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Freedom Works
Monday February 27, 2017 @ 05:13:23 PM mt

Taxied Enough Already



In a few years, Uber and Lyft have dominated ridesharing. Its a classic story that embodies and demonstrates the wonders of the free market: creating profit for innovative producers while also making services cheaper for savvy consumers.

But there are still some who believe that the ridesharing industry means fewer jobs and higher prices. As New York policymakers consider permitting ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate New York, the taxi monopoly is pushing back, claiming that companies like Uber and Lyft pose a competitive threat. Its certainly true that these companies are serious competitors for taxi companies, but that isnt a bad thing.

For decades, taxi companies had a stranglehold on the urban transportation industry. Part of the reason for the taxi monopolys long-held dominance in big cities is rooted in special treatment from local government, creating a barrier to entry. In some cities, taxi companies are required to purchase medallions (licenses) to run cabs on the street. This structure has led to limited competition as taxi companies would accumulate as many of this set number of medallions as possible, driving the price as high as $1 million each, as was the case for New York City in 2013.

Another factor was the renting of the medallions, which was also done at a sky-high rate of $40,000 a year, cutting into the profits of the drivers and increasing fares.

Courts are starting to reject taxi companies claims to protection against market competition. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft provide consumers with another, more efficient option. The evidence is in the choice of many to use Uber and Lyft, as well as in the prices and sales activity of NYC medallions. American Enterprise Institute shows that the price has dropped by 50% since 2014.

As the taxi monopoly continues to crumble under market forces, companies are losing their once-steady supply of customers to rip off. Instead of pushing for regulatory reform to allow the taxi companies to compete without the burden of medallions, they want to shut Uber and Lyft out of the market, so they can keep the prices high.

Brishen Rogers of the Temple University Beasley School of Law argues that Ubers success isnt simply due to it working around regulations (as critics often claim), but rather lies in having reduced the transaction costs that otherwise plague the sector and provided the justification for its extensive regulation in the first place. Essentially, ridesharing companies engage in creative destruction by eliminating wasteful and inefficient business models (taxi monopolies) and replacing them with more convenient and reliable alternatives. This process leaves consumers with better service at a lower cost.

Uber and Lyft innovated and provided practical solutions to otherwise risky and expensive problems. It reduces the cost of transportation, which is good for the people of New York. Policymakers in New York and elsewhere should recognize the benefits that ridesharing companies offer to society at large.

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Freedom Works
Monday February 27, 2017 @ 11:13:41 AM mt

Capitol Hill Update: February 27 2017



Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

Joint Session:

The House and Senate will convene on Tuesday night for a joint session of Congress. While not a formal State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will address Congress on his legislative priorities for the year, which includes regulatory reform, the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, and tax reform. The address will begin at 9:00 pm and should be carried by cable news outlets and CSPAN.

House:

Back from the Presidents' Day recess, the House will begin the week on Monday by taking several bills up under suspension of the rules, requiring a three-fifths majority for passage. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar have local implications for the sponsoring Members' districts. The House will also take up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act, S. 442, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, H.R. 1033, sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

On Tuesday, the House will consider the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, H.R. 998, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.). This bill establishes a commission to review existing federal rules regulations and identify burdensome regulations that can be repealed. The commission, which expires after five years, would have a statutory goal of reducing regulatory costs by 15 percent.

Either Wednesday or Thursday, the House will consider H.J.Res. 83, another resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Department of Labor's "Clarification of Employers Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness." The final rule, which was published in December, will cost the economy nearly $2 billion over five years.

Continuing the regulatory theme for the remainder of the week, the House will take up OIRA Insight, Reform, and Accountability Act, H.R. 1009, introduced by Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.). The bill directs the administrator of the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to develop a Regulatory Working Group to review existing regulations and identify those that are burdensome, duplicative or out of date. The bill also puts OIRA in statute, bringing it under the oversight of Congress.

The House will consider the Regulatory Integrity Act, H.R. 1004, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). The bill directs federal agencies to publish in one central location any and all statements made about a proposed rule. This brings much-needed transparency to the regulatory process. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a stealth public relations campaign to support the expansion of its authority under the Clean Water Act. This bill would have required the EPA to put these communications in one location.

Finally, on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, H.R. 372, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). The bill would eliminate the antitrust exemption for health insurers under the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.

Senate:

The Senate will continue to approve President Trump's cabinet nominees. Wilbur Ross, who has been tapped to serve as secretary of the Commerce Department, should be confirmed Monday. The Senate will also begin the process of confirming Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to serve as secretary of the Department of the Interior. Movement on Gov. Rick Perry's (R-Texas) confirmation to lead the Department of Energy and Dr. Ben Carson's nomination to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development are likely to begin this week.

