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Mr. Ballard goes to Washington
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Mr. Ballard goes to Washington

BY Rick Steigmeye

WENATCHEE -- When Scott Ballard shook hands with President Bush Tuesday morning he made sure to point out the cuff links he wore for the special occasion. The cuff links were given to Ballard by his father, former Washington state Rep. Clyde Ballard. Clyde Ballard received them from George W. Bush's father when he was vice president in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan.

01/12/2005
Free market vs. bureaucracy
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Free market vs. bureaucracy

BY C. Boyden Gray

In its recent decision, Europe's Court of First Instance in Luxembourg refused to suspend the sanctions placed on Microsoft by European Commission competition authorities. Microsoft will proceed with its appeal against the regulators, but the company must immediately comply with the excessive sanctions imposed by the Europeans. Even if Europe's antitrust regulators eventually lose their case, which could last several years, the marketplace damage will already have been done by the sanctions. The European courts and regulators still have not learned that they need to proceed cautiously in imposing overly intrusive government regulations. In September, this same court ruled that European regulators erred in June 2000 by blocking the MCI/WorldCom bid to purchase Sprint. But the ruling came four years too late for MCI, which long ago abandoned its pursuit of Sprint in the face of regulatory pressure. The results of the MCI decision should have demonstrated the problem with applying regulatory remedies prematurely. Unfortunately for consumers and the technology marketplace, this lesson has fallen on deaf ears. The heavy-handed ruling of the European antitrust authorities cost Microsoft more than $600 million, a record fine for antitrust violations. But even worse, European regulators have ordered Microsoft to reveal valuable software code information to rivals and strip its flagship Windows software of its audio- and video-playing capabilities. Make no mistake: This case reaches far beyond Microsoft (and its investors). If European regulators win the day in the very end, they will establish a precedent that hurts global competition across virtually all industries. Microsoft rightly argues that competition and consumers are hurt if businesses, even industry-leading companies, cannot freely improve their products. By effectively freezing Microsoft's incentive to innovate and compete in markets, European regulators limit consumer choice and remove one stick that spurs on Microsoft's competitors to create better products. Other large companies with complex, market-leading products would be wise to assist Microsoft with its appeal. In fact, in a strange unfolding of events, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus filed to intervene on Microsoft's behalf and then withdrew after news of the filing became public. Airbus' filing made perfect sense: Should an airplane manufacturer only be able to sell bare-bone fuselages and wings? By the logic of the European case against Microsoft, Airbus could be limited in how it improves aircraft with better engines, seats, galleys, and so on. Just as European regulators are set on determining what constitutes a computer operating system, so too could they regulate what defines an airplane, an automobile, a piece of medical equipment, a cell phone or any other product. It is unclear why Airbus withdrew, but it does raise some questions. Are there other large companies that want to speak out, but are avoiding the fray? The Court of First Instance has a strong track record of overturning decisions made by competition regulators, but it rarely suspends sanctions. European regulators famously blocked the General Electric-Honeywell merger in July 2001, after the transaction received approval from U.S. authorities. The Court of First Instance might yet allow the deal to proceed more than three years after the iron was hot. That decision, along with the MCI ruling, demonstrates that in the European judicial system, justice is often denied by its very delay. Microsoft is yet another victim of the court's unwillingness to take early action against excessive regulation. Will U.S. companies continue to face jeopardy in the Kafkaesque European bureaucracy? There are signs that the harshest days of antitrust regulation across the Atlantic may be waning. European regulators are standing aside and letting the Oracle acquisition of PeopleSoft proceed. In addition, the head of the competition commission, the interventionist Mario Monti, just stepped down and was replaced by the more market-friendly Neelie Kroes. This changing of the guard could help Microsoft and other American companies down the road. But antitrust harmonization between the United States and Europe should not rely on the whims of a single personality. In 2005, the Bush administration must reach out to European authorities and once and for all hammer out a more cooperative and free-market approach to antitrust enforcement. The conflicting systems are not merely inefficient. They create uncertainty and hamper competition, which costs everyone in today's global economy.

