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Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist Calls for Hearing on Obama Labor Nominee Craig Becker


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009, 12:19 PM PERMALINK


20 October 2009
 
Dear Chairman Harkin & Ranking Member Enzi:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I urge you to request a hearing on Craig Becker, President Obama’s nomination for National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). A Senate hearing would allow for Mr. Becker to clarify his past positions, many of them controversial, and give Mr. Becker a forum to explain his vision for the NLRB and their role in labor reform.

Members of the NLRB have the critical tasks of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. Bestowing that power to change the employer-employee relationship without a full Senate hearing is irresponsible at best.
 
Mr. Becker, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) associate general council, suggested that members of the NLRB should rewrite union-election rules in favor of unions in a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article. When asked by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to clarify this statement, Mr. Becker only promised to “maintain an open mind about whether [his] suggestions should be implemented in any manner.”

As associate general for the SEIU, Mr. Becker kept precarious relationships with Acorn and former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Mr. Becker was involved in numerous legal actions involving SEIU locals tied to ACORN and won praise from ACORN co-founder, Wade Rathke. Mr. Rathke said of Becker, “For my money, Craig’s signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies and protections which have allowed the effective organization of informal workers, and by this I mean home health-care workers.” It is unfair to levy partially substantiated guilt-by-association charges against Mr. Becker but his lack candor is troubling and deserves all full Senate hearing.

A full hearing will allow Senators to qualify Mr. Becker’s beliefs and determine if he represents a fringe movement, as many past statements suggest, or if his beliefs are within mainstream thought. Furthermore, the public deserves an opportunity to hear from Mr. Becker directly as the body he is nominated for, the NLRB, has the potential to change every workplace in America.

Onward,
 
Grover G. Norquist
President

cc:     All members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
 

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A Cure for What Ails Harrisburg


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


Today's Philadelphia Inquirer ran the following Op-Ed by ATR state affairs manager Patrick Gleason on the Pennsylvania budget and the need for greater transparency in the legislative process: 

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20091013_Pa__budget__Why_the_rush_.html

Pa. budget: Why the rush? 

Despite the long impasse, there was scant opportunity for public scrutiny. 

By Patrick M. Gleason 

Last week, just before the nation's longest budget impasse ended, Pennsylvania legislators had begun feeling the heat from constituents angered by their inability to pass a budget. Talking to reporters about the budget after a meeting at the governor's mansion, House Speaker Keith McCall (D., Carbon) told reporters that he and his colleagues hoped to "get it done and get it done now."

My question at this point is: What was the rush? I'm not saying the budget stalemate should have been dragged out any longer; indeed, the budget was long overdue and needed to be completed as soon as reasonably possible. However, there should have been more of an opportunity for review of the final product once an agreement was reached. Transparency and open debate on the state's spending priorities should not be sacrificed for the sake of "having something."

Thanks to politicians in Washington, we have seen this year what the hasty approval of large, costly, and complex legislation leads to: buyers' remorse on the part of both lawmakers and voters.

The U.S. House narrowly passed "cap and trade" climate-control legislation in June. To the outrage of many, a 300-page amendment was added hours before the final vote. In fact, the final version of the bill wasn't even available until 96 hours after it was passed by the House. 

In February, the $787 billion "stimulus" bill, which spanned well over 1,000 pages, passed both the House and Senate just a little more than 13 hours after it was released from the closed-door meetings in which it was crafted. Weeks later, the public learned that the stimulus included language authorizing millions in bonuses for executives at AIG, the insurance giant that received a multibillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded bailout only months before. 

The public shock and outrage was - shockingly and outrageously - shared by the very lawmakers whose votes permitted the bonuses. Not one member who voted for the stimulus bill could claim to have read it. 

While it would be great to live in a world where lawmakers read the bills they vote on, requiring that they do so is not the answer. It's more important that bills - especially those with a fiscal impact - be available to the public well before a final vote is held. That's why lawmakers in Washington, Harrisburg, and at all levels of government should be required to put all bills, conference reports, and fiscal notes online for at least three days - but preferably five days - before a final vote. 

There are at least some in Congress who recognize the wisdom of such a reform. A resolution introduced in June by Rep. Brian Baird (D., Wash.) would require all legislation to be posted online 72 hours prior to the final vote. Last week, eight Democratic senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) requesting that federal health-care reform legislation and the corresponding fiscal statement be posted online 72 hours before a floor vote.

The Pennsylvania budget and all state legislation with a fiscal impact should be subject to the same requirement. 

As a result of reforms passed in 2007, there is technically a 24-hour "cooling off" period before legislation can be voted on in the Pennsylvania legislature. However, this rule has proven insufficient and easily surmountable. 

New polling shows that voters want transparency brought to the legislative process. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 83 percent of voters say legislation should be posted online in its final form and be available for everyone to read before it is voted on. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council, of which 36 Pennsylvania state legislators are active members, has even adopted model state legislation prohibiting hearings or votes on appropriations and revenue-related bills until 72 hours after introduction. 

