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OpenMarket: June 2013

  • Legal Ignorance of the Day: Federal Officials Seek to Restrict Religious Speech and "Hate Speech"

    June 11, 2013
    To be appointed to a Justice Department position in the Obama administration, you may need to satisfy various ideological litmus tests. But apparently you don't need to understand or appreciate the First Amendment. That seems to be regarded as a bug rather than a feature for Justice Department lawyers. One example is the administration's baseless prosecutions of peaceful, non-disruptive anti-abortion protesters, which has resulted in judges imposing sanctions against the Justice Department for...
  • Farm Bill: One Big Catfish (Part 2)

    June 11, 2013
    Every five years, like pigs to the trough, the special agricultural interests line up on Capitol Hill, making sure to get their tasty little provisions written into the latest pork-laden farm bill. There was the National Cotton Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, the American Sugar Alliance, and countless others. Even United States catfish got some protection from their imported Vietnamese counterparts. While the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954) was widely praised for ending the $5 billion-a-year direct payment program that dropped money in farmers’ pockets whether they planted crops or not, it sets up “adverse market payments (AMP)” and “agricultural risk coverage (ARC)” that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will eat up two-thirds of the $40 billion savings...
  • Farm Bill: One Big Catfish

    June 10, 2013
    In addition to the new, costly “agricultural risk coverage,” “adverse market payment,” and "supplemental coverage option" programs in the Senate’s Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 954), there are a variety of provisions carved out for special interests of all crops: There’s a provision requiring the study of the feasibility of making popcorn a “covered commodity,” which would allow it to join the ranks of rice, corn, sorghum, soy beans and other crops, potentially costing $94 million over a ten-year period. There’s also an amendment requiring research regarding a crop insurance program for alfalfa. Dairy farmers milked the Hill’s purse as well as any lobby, cementing a new...
  • France's Taxing Culture

    June 10, 2013
    France has long feared foreign competition as a threat to its domestic producers. The nation has some of the most punitive taxes and labor regulations that make their products more expensive compared to foreign goods. Surprisingly, France has recently proposed to implement trade barriers in the same sector the French have constantly reminded the rest of the world that they have a comparative advantage in -- culture. In May, a 500-page government-commissioned report was released discouraging the viewing of non-French cultural content and encouraging the viewing of French cultural content. The French President Francois Hollande quickly expressed support for the report’s proposals. Out of 80 recommendations, the most stunning was a 4-percent tax on the sale of all devices, including gaming...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    June 10, 2013
    72 new regulations, from federal pecan insurance to avoiding collisions at sea.
  • CEI Podcast for June 7, 2013: National Donut Day

    June 7, 2013
    June 7 is National Donut Day. General Counsel Sam Kazman is urging Americans to eat not one but two donuts—one for themselves, and one for their liberty. Contrary to what some regulators and food activists might say, it's ok to indulge now and then.
  • The Calm of the Genetically Modified Storm?

    June 7, 2013
    While the passionate and irrational debate about the health and environmental safety of biotech, or so-called genetically modified (GM), crops rages on, evidence of the potential they have to alleviate a variety of world problems, from food insecurity to global warming, continues to pile up. “Frankenfoods reduce global warming,” The Economist  declared in March. Its revelation is based on the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications’ (ISAAA) annual report showing that, for the first time, less developed countries grow more acres of GM crops than industrialized countries in 2012. According to ISAAA, a not-for-...
  • CEI Sues Social Security Administration for Ignoring FOIA Request

    June 7, 2013
    Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed suit in D.C. Circuit Court against the Social Security Administration (SSA) for ignoring a CEI FOIA request that sought records on the use of “official time” by SSA employees.
  • Let’s “Officially” End Union Subsidies

    June 7, 2013

    This week Senator Rob Portman and Sen. Tom Coburn sent a letter to the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs with a message that applies equally to the employees of every other federal agency:

  • CEI Podcast for June 6, 2013: Making Passenger Rail Affordable

    June 6, 2013
    Fellow in Land-use and Transportation Studies Marc Scribner discusses a new CEI study arguing that regulations make passenger train cars unnecessarily expensive.

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