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Grover Norquist's Statement on FCC Involvement in Municipal Broadband

Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, 12:40 PM PERMALINK

Today, in an address to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mathew Berry, Chief of Staff to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, made clear that states asking the FCC to preempt state law would violate the Constitution, and has no basis in legal precedent. 

In response, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

The bipartisan NCSL has said that it will take the FCC to court to stop any attempt by the Commission to preempt state regulation of taxpayer-funded broadband networks.  The FCC should not waste valuable time and taxpayer dollars in futile legal wrangling.  It’s none of the FCC’s business if state governments forbid cities from wasting taxpayer dollars.

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Rep. Ted Yoho Leaves the Door Open to Higher Taxes

Posted by Adam Radman on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, 9:15 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform calls on Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-03) to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written commitment to his constituents to oppose higher taxes. It’s time for Yoho to prove his commitment to defending taxpayers and standing up to special-interests in Washington, D.C. A refusal to sign the Pledge would signify to voters Yoho’s willingness to leave the door open to higher taxes on Floridians and their families.

Politicians often run for office saying they won't raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing. With a less than conservative voting history and questionable remarks in his past, taxpayers deserve to know where Rep. Ted Yoho really stands on taxes. 

Yoho defeated former Rep. Cliff Stearns in 2012 running as an outsider, yet his ratings with several prominent conservative groups leave much to be desired. In fact, Rep. Stearns has a better lifetime rating with Freedomworks (88%-81%) and the Club for Growth (87%-76%). So far, Yoho’s actions don’t match his rhetoric. 

During an interview with the Florida Times Union, Yoho also went on record suggesting tax hikes may need to be part of a Social Security solution:

To answer your question: you increase the age, and they have been doing that.  Ahhh…probably put people on a decreased benefit…um.. means testing, and some point, taxes, if we are going to stay on the current system, may have to go up on that. Um…there’s the cap on taxable income of about $119,000 ummm … I’m talking about me personally, if that went away, I wouldn’t mind paying that…

There is only one candidate in the race willing to make a firm, written commitment to oppose higher taxes; his name is Jake Rush.

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Virginia Should Look to Florida as it Prepares for Special Session on Medicaid Reform

Posted by Alexander Bobroske on Friday, August 15th, 2014, 4:01 PM PERMALINK

As Virginia gears up for a special session next month to reform the state’s Medicaid program, legislators should take note of the success in Florida. First signed into law in 2005 under Governor Jeb Bush, Florida’s five pilot counties for Medicaid reform saved taxpayers over $100 million annually. In 2011, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a statewide expansion of that pilot program where savings could reach nearly $2 billion annually.

The pilot program in Florida shifted the risk of abuse from the taxpayer to the private market by replacing fee-for-service with premiums. Patients saw predictable rates and chose between Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Provider Service Networks (PSNs). PSNs are owned by doctor groups or non-profits rather than insurers. While both resulted in lower expenditures for the reform program counties, with reduced costs by 18 percent, those with a PSN saved on average an additional $7 more per month.

In the pilot counties, patients could choose between two and 16 different plans. This lowered monthly expenditure for the elderly and disabled by $200 and $30 a month for mothers and children. The reform program also provided incentives of up to $125 a year for healthy behaviors.

Besides saving the taxpayer millions of dollars, Florida’s Medicaid reform lead to higher patient satisfaction across the board. 100 percent of patients with PSNs were at or above the national benchmark in satisfaction.

With one-third of the 2011-2012 Florida state budget spent on Medicaid, eliminating abuse and saving taxpayer dollars was a must. The 2011 reform expanded these cost effective solutions statewide, just as Virginia should do next month. Florida was divided into 11 regions with multiple care organizations to choose from. A low-income pool was created as well as tort reform, capping practitioner liability at $200,000.

Currently 300.000 Floridians are under the Medicaid reform system with 2.9 million expected to enroll. Because of these reforms, Florida is estimated to save between $500 million and $1.9 billion annually. Virginia legislators should build off of Florida’s accomplishment when drafting Medicaid reform next month.

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There ought not to be any federal funds in the first place for social purposes.


I personally cannot see how a reasoning person could view Florida's Medicaid policy as responsible. Floridians currently pay income tax to support the Federal government which is assuming 100% of the costs associated with the Medicaid expansion. However Florida does not accept the free Federal funds. Somehow this strikes me as incredibly stupid.

Governor Cuomo Opposes New York Energy Renaissance

Posted by Alexander Bobroske on Friday, August 15th, 2014, 1:28 PM PERMALINK

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is hunkering down against fracking even while Democrats across the country are realizing that is a naive stance. While New York businesses suffer due to harsh regulations and high taxes, fracking provides a solution for upstate New York workers looking for well-paying jobs and a reduction in energy costs.

