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  • A Look Ahead to CEI's Future

    November 16, 2015 12:56 PM

    Four years ago, I had the privilege—and the daunting task—of searching for a new president to lead CEI, when founder Fred Smith decided it was time for him to step down. Our six-person search committee set out to find an intelligent and charismatic leader with a positive vision for defending individual liberty and free enterprise, and the focus to lead us toward achieving those goals. We pored over scores of resumes, held dozens of interviews with many highly qualified candidates, and eventually selected Lawson Bader as our unanimous choice to be the next CEI president.

    Following an organization’s founder as president is a formidable job. But Lawson rose to the challenge, and proudly led CEI in some of its most important battles: fighting the Obama administration’s energy rationing policies, the National Labor Relations Board’s onerous employment rules, the Treasury Department and Securities and Exchange Commission’s assault on America’s banking and finance industries, and many other expansions of federal power. Under Lawson’s leadership, CEI took our Obamacare legal challenge all the way to the Supreme Court. And Lawson laid out an ambitious vision for a bigger, more effective CEI as we negotiated, and recently completed, a successful merger with the Center for Class Action Fairness, a move that will make CEI’s litigation program even more effective. For his own recollections, see here.

    Last week, we said a fond farewell to Lawson, as he rose to yet another challenge: replacing his dear friend Whitney Ball as the head of DonorsTrust. We, of course, will miss Lawson. But my colleagues and I are also eager to turn the page on a new chapter in CEI’s future. Lawson is gone, but our work continues. And we mean to be every bit as feisty and aggressive as CEI has been for the past three decades.

  • The Mild, Mild West: Regulation in America

    November 16, 2015 11:46 AM

    Over at the newly launched U.S. edition of the U.K.-based CapX wesbite, Wayne Crews and I have a short primer on U.S. regulation:

    America has a reputation as the land of Wild West cowboy capitalism. The truth is rather more mundane. The US economy is one of the most heavily regulated in the world, with the total cost    of federal regulations standing at nearly $1.9 trillion—equivalent to nearly two thirds of the UK’s entire GDP.

    Read the whole piece here. For a more through treatment, see Wayne’s annual Ten Thousand Commandments report.

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

    November 16, 2015 7:03 AM

    ​Wednesday’s Veterans’ Day holiday made it a short work week, but the Federal Register still passed the 70,000-page mark, with new regulations covering everything from Flugzeugbaus to recreational salmon.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 44 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 77 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 49 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 2,958 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,377 new regulations this year, fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,556 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,850 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 70,933 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 80,974 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 31 such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $3.63 billion to $4.88 billion for the current year.
    • 257 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 481 new rules affect small businesses; 70 of them are classified as significant. 
  • RealClear Radio Hour: American Colossus and Private Alternatives

    November 16, 2015 7:01 AM

    Industrial development and private initiative are fundamental to our contemporary way of life, but what do they mean in the larger context of history? This week on RealClear Radio Hour, I sit down with two brilliant historians to discuss how industry and private markets helped develop American culture and society.

    My first guest is John Steele Gordon, historian and author of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power. John lays out American history through a lens not normally viewed, giving a colorful account of a nation built by smugglers, rebels, and entrepreneurs who went on to become industry giants.

    Rounding out the second half of the show is Trinity College professor, Edward Stringham. The author of Private Governance: Creating Order in Economic and Social Life recounts successful stories of voluntary associations and bottom-up order throughout history. He hits examples from the first stock market in Amsterdam in the 1600s to the still extant private police force that emerged during the gold rush in San Francisco.

    You can hear from both of our amazing guests this week by listening to the full show as-aired on iTunes, or you can check out the individual podcasts hosted on YouTube and SoundCloud. Make sure to check back next week for another episode of RealClear Radio Hour.

    Don’t forget to like RealClear Radio Hour on Facebook here, and follow us on Twitter here.

    John Steele Gordon

  • Judge Allows Deposition of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

    November 13, 2015 5:20 PM

    Clean Air Act §321(a) requires the EPA to monitor job losses due to the agency’s environmental regulations. In March 2014, Murray Energy, an Ohio-based coal company, commenced a civil action in federal court alleging that the agency has failed to perform its §321(a) responsibilities with regard to monitoring the employment impact of the agency’s war on coal. Murray Energy’s unprecedented lawsuit survived EPA’s early legal maneuvering, and on May 29th, 2015, West Virginia federal district court judge John Preston Bailey allowed Murray to proceed with discovery against EPA, including depositions, with the purpose of discerning how EPA is accounting for the coal sector job losses that are attributable to the agency’s suite of anti-energy regulations.

    EPA appealed Judge Bailey’s order, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied EPA’s request without explanation on July 9th. After conducting initial discovery, Murray Energy on October 7th notified EPA that it intended to depose EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and the company scheduled a tentative deposition date of November 24th.

    EPA requested that Judge Bailey block the scheduled deposition, but yesterday, he denied the agency’s motion. EPA has appealed the matter to the Fourth Circuit, which will decide on the matter before the deposition is set to occur on November 24th.

  • Senate Likely To Vote on Resolutions To Block EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules for Power Plants Next Week

    November 13, 2015 5:19 PM

    The Senate is tentatively scheduled to take up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants on Tuesday, 17th November, and vote on them on Wednesday the 18th. 

    Senate Joint Resolution 23, sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 47 co-sponsors, blocks the NSPS for new power plants.  Senate Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 48 co-sponsors, blocks the ESPS for existing power plants.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee is likely to mark up and pass their versions of the CRA resolutions on Wednesday as well.  The subcommittee mark-up resulted in straight party-line votes on H. J. Res. 71 and H. J. Res. 72. Because of the week-long Thanksgiving recess, the full House may not vote on the resolutions until the first week of December, which is also the first week of COP-21, the UN climate conference in Paris that is supposed to conclude negotiations on a new climate treaty.

