Chris Prandoni

Kerry-Lieberman Energy Bill Will Kill 522,000 Jobs and Reduce GDP by $39 Billion


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 1st, 2010, 10:52 AM PERMALINK


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After overhauling America’s healthcare industry, Democrats have returned to their favorite, possibly even more divisive, prerogative -- energy policy. Unfortunately for Democrats who saw the House-passed Cap-and-Trade stall in the Senate last year, Kerry-Lieberman includes many of the same problematic ramifications: job loss, GDP reduction, and less disposable income.

Americans for Tax Reform sent out the following release outlining these negative economic effects:

The Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act is an attempt by the Obama Administration to put a stranglehold on the economy by unnecessarily inflating the price of energy and taxing American families. This butchering of the free market will cause severe negative effects for the economy. A study performed by Chamberlain Economics, L.L.C on behalf of the Institute for Energy Research provides figures which illustrate this point:

  • 522,000         Increase in unemployment in 2015
  • 5,000,000     Jobs lost by 2050
  • $1,042           Cost to households annually
  • $125 billion   Over economic loss each year
  • 75 percent     Seniors that would forfeit 2.3 percent of their income
  • 5.8 percent    Income forfeited for those making less than $10,000/yr
  • 0.9 percent    Amount of cash income those making $150,000/yr would be taxed
  • $1,174/yr        Increase in household bills for Northeast residents
  • $987/yr           Annual increase households in the South would face
  • 14 percent    Increase in petroleum prices to consumers
  • 12 percent    Electricity and utility increase families will bare
  • $39 billion    Reduction in GDP by 2015
  • $384 billion   2050 total loss in GDP
  • 119,000        Job losses to the petroleum industry
  • 81,400           Natural gas and electric utility job losses
  • 49,7000        Chemical product industry job losses

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform had one thing to say, “Are the Democrats and Obama serious about this being their national energy strategy?”

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Congress is Ready to Help the Gulf Recovery, Why Isn't President Obama?


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 5:31 PM PERMALINK


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Although President Obama still refuses to acknowledge the Jones Act, Republican Senators have offered legislation, the WAIVER Act, which would remedy its ill effects. Supportive of this legislation, ATR sent out the following press release:

As President Obama continues to delay the Gulf cleanup by refusing to waive the Jones Act – effectively preventing aid from foreign vessels – and stands by the moratorium on drilling, members of Congress have decided to take action.  

Senators Cornyn (R-Texas), LeMieux (R-Fla.), and Hutchinson (R-Texas) have introduced legislation, S. 3512, the WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response), which would temporarily suspend the Jones Act and allow foreign vessels to enter the Gulf of Mexico to aid in the cleanup of the oil spill. The Jones act mandates that “all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S. owned and U.S. manned ships.” Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, on September 1, 2005, President Bush waived the Jones Act, expediting foreign support.  

“The only reason the president has preserved the Jones Act during this national emergency is to protect maritime unions. Democrats have politicized this disaster and are using it to appease frustrated unions. Republican senators have proposed good legislation, S. 3512, that would waive the Jones Act and get a cleanup underway,” Norquist added.

Addressing the drilling moratorium that could cost 150,000 permanent jobs, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Olson (R-Texas) have introduced a bill that will terminate the moratorium on deepwater drilling issued by the Secretary of the Interior. At the moment, offshore drilling provides 150,000 Americans with jobs and pays more than $6 billion to the federal government in taxes each year.  Everyday the moratorium is in place our economy loses millions of dollars

 “While it is unrealistic to think the federal government has the specialization necessary to stop an oil leak one mile below sea level, it is fair to ask why they aren’t doing everything within their power to protect the Gulf,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “How Obama can turn down assistance from countries that are more experienced at cleaning up oil is confounding.”

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More of the Same: Proposed Energy Legislation Continues to Punish Consumers


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010, 3:39 PM PERMALINK


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In the same vein as previously proposed energy legislation, Senator Lugar’s S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010, implements many of the same problematic policies: a so-called feebate and federal CAFE standards.

In response to this legislation, ATR sent the following letter to Senators urging them to oppose this regulatory bill:

On behalf of American for Tax Reform and millions of tax payers I urge you to oppose the recent energy proposal by Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.), S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010. This bill attempts to control the automobile industry and place unfair burdens on consumers nationwide.

The Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act forces auto companies to increase their fuel economy standards by a set limit. Instead of allowing for analysis and inter-agency discretion, this bill puts policymakers in the front seat, not automakers. This bill also introduces a fuel efficiency performance program, known as a “feebate.”