In Colorado, Pelosi lapdog, Rep. Jared Polis has already lost his battle against American natural gas. He is pulling down his two ballot initiatives against fracking at the urging of Democrats, including the vulnerable Governor John Hickenlooper (D) and Senator Mark Udall (D). Both face strong, principled opponents in their battle for re-election.

Smart Democrats know it is politically dangerous to oppose this boom in American energy which is producing thousands of jobs and providing cost relief for millions of Americans. New York’s neighbor, Pennsylvania – for instance –  gained over ten thousand jobs from 2009-2011 with average earnings of $70,000 a year due to their fracking boom. Nationally, the price of natural gas dropped drastically from a 2003-08 average of $7.20 per million BTUs down to $2.80 in 2012. American families saved $32.5 billion in 2012 while green energy mandated Europeans have seen their energy costs skyrocket.

Fracking creates well-paying jobs and encourages investment into American, rather than foreign, energy. Contact Governor Cuomo here and call him at (518) 474-8390 to tell him that fracking is the right solution for New York.

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Center for Worker Freedom Launches Billboard Campaign in Support of Fresno Farm Workers

Posted by Matt Patterson on Thursday, August 14th, 2014, 1:04 PM PERMALINK

On August 12 the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) launched the first in a series of billboards in California designed to bring attention to the plight of Fresno farm workers who are being forced into a union against their will.

The workers at Gerawan Farming, Inc. voted last November in a decertification election to rid their workplace of the United Farm Workers.  The labor bosses want to take three percent of the workers’ hard-earned pay, despite the fact that the union has negotiated no wages or working conditions for the workers in over twenty years.

The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is refusing to count the votes from last fall’s decertification election in an outrageous violation of the workers’ Constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly.

Writing for Forbes this week, CWF Executive Director Matt Patterson notes:

The ALRB, like its national counterpart, the NLRB, has functioned as a little more than government enforcer for Big Labor. Does anyone think it is an accident that the ALRB wants to force the union on Gerawan until the election is investigated?  Does anyone doubt that if the union had won that election the votes would have been counted long ago?

The first CWF billboard to bring attention to the plight of the Fresno farm workers (pictured below) is located near the union’s headquarters in Delano, California, and reads, “Hey, UFW, what are you afraid of? Count the votes at Gerawan!”

CWF, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform, is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the costs and consequences of unionization.

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Norquist is educating people about the costs of unionization. Let me educate you about the cost of illegal immigration amnesties that this guy supports... it is going to cost a lot more than unions...


About time someone asks UFW correct question. Way to go, way to go!!!!

Kurt Zellers Makes Passionate Case for the Taxpayer

Posted by Jorge Marin on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014, 4:53 PM PERMALINK

Today is Minnesota’s gubernatorial primary and the fight for the Republican nomination has been heated. Voters have clearly contrasting choices when it comes to who is standing up for taxpayers. Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers opted to make a case for his candidacy in a column in the Star Tribune. The former speaker of the Minnesota House is the only candidate who has made a personal written commitment to oppose higher taxes. Given the massive tax hikes signed into law by Democrat Governor Mark Dayton, Zellers has demonstrated he understands the problems of hardworking small businesses and families in Minnesota. In his column, Zellers explains that

 “In 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton and his DFL-controlled majorities in the Legislature raised taxes on hardworking Minnesotans by more than $2 billion. According to Dayton’s own Revenue Department, the tax increases forced every Minnesotan to pay more for government, and his tax bill actually hit the poorest Minnesotans hardest.”

With this he demonstrates an understanding of the past mistakes of Minnesota’s leaders, for this reason, he states

“That’s why I made a commitment not to raise your taxes, and my plan will move Minnesota out of the top 10 in taxes…

“There is a good reason for the Star Tribune’s Aug. 4 endorsement of Republican Jeff Johnson in the upcoming primary election. Johnson has said in numerous debates and forums that he is open to extending the sales tax to clothing and food, something I am unwilling to do.”

Zellers also has the necessary experience to make the much-needed changes to Minnesota’s tax system,

“When my colleagues elected me speaker of the Minnesota House in 2011, our state was in recession and faced an unprecedented $6 billion deficit. As speaker, I led efforts to turn that record deficit into a $3 billion surplus without raising taxes during tough economic times.”