    Although President Barack Obama is almost certain to veto both resolutions, the votes will provide support for including appropriations riders in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill to block the EPA rules and will also undermine the credibility of the Obama Administration at COP-21. 

  • Farewell and Toast to CEI's Future

    November 12, 2015 5:41 PM

    When in the course of social discourse I am asked, “And why did you ever leave California?” the response I give is often not the one expected: “Because the weather drove me crazy!” You see, I like seasons. Seasons mirror life. They provide anticipation for what’s to come while showering us with the blessings and challenges of the here and now.

    I write as the leaves are falling. In a few minutes, a charity’s tow truck will remove my 20-year-old car for greener (or rustier) pastures. My daughter has completed her college applications; a penultimate step signaling a house soon to be empty of our two children.

    And I am out of time as leader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Something I did not anticipate happening, at least not now. But seasons come, and seasons go. In the opening of Dylan Thomas’s verbally illustrative play, “Under Milk Wood,” the First Voice repeats, “Time passes. Listen. Time passes.”

    Time has passed indeed. Whiskey and kilt parties, uproarious annual dinners, redesigned logos and revamped mission statements, revolving staff doors (and EPA administrators!), mergers and acquisitions, U.S. Supreme Court replays and refrains, coast-to-coast radio broadcasts, White House denunciations, Michael Mann insults, the Dodd-Frank energizer bunny lawsuit, 10,0000 Commandments becoming 15,000, and agency lawyers and FOIA processors realizing the Glenn Close intensity of CEI’s “We’re not going to be ignored…!” philosophy.

  • CFPB's Database Should Be Bipartisan Privacy Concern

    November 12, 2015 4:43 PM

    ​The behemoth Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) played a big role in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate on Fox Business, both during the commercials and in the candidate’s answers.

    A new ad by American Action Network that made its debut during commercial break correctly linked the CFPB—created by the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform act rammed through Congress in 2010—to denial of mortgages and car loans due to the CFPB’s costly and paternalistic rules that hit Main Street bank and credit unions. The candidates critical of Dodd-Frank dinged those same policies, but often without naming the CFPB.

    Carly Fiorina called out the CFPB directly and for another disturbing policy. She pointed out that the CFPB is an entity with “no congressional oversight that is digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records.”

    The “digging” refers to CFPB’s massive database of mortgage and credit card info that rivals that of the National Security Agency in both size and intrusiveness. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, “Every month the CFPB … gathers data on 22 million mortgages, 5.5 million student loans, two million bank accounts with overdraft fees, and hundreds of thousands of auto sales, credit scores and deposit advance loans.” My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Iain Murray and I have been writing about the troublesome database and its threat to privacy since the CFPB created it more than two years ago.

  • Five Infuriating Facts about Federal Regulation

    November 12, 2015 1:02 PM

    Each year, we produce Ten Thousand Commandments (10KC), an extensive report on the size, scope, and true cost of federal regulations.  10KC exposes the burdens put on the American economy -from small business owners to everyday taxpayers - by federal regulations. The expansive reach of the federal government’s regulations leaves no one unharmed and grows daily, which is why we at CEI continue to issue this annual report.

    Of course, we understand 10KC is no short read so we've put together an infographic that provides a glimpse at “5 Infuriating Facts about Federal Regulation.”

    If you are interested in the full report or finding specific sections, you can read it at our website here.

  • Daily Fantasy Sports Betting: Gambling or Game of Skill?

    November 11, 2015 12:40 PM

    That is the big question in New York today after that state’s attorney general issued a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel—the two most popular websites in the daily fantasy sports wagering. In the order, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman contends that that the websites constitute illegal gambling under state law, according to which gambling is when a person “engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.” The question for courts, assuming this case goes to court, is whether or not online fantasy sports bettors have any control or influence over the outcome of their wagers.

    The sudden legal and congressional interest in fantasy sports comes as the industry is becoming big business. Since beginning in the 2000s, online daily fantasy has bloomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. In North America alone, players spend around $27 billion a year! To make matters even stickier, the professional sports leagues have gone all-in with the online fantasy industry, with Fox Sports, MLB, NHL, MLS, and individual teams investing in the industry. While it might seem strange that pro-sports leagues, who are known for vehemently opposing legalizing sports gambling, would throw in their lot with fantasy sports, there’s a very simple reason why they’ve done so: money. According to reports, fans consume 40 percent more sports content after they started playing on FanDuel. So, is it game over for online daily fantasy sports?

    Operators of DFS sites have contended that their operations are not in violation of any law because they are not gambling, but rather games of skill which are considered legal under federal law and the laws of 45 of the 50 states. Another fact that bolsters the case for legal DFS is that there are no federal laws criminalizing DFS and a few that specifically exempt DFS from being considered gambling.

    However, the ultimate determining factor is state law. A handful of states, such as Washington, consider a game “gambling” if there’s even a “material degree” of chance involved in the outcome. Other states, like Arizona, have laws that explicitly make fantasy sports gambling for money illegal. To their credit, DFS sites like DraftKings voluntarily restrict access for players in these states where fantasy sports betting is most likely illegal. However, for most states, including New York, the laws are vaguer and consider games “skill” if the player has some degree of control over the outcome.

    According to gaming expert Mark Hichar, “In true skill contests, the outcome of the contest depends on the participant’s  relative knowledge, judgment, decision-making ability, experience, skill, dexterity, quickness, athletic ability and/or understanding of the contest and its rules (collectively, “skill”). Gambling laws do not apply to true skill contests because the outcome is within the control of the participant.”


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