Legislation and budgeting will improve if concerned citizens, watchdog groups, the media, bloggers, think tanks, academics, and policy experts from across the political spectrum have the opportunity to analyze, digest, explain, and weigh in on it. 

Lawmakers in Harrisburg let more than 100 days go by after the budget deadline passed. What's a few more to ensure that lawmakers and their constituents know precisely what they're getting?

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Grover Norquist Requests that Obama Nominee Undergo Confirmation Process


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Friday, October 9th, 2009, 2:32 PM PERMALINK


9 October 2009

Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Harkin:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I urge you to call for a full Senate hearing on President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Professor David Michaels of the George Washington University School of Public Health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a powerful body which has the ability to change every workplace in America through its regulatory authority, clout that should not to be overlooked. It is for this reason that Michaels’ and all Assistant Secretary Nominees should require Senate confirmation. In fact, Michaels’ direct appointment is a rarity. In the past most Assistant Secretaries have undergone a more thorough confirmation process.

Michaels has a controversial history which deserves closer scrutiny. His objection to the Supreme Court’s 1993 unanimous decision, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals is troubling. Coupled with his contempt for corporations who doubt the necessity of regulation, as written about in his book, Doubt is Their Product, his beliefs should be the subject of certain evaluation.
 
Consistently advocating for more government interference in private business, even when such regulation directly contradicts available data or their effectiveness remains uncertain, Michaels’ would be a troubling force in OSHA.

Professor Michaels’ should be allowed to explain his past statements and writings in an open, public forum. Michaels’ preferences and opinions should be known as they will guide the direction of OSHA should be confirmed.

President Obama assured the American people that transparency would be on the forefront of his agenda. Leapfrogging full and open Senate hearings goes directly against this claim.

Onward,
 
Grover G. Norquist

Cc: All members of the Senate

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Taxpayer Group to Rep. Dan Boren: Resign from Blue Dog Coalition


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Friday, July 31st, 2009, 7:16 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform called on Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) to publically resign from the Blue Dog Coalition. The group issues its call in response to phone calls and emails to Americans for Tax Reform attempting to distance himself from the actions of his Blue Dog Coalition in “compromising” with the Pelosi/Waxman government healthcare bill.

Rep. Dan Boren remains an outspoken leader of the Blue Dogs, and refuses to publicly disavow the Pelosi/ Waxman/ Blue Dog compromise. Meanwhile, press operatives from the Congressman’s Washington D.C. office have attempted to silence any association between Rep. Boren and the Blue Dogs’ underhanded compromise with House liberals. Rep. Dan Boren is trying to have his cake and eat it too.
 
“You can’t have it both ways, Rep. Boren,” said ATR President Grover Norquist. “If you’re not with the Blue Dogs, declare it publically: resign. Until you do, Oklahomans really have no choice but to understand you to be part of the ‘compromise’”

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Congressman Gene Taylor Joins "Scalded Dog Caucus"


Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Friday, July 31st, 2009, 6:37 PM PERMALINK


Congressman Gene Taylor Joins “Scalded Dog Caucus"
Tries to distance himself from compromise forged by group he helped found

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Americans for Tax Reform issued the following public statement today about Rep. Gene Taylor’s (D-Miss.) press release distancing himself from the Blue Dog Compromise struck this week in the Pelosi/Waxman-led effort to reform healthcare:
 
Gene Taylor like many others is a BDINO (Blue Dog in Name Only).  He voted to make Pelosi Speaker, he voted to make Waxman head of the Committee.  He voted to put Barney Frank in charge of our banking system. Mike Ross, Pelosi and the other Democrats declared that the Blue Dogs were on board.  If he's not, he should have proudly indicated so--he didn't.  If he's upset with the Blue Dogs for their decision, he should consider resigning from that caucus.  If he doesn't like being tarnished with supporting Pelosi's government take over of healthcare, he should bring it up with her. 
 
Congressman Taylor has historically had a difficult time telling the truth and keeping his promises. 
 
On March 1st, 1996, Gene Taylor signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising  his constituents he would oppose all income tax increases while serving in Congress . Apparently, he did this just to get elected, as his written word has turned out to be worthless.   When Republicans controlled the Congress from 1996 to 2006, he never had the opportunity to vote for a tax increase.  The first Congress he had the chance to vote for a tax increase, he did.
 
He has broken his Pledge so far three times now at Pelosi's bidding: on January 18, 2007  (Roll Call No. 40) , on  July 27, 2007 (Roll Call 756), and on December 6th, 2007 (Roll Call No. 1140). We're glad that Congressman Taylor finally found a Pelosi tax hike package he's willing to oppose (so far), but you can't blame us for being caught off guard by it.   If he doesn't want to be associated with the Blue Dogs, he should formally leave the group.  No fair hiding behind their skirts when convenient and then pretending he's never met them when inconvenient. 

Here is a PDF of Gene Taylor's signed Taxpayer Protection Pledge to his constituents

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