These feebates are taxes to punish Americans who own vehicles the government is not partial to. What the government does not realize is that some families, business owners and farmers own certain vehicles to sustain their way of life. By implementing these heavy fees the government would be destroying the livelihood of many Americans.

A key mistake of the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act is that it does not take into account the amount of flexible fuel available to consumers. The act mandates that 90 percent of all new cars have the ability to run on E85, a new flexible fuel. However, only two percent of gas stations in the U.S. have access to alternative fuel.  This limited availability will lead to increased costs for purchasing new cars and gas to fill the tanks.

Opposing the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act will benefit all Americans by allowing our quest for alternative energy vehicle to be lead by those who are in the forefront of technology – the automakers. Currently, automakers are leading the way in developing new technology to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act would cut short these advances and would do the American consumer more harm than good.

I am urging all Senators to vote against S. 3464, the Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010. For information please contact ATR Federal Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org or 202.785.0266

Onward,
Grover G. Norquist

Cc:    All US Senators

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Financial Bill Conferees Should Remove Title 12, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 12:28 PM PERMALINK


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The Senate-passed “Wall Street Bailout” bill, S. 3217 the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, seeks to establish a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). This Bureau violates consumer privacy, monitors personal bank transactions, and uses personal financial data to regulate consumer choice.

Now, conferees are being asked to make this provision stronger. Focus should remain on the systematic harm to system – not the regulation of main street banks.

Established in Title 10, this new autonomous agency will be sheltered within the Federal Reserve, but will function independent of the current established traditional regulatory framework. Congress or any other agency will have no veto power over the BCFP.

Section 1022 on page 1028 gives the BCFP authority to monitor consumer financial patterns and, “implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law.” Specifically, Subsection C gives this agency authority to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets.”

Further, Section 1071 allows the BCFP to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts…for any purpose.” Never before has the federal government actively sought to aggregate data on every single personal and business financial transaction in the U.S. until now.

The BCFP will use data collected by their agency as outlined above, and the Office of Financial Research established in Title 1, to monitor and track all consumer purchases and share this data with whomever they wish. This bill provides Big Business and Wall Street with the tools to regulate all consumers’ purchasing behavior.

For these reasons and more, ATR urges all conferees to vote “No” on provisions that will increase the regulatory power of the CFPB and support a full strike of Title 12.

For more information, contact Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org. 

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Dennis Kucinich Looks to Amend DISCLOSE ACT to Silence Energy Companies


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 12:21 PM PERMALINK


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Dennis Kucinich’s proposed Amendment #23, reveals a persistent anti-corporation bias in the DISCLOSE Act. Amendment #23 would bar companies that hold Outer Continental Shelf permits from engaging in express advocacy, urging voters to support a candidate by name.

The specific language of Kucinich’s amendment:

“[companies]who enters into negotiations for a lease for exploration  for development and production of oil and gas  under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, during this period... directly or indirectly to make any contributions of money or other things of value, or to promise expressly to impliedly to make any such contribution to any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose, to make any independent expenditure, or to disburse any funds for an electioneering  communication”

As it stands today, companies interested in developing oil reserves off America’s coast must buy permits from the federal government, which owns the territory. In what amounts to a clear infringement of the first amendment, Amendment #23 would effectively shut out every oil company from political advocacy.

The partiality shown in Kucinich’s amendment is indicative of the DISCLOSE Act.

For these reasons and more, the Americans for Tax Reform urges all members to vote “no” on H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act and Rep Kucinich’s Amendment #23

For more information, contact ATR federal affairs manager Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org or 202.785.0266.

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ATR Supports Congressional Action While Obama Politicizes Spill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 10:10 AM PERMALINK


In response to the oil leak off the coast of Louisiana, President Obama ordered a moratorium on all deepwater drilling. Adhering to his governing stratagem of “never letting a crisis go to waste,” Obama used the current oil spill to appease unions, revitalize an energy tax, and ban offshore drilling.

Summarizing federal judge Martin Feldman’s rebuke of Obama’s moratorium, the Wall Street Journal editorializes:

“’the Report makes no effort to explicitly justify the moratorium.’ It does ‘not discuss any irreparable harm that would warrant a suspension of operations’ and doesn't provide a timeline for implementing proposed safety regulations. There is ‘no evidence’ that Mr. Salazar ‘balanced the concern for environmental safety’ with existing policy, and ‘no suggestion’ that he ‘considered any alternatives.’ The feds couldn't even coherently define ‘deep water.’ Ouch.

