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  • Omnibus: No Financial Reg Relief, Dangerous GSE Provision, But a Little CFPB Sunshine

    December 16, 2015 1:31 PM

    My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleagues and I have made the case for members of Congress to use the omnibus spending bill as an exercise of its “power of the purse” to hold the Obama administration accountable. Unfortunately, negotiators in Congressional leadership opened that purse way too soon and way too wide to give President Obama nearly everything in terms of the spending he wanted while inexplicably leaving out regulatory relief measures that members of both parties were clamoring for in the thousand-plus page omnibus bill (read it here) to be voted on later this week.

    While there were a couple good measures like lifting the oil export ban and repealing the expensive and confusing country-of origin-labeling mandate for beef and pork (see this post from CEI Adjunct Scholar Fran Smith about the retaliatory tariffs the U.S. faced if this mandate was not repealed), negotiators left out even modest bipartisan deregulatory measures that would have lessened the burden of Dodd-Frank on community banks and credit unions and frozen the Department of Labor’s draconian “fiduciary rule” that attracted criticism from 96 House Democrats for the devastating consequences the proposed rule would have on savers. As I have written, the “fiduciary rule” may even silence financial commentators such as Dave Ramsey.

  • Why the Omnibus Shouldn't Include Cybersecurity Legislation

    December 15, 2015 6:42 PM

    Later this week, the House is slated to vote on a $1.1 trillion “omnibus” spending bill to fund the federal government through next fall. Naturally, the legislation will likely contain numerous riders and add-ons that address issues unrelated to appropriations, ranging from oil exports to compensation for 9/11 victims. But one potential addition to the lengthy omnibus bill is extremely troubling: according to several reports, House leaders are considering adding cybersecurity information sharing to the package. Rushing a cybersecurity bill through Congress before the holidays is premature, especially given how little we know about the details of a potential cyber addition to the omnibus.

    Congress has been busy with cybersecurity legislation this year. In October, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as CISA. Earlier, in April, two cybersecurity bills passed the House—the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPAA). Each of these bills aims to tackle legal barriers that limit how companies can share what they learn about cyber attacks with other businesses or government agencies. But these three bills differ in certain key respects, so the two houses of Congress will need to reconcile these differences before sending any legislation to President Obama’s desk.

  • FAA Releases Mandatory Drone Registration Interim Final Rule

    December 15, 2015 3:51 PM

    On December 16, the FAA will publish its interim final rule (IFR) on Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft in the Federal Register. The prepublication rule can be found here. IFRs take effect immediately upon publication (more on this below).

    Here is the FAA’s summary of major provisions to be included under 14 C.F.R. Part 48 (Table 1, p. 6):

    Issue             

    Interim final rule requirement

    Unmanned aircraft covered by the registration requirement

    Unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft and operated outdoors in the national airspace system must register.

    § 48.15

    Timing of registration

    Owners of small unmanned aircraft must register their aircraft prior to operation of the sUAS.

    § 48.15

    Compliance dates

    December 21, 2015

    · Any small unmanned aircraft to be used exclusively as model aircraft that have never been operated.

    · Small unmanned aircraft to be used in authorized operations as other than model aircraft continue to use part 47 registration process.

    February 19, 2016

  • Omnibus with Significant Reg Relief May Be Worth Supporting

    December 15, 2015 8:46 AM

    As the year-end omnibus spending bill is about to be unveiled, there will be a scramble to examine its provisions. In many policy areas, my colleagues and I have urged Congress to use its “power of the purse” to insist on significant regulatory relief as a price for the new spending in the omnibus.

    have written that Congress should freeze funding for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “fiduciary rule,” referred to by many as “Obamacare for your IRA,” which would greatly limit investment choices in IRAs and 401(k)s and even restrict what financial broadcasters like Dave Ramsey could say to listeners.

    Defunding of this rule was also urged by a letter coordinated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute that was signed by 33 conservative and free-market groups.

    Similarly, my CEI colleague Trey Kovacs urges Congress to defund in the omnibus the DOL’s new “joint employer” rule, under which employers could suddenly be held liable for the actions of contractors, staffing agencies, and franchisees. My colleague Myron Ebell is pushing Congress to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power” regulations that would devastate coal and manufacturing industries with no tangible public health benefits

  • RealClear Radio Hour: The Miracle of New Zealand

    December 14, 2015 12:46 PM

    This week marks a special occasion for RealClear Radio Hour: our 100th Episode! Over the course of what will soon be two years on the air, we’ve covered many stories that tell the wonders of free markets and a free society. Our topic this week is an enlightening success story focused on free market reform abroad.

    RealClear Radio Hour’s 100th episode chronicles the successful economic revival in the wonderful nation of New Zealand. Where the United States had Reagonomics, New Zealand has Rogernomics and Ruthanasia. The story of this country’s turnaround features interviews with the reformers themselves: former finance ministers Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson, who spearheaded New Zealand’s transformation from a welfare state saddled with crushing public debt, rampant inflation, and a closed and moribund economy, to one of the freest, most prosperous, and open countries in the world.

