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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • 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...
  • GW's Entrepreneurship and Crowdfunding Barriers to Today's Revolutionary Entrepreneurs

    February 21, 2014
    george-washingtonHappy Washington’s birthday, everyone! Although the holiday was on Monday, George Washington’s actual date of birth is tomorrow, February 22, in the year 1732.

    And one of the many ways to celebrate Washington is to reflect on his pioneering entrepreneurship. That’s right, the father of our country was also one of the first of America’s many visionary entrepreneurs who was largely self-made. As I write in National Review, “Washington’s background wasn’t exactly poor, but he was not as wealthy as many of his contemporaries among the Founders. His father died when he was eleven, and the family lacked...
  • No Obamaloans at the Post Office!

    February 12, 2014
    While Sen. Elizabeth Warren may proudly brand herself a populist, in her latest crusade, she is casting her lot with fat cats. Warren wants to bestow banking privileges upon the United States Postal Service (USPS), an organization with executives living high on the hog even as, by Warren’s own admission, its “financial footing” is in doubt.

    The USPS pleaded poverty last month as it raised the price of a first-class stamp from 46 to 49 cents and promised that more rate increases are on the way. Yet in 2012, it managed to pay Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe $512,000 in total compensation, according to page 67 of the annual report filed by the Postal Regulatory Commission. And in 2008, then-Postmaster General John E. Potter received more than $800,000 in total compensation and retirement...
  • Target, Retailers Use Dodd-Frank to Skimp on Data Security

    January 22, 2014
    Chutzpah, thy name is the National Retail Federation!

    In the wake of the recent credit and debit card breach at Target that may have compromised the data of up to 110 million consumers, the leading retail trade association argued in federal court on Friday that it should pay even less for fraud prevention and cleanup after fraud losses.

    Joined by the National Association of Convenience Stores and the National Restaurant Association, the NRF claimed to the court that it is actually against the law for banks and credit unions to charge retailers for fraud losses in debit card processing fees. "The inclusion of fraud losses in the allowable costs recoverable ... cannot be justified," the groups maintained in a...
  • "Wall Street" Regs Devastate Main Street Banks and Credit Unions

    January 16, 2014
    Again and again, when regulators implement a new Dodd-Frank regulation aimed at "Wall Street," it is Main Street banks and credit unions that are forced to push the panic button. Amazingly, over the last couple weeks, it seems like some of Dodd-Frank's biggest cheerleaders have suddenly heard Main Street's alarm.

    At House Financial Service Committee hearings this week on implementation of the Volcker Rule and the "qualified mortgage" rule from the Dodd-Frank "financial reform" law enacted in 2010, some of the most liberal members of Congress expressed concern about overreach. While praising most of the Volcker Rule at yesterday's full-committee hearing, Ranking Member Maxine Waters still emphasized the need for "important relief to community banks.."

    She added that "most of the Democratic members...
  • The Great Italian Auto Bailout -- Courtesy of U.S. Taxpayers

    January 1, 2014
    At the beginning of 2014, Detroit may be bankrupt, but they're cheering the five-year-old U.S. auto bailout in Italy. That's because after being the beneficiary of billions in U.S. taxpayer largesse, Fiat, the leading Italian auto company, is going to buy its final stake in Chrysler from that other big bailout recipient, the United Auto Workers (UAW).

    "Chrysler's Now Fully an Italian Auto Company," reads the Time magazine online headline. But wait a minute! Wasn't the bailout supposed to be about saving the American auto industry?

    As Mark Beatty and wrote in The Daily Caller in November 2012, after presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the controversial claim that Fiat would be expanding production of Chrysler's Jeep in...
  • Target Breach -- Are Dodd-Frank "Swipe Fee" Price Controls to Blame?

    December 24, 2013
    Target wants  you to know it is oh-so-sorry for any inconvenience its data SNAFU (as OpenMarket is a family blog, please look up the acronym) has caused, and as a token of its concern, it offered customers a whooping 10 percent discount this weekend!

    In the meantime, who is cleaning up the mess from Target's breach that has affected as many as 40 million credit and debit card accounts? The nation's banks and credit unions -- big and small. In East Tennessee, for instance, Citizens National Bank canceled and reissued 1,000 credit and debit cards potentially affected, but took the step of calling each customer beforehand.

    This is just the latest incident in which banks and credit unions that...

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