The Economic Standard: Close the Digital Divide with Private Investment and Competition

…and investment is to maintain “light-touch” regulations. When the FCC reclassified broadband services from an information service to a heavy regulated utility-like service, industry investment fell by $5.6 billion, only to rebound when the FCC reversed its decision. Because broadband investments represent long term decisions, regulators need to give the private sector the confidence that procompetitive light touch regulations will remain in effect. The internet has become essential in educating our children, shopping for basic goods and services, connecting with our families, and even receiving healthcare in remote communities. The pandemic has only made the depth and stakes of our nation’s digital divide more apparent. While the new federal investments should be welcomed, we will only truly bridge the digital divide if we seek solutions that provide consumers with more choices for high-speed internet. That means encouraging private investment, innovation, and competition. This commentary was published in The Economic Standard….

Generics and Biosimilars are the Keys to Lower Drug Prices

In September 2021, the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) released its plan to lower drug prices. Unfortunately, for consumers and patients, the report contained grim statistics that highlighted the cost of drugs in this country and the medical insecurity these prices impose. HHS estimates that each year, “Americans spend more than $1,500 per person on prescription drugs,” a figure that is “far higher than any comparable nation.” These high prices have created substantial medication insecurity and left more than 18 million Americans “unable to pay for at least one doctor-prescribed medication for their household.” While the report emphasized the high cost of medication in the United States, it also outlined several policies to lower drug prices and liberalize access to essential, often life-saving medications. One such policy that could substantially lower prices for Americans outlined by HHS is to “promote biosimilars and generics.” A biosimilar drug is a…

The Economic Standard: As Postal Losses Grow, Regulatory Scrutiny Reaches a Boiling Point

…savings plan simply will not work. Their opinion states: “the Postal Service’s estimated annual cost savings for the proposed service standard changes do not indicate much improvement, if any, to the Postal Service’s current financial condition. Rather, the estimated cost savings from extending the service standard would be eliminated by additional costs associated with the growth in packages.” The realities of these Postal finances are further supplanted by the quarterly data on the ongoing shifts towards competitive market services. Various labor-related expenses increased 10.0% and transportation  costs increased by 8.3%, reflecting just how difficult it is to adapt to organization’s competitive acceleration. Shipping and packages now account for 61 percent of USPS total delivery weight – up from 49 percent just two years ago. As the American Consumer Institute has discussed in-depth, it is essential for USPS to grasp the individual impacts of its products. While measures to create “integrated…

Townhall: It’s Time for Congress to Take Concrete Steps to Protect Consumer Data

According to Security Magazine, there are an estimated 2,200 cyberattacks each day in the United States. That amounts to around 91 attacks every hour or one attack every 39 seconds. In 2020, the average cost of responding to a cyberattack to businesses of all sizes was estimated to be $3.86 million. As our work, school, and healthcare moves online, the need to prevent cyberattacks will become more pronounced. Recognizing the significant threat cyberattacks pose, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Cyber Incident Notification Act The bill represents an essential first step toward ensuring the U.S. has a robust toolkit to prevent cyberattacks and fully protect consumer data. The article was published in the Townhall….

How Startups and Innovation Benefit from Preserving Employment Freedom for Independent Workers – with John Chisholm

The modern workforce is changing. Technology is making it easier for people of all education, skills, and income levels to be part of the sharing economy as independent contractors. Yet, several regulatory and legislative initiatives expose the long-term viability of this working arrangement and the benefits it provides. In this episode, John Chisholm, entrepreneur, CEO, and investor, shares his perspectives on how essential independent contractors are for startups and innovation and how the current legislative and regulatory actions affect the innovation climate. https://open.spotify.com/episode/0ei5EfEkObBPU8psj3Y6XH?si=yhpAvBHHT6CzOQwPuNl1iA&dl_branch=1…

NEPA: The Barrier to Developing America

…of environmental activists. NEPA requires federal agencies to evaluate the potential environmental effects of proposed projects through an Environmental Assessment (EA) or a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). NEPA only imposes procedural requirements on federal agencies, not an actual requirement to protect the environment. Currently, a NEPA review has no time limit, meaning the review process can drag on for months. It’s estimated that a typical NEPA review can take 70 months. A range of inefficient bureaucratic rules and procedures have contributed to stalled NEPA reviews, including compliance with local, state, tribal, or federal laws. Recognizing the dilatory nature of NEPA, environmental advocates have filed at least 4,000 federal lawsuits alleging violations, causing further delays. Environmental activists regularly deploy NEPA to stop essential infrastructure projects. NEPA has been used to delay projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline to transport crude oil and the Ivanpah Solar Facility to generate…

Broadband Agreement Must Include What Consumers Demand

The Biden Administration and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators recently reached an agreement on an infrastructure an plan worth $579 billion in new spending. Among other spending programs, the proposal contains a provision for $65 billion in federal spending to deploy fiber optic cables to “future proof” America’s digital infrastructure. This spending would largely target rural and tribal areas where approximately 19 million consumers live without an internet connection needed to access essential services like telehealth, work remotely, and stream entertainment. While the motive to provide access for consumers in these areas is noble, the data shows a significant percentage of Americans are not demanding a high-speed internet connection at home. Worse yet, this investment in high-speed fiber infrastructure would be overly costly and time-consuming. Instead of focusing on a fiber-only plan, the Administration should deploy a technology-neutral approach that involves other methods of delivering internet such as fixed-wireless…

Federal Broadband Investment Should Be on Access

…the percentage of Americans with internet access now exceeds 90%, there are still millions of consumers who live without broadband services. According to the FCC, approximately 19 million Americans, or 6% of the population, still lack access to terrestrial-fixed broadband. This issue is especially prevalent in rural areas, where 14 million Americans have no connection. Americans without access to internet are not able to enjoy the benefits of connectivity such as the ability to work remotely, use essential services like telehealth, or access news regarding important events. Similarly, a home without a high-speed connection leaves children unable to connect to classrooms for virtual learning. Limited access to an internet connection, especially for children in rural areas, can cause them to fall behind significantly in school. According to a study from Michigan State University, “students without internet access and those who depend on a cell phone for their only access are…

Town Hall: H.R.3 Creates A False Choice Between Drug Supply and Price

In exchange for some short-term price reduction, H.R.3 threatens access to medicine, innovation, research, and drug shortages, which can negatively impact the U.S. healthcare system. Reforming Pharmacy Benefit Managers, for example, rather than establishing price controls or allowing medications to be imported from Canada, is essential for lowering drug prices in a system that currently lacks transparency. This article is available in its entirety in Town Hall….

Capping Interest Rates Will Only Harm Consumers

With Senator Sharrod Brown (D-OH) now serving as chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, legislation could probably be put forward to cap interest payments on loans. While the entire proposal is yet to be released, any move to cap interest rates can be seen as part of Senator Brown’s effort to end what he regards as “abusive lending practices.” While high-interest rate loans, notably payday loans, are routinely subject to criticism, an outright ban on them could deny many low-income Americans access to essential lines of credit, leaving them financially vulnerable to unexpected bills. Although there is currently no set definition of a payday loan, generally, they are short-term, high-interest loans for individuals in need of short-term cash. These loans are usually due on a consumer’s next payday. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) estimates most loans are less than $500 and are given to consumers…