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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • Cantor’s Loss a Warning Shot to Supporters of Ex-Im Bank and Johnson-Crapo

    June 16, 2014

    Defying conventional wisdom as he often does, Pulitzer prize-winning pundit George F. Will disputed the notion that in the wake of the shocking primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), even less in Congress will get done.



    “I’ll tell you something that may get done now because of this and that is deauthorizing – refusing to reauthorize -- the Export-Import Bank.” Will said on “Fox News Sunday” (hat tip to National Review for providing the clip.)



    Will went on to state his view that “the Export-Import bank played as large a role in that election as immigration did.” Michael Barone also ...

  • Maya Angelou, Herb Jeffries, and the Freedom to Prosper

    June 4, 2014
    Competitive Enterprise Institute President Lawson Bader has said, "What CEI does, on a daily basis and at its core, is to celebrate and defend free enterprise," and "free enterprise is just another phrase for what I call the ‘freedom to prosper.'"

    Lawson makes it clear that "prosperity" does not necessarily mean accumulation of possessions, but enrichment of one’s own life and those of others through individual choice. Free enterprise means freedom to pursue various options, and "we who defend economic liberty view these endeavors with a non-judgmental eye, recognizing them as the choices free individuals make to realize their dreams,'" he writes.

    These thoughts on the freedom to prosper have been on my mind since last week after the passing of two individuals -- one of whom I was privileged to know -- who used what limited freedom...
  • Dodd-Frank's Durbin Amendment Drives Up Costs on Memorial Day and Every Day

    May 27, 2014
    Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Big Retail lobby created a dubious driving distraction.

    The Merchants Payments Coalition, whose members include retail giants like Walmart and 7-Eleven, took out a Business Wire press release warning motorists to "Get Ready to Be Side-Swiped by Your Bank’s Exorbitant Credit-Card Fees." In reality, it's rent-seeking retailers and allied politicians who are rear-ending American consumers on Memorial Day and every day through the price controls they pushed for in Dodd-Frank's Durbin Amendment. Now, they are lobbying Washington to ram ordinary folks even more with policies that will make security breaches like that of...
  • Johnson-Crapo Is Fannie and Freddie on Steroids

    May 15, 2014
    foreclosed_33Today, after delays and much opposition from many quarters on different grounds, the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul is set to be voted on by the Senate Banking Committee. If it clears, the vote will likely be narrow.

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute coordinated a letter opposing the legislation signed by 26 leaders of conservative and free-market groups. Here are four key reasons to why Johnson-Crapo, named for Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and and...
  • Johnson-Crapo Delayed; CEI-Coordinated Coalition Letter Cited as a Factor

    April 29, 2014
    Today, in a surprise move, the Senate Banking Committee postponed the vote it had been set to mark up for Johnson-Crapo. Reports vary as to whether this bill is "dead on arrival" or coming up soon with amendments (mostly to bring around liberal Democrats).

    One thing is clear, though. The bill is losing momentum, and the proverbial Congressional clock is ticking.

    Today's delay is great news for ordinary American taxpayers and shareholders who would have been ripped off by Johnson-Crapo and its creation of the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corportation, or Feddie Mic. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has for decades warned about the risk to taxpayers and the economy posed by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2000, CEI founder and then-...
  • First Ever Constitutional Ruling against Dodd-Frank Voids Destructive "Conflict Minerals" Section

    April 14, 2014
    Today’s ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that Dodd-Frank’s "conflict minerals" disclosure mandate violates the First Amendment is the first time ever a court has ruled that a provision of Dodd-Frank violates the Constitution. Regulations issued under Dodd-Frank have been struck down for reasons such as inadequate cost-benefit analysis and other procedural violations, but this is first time a provision has been found to be unconstitutional.

    And it couldn't happen to a more misguided and destructive provision of the law! As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Hans Bader and I have written in blog posts, articles, and regulatory comments, the...
  • How Matt Drudge (and Other Obamacare Victims) Can Escape the "Liberty Tax"

    March 25, 2014
    Former Competitive Enterprise Institute Research Associate Michael Mayfield provided invaluable assistance with this post.

    Matt Drudge's widely discussed tweet that he has already paid Obamacare's "liberty tax" highlights the uncertainties the self-employed face both from the health care law and the tax code in general. As pointed out by an editorial in Investor's Business Daily, "self-employed entrepreneurs ranging from Drudge to small-shop proprietors and independent contractors have long been aware of the requirement to...
  • Draconian Dodd-Frank Durbin Debit Controls Need Not Be More Destructive, Court Rules

    March 21, 2014
    As the weather finally turns to spring, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today blew a nice cool breeze of common sense.

    A bipartisan three-judge panel unanimously overturned district Judge Richard Leon's July 31 ruling that the Federal Reserve had not made the price controls stemming from Dodd-Frank's Durbin Amendment draconian enough. Today's decision by Clinton-appointed Judge David Tatel found that the Federal Reserve "reasonably construct[ed]" the law in considering costs in setting the price caps, and the ruling in fact opens the door to allowing banks and credit unions make retailers pay more of the costs of processing debit cards.

    In the wake of cybersecurity attacks on credit and debit cards, this ruling came in the nick of time. In what I had...
  • Johnson-Crapo Is Phony Fannie-Freddie Reform

    March 20, 2014
    Ever since the phrase appeared in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," and its variations, have become familiar expressions. A corollary is that garbage by any other name would stink just as badly, if not worse.

    The latter phrase seems applicable to the "reform" of the government-sponsored housing enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). The media often describe this plan as "ending" Fannie and Freddie.

    And yes, it does "end" them in the sense that there will no longer be entities named Fannie and Freddie. But most of their functions would simply be transferred to a new giant government entity called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation...
  • Obama and Camp's "Carried Interest" Canard Adds Cost and Complexity to Code

    March 4, 2014
    Once again, according to a White House summary of his 2015 budget to be unveiled later today, President Obama will call for "closing loopholes" that he says help "Wall Street." Once again, upon closer examination, these "loophole closures" are actually tax hikes that will hit Main Street the hardest.

    There is something different this year, but that "something" is bad news for taxpayers and entrepreneurs. The difference is that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has unfortunately signed onto some of these destructive proposals in the "tax reform" bill he introduced last week.

    In particular, both Obama and Camp's "carried interest" proposals would tax much of the capital gains of partnerships as ordinary income as well as subject them to hefty payroll taxes for Medicare and...

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