Chris Prandoni

Americans Want an Energy Bill, Not a Climate Change Bill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 12:21 PM PERMALINK



The latest National Journal/Pew Research poll reveals,
predictably, that “the job situation” (81 percent) is the most important issue for Americans these days. Coming in second, Americans’ viewed “the country’s energy needs,” (67 percent) not to be confused with “climate change” (32 percent). Given the huge disparity between these two often conflated topics it is surprising that recent legislation, Waxman-Markey in the House last year and Kerry-Lieberman in the Senate these days, makes no distinction between climate change and the country’s energy needs.

Certainly, it would be possible to pass smaller bipartisan legislation that addresses the country’s energy needs, a nuclear power bill, perhaps, for a public concerned about this issue. So why hasn’t this happened? Politics. Were a nuclear energy bill signed into law, it would reduce the leverage Democrats have over Republicans as they could no longer include nuclear power provisions in their climate bills. We saw the same thing happen during the health care debate. If a bill came to the floor that allowed people to purchase health insurance across state lines it would pass. But again, then Republicans would be less inclined to vote for the Democrat health care bill.

There are many drawbacks to the legislative style employed by the majority in power. First, it is confusing. The Kerry-Lieberman bill is over a thousand pages. Incremental legislation would be transparent and simple. Second, it prolongs the legislative process. Simpler legislation, by its nature, is easier to pass or kick to the curb. The month long debates about health care were due to its convoluted nature. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see smaller, simpler legislation because it makes it impossible for Democrats to hide many of their unpopular initiatives.   

So while Democrats try to find enough energy provisions to include in their climate change legislation to get them 60 votes, the American people are left without a comprehensive energy plan. 

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ATR Will Rate Against Cloture Vote Supporting Dodd-Lincoln Substitute Amendment to Financial Bill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010, 12:40 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) announced they will rate against a vote for cloture on the Dodd-Lincoln substitute amendment #3739 to the “financial reform” bill, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, in their annual Congressional Scorecard.

The amendment process has not “fixed” this bill – in many instances, this bill is worse. The following problems continue to plague this proposal:

  • Cauterizes “too big too fail:” Section 113 of the bill establishes a “Financial Stability Oversight Council,” charged with identifying firms that would “pose a threat to the financial security of the United States if they encounter “material financial distress.” By being placed under this identification, this bill sends the signal that some company’s are indeed too big too fail.
  • Permanent bailout authority: Section 204 of the bill authorizes the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to “make available … funds for the orderly liquidation of covered financial institution.” As the Heritage Foundation notes, “Although no funds could be provided to compensate a firm’s shareholders, the firm’s other creditors would be eligible for a cash bailout. The situation is much like the scheme implemented for AIG in 2008, in which the largest beneficiaries were not stockholders but rather other creditors, such as Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs”
  • Violates consumer privacy: The new Office of Financial Research is created in Title I, Section 151-156, is tasked with collecting and sharing data without restriction. This agency will collect data, create software to standardize financial industry data, and share with other agencies – regulations will be imposed as deemed fit under paragraph (2) of subsection (c).
  • Regulating over-the-counter (OTC) derivative trades: Title VII requires OTC derivative transactions to pass through a government monitored central exchange. Requiring OTC derivatives to pass through a clearinghouse and maintain high cash levels will increase the costs associated with OTC derivatives, making it more expensive for a company to insulate itself from risk. Inhibiting OTC trades for end users would unnecessarily lock up capital that a company would have used to invest, grow, and retain and create jobs -- effectively removing liquid capital from corporate balance sheets. In order to satisfy new standards set by the Dodd bill, many companies would have to establish new credit lines or sell current assets.·    
  • Creates Fannie Mae 2.0: Title 12 of this bill, misnamed “Improving Access to Financial Institutions” on page 1398, creates Fannie Mae 2.0. Fannie Mae collapsed because it became a slush fund for bad loans the government forced banks to make. This Title pays banks to advertise to, and seek out, low income people who would otherwise not qualify for loans. The bank, backed by the government, issues risky loans and either the loan is paid back on time, in which case the bank keeps all the profits, or the loan defaults and the government uses taxpayer money to cover the bank’s loss. Win-win for government backed banks, total failure for taxpayers.
  • Promotes activist/union shareholder proxy terrorism: Section 972 of Subtitle G under Title IX authorizes the SEC to require firms to allow shareholders to nominate directors in proxy statement. This ensures political popularity and influential power trump knowledge and experience. The political agenda of the far left – the trial lawyers, environmental elites, and labor unions – will have a controlling stake in the corporate governance of financial institutions.
  • Regulates non-banks under financial regulations: Section 102 of Title I provides that any “U.S. non-bank financial company,” that is “substantially engaged in activities in the United States that are financial in nature” be regulated under the same applications this legislation provides for traditional financial institutions. According to former Treasury official Gregory Zerzan, this includes things such as “holding assets of others in trust.” Department stores could be potentially regulated under this bill if they offer “layaway” – a system where they hold assets of consumers in trust until a certain period whereby an obligation is met and an exchange of goods/services occurs.
  • Seizure of private property without judicial review: Section 203 of Title II gives the Secretary the authority to take over by seizure any financial or non-financial institution that “is in default” or is simply “in danger of default,” which includes institutions that “are, or are likely to be, less than its obligations to creditors and others.” This is regulating based on assumptions. This classifying determination is only subject to legal review on a “substantial evidence” basis, meaning that the seizure must be upheld if the government produces any evidence in favor of its action – making reversal of this decision nearly impossible.

