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Economic Freedom

Social Security Trust Funds to Be Depleted in 17 Years

by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds will be depleted in the next 17 years, according to the Social Security Administration’s trustees report.

By 2034 the combined asset reserves of both funds are expected to be insolvent. Alone, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2028.

According to the report, the trust funds have a total asset reserves of $2.85 trillion. Even though the trust fund reserves are growing, the cost of the program will outweigh the revenue by 2022.

“It is time for the public to engage in the important national conversation about how to keep Social Security strong,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of Social Security. “People understand the value of their earned Social Security benefits and the importance of keeping the program secure for the future.” Continue reading


President Trump’s Budget Would Reduce Deficit By $160 Billion and Increase GDP Growth

by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 would reduce the deficit over the next decade by $160 billion and increase GDP at the same time, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.

Trump’s budget proposes a cut back in mandatory and discretionary spending that would not only reduce the deficit, but the debt as well.

Relative to the size of the economy, federal budget deficits are projected to decline by 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product over the next 10 years. This would mean that the deficit would be roughly one-third smaller than it was originally projected to be.

Trump’s budget also aims to reduce the debt to 80 percent of GDP, which is 11 percentage points below the budget office’s baseline. By the end of the next decade, debt held by the public is projected to decline by 0.6 percent of GDP. Continue reading


Freedom Through Commerce: How A Robust Domestic Shipping Industry Is Critical To Defend America

By George LandrithRedState

To project power and protect America the U.S. military requires a robust American sealift capability. Transporting materials and weaponry over across the high seas is a key component of America’s ability to protect its interests around the globe yet it is often overlooked, misunderstood and underappreciated.

History teaches this lesson unmistakably. In 1812, when the greatest army the world had seen up to that time launched an invasion of Russian. Napoleon had an army of almost 700,000 men. At first his troops routed the opposition wherever they engaged but, as he led his forces deeper and deeper into Russia, supplies ran short and his men began to starve.

As winter came, his men began to freeze, not from fear but from hypothermia. Napoleon was forced to beat a hasty retreat back to France, leaving 380,000 dead, 100,000 captured, and many so sick that they could no longer fight. His once great army had only 27,000 soldiers capable of fighting. Continue reading


SpaceX’s Careful Image Management Hides an Ugly Truth

Elon Musk’s business model is a travesty.

By George LandrithSpectator

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been in recent headlines with a recent launch of a spy satellite. In fact, SpaceX is better at well managed and scripted messaging than it is at actually launching cargo into space in a timely and successful fashion. Always the public relations maestro, Musk announced that he plans to reuse every major component of the rocket by 2018. One of the themes SpaceX has carefully crafted is that it represents the future of “free-market” space flight.

The problem with this public relations hype is that it bears little resemblance to reality. Whether it is SpaceX or Musk’s electric car company, Tesla, the business model is based on lining up billions in taxpayer-provided subsidies and obtaining exclusive regulatory benefits and exceptions. Then, they engage in slick marketing to convince everyone how free-market and innovative they are.

Tesla survives on the back of hefty subsidies paid for by hard-working Americans just barely getting by so that a select few can drive flashy, expensive electric sports cars. These subsidies were originally scheduled to expire later this year, and Tesla is lobbying hard to make sure that taxpayers continue to pay $7,500 per car or more to fund their business model. Tesla even tried to force taxpayers to pay for charging stations that would primarily benefit their business. That is not what Musk’s high priced image managers will tell you, but it’s the truth. Continue reading


Op-Ed: China’s Red Army & America’s Financial System: An Incompatible Mix

By George LandrithAmerican Military News

A Chinese company, Ant Financial, largely owned by the government of China, is intent on taking over MoneyGram, a leading US-based financial payments company. This planned acquisition raises serious questions as to whether ownership of MoneyGram would be part of China’s strategic plan to obtain sensitive personal and financial information of Americans and westerners worldwide as well as to undermine American economic strength. This acquisition should be stopped for that reason.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) exists to review the national security implications of foreign investments in US companies. CFIUS is comprised of representatives from a number of US agencies or departments — including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Commerce. CFIUS can block foreign sales and investments that would result in a foreign power acquiring assets and intellectual property that would harm America’s national security.

