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OpenMarket: February 2016

  • New Poll Numbers Paint a Fascinating "Portrait of America"

    February 25, 2016

    During a presidential campaign, pollsters ride high. Despite perennial criticism, “horse race”–style campaign reporting nevertheless keeps political junkies glued to Twitter, awaiting the latest links to who is up and who is down. Those in the game, of course, are paid to pay attention to such things, but ultimately the news of who is leading 2.3 percent in states that begin with a “C” says little about the country as a whole. If we are going to learn something useful from polling the public, the questions should be about something more revealing than whether Candidate X is marginally less distasteful than Candidate Y.

    Thus it is quite gratifying to see the launch of “Portrait of America,” a new series on public opinion...

  • The Speech Sen. McConnell Should Give about Supreme Court Vacancies

    February 24, 2016

    In a Washington Post op-ed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) staked out an early position against President Obama nominating a Supreme Court Justice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, let alone the Senate confirming a new justice in this election year as Mr. Obama prepares to leave office. 

    Up against the merits of their stance, the White House signals its intention to mount a media and pressure campaign to solidify Obama’s mark on the Court. A nomination is all but certain, and even the casual political observer foresees that it will be made...

  • Up in the AIRR, Part 2: Unmanned Aircraft Systems

    February 24, 2016

    To date, CEI’s analysis of the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441) has largely focused on proposed air traffic control reforms, which CEI strongly supports. But the House’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization plan covers much more than air traffic control corporatization. This series will highlight non-ATC elements of the bill that should either be supported, improved upon, or discarded from a free market, limited-government perspective. The first entry covers the local airport user fee called the passenger facility charge (PFC). This second entry covers unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)....

  • Why and How Congress Should Fight the President's Climate Treaty Power Grab

    February 24, 2016

    President Obama claims the recently adopted Paris Agreement on climate change is not a treaty but rather an executive agreement—a pact he can approve on his sole authority, with the stroke of a pen. Why is he doing this? Because if he were to follow the constitutional treaty making process, and submit the agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent, the treaty would be dead on arrival.

    In fact, as I explain in a new CEI policy paper, the Paris Agreement is a treaty. That is the only reasonable conclusion based on U.S. historic practice, the Agreement’s potential costs and risks, its prescriptiveness and “ambition” compared to...

  • Sharing Economy in the AFL-CIO’s Crosshairs

    February 23, 2016

    The AFL-CIO is meeting in San Diego to shape its policy initiatives for the upcoming year. One increasingly popular type of work arrangement is in its crosshairs—independent contracting, specifically in the sharing economy.

    As Politico reports, the nation’s largest union federation wants lawmakers to consider more workers in the sharing economy as employees, not contractors. The AFL-CIO claims it wants all Uber drivers and similar workers to “enjoy the rights and protections of employees.” Translated, that means unions want the chance to extract dues payments from sharing economy workers, and the only way to do that is national policy that considers these workers employees. Right now,...

  • Utah's Disastrous War on Electronic Cigarettes

    February 23, 2016

    Despite the fact that tobacco products kill nearly half a million Americans each year, it is vaping products—which help people quit smoking—that have become a top target for health advocates. In addition to the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules that would create a de facto ban on the products, health advocates are trying to pass laws in the states that would increase restrictions and taxes on electronic cigarettes. Their intentions may be good, but the consequences of their proposals in states like Utah could be a disaster for public...

  • Up in the AIRR, Part 1: Passenger Facility Charge Modernization

    February 22, 2016

    To date, CEI’s analysis of the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441) has focused on proposed air traffic control reforms, which CEI strongly supports. But the House’s reauthorization plan covers much more than air traffic control corporatization. This series will highlight non-ATC elements of the bill that should either be supported, improved upon, or discarded from a free market, limited-government perspective. The first entry covers the local airport user fee called the passenger facility charge (PFC).

    The AIRR Act shows little love for PFC modernization. This is not surprising, given that House leadership has largely focused on air traffic control corporatization, which is an...

  • RealClear Radio Hour: Ed Latimore & Ted Frank

    February 22, 2016

    On this week’s RealClear Radio Hour:

    A boy from the projects grows up to become an undefeated heavyweight, and a… physicist? Ed “Black Magic” Latimore, professional boxer from Pittsburgh, shares how he managed to avoid the seduction of victimhood and pull himself out of  aimless poverty to develop his boxing career and pursue a double major in physics and electrical engineering at Duquesne University.

  • OCR's Evasive Letter to Sen. Lankford about Colleges and Title IX

    February 22, 2016

    An agency can disregard logic and jump to conclusions when it imposes legal mandates outside the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, since it never has to address the substance of comments questioning their basis. It can just ignore them. A classic example is the letter sent to Oklahoma Senator James Lankford by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on February 17. 

    The Senator asked OCR asked for the basis of certain requirements OCR imposed on the nation’s schools in a 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. That letter, which is part of a...

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

    February 22, 2016

    It was a short work week in Washington due to George Washington’s Birthday, also known as President’s Day. Even so, federal agencies still published new regulations covering everything from poles to cypress trees.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 45 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 56 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 44 minutes.
    • With 376 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 2,848 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
    • Last week, 940 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,281 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 8,621 pages, the 2016 Federal Register is on pace for 65,311 pages. The 2015 Federal Register had an adjusted...

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