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Freedom Works
Monday February 27, 2017 @ 01:11:22 AM mt

Support the ObamaCare Replacement Act H.R. 1072



On behalf of our activists and the millions of Americans who have been negatively affected as a result of ObamaCare, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072, introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). Last week, FreedomWorks released a letter of support for the Senate version of the ObamaCare Replacement Act, S. 222, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), because the bill promotes key aspects of what the health insurance market should look like after ObamaCare is fully repealed.

The ObamaCare Replacement Act gives power back to patients and doctors by immediately eliminating mandates and regulations put in place by ObamaCare. By legalizing affordable health insurance plans, the bill would enable Americans to make decisions regarding their own healthcare.

ObamaCare not only forces Americans to purchase expensive health insurance, but often health insurance that doesnt fit their individual needs. By applying free market principles to the health insurance industry and eliminating the mandates and regulations that have caused premiums to skyrocket, Americans will again have the ability to purchase affordable health insurance coverage.

It is important to note that this bill would also allow American families to pay for health insurance with their health savings accounts (HSAs). This bill would undo the restrictions put in place by ObamaCare which created a financial hardship for Americans only trying to afford coverage.

By putting the patient's best interest first this bill would allow Americans to save and use their HSAs for comprehensive healthcare services including over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and nutrition and exercise programs. Unlike ObamaCare, which ravaged HSAs, this bill incentivizes savings with a $5,000 per taxpayer credit and allows infinite annual contributions.

Allowing individuals who do not purchase health insurance through an employer to deduct the taxes from their income will create an equal playing field and provide more options for Americans seeking affordable insurance. Along with equalizing the playing field this bill will allow Association Health Plans to negotiate lower prices. This aspect of the bill will positively impact small business, organizations, and people with pre-existing conditions. Americans reserve the right to stand together nationwide to demand lower prices.

The success of healthcare reform depends on the market, which the American people should influence rather than the government. Furthermore, purchasing power belongs in the hands of the American people, not in the hands of bureaucrats.

Its time for Congress to get serious about repealing ObamaCare every word of it and replacing it with patient-centered, free market solutions. For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President and CEO, FreedomWorks

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Freedom Works
Monday February 27, 2017 @ 01:11:21 AM mt

FreedomWorks Statement on Mick Mulvaneys Confirmation



Following the Senates confirmation of Mick Mulvaneys confirmation as director of the Office of Management and Budget, FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon made the following statement:

Rep. Mulvaneys history of fiscal conservatism is proof that hes serious about tackling the serious long-term challenges that America faces, and were confident that he will be a great advisor to President Trump. I hope that his vision will be reflected in the presidents budget and encourage Republicans and the House and Senate to follow their campaign messaging about the importance of ending deficit spending. We need to rein in spending and rain down blows on the debt.

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Freedom Works
Monday February 27, 2017 @ 01:11:20 AM mt

FreedomWorks to Congress: Get Serious with PaulSanford ObamaCare Replacement Act



Jason Pye, FreedomWorks director of public policy and legislative affairs sent the following letter of support to Hill offices on Thursday, February 16, 2017. The letter supports Congressman Mark Sanfords (R-S.C.) ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072, which is a companion to Sen. Rand Pauls (R-Ky) Obamacare Replacement Act, S. 222.

FreedomWorks sent a letter to Hill offices supporting Sen. Pauls bill on February 6, 2017.

February 16, 2017

Support the ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072

On behalf of our activists and the millions of Americans who have been negatively affected as a result of ObamaCare, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072, introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). Last week, FreedomWorks released a letter of support for the Senate version of the ObamaCare Replacement Act, S. 222, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), because the bill promotes key aspects of what the health insurance market should look like after ObamaCare is fully repealed.

The ObamaCare Replacement Act gives power back to patients and doctors by immediately eliminating mandates and regulations put in place by ObamaCare. By legalizing affordable health insurance plans, the bill would enable Americans to make decisions regarding their own healthcare.

ObamaCare not only forces Americans to purchase expensive health insurance, but often health insurance that doesnt fit their individual needs. By applying free market principles to the health insurance industry and eliminating the mandates and regulations that have caused premiums to skyrocket, Americans will again have the ability to purchase affordable health insurance coverage. It is important to note that this bill would also allow American families to pay for health insurance with their health savings accounts (HSAs). This bill would undo the restrictions put in place by ObamaCare which created a financial hardship for Americans only trying to afford coverage.

