectual ecumenicalism that would've had the doctrinaire Goldwater grinding his teeth in frustration. But Goldwater lost. He lost big. Ryan may often write, talk, and think like Goldwater -- but he'll be damned if he's going to lose like him, too. "

  • Unemployment Falls As Part-Time Work Expands

    October 5, 2012 10:15 AM

    Unemployment fell from 8.1% to 7.8%, aided by an increase in part-time employment: "Some 582,000 Americans took part-time positions because of slack business conditions or those jobs were the only work they could find," notes Bloomberg News. Still, 114,000 new jobs were created in September, reported The Washington Post. This figure is only a "modest number" of jobs compared to the overall size of the economy, notes the New York Times. The U.S. economy has also been temporarily propped up by the flight of foreign money into U.S. treasuries (due to the European financial crisis), and cheap natural gas prices (natural gas production has expanded despite impediments from the Obama administration). But in the longer term, there are some very bad omens, like the big drop in durable goods orders, which sank 13.2 percent in August, perhaps foreshadowing another recession. Factory orders also recently fell, and manufacturing employment fell in September.

    James Pethokoukis of AEI argues that the new job figures are lackluster:

    Only in an era of depressingly diminished expectations could the September jobs report be called a good one. It really isn’t. Not at all.

    1. Yes, the U-3 unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, the first time it has been below 8% since January 2009. But that’s only due to a flood of 582,000 part-time jobs. As the Labor Department noted:

    The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

    2. And take-home pay? Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by just 1.8 percent. When you take inflation into account, wages are flat to down.

    3. The broader U-6 rate — which takes into account part-time workers who want full-time work and lots of discouraged workers who’ve given up looking — stayed unchanged at 14.7%. That’s a better gauge of the true unemployment rate and state of the American labor market.

    4. The shrunken workforce remains shrunken. If the labor force participation rate was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7%. If the participation rate had just stayed steady since the start of the year, the unemployment rate would be 8.4% vs. 8.3%. Where’s the progress?

  • Regulations For Thee, But Not For Me

    October 4, 2012 2:44 PM

    To liberals, regulations are great -- until they ensnare a liberal politician. Then, suddenly there needs to be an exception to the regulation. An example of this is liberals' curious insistence that left-wing law professor Elizabeth Warren did not need to comply with Massachusetts bar regulations requiring registration and licensing of lawyers, even though she handled many cases from her office in Massachusetts, including cases involving Massachusetts clients and Massachusetts state law.

    As Jack Marshall notes at Ethics Alarms, "Elizabeth Warren operated a continuous Massachusetts law practice (and not just a sporadic Federal law practice) without a valid law license." (The state bar rules require registration of lawyers who practice in federal court even if they do not represent Massachusetts clients at all, and do not practice law at all in Massachusetts state court.) Warren's defenders wrongly argue that if she just practices in federal court, the state bar has no power or jurisdiction over her, since federal courts have the exclusive prerogative to regulate their own cases.

    Essentially, this is a federal preemption argument, even though liberal politicians up to and including President Obama (as well as Professor Warren) have denounced federal preemption of concurrent state regulation as supposedly being a dangerous form of deregulation that harms consumers and public welfare. This sweeping preemption argument by Warren's defenders ignores the fact that state bars have always asserted their jurisdiction to bring disciplinary proceedings over lawyers practicing in federal courts within their borders. (For examples of such jurisdiction being upheld, see In re Wade, 562 A.2d 936 (D.C. 1987); In re Bridges, 805  A.2d 233, 234-35 (D.C. 2002) (Maryland state authorities had jurisdiction over ethical breaches in federal courts).)

    Even if Warren's continuous law practice and Massachusetts law office did not require her to get a Massachusetts bar license (as a law professor convincingly argues she was required to do), she still has run afoul of Massachusetts bar rules stating that an attorney who is licensed in another state but has a physical office in Massachusetts must register with the state bar and pay dues equal to those that a licensed attorney pays. (Rule 4.02, Section 9.)

  • CEI Podcast For October 4, 2012: What's Old Is New Again

    October 4, 2012 2:33 PM

    The Magna Carta is 797 years old. But according to Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray, it is directly relevant to today's political debate.

  • New Chicago School Teacher Contract Nothing To Celebrate

    October 4, 2012 1:40 PM

    Although Chicago public school teachers returned to their classrooms on Sept. 19, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today officially ratified the contract to end the strike, which lasted seven school days. The new deal was approved by 79.1 percent of the CTU membership.

    The three-year contract includes a new teacher evaluation system -- a reform championed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- which will take into account students' standardized test scores. Other reforms that Mayor Emanuel touted and were granted in the contract were the extension of the school day and giving Chicago school principals more power over the hiring process of teachers.


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