Capitol Comment 162 - Risky Business: Insurance, Risk Classification and the Consumer

Legislators and regulators increasingly are attempting to improve the availability and affordability of insurance -- whether life, health, auto or home -- by restricting how insurance companies can classify risks. However, those who attempt to reform insurance markets by restricting risk classification need to be very careful, for when they undermine the fundamental principles of risk-based insurance, they usually end up doing more harm than good.

Capitol Comment 161 - The Senate and House Kiddycare Schemes Are a Bad Deal for Kids

Parents had better put the kids to bed early this week. Otherwise, youngsters might happen across C-SPAN in time to watch the United States Senate and House of Representatives cast their most damaging votes ever against children's health. Armed with faulty data on the status of children's health coverage, Congress is set to spend $16 billion or more over the next five years to create a new federal "Kiddycare" program. While claiming to provide health coverage for children, Kiddycare will actually waste billions of dollars, and provide no health benefit to children.

Capitol Comment 160 - Can You Differentiate a Taxpayer From a Consumer at the Grocery Store?

The federal sugar program fixes the price of sugar bought in the United States at roughly double the world price, costing consumers 1.4 billion dollars a year.1 Yet, program supporters claim the program does not hurt Americans, pointing to the small budget cost to the taxpayer. The distinction between a taxpayer and a consumer is a curious one -- since the two cannot be distinguished at the checkout line. In fact, consumers are hit twice by the program. First, with higher taxes -- regardless of how "small" the burden is -- and second through higher prices for the food they purchase.

Capitol Comment 159 - Why America Should Renew MFN for China

Members of Congress will soon be asked to vote on the unconditional extension of China's most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status for one more year. Legitimate reasons for concern over various policies implemented by the Chinese government do exist. However, revoking China's MFN trading status is at best the least effective -- and at worst the most counter-productive -- manner in which to affect those policies. It would be devastating for both Americans and the Chinese if Congress imposes trade barriers between the citizens of these two countries.

Capitol Comment 158 - Cox-Wyden Putting Internet Taxation on Hold

The promise shown by the emergence of electronic commerce has attracted some undesirable attention - taxes. States and localities have recently been examining an extension of their tax authority to Internet related activities. The result could be a maze of multiple taxation that stymies emerging commercial activity.

Capitol Comment 154 - FDA User Fees Have Done Nothing for Patients

Summary: The FDA and the pharmaceutical industry are lobbying Congress heavily to reauthorize the 1992 Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). Rather than bow to the will of industry or government bureaucrats, Congress should do what is best for patients: reform the FDA and give user fees the study they deserve.

Capitol Comment 157 - The Case Against OPIC

"I cannot see any redeeming aspect in the existence of OPIC. It is special interest legislation of the worst kind, legislation that makes the problem it is intended to deal with worse rather than better ... OPIC has no business existing."

-- Nobel laureate Milton Friedman

September 5, 1996

Capitol Comment 150 - The FDA's Party Patrol

For every Food and Drug Administration employee who approves life-saving new drugs for patient use, there are more than two FDA employees who scour the countryside looking for regulatory violations. These regulatory cops may or may not do anything to help patients, but some of them have found a new professional interest: bar hopping.