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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Unions Stall on EFCA, Advance Elsewhere

    January 29, 2009
    The Democratic Congress's failure to pounce instantly to pass the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as the "card check" bill, presents a disappointment for organized labro, since this bill has been the unions' top legislative priority for months. Increased public attention on the legislation's provision undermining secret ballots in union organizing elections, combined with the state of the economy, have pushed it to Congress's back burner. But unfortunately, President Obama seems ready to deliver for Big Labor quickly in other areas, even as Congress drags its feet on card check.  The New York Times reports that Obama is set to repeal four Bush executive orders opposed by organized labor, including "one order that allowed unionized companies to post...
  • Obama Distorts Ledbetter v. Goodyear Case, In Signing Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    January 29, 2009
    In signing his first bill into law, Obama didn't let facts get in the way of a good story, or milking a political wedge issue. He falsely claimed that Lilly Ledbetter, whose pay discrimination claim was dismissed by the Supreme Court as untimely, worked at Goodyear "for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work." Actually, Ledbetter knew by 1992, if not earlier, that she was being paid less than the male employees she claimed should have been paid the same as her. Small wonder that the...
  • COP, America's Financial Paper Tiger

    January 29, 2009
    The Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) recently issued a report on the TARP.  This report represents the second in a monthly series of reports to be issued while there are outstanding TARP investments.  While the COP report generated a lot of media attention drawing criticism of the TARP's expenditure and opaque process. However, the media did not cover how powerless COP really is.  In the full text of the report, the panel repeatedly states that Treasury did not answer many of its questions - either effectively or in entirety.  The tough questions did not get answered or were simply avoided. In the words of COP, they are "concerned that Treasury's initial response to our questions is not comprehensive and seems largely derived from earlier Treasury public statements."  Unfortunately, the panel is working as designed by the legislation laying out the TARP.  The COP simply does not...
  • That Was Fast: Stimulus Passes House

    January 28, 2009
    The House of Representatives has just passed the $800-billion stimulus package which President Obama hopes to make a centerpiece of his administration's early economic policy. The bill failed to get Republican support, which is a hopeful sign that GOP lawmakers will not seek bipartisanship at all costs. Such an enormous spending bill deserves more debate than it's gotten. The Senate should be in no hurry to rush this through. For more on stimulus, see here and here.
  • DeMint's Smaller-Government Stimulus

    January 27, 2009
    This week, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), in response to President Obama's stimulus plan, announced his own alternative stimulus package, which David Weigel, at the Washington Independent, summarizes thus:
    • Make the Bush tax cuts permanent and “take uncertainty out of the economy.” • Let small businesses “write off more of their business expenses.” • Cut the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. • Cut the capital gains tax. • Cut spending and “reign in the out of control congressional earmarking practice.”
    This would encourage investment in the most productive sectors of the economy, unlike Obama's proposed $825 billion of increased spending, which DeMint criticized today at the Heritage Foundation. Of the infrastructure component of the stiumulus, he said that, "Less than 10 percent...
  • Kiss Off to Consumers

    January 27, 2009
    The appropriations portion of the House stimulus bill is not the only legislation with bad ideas.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also marked up their portion of the stimulus package.  During the Committee markup, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) inserted a provision that would “decouple” utility rates from the amount of electricity or natural gas that the utilities sell.  According to the “decoupling” provision, states that accept federal energy efficiency grants from the economic stimulus package will have to ensure that utilities recover the revenue lost when consumers use less energy. In other words, in states that accept the energy efficiency grants, utilities that use the grants to help consumers lower the energy consumption will be able to raise their rates to compensation for the loss in revenue.  Consumers who participate in the programs may see their energy use go...
  • Green Pork

    January 27, 2009
    In addition to tens of billions of dollars in the House stimulus bill for infrastructure and other projects to create jobs, there are also funding items that appear to do the exact opposite.  For example, the House stimulus bill contains $175 million dollars for Natural Resource Conservation Service to purchase conservation easements in floodplains.  Funding for the program would effectively be spending tax dollars to pay farmers to stop farming.  Not only would such conservation easements not be creating any jobs, they actually would likely be doing the opposite by taking farmland out of production. What makes this funding even more egregious is that removing farmland from production tends to increase food prices.  What makes this provision seem even more out of place is the House stimulus bill also includes $200 million in funding for Senior Nutrition Programs, claiming the programs...
  • Apparent Hold on Solis Nomination

    January 26, 2009
    The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Labor Secretary has run into an unexpected delay, as an unidentified Republican senator appears to have placed a hold on her nomination. That may not prevent her nomination, since presidents get fairly wide latitude in cabinet appointments. Still, as a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial notes today, Republican senators are right to ask more questions:
    Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has been outspoken in his criticism of Rep. Solis' testimony in her confirmation hearing, focusing his criticism on her responses concerning the "card check" bill that would allow unions to...
  • Consumer Product Safety Law Backfires, Killing Thousands of Jobs

    January 25, 2009
  • Regulating Our Way to Recovery

    January 22, 2009

    Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4  Tucked in the massive stimulus bill passed by the House Appropriation Committee is a $4.5 billion appropriation for the Army Corps of Engineers. While the vast majority of the appropriation is for the construction of new water resource projects and for the backlog of maintenance of existing water resource projects, there is also a $25 million appropriation for the Corps of Engineers regulatory program. The Corps regulatory program is the cadre of bureaucrats responsible for processing permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, in other words wetlands permits.

    Presumably, the Corps is justifying the increase in their regulatory budget by claiming a backlog in processing permits. But if Congress were serious about...

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