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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • The Free Checking Restoration Act of 2011

    October 21, 2010
    "Free checking as we know it is ending," says the lead paragraph of a widely-read and tweeted story this week from the Associated Press. Noting Bank of America's announced monthly charge of $8.50 for most checking accounts, the article reports that "almost all of the largest U.S. banks are either already making free checking much more difficult to get or expected to do so soon, with fees on even basic banking services."

    And other reports have noted the possible demise of free checking at many regional banks as well. Daniel Indiviglio blogs for The Atlantic that "...
  • GOP "Pledge to America" Includes Constructive Reg Reform

    September 23, 2010
    The House Republican "Pledge to America" unveiled today has been criticized by RedState's Erick Erickson and other center-right pundits  for a  lack of specifics. This is true in some areas, as is true for most campaign documents.

    But the pledge does contain one specific step that would go a long way toward reining in the regulatory state and restoring constitutional, accountable government. It is along the lines of recommendations CEI has made in our publications such as biannual the "Agenda for Congress" and annual "Ten Thousand Commandments" by CEI Vice President Wayne...
  • One Cheer for Obama Tax Plan, with Plenty of Caveats

    September 8, 2010
    President Obama's new economic recovery plan, coming more than a year-and-a-half after an infusion of $1 trillion in big-government spending failed to "stimulate" the moribund economy, deserves one qualified cheer.

    The president's plan, unveiled in a partisan speech Wednesday in Cleveland that mostly consisted blaming economic woes on his predecessors, did contain at least one specific break from the administration's previous policies. His call for 100 percent first-year expensing for plants and equipment and making permanent the research and development tax credits, with some important tweaks, would positively affect incentives for growth. Would that he had proposed these across-the-board tax cuts in early 2009 rather than the government-directed stimulus spending.

    Unfortunately, the other elements in the recovery plan are more of the same big-government spending and meddling. The $...
  • GM IPO Buyers Beware: Filing Asserts Exemption from Anti-fraud Laws

    August 23, 2010
    General Motors filed paperwork last week to launch its much-anticipated initial public offering. It could be the biggest IPO in U.S. history, raising up to $20 billion, Reuters reports.

    But as Reuters and other have noted, that still won't approach the $50 billion that U.S. taxpayers have shelled out for the GM bailout. And while the government is reducing its ownership in GM, the company will remain "Government Motors" for the time being as the U.S. Treasury, according to press accounts, is expected to retain a controlling interest even after the IPO is completed.

    And buyer beware. Government ownership poses unique dangers for new shareholders, according to GM's own preliminary prospectus filed with the SEC.

    Among the...
  • Fannie-Freddie White House Sham Summit Produces Short-Sighted Solutions

    August 17, 2010
    After ramming through a "financial reform" bill that increases government controls on such "ants" (hat tip to House Minority Leader John Boehner's comments--distorted by the press--in full context) as orthodontists with installment plans and retail stores with layaway plans, but leaving the elephants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to roam free with unlimited taxpayer backing, the Obama administration is today holding a promised summit to at least discuss putting some kind of fence around the government-sponsored enterprises.

    But given the controlled atmosphere of the summit--which President Obama is not even attending, preferring instead to campaign on the West Coast--any fence this Obama administration will build will be very easy for the housing elephants to trample over.  Geithner set the tone of the summit this morning with what ...
  • Obama subsidizes Ford after blocking its access to credit

    August 5, 2010
    At the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business, President Ronald Reagan offered these famous remarks about politicians’ views on business in the 1970s. Reagan said, “Back then, government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

    Amazingly, in that speech nearly 25 years ago, Reagan also summed up perfectly the Obama administration’s view of the economy in the present. Today, President Obama announced that the government is providing a loan guarantee of $250 million to Ford Motor Co. from the Export-Import Bank. In making the announcement, at a Ford assembly plant in Chicago, Obama also...
  • In defending Kagan, Media Matters embraces Bush Justice Department

    July 31, 2010
    Well, who woulda thunk it?! George W. Bush's Justice Department is now considered a citadel of wisdom by the legal eagles at the liberal Media Matters for America.

    On Thursday, I outlined in National Review how Elena Kagan's position as solicitor general that "regulated firms" must "exhaust" the administrative review process at a regulatory agency before judicial review - if adopted by a future Supreme Court -- would likely mean that small businesses challenging Obamacare and other laws would never see their day in court. Hours later, Media Matters blasted my piece as "the latest bogus attack on Kagan." My criticism was "bogus," according to the site, because "the Bush administration Justice Department made the same...
  • Dodd-Frank is not "financial reform," it's more Big Government lunacy

    July 15, 2010
    The 2,315 page Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill should not be called "financial reform." Instead, it should be called what for what it is: pages and  pages of massively costly, counterproductive and possibly unconstitutional mandates on nearly every type of business except for those government-sponsored enterprises at the root of the crisis. And while the bill claims to crack down on excesses on Wall Street, its harshest impact will likely be on Main Street businesses that had nothing to do with the crisis.

    A front-page Wall Street Journal article this week noted that "far from Wall Street, President Barack Obama's financial regulatory overhaul ... will leave tracks across the...
  • CEI's Supreme Court Oscar Speech

    June 29, 2010
    CEI won a significant victory yesterday in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the first Supreme Court case to which we served as co-counsel. The Court held the lack of removal power for PCAOB members to be unconstitutional and opened up an avenue of litigation for entrepreneurs to challenge its current rules and disciplinary actions under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that created it.

    Many people made this victory possible. So here is our "Oscar speech" that tries to thank each of them. (Note to Academy Awards buffs: There is one major difference. There is nothing to be read in those whom we left out. It's just that there are so many countless...
  • CEI Statement on Senate Passage of Restoring American Financial Stability Act

    May 21, 2010
    The "Restoring American Financial Stability Act," that passed Congress last night with 39 senators voting "nay," will hurt Main Street investors and entrepreneurs, and worsen the problem of "too big to fail" bailouts.  The numerous flaws of the bill add up to one basic problem: The bill’s omission of reform of Fannie and Freddie, combined with the overly-broad expansion of cumbersome regulation of legitimate investor and entrepreneurs, is exactly the wrong prescription for an economy struggling to climb back from the brink.

    Because of concerns CEI and a broad array of groups addressed, however, some of the bill's worst features were lessened or fixed. And we are hopeful that the bills' many remaining flaws will be fixed in conference. The Senate and House bills have some sharp differences that include some ill-considered Senate amendments and some positive House provisions that were...

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