Lastly, he explains the high stakes of the upcoming elections,

The next governor will have the opportunity to reform a union-centered education system that is failing low-income and minority students; bring billions of dollars and jobs to support responsible mining in northeastern Minnesota, and make our state globally competitive for building careers.”

Kurt Zellers is the candidate most committed to standing up for the Minnesota taxpayers. As the only Republican to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, he has acknowledged that something must be done about the deep-seated spending culture in Saint Paul without increasing the tax burden on Minnesotans. Voters should remember this when they cast their vote in today’s primary.

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IF this stupid organization cared about the cost of taxes, its slimy founder wouldn't support illegal immigrant amnesties that will cost the tax payer trillions after it is enacted..

Big Labor Targets California Farm Workers (and more...)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014, 1:26 PM PERMALINK

Matt Patterson, executive director of Americans for Tax Reform’s Center for Worker Freedom wrote an op-ed  for Forbes, entitled “Big Labor, Big Government Team Up To Oppress Farm Workers,” highlighting the ALRB’s attack on California farm workers.

Last November, Silvia, along with thousands of her coworkers, voted in a decertification election to rid their workplace of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union that had done nothing for them; the UFW had bargained no wages or conditions for the Gerawan employees, but still wanted three percent of their wages in dues.

For Silvia, that three percent is a significant sum. She saw no reason to surrender the money she earned with her own hands to union bosses, so last autumn she collected enough signatures from co-workers (3,000 to be exact) to trigger a decertification election. In November, the California Agricultural Labor Relations supervised the voting.

Unfortunately, the ALRB is refusing to count those votes. Was the UFW booted out of Gerawan? We don’t know- the ballots sit under lock and key in the Board’s office. The Board is claiming the votes can’t be counted until the election is “investigated.” Unfortunately, they are not doing any investigating, claiming they have run out of funds to do so.

Newsmax’s Greg Richter wrote a piece detailing the new confusions and challenges that will impact taxpayers next tax season as a result of Obamacare.

Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, testified before Congress in early June that the upcoming tax season “has the potential to be one of the most chaotic in years.”

One of the main problems, Ellis said, is in the calculation of subsidies, which are done by estimate and may not reflect actual income- especially for those whose income changes dramatically during the year.

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Keep Internet Access Tax Free!

Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014, 1:14 PM PERMALINK

Keep Internet access tax free!  Sign the petition!

The House recently passed a permanent extension of the internet tax moratorium, H.R. 3086,  Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA). PITFA would permanently prevent state and local governments from imposing taxes on internet access. (This should not be confused with the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow sales tax to be collected from e-commerce.) The Senate has not yet passed the moratorium, but it is of great importance that they pass it before the current moratorium expires on November 1st.  

The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act is the only thing stopping state and local governments from taxing internet access and making it significantly less affordable. If internet access is less affordable, fewer people will have it, and if fewer people have internet access, there is less investment in broadband infrastructure and overall less people using the internet as the amazing tool for innovation and entrepreneurship that it ought to be.

There is very little doubt that states and cities would impose taxes as soon as they were allowed.  Using cellular phone access as an example, an average of 17% of the average American cellular phone bill is now comprised of taxes.

Please do your part to keep internet access tax-free by signing our petition telling Congress to pass PITFA!

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ATR Releases List of 2014 State Pledge Signers Ahead of Elections in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

Posted by Jorge Marin on Monday, August 11th, 2014, 5:22 PM PERMALINK

As the next round of state primary elections approaches, Americans for Tax Reform is proud to release a new list of candidates, both challengers and incumbents, who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge for the states of Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin. The candidates on this list have announced their strong commitment to the taxpayers of their states and districts and pledged to oppose any and all efforts to increase the tax burden on their constituents. ATR urges taxpayers to consider the individuals who have staked their career to protecting the interests of the American citizen when they cast their ballots on Tuesday, August 12. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Tax payer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot Tuesday can be found in the following links:




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From Taxes to Keystone: Billionaire Steyer’s Ads Are Labeled ‘False’ By Fact-Checkers

Posted by Michael Bastasch on Monday, August 11th, 2014, 11:43 AM PERMALINK

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has been increasing his ad buys promoting environmentalist causes and candidates. There’s just one problem: many of his ads are being fact-checked as misleading or even false.

Most recently, a Steyer-backed ad against Iowa Republican candidate for Senate Joni Ernst was rated “false” by the fact-checking site Politifact. Steyer’s group, NextGen Climate Action, put out an ad lambasting Ernst for signing a pledge not to raise taxes that was crafted by the group Americans for Tax Reform.

Republicans have been slammed by Democrats in the past for backing the no tax increase pledge, but the NextGen ad from July claimed the pledge “protects tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” This, however, was declared to be false by Politifact.

