Department of the Interior Considers Creation of a Native Hawaiian Government by Administrative Rule

Department of the Interior Considers Creation of a Native Hawaiian Government by Administrative Rule

HONOLULU, Hawaii—May 23, 2014—The Obama Administration is considering an end-run around Congress and the voters by creating a Native Hawaiian governing entity via executive action. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has issued an advance notice of proposed rule-making (ANPR) in order to, “solicit public comments on whether and how the Department of the Interior should facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.” The notice can be viewed at: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201404&RIN=1090-AB05. The move was not unexpected, given the stated intention of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that it would follow up the Native Hawaiian Roll, election, and Constitutional Convention with an effort to seek federal recognition. However, the timing of the proposed rule raises questions about the forces pushing the nation-building process forward even while OHA comes under increased scrutiny for its actions and statements during the enrollment period. Moreover, it is uncertain whether such a rule from the DOI could withstand a legal challenge. As recently as September 2013, four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him not to pursue the creation of a Native Hawaiian government through executive action. The letter discussed the issue from both a historical and legal perspective, concluding that, “conferring tribal status on a racial group is itself a violation of the equal protection guarantees of the Constitution.” The Commissioners noted that creation of a Native Hawaiian government was outside of the scope of Congress’s powers, and “doubly so” for the President. “It is troubling to see such unwise and precipitous action from the Secretary of the Interior,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the...
Obama Needs to Know Why Small Businesses Will Hire and Invest Next Year

Obama Needs to Know Why Small Businesses Will Hire and Invest Next Year

By Merrill Matthews The most important poll out last week got relatively little attention. It’s important because it reveals why the Obama recovery has limped along for four and a half years—and could slip back into recession in the coming months. President Obama is out on the stump, yet again, scolding business and complaining that businesses need to be spending some of that cash they are sitting on, hiring more people, and paying workers higher wages. President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both said that increased government spending and higher taxes are the best way to achieve those goals. Reid said $1 trillion in new revenue would be a good start. But last week the Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey discovered that: 24.4 percent of small business owners surveyed plan to invest in equipment and facilities over the next year; 16 percent will hire new employees; and 15 percent plan to increase wages or other benefits. Is this planned business spending and investment in response to the Obama “pivot” to economic policy? Um, no. The survey asked what small businesses were planning to do with the additional money they will have now that the employer mandate has been postponed for a year. In other words, given a mandate reprieve for one year, small businesses plan to send the newly freed-up money investing, hiring and paying better wages—all the things Obama keeps begging them to do. But if they are willing to engage in all of these economic growth-stimulating activities with a one-year reprieve from the ObamaCare mandate, what might they be willing to do if the...
Tax Reform as a Diversion

Tax Reform as a Diversion

By  Tom Giovanetti Probably no single act of Congress would have a more beneficial impact on the U.S. economy than the right kind of fundamental tax reform. Now, of course, there are differences of opinion about exactly what the “right kind” of tax reform would be, but if it’s designed to encourage businesses to invest and create new jobs, it pretty much has to 1) free up new capital for companies to invest in jobs creation, and 2) give corporations a reason to repatriate their stranded overseas profits. If tax reform doesn’t achieve those two goals, whatever else it does is probably not worth the effort, and in fact might actually be harmful—like a tax increase. That’s why it was such a disappointment to see Obama use tax reform as little more than a diversion. In a political bait-and-switch, the president essentially said, “Look, I’m proposing tax reform! But now let’s talk about the new federal spending I want to do.” And indeed, he revealed (to no one’s real surprise) both higher taxes and higher spending to be his real goals. In other words, Obama’s proposal is not a compromise between the president and Congress; it’s a twofer for the president. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “If Congressional Republicans agree to a corporate tax increase, he will agree to spend more money on his favorite public-works projects.” The president knows by now that higher taxes and higher spending are off the table. Is his proposal a clever political strategy designed to somehow paint his opponents as obstructionists in order to aid his party’s chances in the 2014 mid-term election?...
President Price Hike

President Price Hike

By Tom Giovanetti, President of the Institute for Policy Innovation The “right” price for anything is the price that results from the interaction between supply and demand in a functioning marketplace. There’s nothing controversial about that—it’s how anyone with the most basic understanding of economics understands price. Governments often cannot resist meddling with prices. Typically, when a government intervenes in a market to manipulate prices, it is trying to keep prices lower than the “natural” market price for some political purpose. Economists recognize this as almost always harmful—artificially low prices make that particular economic commodity unattractive for producers to invest in production. And the economic distortions created by artificially low prices usually result in economic harms that exceed whatever perceived social benefit might have been obtained from lower prices. The Obama administration, however, has been unusual in that, when they have intervened in markets, they’ve made prices higher for consumers. In health care, Obama forged ahead with his plan to transform the healthcare system even though many economists warned that it would drive up health insurance premiums,which it has. New mandates on what doctors must do and what health insurers must cover, such as free contraception, increase the cost of health insurance. And layering additional taxes on medical devices raises the price of those devices to patients. In energy policy,  it was the stated goal of the Obama administration to raise the price of energy, both of electricity and motor fuels. “Under my cap and trade plan,” Obama said in 2008, “energy prices will necessarily skyrocket.” He further said that his plan was designed to bankrupt coal-fired energy plants, and at...