There are a number of important national security and strategic reasons that CFIUS should reject Ant Financial’s proposed takeover of MoneyGram. Continue reading


Sen. Warren’s Hearing Aid Gambit Helps Big Business, Harms Patients

By George LandrithNewsmax

When I heard that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had introduced the “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” claiming that she wanted to create an all new over-the-counter (OTC) category for personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), I knew something disingenuous was afoot.

Sen. Warren has not been a champion of deregulation or of making government less intrusive. So I dug a little deeper, and found that Warren’s bill expands the power of federal bureaucrats, eliminates state authority, and reduces consumer access to amplification devices by making them more expensive and highly regulated. That’s not how she advertises the bill, but that’s how it would be described if truth in labeling laws applied to Congress.

Today, without her proposed law, there are PSAPs legally available at Best Buy, Walmart, and thousands of other stores and outlets for very reasonable prices. Anyone can buy these devices. They simply amplify sound — some use them for bird watching, others to snoop on conversations that are ordinarily out of ear shot. Continue reading


Harnessing Competition To Lower Medicine Costs Vs. Engaging In Cynical Political Theatre

By George LandrithRedState

The Maryland legislature has recently passed a law, H.B. 631, that will harm patient access to affordable generic medications. It will go into effect later this year without the Governor’s signature, due to his concerns that the law has serious constitutional deficiencies and would likely restrict Marylander’s access to effective, affordable generic drugs.

Sadly, Maryland has jumped off a proverbial cliff and will harm its own citizens while cynically claiming to protect them. Perhaps Maryland is a lost cause, but the more interesting question is will other states follow Maryland over the cliff? Continue reading


Frontiers of Freedom Opposes the Federalization of State Tort Law

Frontiers of Freedom released the following statement:

Frontiers of Freedom opposes the federal government placing caps on medical malpractice damages.  H.R. 1215, entitled the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, is at its core a federal power grab — making what has always been a matter of state law, a federal matter.

Frontiers of Freedom signed a coalition letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, outlining the groups’ opposition to H.R. 1215.  That letter can be found here.

Our system of constitutional federalism envisioned a dynamic arrangement where states acted as laboratories of liberty. It is a serious mistake to override that process with federal mandates in an arena that belongs to the states.

The idea of state legislatures and state law placing caps on tort damages may be worthwhile.  But tort law has always been a matter of state law and our constitutional system of federalism demands that Congress respect that states, not the federal government, are responsible for state tort law.

H.R. 1215 stands in direct contradiction to the Constitution’s checks and balances, system of federalism, and separation of powers. One of Frontiers of Freedom’s primary missions is to preserve the Constitution’s checks and balances, system of federalism, separation of powers, and guarantee of basic rights as the foundation of America’s freedom. Thus, H.R. 1215 violates the very principles Frontiers of Freedom stands for.

H.R. 1215 represents an egregious and unwarranted expansion of federal power over the traditional role of states in tort law, not to mention regulation of health care. With the rigorous national debate on repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it should be obvious that nationalizing healthcare or even tort law is fraught with danger and could have very negative policy outcomes.

Nearly all states have spoken to the issue of malpractice damages either by instituting caps of their own or, alternatively, barring such restrictions legislatively or via court decision. It is not the proper role of the federal government to overrule state governments on matters that are entirely within the state’s purview. It is time for Congress to stop the continued creeping encroachment of federal mandates over state law and issues that should rightfully be regulated at the state and local level.


Attempts to Dismantle On-Campus Recruiting Sure to Be a Lose-Lose

By George LandrithNewsMax

The eager graduates who walk across a stage in cap and gown this month will hear the same question over and over from friends and relatives: “Have you found a job yet?” Those who are lucky enough to already have a job lined up may have found employment through companies that recruit on campus. As any college student or alumnus can attest, on-campus recruitment plays a central role in launching many post-graduation careers. By maximizing hiring efficiency for entry-level positions for college graduates, campus recruitment benefits not just students, but also, employers, colleges, and universities.

