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OpenMarket: April 2015

  • Key Votes Alert: Amendments to H.R. 2029, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

    April 30, 2015
    Key Votes Alert: Amendments to H.R. 2029, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) will score votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in its consideration of H.R. 2029 — "Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and other purposes."
  • Deceptive Discrimination Laws

    April 29, 2015

    Discrimination may be bad for business, but that doesn’t mean laws banning discrimination are good for business. Often, these laws are like the proverbial Trojan Horse, applied by the courts in unexpected ways that are harmful to businesses, including employers who harbor no prejudice of any kind. For example, the Supreme Court interpreted a federal race and sex discrimination law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) as banning unintentional “disparate impact” (which is when a neutrally applied selection criterion weeds out more black than white applicants) even though that statute explicitly limited relief to cases where there was a showing that the employer had “intentionally engaged in or is intentionally engaging in an unlawful employment practice.” [See ...

  • How to Improve the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill

    April 28, 2015

    The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY 2016 passed by the House Appropriations Committee spends too much, but does move some funding from very bad programs to somewhat less bad programs. 

    The best thing in the bill is the set of riders that prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the United States rule. That rule if implemented would expand federal jurisdiction far beyond what was intended by Congress in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and far beyond the current definition or any reasonable definition of the navigable waters of the United States. The WOTUS rule also ignores and largely contradicts the Supreme Court’s decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos. 

    Here are a few suggestions for improving the Energy and Water Appropriations bill when it comes to the floor of the House this week:

    1. A rider...
  • CEI Statements on the Failed Comcast-Time Warner Merger

    April 27, 2015

    CEI responded to the news that the Comcast-Time Warner merger failed. You can read more analysis from CEI's Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews here.

    "The deck was stacked against this deal from the beginning: Comcast and Time Warner Cable had to seek permission to merge from not only the Department of Justice, but also the Federal Communications Commission. While the DOJ must win in court before it can block an acquisition, the FCC has unilateral power to send a transaction into regulatory limbo for years before the merging parties get a chance to be heard by an independent federal judge. This process turns the rule of law on its head, and only Congress can fix it." 

    -- Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies

    ...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    April 27, 2015

    The big news in regulation for the week came from Canada, which made official its one-in, one-out policy for new regulations. New regulations from agencies must be offset by repealing an existing regulation of similar cost. In the United States, new rules hit the books covering everything from crash test dummies to beekeepers.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 77 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 57 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 11 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 927 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,934 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1...
  • Why the TPA Is Needed

    April 24, 2015

    The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill currently moving through Congress is attracting controversy. It is worth explaining the background to why TPA is necessary in complex trade agreements.

    TPA is a temporary power that Congress grants to the president to negotiate international agreements. Even though the U.S. Constitution already gives the president this authority, most trade agreements require implementing bills and thus congressional action to enforce them. While under TPA, Congress retains the authority to decide on whether to approve a particular deal, the final agreements cannot be amended and have to be considered in a timely manner.

    The TPA, formerly known as the “fast-track,”...

  • Who Dares Question the Mighty Oz?

    April 24, 2015

    Yesterday, Dr. Mehmet Oz launched his “counter attack” on several doctors who sent a letter last week to the dean of Columbia University’s medical department complaining about controversial positions and advice that Oz has offered on his show. Oz, who holds faculty and administrative positions at Columbia, exclaimed that he “will not be silenced” by his critics, casting the issue as an attack on his freedom of speech. In an article for Time magazine, Oz stated:

    The dean politely reinforced that the academic tradition of all institutions protects freedom of speech for their faculty, and I assumed the matter was over…. I know I have irritated some potential allies. No matter our disagreements, freedom of...

  • CEI Submits Comments to FAA on Small Drone Certification and Operations Proposed Rules

    April 24, 2015

    Today, I submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on behalf of CEI on its notice of proposed rulemaking for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) certification and operations. We make three main points.

    First, we question why the FAA is using its case-by-case exemption authority as the basis for this rulemaking, as opposed to the actual rulemaking section of the same law that Congress passed in 2012. This was the last FAA reauthorization and Congress included a subtitle on unmanned...

  • Let Amtrak Pay Its Own Way

    April 24, 2015

    Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute has a great blog post outlining the various ills besetting America’s government-subsidized passenger rail carrier Amtrak. The gist of O’Toole’s argument is that although both federal and state governments contribute large sums of money to keep Amtrak afloat, potential riders have not been nearly as enthusiastic. A recent National Journal article does cite Amtrak’s ridership as increasing 50 percent in the last fifteen years, but O’Toole points out that the increase was largely driven by a simultaneous increase in gas prices. Amtrak’s new riders aren’t somehow more attuned to taking passenger trains than they were before, they’re simply responding to...

  • Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Derailed

    April 23, 2015

    Today we’ve learned again that bureaucrats and their enormous kingdoms come before consumer welfare. 

    The collapse of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger merely because of the interference of government, not because of actual market rejection, illustrates the overwhelming power of the modern state in undermining the advance of communications technologies and services specifically in this instance, and of free competitive enterprise generally. 

    The proposed transaction was first announced well over a year ago, and as is now the unfortunate and disruptive norm, the parties had to await the verdicts of bureaucracies rather than set immediately about serving consumer markets. Now, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the...

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