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Jonathan Decker on July 19, 2022 | End Regulatory Tyranny

by Phil Kerpen
 

With a confusing patchwork of state data privacy laws becoming a growing headache for businesses, pressure has been rising for a national privacy law that would pre-empt the states and create a uniform national framework.

 

An analysis by ITIF found that the costs of these state laws are staggering and justify federal pre-emption:

Unfortunately, the proposed American Data Privacy and Protection Act fails to fully accomplish that basic task, keeping several of the costliest and most litigious state requirements in place.  Specifically, the bill grandfathers California and Illinois provisions that are major sources of litigation.

 

Worse, by creating a private cause of action in addition to FTC enforcement, the bill would unleash a torrent of federal litigation that would enrich trial lawyers and undermine business confidence with no clear benefit to consumers.  The inclusion of compensatory damages creates potentially open-ended liability for companies and a “jackpot justice” incentive for trial lawyers.

 

As Americans for Tax Reform notes: “the bill contains a private right of action that trial lawyers will weaponize to fleece companies for millions of dollars. A trial lawyer could seek a remedy for subjective, ‘compensatory’ damages like emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of opportunity, damaged relationships, and other hard to prove claims. This provision incentivizes trial lawyers to launch frivolous and arbitrary suits against companies with the hope that a company will settle instead of spending millions of dollars to defend against specious claims in court."

 

A national privacy bill to pre-empt the states and create a uniform approach is badly needed, but Republicans should insist on a version not compromised by Democratic loyalties to the trial lawyer lobby.

Phil Kerpen on July 1, 2022 | Reform Health Care Right

By Phil Kerpen

There were a lot of ingredients in the 2010 Republican electoral landslide, but perhaps the most significant was that by raiding hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, Democrats gave the “Medicare cuts” club they had used to beat Republicans over the head for decades to their opponents, who then hammered away at them.  Remarkably, twelve years later they may – in a last-ditch attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of Build Back Better – repeat the exact same mistake again.

This time the conceit is that they can drain $200 billion or more from Medicare prescription drug spending and somehow sell that to seniors politically by calling it “drug pricing reform” – then use that money to buy political support via more generous Obamacare subsidies.

The Democrats’ plan would impose price controls via a so-called negotiation in which the government would dictate the prices Medicare pays for drugs to manufacturers, who would face a tax of 95 percent of their total sales if they said no.  A classic mob-style “offer you can’t refuse.”

Proponents pretend this is a free lunch, that seniors will have access to the same drugs at steeply lower prices.  Reality doesn’t work that way.

Imposing price controls to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare prescription drug spending will clearly result in few new cures and treatments available to seniors.  An analysis of an earlier version of the Democratic price control plan by University of Chicago researchers found that it would lead to between 167 and 324 fewer drugs being developed over the next two decades, with biopharmaceutical research and development spending by more than a trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, the health insurance industry has been feasting on larger-than-ever Obamacare subsidies that were stuffed into Biden’s $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill.  The idea of fattening up subsidies when claims were at historic lows as people avoiding seeking health care during the pandemic never made sense, but Biden did it anyway.

Now the big insurance companies are in all-out lobbying blitz to get the expanded subsidies extended, claiming it is the only way to avoid sharp premium increases – even though health system utilization is still below 2019 levels as many people remain hesitant to go back to doctors and hospitals.

As in 2010, the insurance industry is relying on AARP – which makes more than a billion dollars per year in corporate royalties, mostly from UnitedHealth – to carry their public relations and lobbying water.  The plan, clearly, is to drain money from Medicare drug spending to funnel it to the insurance companies.

The bet by Democrats would be that lower prices through “negotiation” is an easier to explain message in a campaign context than “price controls cause shortages.”  Maybe so.  But the Republican message could be much simpler than that.

As simple as: “my opponent voted to drain hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare to spend on Obamacare.”  We’ve seen that one before. ...

Phil Kerpen on May 11, 2022 | Unlock American Energy

By Phil Kerpen

Energy prices are up 32 percent in the past year, causing pain at the pump, paying monthly utility bills, and buying everything that's grown, shipped, or manufactured.  And yet, staring at this painful reality, many of America's largest corporations are elevating green wokeness over economic and business logic by calling – in the midst of record high energy prices – for new taxes on energy.

The major oil and gas producers themselves have been shopping a "tax our customers, please" slide deck around town in Washington, DC.  According to the Wall Street Journal, "The nation’s biggest oil industry trade group has drafted a proposal urging Congress to adopt a carbon tax, which would put a surcharge on gasoline and other fossil fuels to discourage greenhouse-gas emissions. The draft proposal was approved by the American Petroleum Institute’s climate committee last month."

The assumption here is that becoming tax collectors for Washington politicians will somehow cause them to loosen their regulatory grip.  There is a certain perverse logic here, perhaps modeled on the tobacco industry, which secured its long-term future by becoming one of the major revenue sources for state governments.  But it unmistakably means higher costs for customers and more economic pain.

It's not just the oil and gas industry.  The Business Roundtable, a group of corporate CEOs from across ever sector of the economy, published a "roadmap for U.S. energy policy," ostensibly to lower prices.  But plank number six of their plan is to "establish a price on carbon," that is, impose an energy tax on fossil fuels.  It is absolutely insane to call for higher taxes on energy in a plan to lower energy prices.

House Republican energy leaders Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) fired back:

"At a time when skyrocketing inflation is hammering American families, it is shocking and tone-deaf that The Business Roundtable’s latest energy policy proposal calls for a new energy tax that would increase energy costs… We strongly oppose the BRT’s proposed energy tax that will hit lower-income families, small businesses, and those on fixed incomes the hardest while doing nothing to confront China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon… Advocating for an energy tax while soliciting massive government handouts for special interests is destructive, ineffective, and unaffordable."

That is a near-unanimous sentiment among House Republicans, but unfortunately Senate Republicans may be more susceptible to industry-lobbying for higher energy taxes.  Several are in a bipartisan working group that appears to coalescing around on a plan to impose carbon taxes only on imports, seizing on the Trump-era GOP's friendliness toward tariffs.

Bloomberg reported the plan "would place tariffs on fossil fuels and products such as cement and steel to prod countries that are moving too slowly to cut their greenhouse gas emissions."

Such a tax would directly raise costs for Americans on top of the budget-busting prices they are already experiencing – and it would likely spur other countries to retaliate, eventually leading to global...

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