Last week was dubbed “Sunshine Week” by proponents of open government, and the administration that swept into office promising to be the “most transparent” in history got a surprise. The Obama administration was just judged by a major, mostly friendly, news service as least transparent of modern presidencies.
John Berlau | All Articles
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John Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at <a href="http://cei.org/">CEI</a>. He is also a contributor to OpenMarket.org. Berlau has written about the impact of public policy on entrepreneurship for many publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, Investor's Business Daily, and National Review. He has been the guest on many radio and television programs including MSNBC's "The Situation" with Tucker Carlson and CNBC's "Street Signs" with Ron Insana, and the Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News.
Berlau previously was Washington correspondent for Investor's Business Daily and a staff writer for Insight magazine, published by The Washington Times. In 2002, he recevied Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism from Washington's National Press Club . He was a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in 2003. Berlau graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1994 with degrees in journalism and economics. He is the author of the book Eco-Freaks (Nelson Current, 2006), which has been in Amazon's top 100 best-selling non-fiction books.
What do best-selling author and New Yorker correspondent Malcolm Gladwell, ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran, popular conservative journalist and author John Fund, and this writer have in common? We are all graduates of the National Journalism Center internship program, under the leadership of M. Stanton Evans.
“If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” So said Ronald Reagan in 1986.
When Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation yesterday, Bloomberg’s Tom Schoenberg praised him for having “spent the past year making up for lost time in an effort to hold banks accountable for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.” Among Holder’s chief accomplishments, according to Schoenberg, is negotiating a record settlement in which Bank of America agreed to fork over $16.65 billion to settle charges it and companies it had purchased, including Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, had deceived investors to whom they sold mortgage-backed securities. But how much from this settlement goes to the investor victims? Nada!
“Bank of America failed to make accurate and complete disclosure to investors and its illegal conduct kept investors in the dark,” declared a government official in a Department of Justice press release announcing last week's record settlement in which Bank of America agreed to fork over $16.65 billion to settle charges it and companies it had purchased had deceived investors.
Despite the stunning primary loss of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last week that resulted in yesterday's election of a new House Majority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), there are signs that it’s business as usual on Capitol Hill. This especially is the case when it comes to government favoritism to big business, even though this was a key part of David Brat’s anti-Beltway message that helped him best Cantor.
Ever since the phrase appeared in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and its variations, have become familiar expressions. A corollary is that garbage by any other name would stink just as badly, if not worse.
As 2014 opened, Detroit was bankrupt, but they were cheering the five-year-old U.S. auto bailout in Italy. That’s because after being the beneficiary of billions in U.S. taxpayer largesse, Fiat, the 115-year-old Italian auto company, is going to buy its final stake in Chrysler from that other big bailout recipient, the United Auto Workers (UAW).
You might think after the disastrous debut of HealthCare.gov and thousands of insurance cancellations, those who call themselves progressives might just have a little humility about grandiose government schemes with vague terms and objectives.
Any bill that is sponsored by Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Rand Paul (R-KY), or any similarly odd ideological couple, more than meets the definition of bipartisan. But the Udall-Paul bill, S. 968, should be cheered not just because of its bipartisanship, but because it actually spreads freedom. Those concerned with government eroding options for entrepreneurs should cheer this legislation, which lifts regulatory barriers to an untapped source of capital for start-ups: America’s credit unions.
The schizophrenia of progressive economic thought was on full display last week in the wake of some bad economic news. On the one hand, progressives believe the U.S. economy is so fragile that even the mere threat of cuts in government spending would be disastrous. On the other hand, they believe this same economy is so resilient that billions upon billions of dollars in regulatory costs have no effect on growth at all.
As if the “fiscal cliff” were not enough, banks of all sizes — and in turn the consumers and businesses that rely on their credit — also face the “Basel cliff.”
Matthew Boyle’s groundbreaking reports this week in The Daily Caller provide further confirmation that in the Obama auto bailouts, all jobs were not created equal. The administration moved heaven and earth to save the jobs and generous benefits of General Motors and Chrysler workers who belonged to the United Auto Workers, ripping up the contracts of bondholders and secured creditors --- including middle-class retirees and teachers and police officers in state pension plans --- to give the UAW an enlarged stake in the new companies. “As a result,” notes Amy Payne of The Heritage Foundation, “even after the reorganization, GM still has higher labor costs ($56 an hour) than any of its foreign-based competitors.”
Today, Facebook finally went public. Its initial public offering (IPO) is the capstone of its amazing ascent, which changed the way the world communicates.
By filing a civil fraud suit in mid-December against former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took an action that has benefits far beyond bringing justice for investors. Among other things, it ruined the holidays of some of the nation’s most prominent liberal commentators by exposing the flaws of their narrative blaming the “unfettered free market” for the housing meltdown.
On the eve of the royal wedding, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed I wrote celebrating the entrepreneurship of Kate Middleton’s parents and pointing to their good fortune in business as an example of how economic life in Britain has improved— largely due to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s reforms — since Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981. Similar points about increased British prosperity were made by the London think tank Centre for Policy Studies.
Although the U.S. Senate voted along partisan lines Wednesday to defeat repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — it overwhelmingly on the same day voted to repeal one of the provisions that has proven most burdensome to entrepreneurs: the mandate for business to file IRS 1099 reports on any purchase over $600.
Give Dick Durbin some credit for his chutzpah. It’s not every lawmaker who, in proposing an amendment to a financial reform bill ostensibly aimed at targeting “fat cats,” would admit that the inspiration for his measure was a Fortune 500 CEO.
General Motors’ false advertising that it has paid back its bailout money “in full” has prompted harsh criticism. Yesterday, Competitive Enterprise Institute Attorneys Hans Bader and Sam Kazman filed a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate these claims, noting “GM has only repaid a fraction of those funds—barely ten percent, and “moreover, GM apparently repaid its loan by using other federal funds [emphasis in original]”