Heritage Foundation

Federal Reserve report: Obamacare’s negative impact on employment

In mid-January, the Federal Reserve released its monthly Beige Book, which offers a wide-ranging look at commentary on economic conditions in each of the central bank’s 12 regions. While it’s mostly mundane, the Heritage Foundation found some key details buried in the report that relate to Obamacare and its affect on employment:

The Beige Book finds businesses repeatedly stating that Obamacare and rising health care costs have held back the labor market:

Heritage: U.S. drops out of top 10 in economic freedom

The United States has dropped is no longer in the 10 top freest economies in the world, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, a joint annual study from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that offers a look at the economies of 178 countries.

Economic freedom in the United States has declined each year since President Barack Obama took office, from 6th in 2009 to 12th in 2014. The researchers explained that new financial and healthcare regulations have “contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically ‘free’ in 2006,” note the researchers. “Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.”

“The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years,” they added.

Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, thanks to its fiscal freedom as well as its strong commitment to private property rights, open markets, and free trade. Researchers note that the Chinese protectorate also has a “highly motivated workforce and a high level of labor freedom,” which, they explain, “have added to Hong Kong’s economic dynamism and resilience.”

Lights out on the incandescent bulb

light bulb

Thanks to the 2007 energy bill, passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, Americans will no longer be able to purchase 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs at the beginning of 2014. These relatively cheap light bulbs will be phased out by year’s end in favor of pricier, energy efficient light bulbs.

Though supporters of the light bulb ban argue that energy efficient light bulbs will be cheaper in the long haul for energy consumers, the Heritage Foundation points out it’s just another example of government imposing its will on consumers by eliminating choice:

Proponents of government-imposed efficiency standards and regulations will say, “So what? There are still plenty of lighting options on the shelves at Home Depot; we’re saving families money; and we’re reducing harmful climate change emissions.”

The “so what” is that the federal government is taking decisions out of the hands of families and businesses, destroying jobs, and restricting consumer choice in the market. We all have a wide variety of preferences regarding light bulbs. It is not the role of the federal government to override those preferences with what it believes is in our best interest.

Families understand how energy costs impact their lives and make decisions accordingly. Energy efficiency has improved dramatically over the past six decades—long before any national energy efficiency mandates.

Heritage Foundation may be shifting on government surveillance

Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation, considered to be one of Washington’s most influential think tanks, appears to have had a change of heart on government surveillance programs that it once supported.

Once a place where ignoring constitutionally protected civil liberties seemed to be a virtue, the conservative think tank, under the leadership of former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), recently declined to publish two papers that supported the National Security Agency’s snooping, according to Foreign Policy:

Heritage refused to publish two papers about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs written by a prominent conservative attorney. Why? Because he concluded that the programs were legal and constitutional, according to sources familiar with the matter. It was a surprising move for a think tank that has supported extension of the Patriot Act — which authorizes some of NSA’s activities — and has long been associated with right-of-center positions on national security and foreign policy.

ObamaCare’s menu-labeling requirement forces Dairy Queen to end homemade sauces

Dairy Queen

A Dairy Queen in Washington state had been making their own homemade sauces for customers. But because of ObamaCare’s menu-labeling requirements, a little publicized provision of the law, they’ve had to switch to a pre-packaged sauce or discontinue sauces.

“Due to the nutritional labeling requirements of ObamaCare, we have to serve pre-packaged, pre-made fry sauce,” said the franchisee in a letter, made available by The Quinton Report. “We can no longer make our own as we have done for many years. The additional cost to us is substantial, about $5,800 per year.”

“I regret to say, we are forced to pass the cost of pre-packaged fry sauce, for take-out, along to you the customer. We will serve pre-made bulk fry sauce in the lobby at no additional charge,” the letter continued. “It is for the same reason we have had to discontinue our Buffalo Sauce and Habanero Ketchup, which were made in-store.”

“Please be assured we are doing our very best to keep the cost to you, our customer, down while still maintaining the quality you have come to expect from us,” the letter added.

This provision of ObamaCare (Section 4205) requires restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to disclose the caloric content of menu items to their customers. It also applies to grocery and convenience store chains.

House GOP leaders forced to delay vote on spending measure

Eric Cantor and John Boehner

It looks like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will have to go back to the drawing board if they hope to pass a measure that funds the federal government.

Facing backlash from conservative members of their conference, The Hill reports that GOP leaders have temporarily delayed a vote on a Continuing Resolution for the upcoming fiscal year that would fund ObamaCare:

House GOP leaders have delayed a vote on a bill to avert a government shutdown until next week.

An aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) confirmed the decision, which is designed to give GOP leaders more time to round up votes.

Leaders have been scrambling to gain 217 votes for their plan to fund the government through Dec. 15 while forcing the Senate to vote up or down on a measure to defund ObamaCare.

The plan has faced opposition from dissatisfied conservatives who argue it won’t actually lead to the defunding of the healthcare law. They are pushing to include language defunding ObamaCare in the resolution funding the government.

