Chris Prandoni

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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ATR Supports Snowe-Pryor Amendment (#3883), Opposes Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry (#4075)


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 9:15 AM PERMALINK


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Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports the full removal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from the Senate-passed S. 3217, Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. However, when choosing between the Snowe-Pryor #3883 Amendment and Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry #4075 Amendment – ATR supports Snowe-Pryor.

Senators Snowe (R-Maine) and Pryor (D-Ark.) have put forth in Amendment #3883 proposals that acknowledge small businesses pivotal role in America’s economic growth and the threats government regulation poses to entrepreneurs. Currently, small businesses pay 45 percent more than their larger business counterparts to comply with federal mandates.

The Small Business Fairness and Regulatory Transparency Amendment ensure the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will protect job creation and innovation in the following ways:

  • The CFPB will be required to publish a regulatory flexibility analysis as part of any rulemaking procedure and hold advisory small businesses review panels to ensure that small businesses’ voices are heard
  • The CFPB’s regulatory flexibility analysis will contain projections in the cost of credit for small businesses, a description of alternative regulatory measures which minimize any increase in the cost of credit for small businesses, and recommendations from small businesses representatives
  • Additionally, the regulatory flexibility analysis will include documentation of the steps CFPB has taken to minimize the additional cost of credit for small businesses

The Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry amendment does not require the CFPB to publish a regulatory flexibility analysis during the proposed rule stage, only when its rules are finalized. Unfortunately, by then, small business’ interests will already have been overlooked.  

It is for these reasons that ATR urges you to protect Main Street from government overreach and support the Snowe-Pryor Amendment #3883 – the Small Business Fairness and Regulatory Transparency Amendment.

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Obama's Union Politics Handcuff Him During Oil Spill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 2:16 PM PERMALINK


President Obama has been under fire for the oil spill that occurred on his watch, some claims more legitimate than others. While people can debate endlessly about the proper tone Obama should be taking with BP and the American People, criticisms that span the broad range of human emotions: “he needs to get angry,” “he’s too paternal,” “I need a father figure,” there are some important points that get lost in the mix.

The first is that Obama, as he said, “cannot swim down there and plug the hole.” There is little reason to believe that further nationalizing the problem would expedite attempts to stop the leak. Firstly, BP has ever incentive to plug the hole; claims that they are kicking the can down the road are ridicules. The longer the oil spews the more BP’s stock and public’s opinion of the company plummets. Secondly, what would lead anyone to believe the government knows anything about drilling oil a mile under water.

If the government cannot stop the leak, the next best thing Obama can do is help clean it up. Here the Administration faltered. What if I told you that foreign ships, adept at cleaning up spilled oil, were offering to help in the US efforts off the Gulf, but the President wouldn’t let them. According to an early 20th century law, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the Jones Act), “all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S. owned and U.S. manned ships.”

This strangle law has worked against US interests before, most recently during Hurricane Katrina, which led Bush to temporarily waive the act. Obama’s refusal to waive the Jones Act has needlessly caused more oil to leak into the Gulf.

Stephen Horowitz offers his opinion about why Obama won’t budge from the Jones Act.

“Who is benefiting from this law's enforcement? One major beneficiary is organized labor. Ships that meet the requirements of the Jones Act are crewed by unionized labor and granting waivers to it would bring lower-wage labor into competition with those nice union jobs, potentially threatening them. One theory is that President Obama does not want to risk alienating the labor vote by waiving the Jones Act even for a short period of time. President Bush had no such concerns as labor wasn't going to vote for him anyway."  

Good to know that instead of actually helping the people of the Gulf Obama is using this tragedy to appease a frustrated interest group and advocate for an energy tax.

Wading through all the mud slung at Obama can be difficult. Adherence to the Jones Act is a criticism that sticks.

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Crucial Vote to Block the EPA's Power Grab Today


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 11:27 AM PERMALINK


Today, the Senate will vote on whether or not to concede lawmaking authority to the EPA. Coming to the floor is "Senate Joint Resolution 26," also called the Murkowski Resolution for its lead sponsor, which would block and overturn the EPA’s global warming regulations.

Unable to tax or sufficiently regulate greenhouse gases through traditional legislative means, Democrats have turned to the EPA to do their dirty work for them. Conceding this point, EPA Director Lisa Jackson writes about an EPA plan that sounds an awfully lot like cap-and-trade:

“I expect that EPA will phase-in permit requirements and regulation of greenhouse gases for large stationary sources beginning in calendar year 2011... In any event, EPA does not intend to subject the smallest sources to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse-gas emissions any sooner than 2016.”

Senator Murkowski’s resolution is nothing more than an attempt to stop the EPA’s power grab. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a longtime advocate for stringent carbon regulation, best explains SJ Res 26:

I have long maintained that the Congress - not the unelected EPA - must decide major economic and energy policy. EPA regulation will have an enormous impact on the economic security of West Virginia and our energy future.

I intend to vote for Senator Murkowski's Resolution of Disapproval because I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia's economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA.

To echo Senator Rockefeller, allowing the EPA to set economic policy for the country – powers never delegated to the agency – is a clear subversion of the democratic process. Constituents elect senators to represent their interests, whereas, the EPA is a far removed board accountable to no one. So while some on the left are willing to use any means necessary to enact preferred policy, more responsible legislators will see the problems in this shrewd logic.

Click here to watch the floor debate and Sen. Murkowski’s opening statement on CSPAN2.

The following offices need to hear from you only if you live in the state the Senators represent. Tell them to vote "YES" on Murkowski SJ Resolution 26.

Sen. Baucus (Montana) - (202) 224-2651
Sen. Bayh (Indiana) - (202) 224-5623
Sen. Begich (Alaska) - (202) 224-3004
Sen. Byrd (West Virginia) - (202) 224-3954
Sen. Conrad (North Dakota) - (202) 224-2043
Sen. Dorgan (North Dakota) - (202) 224-2551
Sen. Johnson (South Dakota) - (202) 224-5842
Sen. McCaskill (Missouri) - (202) 224-6154
Sen. Pryor (Arkansas) - (202) 224-2353
Sen. Specter (Pennsylvania) - (202)224-4254
Sen. Tester (Montana) - (202) 224-2644

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ATR WILL RATE Against "No" Vote on Murkowski EPA Resolution


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:33 AM PERMALINK


[PDF Document]

Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) announced they will rate against a vote opposing Sen. Murkowski’s EPA Resolution of Disapproval, SJ 26, in their annual Congressional Scorecard.

This administrations attempt to subvert Congress, and the will of the American people, by enacting back-door carbon regulations is reprehensible.

The EPA should not act as chief regulator of America’s economy, it was never intended to.

Acting as a safeguard for the American people, Senator Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval would ensure that the EPA could not overhaul America’s energy industry, and subsequently the American economy.

With the American economy still sluggish and unemployment hovering around 10 percent, any carbon regulation would be disastrous.

ATR urges all members to support this resolution as the EPA should not become the largest regulator of the US economy.

A vote opposing this resolution will be scored in our annual Congressional scorecard. Voting “no” on SJ 26 will negatively affect contention for the Hero of the Taxpayer Award.

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

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