Editor’s Note: This open letter to members of Congress was provided this week to Pat McGuigan, the editor of CapitolBeatOK, an online news service.
The Honorable John Kline
Committee on Education and the Workforce
U.S. House of Representatives
2176 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Fred Upton
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairmen Kline and Upton:
We write in strong opposition to H.R. 5365, the “Muhammad Ali Expansion Act,” legislation introduced by Rep. Markwayne Mullin [R-Oklahoma] to regulate mixed martial arts (MMA), which is one of the most popular sports in the U.S. and fastest growing throughout the world. This misguided legislation is yet another unfortunate and unneeded regulatory power grab that will stifle the dynamic innovation and success of MMA.
This legislation, among its many faults, tramples the traditional prerogatives of the states to regulate contracts and sporting events and is of dubious constitutionality. And, what can only be viewed as bizarre, the bill would enlist government bureaucrats to rank fighters and conduct matchmaking which is currently done exceptionally well by the private sector.
The nation faces many daunting challenges including a national debt that is approaching $20 trillion, a stagnating economy and wages, skyrocketing Obamacare costs, and terrorist enemies who seek to end our very existence.
Federally regulating the MMA market, which is not broken and represents a true American success story, should not be given any serious attention by lawmakers.
MMA was not an overnight success. The American entrepreneurial spirit overcame numerous challenges to position it as a thriving well-regarded international sport. Because of its success, there are numerous fighters who have made millions in a sport that barely existed 15 years ago, thousands of jobs have been created and supported, and states and municipalities have enjoyed the benefits of increased economic activity and tax revenue.
Regulators throughout the U.S. and the world have adopted unified rules of MMA which ensures fair fights as well as predictable, transparent, and fair regulatory treatment. Because of the growing popularity of the sport, there are several MMA promoters who compete vigorously for talent and fans.
This thriving free market should not be impeded by regulatory tinkerers on Capitol Hill.
One of the most troubling aspects of the Mullin bill is that it removes from the promoter the decision how fighters are ranked and when and against whom fighters are matched. From all accounts, the free market is not disappointing MMA fans. Promoters have every incentive, economic and reputational, to arrange the bouts that fans want to watch; and those same fans, reporters, and athletes will hold promoters accountable if they fail to appropriately match fighters. Why Rep. Mullin believes government matchmaking would be superior to the current free market system is unclear. What is clear is that the system is not broken, and H.R. 5365 is a solution in search of a problem.
This legislation also tramples the principles embodied in Article 1 and the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Congress can’t delegate its legislative authority to a private entity to write rules intended to be adopted by agencies of state governments. Incredibly, H.R. 5365 does just that. It directs a private entity (the Association of Boxing Commissions) to write regulations to be adopted by state boxing commissions. We have long been concerned about Congress’ bad habit of delegating broad unaccountable authority to federal regulatory agencies. Rep. Mullin’s idea takes this bad idea several steps further. He would delegate broad unaccountable authority to a private entity and have state agencies adopt those regulations. This is an affront to our constitutional order.
Finally, we are deeply concerned about the growing federal regulatory leviathan. It regulates our lives in countless intrusive and burdensome ways. According to the Mercatus Center, economic growth in the U.S. has been slowed by 0.8 percent per year since 1980 which means, had regulation held constant from 1980 through 2012, the U.S. economy would be 25 percent larger – a delta of $4 trillion – which amounts to a benefit of $13,000 per person in the United States. More importantly, a $4 trillion increase in GDP would create, literally, millions of jobs—potentially wiping out unemployment for those both in and out of the workforce!
The American people are tired of business as usual in Washington and are not clamoring for more regulation on the private economy, including MMA. Instead, Congress should reject H.R. 5365 and focus on constitutional policies that reduce regulations, establish favorable economic conditions, balance the budget, and keep the American people safe.
George Landrith, President and CEO, Frontiers of Freedom
Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
Morton Blackwell, Chairman, The Weyrich Lunch
James L. Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association
Matt Schlapp, Chairman, American Conservative Union
Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment
David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Seton Motley, President, Less Government
Melissa Ortiz, President, Able Americans
Carrie Lukas, Managing Director, Independent Women’s Voice
Heather R. Higgins, President and CEO, Independent Women’s Voice
Andrew F. Quinlan, President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity
David Ridenour, President, National Center for Public Policy Research
Alex St. James, National Executive Director, One Day in America
Daniel Schneider, Executive Director, American Conservative Union
Larry Cirignano, DC Representative, Children First Foundation
Rusty Weiss, Founder, Mental Recession
Cameron Gray, Author, Richochet.com
Norm Singleton, Senior Vice President, Campaign for Liberty
Matthew Nye, Chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus