Mallory Factor, Senior Editor of Money and Politics for

The Lessons and Limits of Sarbox

The Supreme Court rejects unaccountable industry oversight boards.

Freedom and limited government won a victory in the Supreme Court on Monday. Yet the victory is too narrow to save our nation from the unintended consequences of the burdensome and ill-drafted law that is the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

In Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, the court ruled that Congress went beyond its powers in establishing the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) as part of Sarbanes-Oxley. To ensure a majority in the 5-4 decision, however, the court kept its judgment narrow and chose not to invalidate all of Sarbanes-Oxley, nor even the entire PCAOB. Since Sarbanes-Oxley remains “fully operative …Read More

American Exceptionalism–And An ‘Exceptional’ President

Obama may be the first U.S. president to lack faith in our special history, our special spirit and our special mission in the world.

For nearly four centuries, we as a people have believed that America has a special and unique role to play in the world. Here is a land of new beginnings and new promise, not merely one nation among others. But we have to ask: Do our leaders still believe this?

Americans have believed in American exceptionalism since John Winthrop wrote 380 years ago that America would be a “city on a hill,” shining for all the world to see. When de Tocqueville visited the young United States in the 1830s, he concluded that we were a “unique” nation. He pointed to the truly democratic nature of our government and society and the opportunities America provided to its immigrants at that time.

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Disney Paid Dividends

Like many families, we take our children’s education seriously. So when we were planning a trip to New York for our middle child, Creagh, we scheduled visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and Chinatown. Then, the subject of Disney musicals came up. “Take Creagh to a show!” the grandparents suggested. “You mean like the Picasso show at MOMA?” we responded. “No, a Disney musical—like Mary Poppins. She’ll love it,” they urged.

“Hmmm,” we replied. Our trips to New York with the kids always focused on the cultural and educational highlights of the city. These were all the things our kids missed out on by being transplanted from Manhattan to a much smaller city when they were very little.

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Occupy Wall Street…Next Stop, Athens?

It would be better to reform our system radically and restore fiscal responsibility in a single dramatic turn.

In the past few weeks Americans have watched with interest, bemusement and anger as protests and sit-ins on Wall Street have sparked similar demonstrations around the country. With vague goals of combating corporate greed and calls to rectify all manner of social and economic inequality, this movement seems, to the press at least, to capture a mood of deep discontent among the American people.

But if you think a thousand protesters on Wall Street is a trouble sign for our nation, wait until you see the civil unrest that follows the reforms and cuts to government programs needed to bring our national debt under control. Just look at Greece, where government is being reformed, drastic cuts are being made–and the society is unraveling. In Greece a series of severe austerity measures has been imposed as conditions for recent bailouts by the International Monetary Fund and the other members of the single European currency, the euro. Yet the economy continues to spiral downward.
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Good Intentions Gone Haywire

A little-noticed provision in the recent financial-reform bill will drive up costs and inefficiencies.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act is supposed to shield consumers from problems in the financial services sector that many believe led to the financial meltdown. But Section 342 of the act introduces a brash example of social engineering that masquerades as consumer protection and financial reform. This section imposes gender and racial employment quotas on the financial services industry, which accounts for one-tenth of our economy. The quota provisions will affect over 50,000 financial services firms and other businesses, and the consequences will be enormous.

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What’s the Real Defense Budget?

On nondefense missions congress must demand transparency.

The new Congress won the election by promising to cut spending, and unsurprisingly the defense budget is on the table for the first time in more than a decade.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently announced $78 billion in defense spending cuts over the next five years, including reductions in troop levels for the Army and Marine Corps. These types of cuts suggest that the military is working to become leaner and more efficient. Still, many Americans and congressmen are calling for deeper cuts.

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