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OpenMarket: December 2015

  • Ex-Im Is Back from the Dead, Kind of

    December 10, 2015

    On Friday, President Obama signed into law a five-year, $305 billion highway bill. Marc Scribner, CEI’s resident transportation expert, has his thoughts on the larger bill. But there is one highway-unrelated provision I will comment on: the Export-Import Bank’s revival.

    Ex-Im has been in liquidation for the last five months. The highway bill revives it through September 2019 (see pp. 778-99). Unlike most other agencies, Ex-Im’s charter expires every now and then, and Congress has to renew it for it to continue existing.

    So while reformers won an important battle, we have lost the war, at least for a few years. The loss stings, but it does bring to mind Ronald Coase’s observation that an economist who “is...

  • Protecting American Workers and Job Creators with the Omnibus

    December 9, 2015

    This week, Congress is working against the clock to avert a government shutdown and pass new spending legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on Friday, December 11. As lawmakers continue to discuss a variety of policy riders during omnibus negotiations, here’s why the joint-employer rider should be a bipartisan no-brainer and be included in any spending legislation that funds the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    The joint-employer policy rider prevents enforcement of the NLRB’s new joint-employer standard in the 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services Funding bill. The policy rider restores the traditional joint-employer standard, which fostered the creation of thousands of beneficial business relationships, including franchise businesses, contractors, and temporary staffing agencies.

    In August, the NLRB unilaterally changed the definition of...

  • Regulatory Dark Matter

    December 9, 2015

    How do regulations get made? Agencies have to follow specific procedures, first outlined in the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. The trouble is that many agencies simply ignore the law. Wayne Crews documents several cases of such procedural abuse in his new paper, “Mapping Washington’s Lawlessness 2016: A Preliminary Inventory of ‘Regulatory Dark Matter.’”

    The rulemaking process has been updated and amended over time, and it can get technical. But the basic principles are pretty simple. For a detailed look at the process, see Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito’s excellent primer. Wayne’s point is that more and more often, agencies are ignoring proper procedure. Perhaps folks at the EPA, HHS, and other agencies...

  • Deck Stacked at House Oversight Committee Hearing on Internet Gambling

    December 8, 2015

    Tomorrow the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications,” to discuss the ramifications of the legal online gambling market that has arisen in the last two years. As one might glean from the oh-so-objective title, the hearing’s architect, committee Chairmen Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) isn’t exactly keen on letting Americans legally gamble online. As with last March’s Judiciary hearing, the witness list is stacked against anyone hoping to hear a rational discussion of the truly important law enforcement challenges likely to surface in this nascent market. However, unlike the previous hearing, OGR is a far less friendly committee when it comes to Chaffetz’s attempt to create a...

  • Deflate Drug Prices by Reforming the FDA

    December 8, 2015

    This Wednesday, the Senate Select Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on “sudden price spikes” among certain off-patent drugs. The most widely publicized of these spikes was the recent price increase of Turing Pharmaceuticals’ toxoplasmosis treatment Daraprim, which jumped in price from $13.50 per dose to $750. The medical consequences of the price increase, obviously of concern to hospitals, doctors, and patients, was, at times, overshadowed by personal attacks leveled at Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, who quickly became a target for complaints...

  • COP21: CEI’s Myron Ebell and Chris Horner Branded as Climate Criminals for Threatening Bogus Consensus

    December 7, 2015

    A group calling itself Avaaz (“Voice”) has plastered “wanted” posters of seven “climate criminals” on Paris streets and billboards during the COP21 climate negotiations. 

    Avaaz worries that those seven individuals could exert undue influence on the 40,000 delegates from 190 countries. The seven must therefore be named, shamed, and shunned, lest they derail the negotiations and “destroy” mankind’s future.

  • RealClear Radio Hour: Polarizing Media & Intellectual Safety

    December 7, 2015

    Across the country, college campuses have been the center of free speech controversy. Unrest among students has triggered massive news coverage but it appears mainstream media outlets are giving the general public a misleading narrative. We tackle the topic of free speech in higher education on this week’s RealClear Radio Hour with two expert guests.

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

    December 7, 2015

    With most of December still to go, the 2015 Federal Register is already the seventh largest ever, going back to 1936. It remains on pace to set the all-time page count record. New regulations from the last week cover everything from catfish inspections to swap entities.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 61 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 60 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 48 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 3,146 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,376 new regulations this year, fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,247 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,227 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 75,917 pages, the...
  • Repealed 82 Years Ago, the Spirit of Prohibition Lives On

    December 4, 2015

    Tomorrow, December 5, many of us will raise a glass in celebration of Repeal Day—the anniversary of the end of that disastrous experiment of alcohol prohibition in the U.S. For most, the era of prohibition feels distant and forgotten; we assume because it ended more than 80 years ago, every last remnant of it is dead and buried. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

    Despite the passage of the 21st Amendment, which officially repealed prohibition, aspects of the prohibition-era mentality live on in the form of state and local-level bans on alcohol sales on Sundays, Election Days and Holidays like Christmas. There’s also the three-tiered system which was set up after prohibition’s repeal, which forces...

  • COOL Ruling Puts U.S. in the Hot Seat

    December 4, 2015

    In a move intended to avoid harmful retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico, five Democratic senators wrote to both majority and minority Senate leaders, asking them to repeal the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork. The leadership should heed their call, and the lead of the House of Representatives.

    Democratic Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana asked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to quickly vote to repeal the labeling law before the World Trade Organization (WTO) allows Mexico and Canada to assess up to $3 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods exported to...


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