It was announced this week that one of Elon Musk's companies, Tesla Motors, will buy one of his other companies, SolarCity, for an all-stock deal worth $2.6 billion. The merger was first proposed in June, and now that it has been accepted, is subject to SEC review and majority approval from the independent shareholders of both companies. With the amount of taxpayer support both companies have received, perhaps the rest of us should get a vote, too.
Andrew F. Quinlan | All Articles
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Andrew F. Quinlan
Andrew F. Quinlan is co-founder and president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.
Shortly before the massive 2010 Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law, Congress approved an amendment to the bill from Sen. Dick Durbin that had nothing to do with financial reform. It instead decreed that the Federal Reserve enact price controls on the amount that debit card processors can charge retailers for using their services. Today's Congress should be more responsible and undo this costly and unnecessary market intervention.
The nation is enthralled by an unusual presidential campaign season that has pretty much seen it all. One important thing that has thus far been lacking is a serious legislative agenda to get the economy moving again. For that we now have House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling's sweeping reform of Dodd-Frank, a major roadblock to economic growth. Congress should make enacting his recently announced agenda a priority and force the issue onto the national campaign.
The updated "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act" (PROMESA), H.R. 5278, reintroduced last week by Representatives Sean Duffy, Rob Bishop, and Jim Sensenbrenner offers a bipartisan opportunity to prevent a Puerto Rican bailout. The bill provides a path out of Puerto Rico's debt crisis without setting the dangerous precedent that a federal bailout would entail. Congress must now pass PROMESA so that Puerto Rico can begin the process of recovery from its irresponsible spending binge.
Google's famous motto, "Don't Be Evil," was dropped last year from the employee code of conduct under new parent company Alphabet. In light of Google's recent announcement that it will ban advertisements of small-dollar, or so-called "payday," loans from its ad network, perhaps the motto instead needs to be updated with a reminder not to be elitist.
Earlier this week, Puerto Rico’s Governor Garcia Padilla (D) announced the island would default on a $422 million debt payment. Padilla’s move is in part an effort to get Congress to pass a rescue package by feigning helplessness. He and his allies want a bailout, or at the very least, the ability to declare bankruptcy and walk away from the mess they created instead of trimming Puerto Rico's absurdly bloated government. Allowing the island to declare bankruptcy would be a dangerous precedent and a move Congress should reject outright.
Recently it was reported that streaming music is now the biggest money maker for the music industry, bypassing music downloading for the first time. This has not translated into profits for the streaming companies, because in part, high royalty rates have driven their costs sky high. It does show the promise of music streaming as a profit center both for companies that stream the music and the artists.
For more than 70 years, the music industry's Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) have operated under Department of Justice (DoJ) antitrust consent decrees, allowing the PROs to maintain their monopoly power in exchange for anticompetitive restraints. This formula has worked reasonably well for decades, giving music licensees – from restaurants to retail stores to radio stations – the ability to license music efficiently and without price manipulation through anticompetitive abuses.
President Obama has proven time and again his willingness to abuse executive power to sidestep Congress and avoid Constitutional checks and balances. Of all his abuses, perhaps none has been more outrageous than politically motivated, targeted harassment of businesses by "Operation Choke Point." It surely counts, along with "Operation Fast and Furious," which allowed Mexican drug lords to purchase firearms, as one of the most harebrained schemes of the Obama White House. The good news is that Congress might finally put a stop to the abuse and rein in the operation.
It may have garnered attention mostly from tax wonks, but new bipartisan legislation from two key lawmakers could be pivotal to helping stop foreign firms from poaching top domestic intellectual property.
Numerous scandals have put the IRS under intense public and political scrutiny. A broad and growing consensus has also emerged that the U.S. tax code is in dire need of comprehensive reform. But while solutions to these two pressing problems are debated by elected officials, it is the activities of unelected global tax bureaucrats at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that might have the biggest impact on Americans in the immediate future.
Among the vast multitude of federal government programs, a rare few have as their mission the protection of the general taxpayer interest. Those that do are typically beset by special interests and the beneficiaries of government largess. An example is the Recovery Audit Program, which identifies and recovers improper Medicare payments, but is now under siege from the hospital industry.
When Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z held an exclusive $40,000 per-person fundraiser for President Barack Obama's re-election, it was part of a concerted effort by the music industry to curry favor with the administration. Now the industry is looking for the White House to return the favor. They are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to tear up a long-standing agreement between the recording industry and the government designed to ensure that royalty rate hikes cannot be imposed without real market-based negotiations.
Led by the United Nations, a growing international chorus is calling for sweeping investigations of Sri Lanka over its conduct at the tail end of its brutal civil war that lasted more than a quarter century. With recent demands within the EU to revoke its trade status if Sri Lanka does not acquiesce to what it considers a biased and faulty effort, the very Western countries that once cheered its war against one of the world's most vicious terrorist groups are piling on through the political process and threatening to throw the country back into chaos.
Americans have now had ample time to become acquainted with Obamacare's numerous destructive provisions. Some of its failures, like the expensive and inoperable exchange websites, have been quite public. Others have gone largely unnoticed. One such example is the hefty 10 percent tax on indoor tanning sessions, which has proven over four years to be a decisive policy failure.
Tax reform was a popular topic among politicians and members of the media in 2013. Americans suffering in the still weak economy and feeling beleaguered by recent tax hikes were no doubt disappointed that it remained just that – talk. Given the recent history of our government this should come as little surprise, but it's nevertheless disappointing that they've thus far proven incapable of amending our destructive tax code and instituting much needed pro-growth reforms.
In light of multiple revelations on the extent of NSA spying upon U.S. citizens, Americans are increasingly weary of government infringement on privacy rights. First, it was revealed that the NSA was mining data from internet companies with a program called PRISM. Later we learned this information was used for much more than just hunting terrorists, with the DEA and IRS getting tips from the NSA and using information collected by the dragnet in the course of ordinary investigations. But as shocking as these and other revelations have been, perhaps the most breathtakingly invasive program remains largely unknown among the general public.
It's a common refrain that the tax code is excessively complicated. One obvious and frequently deplored reason is that politicians like to use the tax code to provide favors for special interests in exchange for contributions and support. But another cause deserves equal scrutiny, and that is the belief that people should be steered toward particular choices or behaviors and away from others. Aside from leading to a Swiss cheese-style tax code, this sort of paternalism often backfires, creating more problems than it solves. It must stop.
Government is larger than ever, and Americans are growing increasingly wary about expansions of federal power. To overcome public objections and justify the continued growth of government, politicians exploit grievances and sell their programs with emotional appeals. The most frequent such appeal in recent years has been to perceptions of fairness, but the policies promoted under the banner of fairness are often anything but. One such law passed in 2010 and soon to be fully implemented, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), is not only decidedly unfair, but also devastatingly destructive.