And yet, this pillar of our labor market has recently come under fire. Why? Some claim campus recruiting discriminates against older job applicants.

Fortunately, the courts have, so far, upheld the legality of campus recruiting. For the sake of students (both young and old), businesses, government, and the economy as a whole, I hope that view continues to prevail. The reality is that on-campus recruiting is not discriminatory and there really is no substitute for its efficiencies and effectiveness.

To start with, where else can you find a pool of hundreds or thousands of qualified jobseekers? Access to that talent pool allows employers numerous benefits. To name a few:

  • Known quantity and quality: Before coming to a campus, prospective employers consider the majors a school offers, the quality of its programs, and past experiences with recruits from that school. [Source: NACE 2016 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey]. Recruiting on campus is especially valuable for professions that require particular coursework, certifications, or degrees, or that seek individuals who have completed an academically rigorous program. For example, if an employer wants students with a degree from a high-caliber agricultural science program, it makes sense to recruit at schools with a track record of excellence in that area.
  • Timing is everything: Organizations that visit campuses fit in dozens of interviews each day. It’s a far more efficient and cost-effective process than the work of scheduling one-off interviews with candidates, including in many cases arranging for transport or travel. Likewise, student job seekers can interview with multiple employers without having to leave campus or even miss a class.
  • Comparative advantage: On-campus recruiting also allows prospective employers to compare numerous applicants from the same campus. By comparing, for example, applicants’ grades, faculty recommendations, and extracurricular commitments, employers can make offers to the best talent from a particular university.
  • Day one readiness: In many industries, it is essential to arrive on the job with the most current knowledge in the field. For example, in accounting, new hires need to be up to speed on relevant technology, as well as applicable accounting standards and regulations. The costs of teaching new employees foundational information are substantial. Recruiting on campuses and among recent graduates helps employers better ensure that they are getting candidates who can hit the ground running.

Each year, an impressive range of prospective employers recruit on college campuses: consulting firms, technology companies, governmental entities, public interest groups … the list goes on and on. A 2016 survey found that nearly 98 percent of firms who responded conducted on-campus recruiting. I’m thrilled that students have a vast array of paths to consider and pursue as they take that first step toward building their career — whether it’s in crop production, finance, the public sector, or something else entirely.

It’s hard to overstate how significant the impact on hiring practices would be if courts were to change course and limit prospective employers’ ability to recruit current students or recent graduates — on-campus or elsewhere. Just look at the federal government, which through the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). To name just a few examples of the government’s recruitment of students and recent graduates:

  • In 2010, President Obama established the Pathways Program. The goal was to replace a patchwork of predecessor campus and graduate hiring programs with a streamlined recruiting program aimed to hire talented students and recent graduates for federal government positions. Under the Trump administration, agencies continue to use the Pathways Program to meet their hiring needs.
  • Similarly, the Department of Labor — responsible for enforcing the country’s employment laws — has a highly esteemed Solicitor of Labor Honors Program. The program requires that applicants graduate from law school in the semester before starting the program, or finish a judicial clerkship, which students typically complete within a few years of graduating from law school.
  • The Attorney General’s Honors Program, which, for decades, has recruited entry-level attorneys to Department of Justice, “has been recognized as the nation’s premier entry-level federal attorney recruitment program.” Eligibility “is limited to graduating law students and recent law school graduates who entered judicial clerkships, graduate law programs, or qualifying legal fellowships within 9 months of law school graduation.”
  • Even federal district and appellate court judges, some of whom are now hearing these newly minted claims challenging campus recruiting, generally aim to hire for their prestigious clerkships applicants who are in law school or who recently graduated from law school.

Significantly, campus recruitment in no way excludes older applicants. Universities enroll both young and old students. According to government data, more than 13 percent of all graduates from American campuses were over the age of 40 for the 2014-2015 academic year. That’s more than 625,000 older students, who were able to take advantage of on-campus recruiting. [Note: these figures include graduate and undergraduate degree recipients, including awards of less than one academic year]. Many older students start college or graduate school after serving in the military, working, or starting a family. These students often enter school with a clear sense of their post-graduation career goals, and they are among those who benefit extensively from on-campus recruitment opportunities.

