Archive for the 'Op-eds' Category

Bennett-Burr “Bipartisanship” = Yet Another Federal Power Grab

Posted by on Jan 01 2014 | congress, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Economics, federalism, Growth of Government, Health Care, Natelson Rob', obamacare, Op-eds, Rob Natelson, supreme court, Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

When politicians start talking about “bi-partisan cooperation,” smart citizens get nervous. It usually means another transfer of freedom and taxes to the federal government at the expense of individuals, families, localities, and states.

Case in point: a Denver Post op-ed by two U.S. Senators (or their staffs) on their latest “bipartisan” deal. The Senators are Michael Bennett (D.-Colo.) and Richard Burr (R.-N.C.). The op-ed is pure political blather, a haze of almost incomprehensible feel-good rhetoric. But the upshot is this: The two distinguished solons are very proud of themselves for managing yet another transfer of authority from the states to the federal government.

You can read the op-ed here. As you can see, it is filled with mind-deadening phrases refined by pollsters and focus group research: “we have worked with,” “bipartisan,” “ensure the safety,” “stakeholders,” “pragmatism and hard work,” etc., etc.

As for the law itself, it has the kind of title we have come to expect from Congress in recent years: The Drug Quality and Security Act. (Doesn’t that title make you feel good?) Of course, many of these labels have about as much correspondence to the real world as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The text of the measure is almost impossible for anyone without legal training to understand. (You can see for yourself here.) Essentially, however, it transfers to the federal government areas of drug compounding and distribution traditionally controlled by the states. It imposes new obligations, licenses, and/or paperwork on manufacturers, repackagers, wholesalers, and your local pharmacy. It takes major steps toward federal control of our state pharmacy boards, and restricts state regulatory choices in the areas it covers.

The bill is also about revenue: It authorizes the federal government to collect various new “fees.” (I put the word in quotation marks because those “fees” are really taxes.)

Like the op-ed, the text of the law is filled with mind-numbing, and sometimes deceptive, language. Consider this provision:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt State requirements related to the distribution of prescription drugs if such requirements are not related to product tracing as described in subsection (a) or wholesale distributor and third-party logistics provider licensure as described in subsection (b) applicable under section 503(e) (as amended by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act) or this subchapter (or regulations issued thereunder).

At first, you might think the bill leaves state regulations in effect. But look closer: The provision really is about where federal law does preempt: “requirements . . . related to product tracing . . .. [and] wholesale distributor and third-party logistics provider licensure.” Another passage makes it clear that much state flexibility is gone:

Beginning on the date of enactment of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, no State or political subdivision of a State may establish or continue any standards, requirements, or regulations with respect to wholesale prescription drug distributor or third-party logistics provider licensure that are inconsistent with, less stringent than, directly related to, or covered by the standards and requirements applicable under section 503(e).

The measure does not set forth its constitutional justification. In other words, it does not cite any of Congress’s enumerated powers as the basis for the authority it claims. Occasional mentions of “commerce” suggest that it relies on the Constitution’s much-abused grant of power to “regulate Commerce . . . among the several States.” In fact, however, the bill sweeps deeply into in-state commerce and into activities that really are not “commerce” at all.

The op-ed touts the bill’s “strong [meaning "intrusive"], uniform” [meaning "centralized"] standards. But the Constitution limited congressional powers precisely to protect us from too many centralized standards. The federalism created by our Constitution is about local control, responsiveness to local preferences, better government, diversity, and the ability of each state to learn from the experience of others. Moreover, as the Supreme Court has pointed out repeatedly, federalism is also about fracturing power to preserve freedom.

Our Founders and generations of Americans have concluded that human freedom and the other benefits of federalism are worth the occasional inconvenience arising from lack of uniformity. This should be particularly true today, when technology has reduced both the benefits of uniformity and the costs of diversity.

“The Drug Quality and Security Act,” however, appears to have been the product of one of those classic deals among politicians and lobbyists. The two Senators assure us that all the “stakeholders” (i.e., groups with lobbyists) were consulted.

But were you?

no comments for now

Monday Links

Posted by on Oct 01 2012 | education, energy, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Op-eds, PPC, U.S. Constitution

It’s Monday. Booooooo. No one likes Mondays. But allow me to help you cope with today.

If you happen to be male and reading this, then I’m certain you did not attend our women-only renewable energy debate we had this past Wednesday. I snuck in to watch for a few minutes here and there and let me tell you, it was fantastic. (It was even better than I thought after I listened to the full debate audio). We had an all-star panel for the debate, highlighted by none other than Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center and Reason Magazine. If you were unable to attend the debate either because of your gender or your day job, check out the full debate audio here.

Secondly, I’d like to point you towards a couple of articles from I.I. authors that deserve a look. First, Ben DeGrow of the Education Policy Center saw a sneak preview of Hollywood’s take on the school choice/reform movement called “Won’t Back Down.” Ben admits in his review for Ed New Colorado that even though Won’t Back Down is no Citizen Kane, it still gets across a vital message: School reform will not wait!

Finally, frequent I.I. guest author Ari Armstrong published an op-ed in yesterday’s Denver Post arguing against Amendment 65, which appears on this November’s ballot and would demand that Colorado legislators get on board with more onerous and restrictive campaign finance reform. In other words, to be FOR Amendment 65, one must be against free speech. Ari is fervently pro-First Amendment rights however, and thus, makes a good case against Amendment 65. You might recall that our Research Director Dave Kopel is also a big fan of free speech rights and recently appeared on KNUS to debate Ken Gordon on the issue. You can hear that debate audio here.

no comments for now

Independence Institute Writers in the News

Posted by on Aug 13 2012 | criminal justice, denver, Growth of Government, guns, Op-eds, PPC, Right to carry, Taxes

Gun laws, tax increases and the Californication of Republicans are all topics of recently published works by Independence Institute writers.

In USA Today, the Denver Post and National Review Online, Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel makes the case for both resisting calls for expanded gun control in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and for not inadvertently making a celebrity of the killer.

Also in the Denver Post, guest writer joshua Sharf explains that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed permanent property tax increase lacks vision:

The mayor’s proposal assumes that rising home values necessarily mean rising incomes. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Denver’s weekly income fell nearly 5 percent in 2011. The mayor’s mill levy override scheme would mean an immediate property tax increase of 10 percent for households who are still finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Whole thing here.

In the Colorado Springs Gazette, senior fellow Barry Fagin advises Colorado Republican against Californicating themselves:

Do Republicans want to be like Democrats, or do they want to beat them? If Colorado is to avoid California’s fate, then Colorado should avoid California’s Republicans. They should hit economic issues much harder, and stop obsessing over problems that the federal government can’t solve, are fundamentally religious in nature, or are better addressed through cultural change and not the ballot box.

Read it all here.

no comments for now

Clicky Web Analytics