     

     

     

     

    We’d like to give a special thank you to our listeners and the dedication you’ve developed for our show.  Tell your friends so we can together spread the word of liberty.

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

    December 14, 2015 12:36 PM

    It was a comparatively slow week for regulations, though agencies still published new rules ranging from bright lamps to train doors.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 55 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 61 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and three minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 3,201 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,362 new regulations this year, fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,307 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,247 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 77,224 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 81,118 pages. This would be just shy of the all-time record set in 2010, with 81,405 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 34 such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $3.68 billion to $4.93 billion for the current year.
    • 288 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 520 new rules affect small businesses; 82 of them are classified as significant. 
  • COP-21 Nears Agreement on New Paris Climate Treaty

    December 11, 2015 5:11 PM

    A third straight night of all-night negotiations will almost certainly end Saturday morning with a new climate deal at COP-21. The Paris Climate Treaty is almost certain to leave several major issues to be sorted out later. 

    On the other hand, the draft text released Friday morning does include a target of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels plus an expression of further ambition to stop warming at 1.5 degrees. No percentage reductions in total global greenhouse gas emissions are specified to reach that goal.

    The draft text also moves beyond the limited compliance periods in the Kyoto Protocol to create a perpetual regime that will provide reviews to set lower national emissions targets every five years. Thus, once a country ratifies the treaty, it will be committed to taking actions to save the planet from catastrophic global warming no matter how high the cost or how long it takes.

    Speaking of cost, the draft text still needs work on the finance mechanisms through which the developed countries will provide financial aid to developing countries to pay for emissions reductions and adaptation to climate change. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saved COP-15 in Copenhagen from total collapse by proposing $100 billion in aid annually from the developing countries to the developing countries beginning in 2020. The Paris Climate Treaty looks set to confirm that commitment.

    It looks to me that the Paris Climate Treaty is going to disappoint global warming alarmists for punting the most disputed issues into the future. It also looks to me that it is a treaty and will therefore require ratification by the Senate for the U. S. to join.

  • Things Get Heated at Senate Hearing on Climate Science

    December 11, 2015 5:10 PM

    Author Mark Steyn and Georgia Tech atmospheric scientist Judith Curry mixed it up with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) this week at a Senate hearing on data vs. dogma in climate science. Video excerpts of the heated exchanges are available here and here

    Steyn, focusing on climate dogma, spotlighted the inherent conflict between centrally-planned global energy transformation and freedom of inquiry. No such plan is possible without almost universal consent, so proponents inevitably try to crush dissent.

    University of Alabama in Huntsville atmospheric scientist John Christy explained that in science the test of whether we understand something is whether we are able to predict its behavior. The computer simulations underpinning U.S., EU, and U.N. climate policies, however, increasingly fail to hind-cast what has already happened.

  • CCAF Asks Supreme Court to Hear Challenge on Duracell Class Action Settlement

    December 11, 2015 3:21 PM

    Today, the Center for Class Action Fairness petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case challenging an abusive class action practice where trial lawyers pay themselves the bulk of the cash recovery ($5.7 million), the class members receive just a fraction of that ($344,000), and the settlement hands out millions to third parties who are not part of the class.

    The original class action lawsuit, Joshua D. Poertner v. The Gillette Co. et al., centers on seven million class members who sued over dubious advertising about Duracell batteries. Class counsel structured a settlement that paid class counsel $5.7 million in fees and expenses and provided a cy pres award of $6 million in batteries to a third-party charity, while class members were awarded $3 to $6 in claims for future battery purchases, with over 99 percent of the class receiving nothing. Class counsel also took credit for an injunction forbidding certain labeling on Duracell Ultra-brand batteries—an injunction that provided no possible benefit because the product had been discontinued before the case settled.​

  • 5 Reasons the COP-21 Meeting in Paris will Fail

    December 11, 2015 3:16 PM

    A white paper from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is the first comprehensive report by Congress on international climate negotiations, encompassing the United Nations Framework Convention, Kyoto, Bali, Copenhagen, Durban, and more. It is intended to inject a dose of reality into the Obama administration’s puffery on the current negotiations in Paris—officially the 21stConference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21).

    In short, the White Paper puts the international community on notice that Obama’s negotiating position is a greenhouse of cards. It details different options being debated in Paris, and examines how each scenario plays out. It concludes the treaty will be reduced to a political promise that won’t withstand test of time. It’s another example of the President’s modus operandi: Bypass Congress and see how much he can get away with.

    The Report condenses a lot of oversight work and research allied organizations have done this year. It also reviews legislative efforts to overturn the EPA’s power plant rules and thwart the President’s attempt to buy developing-country support for the treaty via foreign aid promises Congress has not approved.

    If you read only one paper on the COP 21 negotiations, read this one!

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