House Republican leadership has tried to push a cheap legislative gimmick in which they would pass a Continuing Resolution and a separate non-binding measure to defund ObamaCare. The thinking is that they this path would allow a vote to defund ObamaCare and avoid a government shutdown.

But if the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, didn’t first pass the measure defunding ObamaCare, they could still pass a clean Continuing Resolution that funds the unpopular law.

Jim DeMint: Primary Republicans who don’t defund ObamaCare

Jim DeMint, the former Senator from South Carolina turned President of the Heritage Foundation, says that Republicans who won’t vote to defund ObamaCare next month should be primaried and replaced:

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Monday night urged voters to replace any Republican lawmaker unwilling to vote to defund ObamaCare during next month’s budget showdown.

DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation, dismissed fears that Republicans would be blamed for a government shutdown, as they were in the 1990s.

“The risk of that is so much less than the risk to our country if we implement ObamaCare, and so I’m not as interested in the political futures of folks who think they might lose a showdown with the president,” DeMint said at a town-hall meeting hosted by Heritage Action, the think tank’s political arm, in Fayetteville, Ark., the first stop on a nine-city tour.
[…]
“I think [President Obama] knows that Republicans are afraid, and if they are, they need to be replaced,” DeMint told NPR in an interview after the event.

The Heritage Foundation and its political arm, Heritage Action for America, are part of a strong conservative grassroots effort to defund ObamaCare amid concerns from establishment Republicans that it would be a political loser because the inevitable result would be a government shutdown, which they fear could cost them in next year’s mid-term election.

Heritage Foundation debunks myths about defunding ObamaCare

Heritage Foundation -- Defund ObamaCare

Next month could bring a fight in Congress as some Republicans in both chambers and conservative organizations mount a push to defund ObamaCare. Talking heads and pundits are pushing back against the idea, listing off a number of various reasons why they believe the push is a bad idea.

But the Heritage Foundation contests some of these reasons. They conservative think tank released a new video that seeks to debunk what they call “myths” about defunding ObamaCare.

Some, including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), have insisted that Congress can’t defund ObamaCare because most of the spending is mandatory — or “baked in the budgetary cake,” if you will.

“That’s just not true,” asserts Chris Jacobs, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “Congress defunds mandatory spending on appropriations bills every year. In fact, in 2011, Congress defunded [$2.2 billion] in mandatory spending from the ObamaCare co-op program.”

“That’s a good start. We just think Congress needs to finish the job,” he added.

Jacobs also disputes the notion that Republicans and conservative critics of ObamaCare want to shutdown the government. “The only person threatening to shutdown the federal government is President Obama,” he noted.

“President Obama has threatened to shutdown the government because he wants to replace the sequester spending cuts with more tax increases,” said Jacobs. “Conservatives want to keep the federal government open. We just want to shutdown ObamaCare.”

Entrepreneur Says Internet Sales Tax will Hurt His Small Business

Catesby Jones is worried about his small business. The Internet has given his company, Peace Frogs, an outlet to offer goods and services to customers. But that will be put at risk if Congress passes the Internet sales tax.

In a post at The Foundry, Jones explains that the Internet sales tax bill currently working its way through Congress is an attack being pushed by large corporations on his and other small businesses:

By reaching out to a worldwide base of customers, companies in rural parts like ours can thrive and have a much bigger presence than they otherwise would through traditional sales.

This is why I’m incredibly concerned about the Internet sales tax that’s being debated in Washington.

It’s an attack on small businesses like mine. If you look at who’s lining up for and against the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, mostly large corporations are beating up on us small guys. They have the lobbyists, they have the muscle, and they have what it takes to impose burdensome regulations on online entrepreneurs.
[…]
The Internet offers the best opportunity for Gloucester natives to come home and operate a business. There aren’t many other enterprise vehicles that allow this type of flexible marketplace. But an Internet sales tax would threaten the well-being of my family and my employees’ families and result in higher costs for my customers.

Internet Sales Tax Could Lead to Higher Prices for Consumers

The House of Representatives is taking its time with the Internet sales tax, which is a good thing. They’re allowing it to go through the proper process, unlike the Senate, and that’s giving more time for opponents to make their case against the proposal.

What we already know about the Internet sales tax, absurdly named the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” is troubling. Not only is the proposal constitutionally questionable, it would turn Internet retailers into a tax collecting agents for 45 states and the District of Columbia and more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions.

“[T]hat’s 46 returns (45 states with sales taxes plus the District of Columbia), which have to be filed monthly or quarterly, and 46 potential audits every year,” wrote Jacob Sullum earlier this month at Reason,not to mention all the misunderstandings, disputes, and hassles that fall short of an audit.”

That is a regulatory nightmare for business, and customers could feel the effects. The Heritage Foundation points to a recent interview by a small business owner who explained that compliances costs will lead to prices increases for consumers:

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.