In short, on-campus recruitment is efficient, beneficial, and non-discriminatory. It should be here to stay.

George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.


Sen. Warren’s Hearing Aid Gambit Helps Big Business, Harms Patients

By George LandrithNewsMax

When I heard that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had introduced the “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” claiming that she wanted to create an all new over-the-counter (OTC) category for personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), I knew something disingenuous was afoot.

Sen. Warren has not been a champion of deregulation or of making government less intrusive. So I dug a little deeper, and found that Warren’s bill expands the power of federal bureaucrats, eliminates state authority, and reduces consumer access to amplification devices by making them more expensive and highly regulated. That’s not how she advertises the bill, but that’s how it would be described if truth in labeling laws applied to Congress.

Today, without her proposed law, there are PSAPs legally available at Best Buy, Walmart, and thousands of other stores and outlets for very reasonable prices. Anyone can buy these devices. They simply amplify sound — some use them for bird watching, others to snoop on conversations that are ordinarily out of ear shot.

These PSAPs are different from medical hearing aids in that hearing aids are designed for people who have measurable hearing loss and require a doctor to help determine the cause of the hearing loss and the most appropriate way to correct the problem. All hearing loss isn’t the same. So doctors play an appropriate role in helping the patient find and tailor the right solution. These medical hearing aids are not used for snooping or songbird listening. They are specifically tailored to the patient.

The bottom line is that PSAPs are not medical hearing aids and they don’t need to be regulated like medical hearing aids.

But Sen. Warren wants to subject PSAPs to FDA regulation and explicitly lock states out of any role in the process, and then designate these PSAPs as available “over-the-counter” as if that were some big new innovation — conveniently failing to mention that they are already available to anyone at thousands of stores.

So what is Sen. Warren really up to?

It appears that Sen. Warren is working at the behest of big corporations who feel they could make more money selling PSAPs if they were regulated because that would make them seem more “big time” and “high tech” and make them seen more like medical hearing aids. That would allow them to charge more and give them new marketing material. In fact, Bose, the famous speaker maker, markets a relatively expensive PSAP called “HearPhones.” They are located in Sen. Warren’s home state. These amplification devices aren’t medical hearing aids, but they could pretend to be “quasi” hearing aids with Sen. Warren’s new bill. That’s the real goal — more sales, higher prices, and more profits for Bose and other corporations.

But Sen. Warren’s bill will do nothing to give consumers and patients greater access or lower prices. And it certainly won’t lead to more innovation. A new layer of regulation is not a stimulator of innovation — it squashes innovation. What it will do is empower federal bureaucrats and lead to poorer healthcare by eliminating the doctor-patient relationship in finding the right hearing aid and tailoring it to the patient’s needs. Without a doctor’s input, serious hearing problems can go undiagnosed and if untreated, options can be forever lost.

Another downside to designating something over-the-counter is that insurance and Medicaid coverage usually cease to cover them. So in Sen. Warren’s zeal to confer a regulatory benefit upon a few well-heeled corporations hoping for bigger profits, she is willing to endanger coverage for legitimate medical hearing aids to those who need them most — including many veterans with hearing loss due to combat injuries.

So while Sen. Warren makes it sound like she wants to spur innovation, reduce costs, and improve patient access to hearing aids, she isn’t shooting straight. In fact, she is doing the exact opposite. It is a great con. A lot like when she claimed she was a Native American to help her land a great job at Harvard. The truth wasn’t important. She wove a story — even though false — to benefit her. Likewise, truth is the first casualty with her fake Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act. She benefits big corporations and big government, not consumers or patients.

George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.