Given the shaky grounds Obama’s moratorium stands on, it is encouraging that Senator Vitter and Rep Olson have proposed legislation that would annul the president’s moratorium.

ATR sent letters to Congress urging Members to support Vitter and Olson’s proposals. A copy of the Senate letter is below:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and millions of taxpayers, business owners and energy consumers, I applaud you for your introduction of S.3489, to terminate the moratorium on deepwater drilling issued by the Secretary of the Interior. This bill would end the six month moratorium that President Obama has put on all offshore drilling.

Additionally, all members of the US Senate should co-sponsor S.3489, a crucial and necessary step in putting Americans affected by the Gulf incident back to work.

S. 3489 would immediately annul the work stoppage that President Obama has put on all oil rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill would allow workers to return to their rigs and resume work immediately.

This bill is vital for the entire American economy.  In the wake of a recession, we cannot afford to send more jobs overseas – which is exactly what will happen if U.S. oil rigs are not allowed to operate. At the beginning of the busy summer travel season, Americans do not deserve skyrocketing gas prices as they have in summers past.

Most importantly, the President and this Congress should do all they can to help the people of the Gulf and all Americans in the wake of this incident. The current policies of freezing rigs, costing jobs, and preventing foreign aid are not acceptable.

 The economy of the Gulf States is going to suffer from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. What those states cannot afford is an obstacle getting in the way of trying to rebuild it.  This bill must be passed in order for the reconstruction to begin.

At the moment, offshore drilling provides 150,000 Americans with jobs and pays more than $6 billion to the federal government in taxes each year.  Everyday the moratorium is in place our economy loses millions of dollars. If these rigs were to remain inoperable, it could take up to a decade for normal drilling operations to resume.

I am urging all Congressmen to support you by co-sponsoring S.3489 to terminate the moratorium on deepwater drilling issued by the Secretary of the Interior. For information on becoming a co-sponsor, contact Bryan Zumwalt in Senator Vitter’s office at 202.224.4623 or ATR Federal Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org or 202.785.0266.

Onward,
 
Grover G. Norquist
cc:    All US Senators

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DISCLOSE Act Exempts Unions from Central Disclosure Requirements


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 9:13 AM PERMALINK


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Expected to come to the House floor today, the now infamous DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) places onerous regulations on activists interested in affecting the political process. Far from being evenhanded, the DISCLOSE Act gives unjustified preference to organized labor.

The DISCLOSE Act marks a stark departure from the traditional treatment of corporations and unions by applying punitive measures to associations in the corporate form, but not to labor unions, even though these groups have traditionally been treated similarly in campaign finance law:

  • Companies that received federal money during the financial crisis face restrictions on speech, but not unions: General Motors cannot engage in express advocacy, urging voters to support a candidate by name, while the United Auto Workers union can
  • Corporations, unions, non-profits and 527 groups will be required to report donors who give more than $600 if they engage in express advocacy, -- average union dues, the source of the majority of their funds, in 2004 were $377
  • Businesses with government contracts worth more than $7 million are not allowed to engage in express advocacy while public sector unions that receive their dues from the taxpayers are exempt from such restrictions
  • Companies where a foreign entity owns 20 percent or more of a company’s shares are not allowed to engage in express advocacy while international unions are free to tell Americans how to vote

For these reasons and more, the Alliance for Worker Freedom urges all members to vote “no” on H.R. 5175, The DISCLOSE Act.

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612% Oil Barrel Tax Hike Proposed by Senate Dems


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 4:38 PM PERMALINK


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As Senate Democrats continue to grope for a coherent energy plan, they have a proposal on the table to whack Americans with a 612 percent tax increase on the cost of a barrel of oil.  Just in time for summer driving season.

Buried on page 138 of the most recent tax extenders package is an increase from 8 cents to 49 cents in taxes paid per barrel of oil. With the recent incident in the Gulf leaving energy markets shaken, Democrats are now attempting to ram through a 612 percent tax increase that will negatively affect every American.

“It’s ridiculous that Congress is proposing yet another tax hike.  The tax increase will raise the price of gas and everything that needs energy to be produced. The enormous indirect costs will only further hamstring our already fragile economy,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

As we enter the summer driving season, it is important to remember the summer of 2008, right after the Democrats attempted to push sweeping energy reform, when gas prices hit a record high of $4.11 per gallon.

