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BPAA Biweekly Federal Policy Updates - August 9, 2019

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BPAA is pleased to provide the following biweekly update on federal policy. Please contact Tom Schreibel at tbschreibel@michaelbeststrategies.com if you have any questions or updates on activity at the federal level.

 

Visit BPAA’s website at http://bpaa.com/bpaa/government-affairs/government-affairs  to read previous federal and state policy updates.

 

MUSIC LICENSING

  • Conservative Groups Urge DOJ To Leave ASCAP-BMI Consent Decrees In Place: The radio industry is getting some help in its effort to convince the Department of Justice to leave alone the consent decrees governing how stations license music from ASCAP and BMI. A coalition of center-right organizations has written a letter to Attorney General William Barr over “serious concerns” they have about the potential impact if the DOJ moves to terminate, sunset, or make significant changes to the decrees. Although they support getting rid of dozens of outdated decrees governing markets that no longer pose antitrust concerns or even some industries that no longer exist, the conservative groups said that’s not the case when it comes to music. They told Barr the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees remain “extremely relevant” to a functioning marketplace. “Millions of businesses across the country rely on the efficiencies and anticompetitive protections that these decrees provide,” the groups said in the letter. Read more here at InsideRadio.

 

  • DOJ Urged To Leave Intact Music Licensing Orders: A dozen free market organizations pressed the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday to re-up sunsetting consent decrees governing music licensing groups BMI and ASCAP, arguing the "inherently anti-competitive" music industry still needs these regulations to keep the playing field even. The coalition is hoping to preserve a pair of 80-year-old consent decrees that require Broadcast Music Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers — the country's two largest performance rights organizations —  to offer blanket licenses covering their whole catalogs. Read more at Law360.

 

  • NTU Sends Letter to DOJ on Consent Decrees in the Music Industry: On behalf of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write concerning the Department of Justice’s 2019 Antitrust Division review of consent decrees with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). NTU is the nation’s oldest taxpayer advocacy organization, and has long taken an active interest in the antitrust activity of the Department of Justice as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Taxpayers have a stake in this issue not only because of the potential government costs in administering antitrust policy, but also because of the important balance that policy must strike between encouraging innovation and fostering stability for market actors. A properly maintained balance can deliver cost-efficient products and services that governments can adapt for their own uses, while providing steady economic growth that likewise benefits government treasuries. Read full letter here.

 

MINIMUM WAGE & PAID LEAVE

  • The Dream of a $15 Minimum Wage Gets a Reality Check From Inflation: For most of the decade, support for a $15 national minimum wage has grown among Democrats. Once seen as a fringe idea when it was introduced in 2012, at least 19 Democrats running for president in 2020 support the increase. Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage to that hourly rate by 2025, which could boost the incomes of 17 to 27 million workers, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But by then, inflation could make an increase to $15 seem like too little, too late. Over the course of the U.S.’s 81-year history of a federal minimum wage, Congress has never introduced an automatic adjustment technique to let the minimum wage rise or fall in line with price changes. Instead, a series of irregular updates has instantly boosted the wage’s purchasing power after varying periods of inflationary decline. The current $7.25 national minimum wage, for instance, is now worth 16% less than when it was enacted in July 2009. Read more at Bloomberg.

 

  • The Raise the Wage Act would kill over 1 million jobs: The battle over whether to increase the minimum wage is ramping up in Congress with the House passing the Raise the Wage Act. The bill gradually raises the federal minimum wage over the course of six years to $15.00 by 2025. Not surprisingly, it has big support among the Democratic base. But according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), while raising the minimum wage would increase wages for millions of people, it would also cause 1.3 million Americans to lose their job. The report concluded that “For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which would lift some families out of poverty. But other low-wage workers would become jobless, and their family income would fall—in some cases, below the poverty threshold.” In other words, the Raise the Wage Act has the government once again in the business of picking winners and losers. Some Americans will certainly benefit from a higher wage—at least until inflation catches up, which it will likely do quickly. Read more at The Hill.

 

A Bipartisan Paid Leave Proposal: Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) released what they are calling a "genuinely bipartisan" paid leave proposal Tuesday that would allow parents to receive a $5,000 cash advance for child care that is borrowed against their future child tax credits, POLITICO's Ian Kullgren reports. "The GOP tax bill in 2017 doubled the child tax credit to $2,000 a year; the Cassidy-Sinema bill would allow new parents to receive $5,000 right away in exchange for a reduced rate of $1,500 a year for 10 years." Meanwhile, low-income parents who pay less in taxes and aren't eligible for the full credit would be able to receive 12 weeks' leave with full wage replacement in exchange for a smaller reduction to their taxes over 15 years. "The use of tax credits could win over reluctant Republicans worried about creating an expensive new program," Kullgren writes. "But the lack of leave for family and medical emergencies will likely keep Democratic leaders from supporting the proposal." More from POLITICO.

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