George Soros: The False Messiah

By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi & Dr. Istvan Molnar

Who is George Soros? Born Schwartz Gyorgy (in Hungarian the family name comes first) on August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, to Schwartz Tivadar, a lawyer, and Schwartz Erzsebet, the co-owner of the family’s silk shop, he grew up in a secular, upper middle class family that was openly anti-Semitic. In response to the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Hungary, the father changed the family name in 1936 from Schwartz that clearly identified the family as Jewish to the Hungarian sounding last name of Soros. The family survived the deportations by obtaining forged Christian birth certificates. He fled in 1947 to England. In 1954, he graduated from the London School of Economics in philosophy. In 1956, he immigrated to the United States.

In 1969, Soros established the Double Eagle hedge fund which in 1970 was followed by Soros Fund Management. In 1973 renamed as the Quantum Fund, it has grown from $12 millions to over $40 billion. Soros’s political involvement has intensified with the growth of his personal wealth, estimated to be around $25 billion. In addition to financing far left organizations in the United States and across the world from 1979 on,he has started to finance dissidents across the former Soviet block. Advocating “open societies” whose declared objective was to open up the communist dictatorships through the free flow of political and scientific ideas, Soros financed the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Charter 77 in the former Czechoslovakia, and Andrei Sakharov’s efforts in the former Soviet Union. In 1984, he established the first Open Society Institute in his native Hungary.

Continue reading


Trump’s Tax Plan Would Spur Growth

By Edward P. Lazear • Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s tax plan leaves many details undefined, but there is plenty to evaluate. The administration claims its proposed changes would encourage growth and make the tax system more efficient. History suggests they will.

Less certain is the claim that the tax cuts will pay for themselves. Although budget concerns should always be paramount when cutting taxes, revenue neutrality does little to guarantee that this—or any—administration will exercise fiscal responsibility.

Most economists favor moving away from taxing capital and toward taxing consumption through value-added or sales taxes. Taxing capital squelches growth because capital is mobile and can cross borders in search of the highest risk-adjusted, after-tax return. Economists in both parties have scored the effects of eliminating capital taxation in favor of a pure consumption tax. Estimates range from a 5% to 9% total increase in gross domestic product. Continue reading


GOP Tweaks To Pre-Existing Conditions Will Likely Affect Just 0.5 Percent Of Americans

By Scott Ehrlich • The Federalist

On the day the American Health Care Act passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the hashtag #IAmAPreExistingCondition was trending on Twitter. At the time I saw it, there were about 65,000 tweets on it.

Earlier that day, I had read in a different article that at its peak only 115,000 were members of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a high-risk insurance program established as a bridge between pre-Obamacare coverage and the establishment of its exchanges. This brought to mind two key realizations: people care very much about those with pre-existing conditions and want to see them taken care of, but it’s also not a huge number of people and it’s very hard and expensive to insure them no matter what mechanism Americans use.

How People with Pre-Existing Conditions Get Insurance Continue reading


Aetna to Exit All Obamacare Exchanges in 2018 After Experiencing Hundreds of Millions in Losses

By Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, has announced that it will exit all Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 after experiencing massive losses in 2016 and 2017.

Aetna announced in August of last year that it would scale back its participation in the Obamacare exchanges in 2017—from operating in 778 counties to 242—citing losses of more than $430 million since January 2014. At that time, the company said it would still operate in four states: Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Earlier this month, the company said it would exit the exchanges in both Iowa and Virginia, saying the insurer has continued to face profitability headwinds from individual commercial products. The company even went so far as to set aside a fund to buffer it from projected losses. Continue reading


Harvard Study: Minimum Wage Hikes Cut Entry-Level Jobs, Harm Poor Minorities Most

By Erielle Davidson • The Federalist

Harvard Business School recently released a working paper titled “Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit,” discussing the effects of minimum wage policies on companies’ survival. For those with any shred of economic understanding, the results were predictably dismal.

The paper focused specifically upon the restaurant industry in San Francisco, using data from the review platform Yelp to track the activity and performance of individual restaurants. Researchers Dara Lee Luca and Michael Luca discovered that a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to approximately a 4 to 10 percent increase in the likelihood of any given restaurant exiting the industry entirely. In economic terms, minimum wage hikes quicken a restaurant’s “shutdown” point. Continue reading