By putting the patient's best interest first this bill would allow Americans to save and use their HSAs for comprehensive healthcare services including over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and nutrition and exercise programs. Unlike ObamaCare, which ravaged HSAs, this bill incentivizes savings with a $5,000 per taxpayer credit and allows infinite annual contributions.

Allowing individuals who do not purchase health insurance through an employer to deduct the taxes from their income will create an equal playing field and provide more options for Americans seeking affordable insurance. Along with equalizing the playing field this bill will allow Association Health Plans to negotiate lower prices. This aspect of the bill will positively impact small business, organizations, and people with pre-existing conditions. Americans reserve the right to stand together nationwide to demand lower prices.

The success of healthcare reform depends on the market, which the American people should influence rather than the government. Furthermore, purchasing power belongs in the hands of the American people, not in the hands of bureaucrats.

Its time for Congress to get serious about repealing ObamaCare every word of it and replacing it with patient-centered, free market solutions. For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the ObamaCare Replacement Act, H.R. 1072.

Sincerely, Adam Brandon President and CEO, FreedomWorks

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Freedom Works
Sunday February 26, 2017 @ 02:15:36 AM mt

FreedomWorks Releases the Collins Press Release Template



FreedomWorks today released its template for Sen. Susan Collins (?-Maine) in response to her stated intent to vote against Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator.

FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon commented:

"Seriously, this stuff just writes itself. You fill in the blanks about her opposition to Scott Pruitt who is committed to reforming the EPA so that it does not continue strangling our economy. It's the truth.

"The template reads, 'We're shocked -- absolutely shocked -- that Sen. Collins would oppose a conservative [insert policy or nominee]. It's a shame that Sen. Collins is once again aligning with herself far-left Democrats and special interests like [insert crazy liberal group(s)] to block a crucial [nominee/policy who/that] would accomplish conservatives' dream of [action/result]."

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Freedom Works
Sunday February 26, 2017 @ 02:15:36 AM mt

Combating the Regulatory State Through Congressional Action



In recent days, Congress has targeted several midnight rules, those finalized and published in the final days of the Obama administration, through the Congressional Review Act. The effort is part of the rediscovery of Article I of the Constitution and the separation of powers, as well as the threats the regulatory state presents to the economy. In this issue brief, FreedomWorks offers background on the Congressional Review Act, the law's deficiencies, how to give it teeth through the passage of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.

Issue Brief: Combating the Regulatory State Through Congressional Action

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Freedom Works
Saturday February 25, 2017 @ 01:49:34 AM mt

Support the Agency Accountability Act H.R. 850



On behalf of FreedomWorks activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Agency Accountability Act, H.R. 850, introduced by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.). The bill would require federal agencies to deposit revenues collected through fines, fees, or proceeds from legal settlements into the general fund of the Treasury.

Article I of the Constitution delegates to Congress the authority to lay and collect taxes and decide how federal revenues are spent. Federal agencies often go around Congress to spend money collected through fines, fees, or proceeds from legal settlements on activities or programs not explicitly appropriated.

Between 2010 and 2015, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, federal agencies collected more than $83 billion. Only twelve of 34 agencies deposited these revenues to the general fund of the Treasury. This has effectively allowed federal agencies to create slush funds, free from congressional oversight.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) doesnt receive funding from Congress. It receives its funding from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. But the CFPB, the structure of which was recently found unconstitutional by U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, collected more than $159 million in fines and penalties through the end of FY 2014. These are dollars the CFPB can spend without congressional oversight.

Between January 2010 and December 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected more than $607 million. While a few EPA-controlled funds are subject to the appropriations process, one of which hasnt received an appropriation since FY 1993, the controversial agency has more than 1,300 accounts from which it can spend billions of dollars without congressional approval.

By requiring federal agencies to deposit revenues collected from fines, fees, or proceeds from legal settlements, Congress would take yet another step in restoring its Article I authority. The bill does, however, exclude the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from the requirement. It also exempts funds owed by a federal agency to whistleblowers.

For these reasons, please contact your representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Agency Accountability Act, H.R. 850.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President and CEO, FreedomWorks

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Freedom Works
Saturday February 25, 2017 @ 01:49:33 AM mt

Congress Moves to Cancel Obama-Era Regulations Under the Congressional Review Act



Since the Congressional Review Act became law in 1996 through the 114th Congress, more than 120 resolutions of disapproval have been introduced to cancel regulations promulgated by federal agencies. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress 60 legislative days after a federal agency submits a rule for review. Between the 104th Congress and the 114th Congress, only one resolution of disapproval canceling a rule passed by both chambers of Congress and was signed into law.