01/11/2005
Social Security Goals May Clash
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Social Security Goals May Clash

BY Ronald Brownstein

WASHINGTON — In restructuring Social Security, President Bush has not one goal, but two. And as the debate begins over transforming the giant public pension program for the elderly, one of the critical questions facing the White House is whether the two goals will complement or undermine each other. So far, most of the attention has focused on the president's push to divert part of the Social Security payroll tax into private accounts that individuals could invest in stocks or bonds — a plan Bush is expected to promote today.

01/11/2005
Social Security debate starts in earnest today
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Social Security debate starts in earnest today

BY Carolyn Lochhead

Washington -- President Bush will officially open today the Republican version of a domestic policy brawl that will rival in scope, intensity and political difficulty the 1993-94 effort by then-President Bill Clinton to remake the nation's health care system. Bush's plan to add private accounts to Social Security, as a leaked White House memo to congressional Republicans put it last week, "will be one of the most important conservative undertakings of modern times. ... The scope and scale of this endeavor are hard to overestimate."

01/11/2005
Free Market vs. Bureaucracy
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Press Release

Free Market vs. Bureaucracy

This piece first appeared in the Washington Times on Jan. 11, 2005 In its recent decision, Europe's Court of First Instance in Luxembourg refused to suspend the sanctions placed on Microsoft by European Commission competition authorities. Microsoft will proceed with its appeal against the regulators, but the company must immediately comply with the excessive sanctions imposed by the Europeans. Even if Europe's antitrust regulators eventually lose their case, which could last several years, the marketplace damage will already have been done by the sanctions.

01/11/2005
Libertarian group eyes budget process
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Libertarian group eyes budget process

BY DAVID BATES

Richard Burke spent Monday in Salem, making the rounds of legislative staff to get a feel for the political climate in the Capitol while lawmakers were busy on the floor or elsewhere in the building. Burke, who heads Oregon's Libertarian Party, feels the temperature may be more or less right for a coalition of Libertarians, Republicans and other conservative activists to leave a stamp not only on the state's nearly $12 billion budget, but possibly even on the process lawmakers use to draft one every two years.

01/11/2005
Should Ohio Limit Government Spending and Taxes?
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Press Release

Should Ohio Limit Government Spending and Taxes?

Ohio’s state government spending increased by three times the inflation rate between 1994 and 2002. At this clip, the state government budget would double every 14 years. More importantly, this rate of growth outstrips income growth and exceeds our ability to pay for it. The result? Government spending as a share of Ohio’s economy has increased rapidly since 1980. Ohio left the ranks of low-tax states in 1994 and has been one of the highest tax states in the nation since 2000. For many, the only practical and realistic solution is to try what other states have already pioneered: adopt a binding constitutional limit on how much state and local governments can spend. These initiatives are also called Tax and Expenditure Limitations, or TELs.

01/10/2005
No, Virginia, There Are No 'Transition Costs' for Social Security Reform
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Press Release

No, Virginia, There Are No 'Transition Costs' for Social Security Reform

This piece was originally published by Human Events Online. Contrary to conventional thinking, allowing workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal retirement accounts will incur no net cost to the federal government.

01/10/2005
FreedomWorks Social Security Tour Continues in Florida
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Press Release

FreedomWorks Social Security Tour Continues in Florida

FreedomWorks is working hard to get the word out about Personal Retirement Accounts and Social Security reform. In one effort, FreedomWorks Florida Director John Hallman is working with the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) and making presentations at meetings across the sunshine state. The RLC made the following comments: Social Security Tour Makes Stops in Brevard, Dade and Lee Counties

01/10/2005
Wisconsin FreedomWorks Ramps Up Social Security Campaign
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Press Release

Wisconsin FreedomWorks Ramps Up Social Security Campaign

As the debate over Social Security unfolds in Washington, D.C., FreedomWorks is mobilizing its state chapters in support of the creation of personal retirement accounts that individual workers can own and control. Wisconsin FreedomWorks is leading the charge and this week is contacting WI federal legislators. An example of a recent letter follows. Keep up the great work! --- Dear Congressman Sensenbrenner:

01/10/2005

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