“Ernst signed the Taxpayer Protection pledge, a promise promoted by Americans for Tax Reform, which is a broad vow to oppose all tax increases,” Politifact said. “It does not specify protecting tax loopholes for companies that have employees overseas.”

“In one instance, Americans for Tax Reform urged signers to vote against a bill that closed one of these loopholes, but the decision was more about stopping a tax increase than protecting outsourcing, and Ernst had yet to sign the pledge then, anyway. We rate this claim False,” declared Politifact.

Indeed, the ATR pledge states that signatories should “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses” and “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

If anything, the pledge allows for closing tax “loopholes” — they just have to be offset by lowering base tax rates. ATR bills itself as a group that wants a “system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today.” Getting rid of loopholes would certainly make the tax system simpler.

NextGen Climate Action did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on their anti-Ernst ad.

The attack on Ernst was not the first time that NextGen has been called out for bending the truth in their ads. Back in January, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave a NextGen ad attacking the Keystone XL pipeline “four Pinocchios.”

Steyer was first thrust into the public sphere because of his opposition to it on global warming grounds. Despite some potential conflicts of interest with his former hedge fund, Steyer put out ads and funded studies trying to show that Keystone would harm the U.S. economy and be bad for the planet.

In particular, Steyer tried to paint the pipeline as an export project that would simply move oil through America’s heartland so it could be shipped to China, a dubious claim at best.

One ad put out by NextGen tried to show that Keystone would benefit China, not America. The ad claimed that Chinese government-backed companies had billions invested in Canadian oil sands development and was “counting on the U.S. to approve TransCanada’s pipeline to ship oil through America’s heartland and out to foreign countries like theirs.”

The ad caught the attention from fact-checkers who looked into NextGen’s claims about Keystone being used to ship oil to China. Kessler wrote the “ad does not even meet the minimal standards for such political attack ads. It relies on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by the reality.”

Why? Because while China has invested billions in Canadian energy development, it’s only a small player in the oil production game. Asian-owned companies only make up about 7 percent of Canadian oil production — this includes China, Japan and others.

The NextGen ad also features a top TransCanada official saying “I can’t do that…” after the ad claims the company “under oath…won’t commit to selling us one single barrel” of oil. But this quote by TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, Alexander Pourbaix, was “turned on its head,” reports the Post.

“Here’s the context: Pourbaix had explained that the refiners sometimes export refined products such as diesel, and then will import ‘incremental volumes’ of refined products,” Kessler wrote. “So a lawmaker asked him to ensure that any volume exported was met with an equal volume of imported products, so there was no net difference.”

Pourbaix actually said, “I can’t do that because I am merely the shipper of this oil.” The ad cuts him off and then poses a question he was never asked.

“Chinese state investment in the Canadian oil sands is an interesting development, but not worthy of the jingoistic treatment given here,” Kessler wrote. “While depending on market conditions some refined products may be exported, there is no evidence that every single barrel of oil would simply pass through the pipeline on the way to overseas shores. The twisting of Pourbaix’s remarks is especially disturbing, even by the standards of attack ads.”

Despite the “four Pinocchios” rating by the Post, NextGen later recycled the debunked ad in an attack on Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in April.

Steyer again attempted to sway public support for Keystone in June by hiring former Navy SEAL chief David Cooper to say the project posed a huge national security risk. Cooper issued a report saying a “small group of evildoers could easily cause a catastrophic spill of millions of gallons of diluted bitumen, or tar sands crude, from the Keystone XL,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

“They could do it with as little as four pounds of commercial-grade, improvised explosives,” Businessweek added, citing Cooper’s report.

“A coordinated attack at several critical points would not only wreak havoc,” Cooper wrote in his report, “it would likely overwhelm the existing engineering capability needed to clean it up.”Ad Units

But National Journal noted that the report leaves out “crucial context” that dampens the Steyer’s attempt at painting Keystone as a national security liability.

“Here’s what it doesn’t say,” National Journal reported. “While terrorist attacks on energy infrastructure may be on the rise around the world, terrorist strikes on U.S. soil have declined dramatically in recent decades.”

“During this time, the most likely targets of a terrorist attack in the U.S. were businesses, followed by private citizens and property. Attacks tended to take place in urban areas, and non-fatal events vastly outnumbered deadly strikes,” the report continued, adding that Cooper even acknowledged the low probability of an attack on Keystone.

National Journal concluded that “while Keystone XL could fall victim to a terrorist attack, the odds of that happening in the near future are low relative to potential targets and past years’ activity.”

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