The only resolution of disapproval that canceled a rule was S.J.Res. 6. The resolution, signed into law by President George W. Bush in March 2001, canceled the Department of Labor's ergonomics rule. The rule would have cost employers $4.5 billion annually.

Other resolutions of disapproval received action in the past 21 years. Eight resolutions of disapproval have received votes in the House and 18 have received votes in the Senate. Six have received votes in both chambers and been presented to the president for consideration. President Barack Obama has vetoed each of the five resolutions of disapproval that landed on his desk.

The 115th Congress has breathed new life into the Congressional Review Act. This week, the House passed five resolutions of disapproval against rules promulgated and finalized by in the final days of the Obama administration. FreedomWorks key voted in favor of four of these resolutions.

  • H.J.Res. 36 Bureau of Land Managements Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule: With annual compliance costs between $114 million and $279 million, the so-called venting and flaring rule purports to reduce waste from reduce the waste of natural gas from mineral leases administered by the Bureau of Land Management. In reality, the purpose of the rule is to discourage oil and gas production on land overseen by the agency. The Bureau of Land Management estimates annual compliance costs between $114 million and $279 million. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 221 to 191.

  • H.J.Res. 37 Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations Federal Acquisition Regulation: This regulation requires federal contractors to disclose decisions on the reporting of violations of federal labor laws and creates paycheck transparency protections for employees of federal contractors. The rule is expected to cost employers $458.3 million in the first year, $413.7 million in the second year, and between $398.5 million and $400 million annually thereafter. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 236 to 187.

  • H.J.Res. 38 Department of the Interiors Stream Protection Rule: With an annual estimated cost of $81 million, according to the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the Stream Protection Rule is another blow to the coal industry, which was a favorite target of the Obama administration. The National Mining Association estimates that rule will lead to billions of dollars in lost revenues to state and local governments, as well as the loss of between 113,000 and 280,000 jobs. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 228 to 194.

  • H.J.Res. 41 Securities and Exchange Commissions Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers: Promulgated under the authority of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or Dodd-Frank, this rule requires resource extraction issuers to include in annual reports the payment of any entity controlled by the regulated business to foreign governments or the United States government "for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals." The Securities and Exchange Commission projects initial compliance costs between $239 million and $700 million and annual compliance costs between $96 million and $591 million. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 235 to 187.

While Senate Democrats have slowed the pace of the confirmations of President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees, though they haven't successfully stopped any of the nominees, the lull created in the Senate calendar has allowed for action on resolutions of disapproval passed by the House.

On Thursday, the Senate took action on H.J.Res. 38, passing the resolution to cancel the Department of the Interiors Stream Protection Rule by a vote of 54 to 41. Today, the Senate passed H.J.Res. 41, which cancels the Securities and Exchange Commissions Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers rule, by a vote of 52 to 47. The upper chamber will likely move on remaining House-passed resolutions of disapproval either next week or the following week.

On Tuesday, the White House released a statement of administration policy on the resolutions stating that President Trump will sign them into law. He will become the second president in history to cancel a rule promulgated by a federal agency through the Congressional Review Act.

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Freedom Works
Saturday February 25, 2017 @ 01:49:31 AM mt

Trumps Dodd-Frank Actions



FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon commented on the news of President Trumps impending actions targeting Dodd-Frank:

While the purported intent of supporters was to prevent another economic crisis, Dodd-Frank has centralized banking power into fewer big banks, crushing small town banks across the country. It has also made too big to fail the law, rather than eliminating risks to taxpayers.

I am encouraged that President Trump realizes that unintended consequences are just as important as other consequences. If a law designed to reduce the influence of big banks makes them more influential and decreases access to credit for small business owners and entrepreneurs, it deserves to be axed.

President Trump should make his case to the American people and congress, encourage them to pass repeal legislation, and sign it into law. I will be thrilled with any constitutional executive orders that begin to chop away at this harmful law. Congress, however, must move on legislation to eliminate the harmful effects of Dodd-Frank.

Instead of allowing free-market mechanisms to guide banks toward responsible lending decisions, Dodd-Frank sent the wrong message. It gives banks an incentive to partake in risky and high-reward lending choices, knowing others will be responsible if the risks fail. It placed restrictions and regulations on small, community banks. These are the banks that lend startup money to nearby entrepreneurs. It is much more difficult to get a loan from one of the big banks than from the local bank where one has been banking for 30 years. Dodd-Franks effects have hurt rural economies across the country.

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