The New Budget: Hits and Misses

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, 3:29 PM PERMALINK


Last week congressional Republicans reached an agreement on the budget for the year going forward. The proposal calls for reforms to struggling entitlement programs, clamps down on inefficient and ineffective government programs, and lays the groundwork for strong economic growth.

The most important aspect of any budget is whether it is balanced. The FY2016 conference agreement brings spending restraint to the federal government and creates a $32 billion surplus by 2024—meanwhile no new taxes are levied on individuals. This stands in stark contrast to the $1.44 trillion in new taxes requested in the president’s FY2016 budget.

The new Republican budget agreement also maintains the most important conservative victory in the last five years: the sequester caps. The FY2016 Budget maintains the spending restrictions mandated in the Budget Control Act of 2011, ensuring the continuation of the savings from discretionary spending. Here again the Republican budget agreement stands in stark contrast to the White House budget, which ignores 2011 sequester spending caps and raises spending through misleading promises, the Senate budget abides by federal law. It is important to keep these caps in place; caps that have stabilized federal spending since 2011 and will lead to $1.79 trillion in savings through 2021.

Moreover, the economic benefits of the agreement would help spur our sluggish economy. In total, $400 billion would be added directly into the economy over the next ten years, according to The Congressional Budget Office. After years of lackluster growth, it is time to enact fiscal policies that put the economy back to work.

Unfortunately, not everything about the deal is perfect. In order to appease some of the more hawkish legislators, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund (OCO) has gotten a very generous increase. OCO is the fund that the pentagon uses to fund overseas engagement…theoretically. Though the Pentagon has requested $50.9 billion for OCO, the budget sets aside $96 billion for the same fund. This extra money will go to pad military budgets without ensuring an equivalent offset somewhere else in the budget.

Examples of OCO’s largesse abound. FY2016 has over $500 million set aside for construction projects that would only be relevant to fighting ISIS if the Air Force were to literally drop buildings (presumably flown over by multiple F-35s) on top of Mosul.

Using the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund as a way to skirt the Budget Control Act’s caps is disingenuous and unfair to taxpayers. Fortunately, there are redeeming qualities to be found in next year’s budget.

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Michigan Tax Hike Measure Goes Down in Flames, 80-20


Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, 10:54 AM PERMALINK


Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales and gas tax increase on Tuesday, defeating Prop. 1 by an 80 – 20 margin. The coalition of spending interests pushing the tax increase outspent their opponents 17 – 1 yet still suffered a historic defeat. 

Proponents, including Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, sold the tax hike measure as a means of funding “roads and bridges."

“The tax and spenders and their advocates in the media thought they had finally found the secret sauce: hold highway spending hostage to higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The verdict is now in from Michigan. A big No.” 

According to Gongwer News Service, the abysmal support for the tax hike is the "lowest percentage of the vote for a constitutional amendment since the adoption of the 1963 Constitution.”

The latest available numbers from the Secretary of State’s office show a vote breakdown as follows:

YES:                 349,813

NO:                  1,405,716

According to public filings, pro-tax hike forces raised $9,049,010 while tax hike opponents raised $519,138.

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Congress Must End the Export-Import Bank

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, 9:30 AM PERMALINK


For the last 80 years, the Export-Import Bank has subsidized American business operations overseas by financing international investments for US firms.The bank has earned a reputation as the poster child for crony capitalism and corporate welfare. Fortunately for supporters of free enterprise, there exists a window of opportunity to put an end to the irresponsible subsidies when the bank’s charter expires on June 30.

Congress can do the right thing by simply doing nothing and allowing the bank’s charter to expire. Not only does the bank leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars each year, it distributes these funds in an unfair and irresponsible way to big business.

While the bank purportedly exists to help American business compete overseas, in reality the bank assists a tiny fraction of businesses. In fact, the bank overwhelmingly favors large, well-connected, and well-funded corporations that simply do not need this money. Recent data has found that less than 1 percent of 1 percent of small business benefit from subsidies distributed by the bank.

Not only are these subsidies unnecessary, they are also reckless. The Ex-Im bank’s business model is based on irresponsible loans and poor accounting which leave taxpayers on the hook. According to the Congressional Budget Office, reauthorizing the Ex-Im bank will cost taxpayers a $2 billion over the next decade.

