Announcement: Now Hiring!

Policy Analyst American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research Arlington, VA https://talentmarket.org/acipa/ About the Organization The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (ACI) is an educational and research institute with a mission to promote economic welfare by improving the understanding and impact that public policies and regulations have on consumers in a free market. The Institute focuses on policy issues that affect society as a whole, and we seek to be a better and more reasoned voice for consumers by using economic tools and principles to find public policies that work best for consumers. More information about ACI is available online. About the Role ACI is looking to fill multiple Policy Analyst positions to lead research and communications efforts dealing with a host of regulatory and legislative issues affecting consumers and the market economy. The position will be based in the Arlington, VA, although we currently operate on a hybrid basis…

The problem with today’s antitrust isn’t the FTC. It’s the unsupported theory it’s putting forth

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been grabbing headlines for attempting to eliminate non-competes and issuing record-breaking fines for child privacy violations. However, the proposed Tougher Enforcement Against Monopolies Act (TEAM) would put a pause on these actions by eliminating the agency’s authority over antitrust enforcement. Unfortunately, this move would have minimal impact. The problems facing U.S. antitrust enforcement aren’t the result of agency structure, but a reliance on unsupported theory. TEAMS, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, would take antitrust enforcement authority held primarily by the Department of Justice (DoJ), the FTC and, to a marginal extent, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and consolidate it under the DoJ. Proponents of TEAMS argue that consolidation would conserve resources, reduce bureaucratic waste and prevent different standards of enforcement. However, it’s unclear how much of a problem the overlap in responsibility actually poses. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office states that…

Newly passed antitrust legislation will enable a harmful, arbitrary approach to competition

Just before the end of last year, two seemingly innocuous antitrust bills — the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act (MFFM), introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act (SAEV), introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) — passed Congress. While largely procedural and bureaucratic, the bills are a minor win designed to stack the deck in favor of antitrust enforcement agencies. What’s in the legislation isn’t nearly as problematic as the agendas of the agencies it’s empowering. The provisions of the SAEV are limited to legal procedural rules that allow for some consolidation of pre-trial proceedings when the issues being addressed in different cases overlap. These cases would go back to their original districts following pre-trial proceedings. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Kahn argues that the SAEV will simply put state enforcers on equal footing with federal agencies. While the change may streamline proceedings, it’ll…

ACI Statement: Congress should prepare to take action to keep supply chains running this holiday season

…include an immediate 14.1% wage increase, a 24 percent wage increase by 2024 and maintenance of premium health care plans. A rail strike this month, however, would be devastating for American consumers to endure. Halting rail shipments could cost our economy over $2 billion in output per day. Other modes of transportation don’t have the capacity to transport the same amount as the rail system, so a strike would lead to significant supply chain issues in the food, chemical, electricity and construction industries, among others. Congress has the authority to implement the agreement as it stands without unanimous assent to block a potential rail strike. If the remaining four unions don’t sign on soon, Congress should exercise this authority. This doesn’t have to be a partisan move. With such a generous agreement already on offer to freight rail employees, American consumers’ economic stability and well-being should be lawmakers’ top priority. …

Regulatory state harms consumers

…year, Recent Causes of Inflation and Adverse Consequences for Consumers, that found that current inflation would cause the average household to lose out on $4,400 in purchasing power through the end of 2022.  On top of the government spending that is pushing inflation higher, the cost of energy production is also contributing to high prices. Energy prices are influenced by global factors beyond national control, but government regulations aren’t helping matters. The Biden Administration’s “whole-of-government” mandates that direct federal agencies to prioritize climate, equity and other progressive agenda items over agency responsibilities have only further entangled the issues of regulation and inflation. Insofar as the mandates prioritize renewable energy over traditional sources that fuel the bulk of consumer demand, these policies drive up the cost of energy.  The causes of consumer-facing price increases are difficult to isolate, as various factors are intertwined. Unfortunately, the role of the regulatory state in driving up…

The Hill: Winter is coming, prices are rising, and most voters say: Unleash American energy now

Winter is coming – and record inflation is rising, on consumer goods including the price of gasoline.  American consumers are suffering as the 8.2 percent annual inflation rate eats away at paychecks with higher energy prices at the pump, and temperatures plummet. Yet, despite this harsh reality, President Joe Biden continues the administration’s assault on the American energy sector, started on his first day in office with the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and continuing through the 2022 midterms by advocating a “windfall tax” on oil and gas companies. Instead of unleashing the bountiful supply of oil and natural gas reserves in the United States, more taxes and regulations are being proposed. Published in its entirety in The Hill….

New OHID report corrects common misconceptions about vaping

…researchers used a variety of randomized trials to examine how smoking and vaping impacted user’ body biomarkers – measurements of toxicant exposure – which “cut across common diseases and those that are disease-specific.” In addition, they relied upon numerous case studies and peer-reviewed literature to supplement their work. Using this information, researchers were able to determine “that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking.” These findings align with other academic research on the subject, which has found that cigarettes and cigars produce higher amounts of harmful chemicals due to the process of igniting and burning tobacco. In contrast, vape products don’t utilize the combustion process. Instead, an electrically powered coil heats up a flavored liquid and converts it into an aerosol that the user can then inhale. These differences mean vapor products tend to lead to fewer negative health effects in users, such as respiratory issues,…

Congress should take notes from the UK on data privacy protection

With a bipartisan data privacy bill recently progressing out of a House committee, prospects to legislate data privacy seem to be gaining traction. While the current version of the bill would benefit from some improvements, recent developments in the United Kingdom could stand as a learning example for Congress on how to improve the proposed federal package. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), which advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July by a 53-2 vote, represents a hopeful sign that Congress will finally address privacy issues after years of delays and discussion. While the bill has been mostly received as a welcome development, it still needs some major improvements. Meanwhile, the UK has recently announced its plan to replace the European Union’s 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) data privacy regime with its own system. While no specific details about the proposal have been…

Job Opening: Policy Analyst (Washington, D.C. or Virtual Office)

About ACI The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (ACI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational and research institute with a mission to promote economic welfare by improving the understanding and impact that public policies and regulations have on consumers in a free market.  The Institute focuses on policy issues that affect society as a whole, and we seek to be a better and more reasoned voice for consumers by using economic tools and principles to find public policies that work best for consumers. More information about ACI is available here. About the Role ACI seeks a Policy Analyst to support its research and communications efforts. The Analyst will work closely with the Director to conduct research and analyze data related to a host of regulatory and legislative issues which affect consumers and the market economy.  This is a full-time role ideally based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. For…

Government can support connectivity, but not through government-owned networks

Government-owned networks represent an attempt to expand Internet access, but delivery comes up short. Those concerned with unequal connectivity should consider the failing track record of government compared to private networks. Thankfully, there’s more than one way to meet Internet needs. The government can address connectivity inequality by allocating additional spectrum for 5G expansion. As the name implies, government-owned networks (GONs) are publicly funded broadband networks. Supporters of government intervention in broadband to this extent believe broadband is a public good that the marketplace has failed to adequately provide. Agencies such as the World Bank lend their support to government sponsorship by classifying broadband as vital infrastructure necessary for economic growth and echoing the belief that the marketplace has failed to sufficiently provide the service. In the U.S., broadband access is close to universal, with 94 percent of the population being served. However, this figure isn’t the same across all…