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OpenMarket: July 2014

  • Risky Public Pension Plans Unsafe for Taxpayers, Bad for Business Growth

    July 22, 2014
    In new analysis published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, economist Robert Sarvis ranks states based on the severity of their unfunded pension liabilities, and explains how these pension programs could hurt taxpayers and devastate state economies.
  • Happy There’s-No-Such-Thing-as-Junk-Food Day!

    July 21, 2014

    Whomever it is that decides the dates for the ever multiplying obscure holidays apparently designated today, July 21, as “Junk Food Day.” While the origin and intended purpose of the day is a mystery, it’s a good opportunity to address the myth of junk food. I say myth because junk food is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. There is food that is less nutritious or perhaps higher in calories than what people normally think of as “health foods,” but calling food “junk” implies that is without value. As Professors Stanley Feldman (of London University and the Imperial College School of Medicine) Vincent Marks of the University of Surrey, put it in their book Panic Nation,“[e]ither something is a food, in which case it is not junk, or it...

  • Red Tapeworm 2014: Federal Regulatory Agenda Consistently Tops 3,000 Rules

    July 21, 2014

    This is Part 19 of a series taking a walk through some sections of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State (2014 Edition)

    In the recently released Spring 2014 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations, published twice a year by the Office of Management and Budget, federal departments and agencies reported 3,348 rules in the pipeline.

    These were composed of 2,389 Active (proposed and final) rules: 518 Completed ones and 441 Long-term rules.

    At year-end 2013, the situation was similar. The Fall Agenda found federal agencies, departments, and commissions recognizing 3,305 regulations...

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

    July 21, 2014

    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

    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

    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 ...

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

    July 18, 2014
    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.
  • Red Tapeworm 2014: Federal Regulatory Disclosure Becomes More Confused

    July 17, 2014

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

    July 16, 2014

    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, ...

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

    July 15, 2014

    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 “...

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