In an effort to end the Ex-Im bank once and for all, ATR recently joined with 55 other free-market organizations to urge Congress to put a stop to this irresponsible corporate welfare. As the letter states, taxpayers deserve a system based on free enterprise, not political favoritism:

America deserves an international trade policy that is based on free-market mechanisms, not paying foreign companies to buy exports from large corporations with political connections.

While Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has fought hard to end the bank, he faces resistance from members on on both sides of the political spectrum who are eager to preserve the status quo. Speaker John Boehner recently said he will support any plan that Chairman Hensarling has.

If ever there was a time for fiscal discipline, it is in today’s tight climate of federal deficits and tight budgets. Quite simply, taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize this icon of crony capitalism any longer.

Urge your Congressman to oppose reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank by calling 202-224-3121

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Kim Seng

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The LEADS Act Will Ensure Your Right to Privacy

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, 3:36 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform, along with 8 organizations signed onto a letter in support of The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act.  The LEADS Act aims to protect the privacy of American citizens by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access emails and personal data stored abroad.  The LEADS act would reinforce the principles of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and apply them to information outside of our borders.   The private communications of American citizens are protected by the Constitution, no matter where one may choose to store them.  
 
The letter states

“The U.S. Government has relied on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to reach data of foreign citizens stored abroad so long as the company storing the data had a presence on U.S. soil. This practice creates distrust of American businesses and encourages foreign citizens, companies and countries to stop doing business with U.S. companies operating overseas. Eventually, this will harm U.S. companies and threaten America’s leadership in cloud computing technology.”

In February, This bipartisan legislation to protect privacy was introduced in both the Senate and the House.  Introduced by Senator Hatch (R-Utah) S. 512 and Representative Marino (R-Penn.) H.R. 1174, the LEADS Act protects the Fourth Amendment Rights of US citizens. 

Senator Hatch explains: “This is a pro-business, pro-innovation bill that will protect American privacy in the digital age and promote trust in U.S. technologies worldwide."

You can read the full letter here.   
 
You can read more on the LEADs Act here.  

 

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Melina Sampaio Manfrinatti

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Connecticut Legislators Propose Income Tax Hike

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, 12:58 PM PERMALINK


Last week, Connecticut legislators bucked Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), discarding his budget proposal in favor of a plan approved by the legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee that raises taxes by $1.8 billion over the next two years. Most of the plan’s new revenue comes from an income tax increase.

The budget approved by Democrat lawmakers, who control the state house and senate, raises the top marginal income tax rate from 6.7 to 6.99 percent for individuals earning over $500,000 annually and couples with income in excess of $1 million. Connecticut lawmakers characterize this as a tax increase on the rich, but they neglect to acknowledge the harm this will do to small businesses.

According to IRS data, this income tax increase would hit over 6,800 Connecticut small businesses that file their taxes under the individual income tax system. However, that figure only accounts for sole proprietors. Including the share of small businesses made up of S-Corps and partnerships, upwards of 8,000 small businesses file under the individual income tax system in Connecticut and would be adversely affected by the budget approved by Democratic state legislators last week. If approved, the hike called for by the legislature it would be the fourth state income tax increase since the levy was instituted in 1991. Gov. Malloy signed the last income tax hike into law in 2011.

The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee-approved budget also raises $730 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax base to include previously untaxed services, applies a surcharge to capital gains, and delays scheduled tax cuts. Gov. Malloy was quick to criticize the Democrat-approved budget, as well as the tax hike-free Republican alternative.

Gov. Malloy’s budget also raises taxes, but not as much as legislative Democrats are calling for. Over the next month legislative leadership will work with the Malloy administration to reach a budget agreement. Unfortunately for Connecticut taxpayers, though they already face the third highest state and local tax burden in the nation, politicians in Hartford appear likely to approve further tax hikes this summer. The question in Connecticut appears to be how much, not whether, taxes will go up this year. 

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Jerry Cobb

These fools that is all they know how to do is raise taxes....spend more foolishly. Provide no accountability. And run all businesses into the ground. Their reality is unlike the rest of us.


Louisiana Labor Committee Passes Paycheck Protection Bill

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Thursday, April 30th, 2015, 11:42 AM PERMALINK


A significant step toward greater worker freedom was taken today in the Louisiana legislature, where the House Labor Committee voted to approved House Bill 418, legislation that will end government withholding of union dues from public employee paychecks. 