“President Obama and his left-wing fugleman Harry Reid apparently do not understand basic economics. When the cost of a barrel of oil increases, the cost of a gallon of gas for the single mother in Alabama does too. Energy companies will inevitably raise prices to make up for the loss of revenue, and businesses that rely on traditional energy will pass the burden to consumers to pay for employee salaries and other operating costs,” said Norquist.  

Americans for Tax Reform continues to oppose the tax extenders package in the US Senate. Besides the tax increase on a barrel of oil, the bill as a whole is a tax increase – both a marginal rate increase and an income tax increase, thus violating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

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ATR Supports S. 3512, The WAIVER Act


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 11:46 AM PERMALINK


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In response to the Obama Administration’s decision in enforce the Jones Act, legislation which makes it illegal for foreign ships to aid in the gulf cleanup, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to Congress urging Senators to support S. 3512, The WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response) Act.

ATR's full letter is below:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, and millions of taxpayers, business owners and energy consumers nationwide, I applaud your introduction of S. 3512, The WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response) Act, which suspends the Jones Act thus allowing foreign vessels to enter the Gulf of Mexico to aid in the cleanup of the oil spill.

The Jones Act was enacted in 1920 and prevents foreign maritime vessels from traveling between U.S. ports.  The WAIVER Act would temporarily suspend the Jones Act and allow ships from other countries to transport supplies crucial to relief efforts between U.S. ports. The Act will bypass red tape and allow for the immediate aid our cleanup crews need.  The Jones Act was temporarily lifted during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and once again must be lifted in the aftermath of this oil spill.

The WAIVER Act would allow skimmer vessels from foreign nations to enter the Gulf of Mexico.  These skimmers collect oil from the water and prevent it from reaching our beaches.  Currently, there are only twenty skimmers of the coast of Florida.  It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent the further destruction of the Gulf of Mexico.

There have been many instances so far in which foreign aid has been turned away by the Obama administration. Foreign allies such as Mexico and Norway have offered sophisticated maritime vessels to help in the cleanup but President Obama has denied their requests. These foreign skimmers are technologically advanced and designed specifically for this purpose.

I applaud you for your efforts to do more than politicize this issue by introducing legislation that will allow much needed aid into the Gulf.  

I am urging all Senators to support you by co-sponsoring S. 3512, The WAIVER Act.  If you have any questions about becoming a co-sponsor, contact Frank Walker in Senator Lemieux’s office at 202.224.3041 or ATR Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at bjohnson@atr.org or 202.785.0266.

Onward,
 
Grover G. Norquist
GGN/bmj

cc:    All US Senators

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Democrats Latest Bailout Iteration


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 10:46 AM PERMALINK


While requests for billions from the federal government, and the nation’s taxpayers, have become agonizingly commonplace, Rep. Klein’s proposed bill H.R. 2555, the Homeowners' Defense Act, is notably reprehensible.

ATR’s letter to the Hill which urged Members to oppose H.R. 2555 explains the problem:

Florida’s private home insurance and reinsurance companies charged high premiums to cover the immense costs they would incur were a hurricane to hit the coast of Florida. Arguing that the premiums charged by private companies were unfair and discouraged development, state officials created a public homeowners insurance company, the Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) and a government controlled-reinsurer, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Both charged a fraction of realistic actuarial rates. Today, about 20 percent of Floridians purchase insurance through Citizens and almost all private insurers face a mandate to buy into the Cat Fund

Today, neither entity has enough money to cover its customer’s claims were a hurricane to hit the coast of Florida. The Cat Fund has $4.5 billion in hard assets to cover liabilities that could top $25 billion in a bad storm season.  In light of this problem, Representative Ron Klein of Florida introduced HR. 2555 which proposes the federal government, and by extension taxpayers nationwide, cover Citizens and Cat Fund liabilities in the event of a disaster.

Rep. Klein’s remedy for a problem that Florida’s state government created is…more government. How unimaginative. Instead of fixing Florida’s broken insurance system, HR 2555 only prolongs necessary reform by infusing the state with taxpayer’s dollars. This is neither equitable nor prudent.

Speaking about Rep. Klein’s legislation in a recent press release, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

“Rep. Klein wants force taxpayers in all 50 states to pay for his failed Florida plan thus saving the wealthy beachfront property owners in case of a natural disaster. The Democrats are continuing as the party of bailouts and this one ranks close to the top in terms of stupidity.”

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