If this bill is approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jindal, public employees in Louisiana will no longer be forced to fund union political activities against their will. Prior to the hearing, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to committee members encouraging them to support this much-needed reform: 

 

To: Members of the Louisiana House Labor & Industrial Relations Committee,​

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Louisiana, I write in strong support of House Bill 418, legislation introduced by Rep. Stuart Bishop that would both increase worker freedom and get Louisiana government out of the business of acting as the money bagman for government employee unions and their political activities. By ending state withholding of union fees and dues from government employee paychecks, HB 418 will stop an indefensible use of state resources and give Louisiana public employees the freedom to decide whether or not they would like to join a union and fund its political activities.

HB 418 recognizes the right of workers to organize, but ensures that workers have freedom of association and are not forced to join and fund a union against their will. If passed, HB 418 will end the use of state resources to collect union dues via paycheck withholding. With passage of this important reform, no employee will be forced to see his or her money used to support a political cause he or she does not believe in.

If unions are providing a service to workers, then they will have no problem making the case for why workers should pay dues. However, research indicates that without proper safeguards, many workers are forced to give up hard earned wages against their will. A study by the Heritage Foundation found that states that passed paycheck protection laws like HB 418 saw union spending on political campaigns and activities fall by an average by 50% after such laws were enacted. This reveals that often the goals of the union leadership do not reflect the priorities of the workers. HB 418 would ensure that every Louisiana worker has the freedom to choose whether or not to support union political activities. When given a choice, it seems that many workers decide to not contribute to political activities that they were previously forced to fund against their will.

HB 418 saves taxpayer dollars by taking the government out of the dues collection business. No more administrative or financial resources will be used by state government to funnel money to unions that, in turn, often use that very money to work against the interests of Louisiana taxpayers. If the unions want the money, they will have to ask for it themselves.

In both principle and practice, HB 418 is a good reform that will expand economic freedom in Louisiana. Paycheck protection laws protect worker rights and taxpayer dollars; as such, I strongly urge you to support HB 418.  

Sincerely, 

Grover G. Norquist, President

Americans for Tax Reform

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Photo credit: Antrell Williams

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Senate Finance Committee Set to Approve Legislation to Improve 529 College Savings Plans

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, 4:04 PM PERMALINK


The Senate Finance Committee today considered legislation to improve 529 college savings plans. ATR applauds the work of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to improve this important savings plan and help middle class families invest in their children's college education. Earlier this year, President Obama attempted to hike taxes on this commonly used plan, but was forced to drop the proposal after backlash from middle class families.

529 savings plans help middle class families invest in their children’s futures. These plans allow parents to invest after-tax earnings into a plan that collects interest, and can later be spent tax-free on their children’s college education. As of 2014, an average of $21,000 has been invested in nearly 12 million accounts.

The common-sense legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee updates 529 plans to include new technology such as computers and reduces the complexity of setting up and using a 529 plan. The House of Representatives already passed similar legislation by a 401-20 margin in February.

However, as ATR has previously reported, President Obama’s 2015 Budget proposed taxing 529 savings plans despite his prior public support for 529 plans. After public backlash from middle class families, the President reluctantly backtracked on this proposal and removed it from his budget proposal.

Below is the timeline of President Obama’s hypocrisy on 529 savings plans.

  • August 3, 2006: As U.S. Senator, votes to make 529s permanent.
  • 2006: Praises 529s in his book, The Audacity of Hope.
  • 2007: Makes a $240,000 contribution to his own 529 accounts.
  • Sept. 9, 2009: White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families issues a detailed report on 529s. Top conclusion from the report:

"529 plans are an attractive and convenient means of saving for college.”

The report makes several recommendations on how to further promote 529s.

  • Sept. 9, 2009: Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Geithner, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan share a stage at a Middle Class Task Force event at Syracuse University. Geithner strongly touts 529 plans:

"As the Vice President has said, we are also working to implement, expand or improve a wide array of other government programs that encourage education savings and increase college enrollment. Today I want to highlight one program in particular, Section 529 savings plans.

These plans can be an immensely effective way for Americans to save for college. They are generally administered by the states, and they allow people to put aside money for college and enjoy investment earnings that are free of federal taxes and, in some cases, receive state tax benefits, as well. When state tax benefits are included, a typical middle class family can accumulate 25 percent more in 529 accounts than they can in a typical taxable savings account."

  • Sept. 9, 2009: Official White House statement praises 529s:

"A 529 plan, offered by states, provides a convenient, tax-preferred way for families to save for college, and works much like ROTH IRAs, wherein contributions are made with after-tax income, returns accumulate tax free and distributions can be for qualified educational expenses without taxes."

  • July 23, 2010: President Obama sits for a lengthy interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was asked, “can you feel the pain directly that other Americans are feeling?” Obama answers by citing his 529s as an example of how he can identify with the middle class:

"Well, part of it has, that part that is devoted to Malia and Sasha's college fund was in a 529, you know, that had been set up when I was still a state senator. And, obviously, that goes up and down with the stock market and so it's lost value like everybody else."

  • Jan. 17, 2015: On a Saturday evening, the White House shares with reporters an outline of President Obama’s tax plan. The ten-page, single-spaced document describes 529s as “upside-down.”
  • Jan. 23, 2015: White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman, in an interview with BloombergBusinessweek, deems 529s “ineffective” and “tilted towards the upper end."
  • Jan. 23, 2015: White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismisses a reporter question on 529s:

"My guess is those who are saying that are critics of the president. And that’s fine. The—I think the facts about the president’s proposal speak for themselves."

  • Jan. 27, 2015: Anonymous Obama administration official announces that the White House is abandoning its plans to tax 529s.

 

Photo Credit: 
Michael Jolley

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Thank Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio for Promising No Tax Hikes as President

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, 2:30 PM PERMALINK


Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio recently became the first Presidential candidates to sign the taxpayer protection pledge to the American people. These candidates have pledged to “oppose and veto any and all tax increase” as President.

Their decision to "oppose and veto ANY and ALL tax increases" puts pressure on all the other candidates that enter into the race to make the same written commitment. Paul, Cruz, and Rubio understand government should be reformed, so it takes and spends less of our hard-earned money.  

Each candidate should be applauded for fighting for taxpayers and against bigger, more intrusive government. Let’s show our appreciation by sending Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio individual Thank You Cards for their strong commitment to the American people:

  

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All Formally Declared GOP Presidential Candidates Have Signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, 2:00 PM PERMALINK


All three of the formally declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have signed a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes" if elected President.

Sens. Paul, Cruz, and Rubio have also signed and kept the Pledge as members of the U.S. Senate. Rubio signed and kept the Pledge as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and as state House Speaker.

"Elected officials face a choice: Reform government to cost less, or raise taxes instead of reforming government,” said Grover Norquist president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have made it clear that they stand with taxpayers now and in the future.” said Norquist.

With the exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, prospective GOP presidential candidates have signed the Pledge in their current or former capacity. As incumbent governors, Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.) have signed and kept the Pledge. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry signed and kept the Pledge.

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Huntsman dropped out of the race on Jan. 15, 2012 after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary.

ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. This includes all members of the House and Senate GOP leadership as well as the chairmen of the tax writing committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.

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Rickster Rickster

NO politician should be beholden to any group or person such as this. I for one am sick and tired of this pandering to loud mouthed backstabbing blackmailers like Norquist and his ilk. this kind of stunt along with the ones the religious right pull are un-American in the extreme.


Senator Marco Rubio Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People

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Posted by ATR on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, 6:00 AM PERMALINK


Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a candidate for the presidency of the United States, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people. 

The pledge is a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Senator Rubio signed and kept the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He is a Pledge signer in his current capacity as a U.S. Senator and has kept his promise to Floridians.

ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

“Senator Rubio is a longtime leader in the taxpayer movement. He signed and kept the Pledge as a Florida state House representative and as a United States Senator. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people, Senator Rubio continues to protect American taxpayers against higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senator Rubio understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money, and will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past."

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Jamelle Bouie

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ShawnNJ

Spoken like true America-hating Liberal scum.

Hey Hillary just called and asked that you keep hiding her computer server. She doesn't want Americans to see payoffs she recieved for selling America down the river.

truth

Thankfully no republicans will ever be elected as President due to hardline or crazy views. R.i.p republican party


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