Americans for Tax Reform continues to urge all Senators to oppose this bill for, but not limited to, the above reasons. Real reform must address and eliminate the egregious over-regulation this bill will bring on the U.S. economy and individual consumers.

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

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Public Service Recognition Week - Fact #2


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 11:26 AM PERMALINK


Coinciding with national Public Service Recognition Week, the Alliance for Worker Freedom will send out a press release everyday highlighting some of the problems associated with America’s public sector workers.

[PDF Document]

While America’s public sector workers play an important role in the maintenance of the United States government and its agencies, the number of public sector workers and their responsibilities has so greatly expanded that it has begun to distort commerce and unnecessarily burden taxpayers. With the scope of government ever-growing, private companies are finding themselves hamstrung by government regulation or in direct competition with public workers or government backed companies.

Everyday this week the Alliance for Worker Freedom will release statistics that highlight many of the problems that accompany America’s public sector workers:

While 40% of federal workers say their employer is hiring, only 28% of non-government workers say their company is adding jobs.

The Alliance for Worker Freedom recognizes the necessity of public workers but suggests that America would be better served if many of the current functions undertaken by public sector workers were competed for by private businesses.

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Public Service Recognition Week - Fact #1


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 10:59 AM PERMALINK


Coinciding with national Public Service Recognition Week, the Alliance for Worker Freedom will send out a press release everyday highlighting some of the problems associated with America’s public sector workers.

[PDF Document]

While America’s public sector workers play an important role in the maintenance of the United States government and its agencies, the number of public sector workers and their responsibilities has so greatly expanded that it has begun to distort commerce and unnecessarily burden taxpayers. With the scope of government ever-growing, private companies are finding themselves hamstrung by government regulation or in direct competition with public workers or government backed companies.

Everyday this week the Alliance for Worker Freedom will release statistics that highlight many of the problems that accompany America’s public sector workers:

Federal employees on average earn $11,091 more than their private sector counterparts, a discrepancy every American pays for.

The Alliance for Worker Freedom recognizes the necessity of public workers but suggests that America would be better served if many of the current functions undertaken by public sector workers were completed by private businesses.

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New Jersey Would Gain $2 Billion From Offshore Drilling


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, April 30th, 2010, 9:30 AM PERMALINK


With New Jersey facing a predicted $11 billion shortfall and 9.8 percent unemployment, Americans for Tax Reform continues to urge President Obama, Congress, and state elected officials to look toward energy exploration and production to create jobs, decrease the cost of energy and increase our domestic supply. 

  • Allowing for full development of New Jersey’s offshore resources would bring necessary commerce to New Jersey, increasing its economic output (GSP) by $2 billion annually. 
  • While the private sector continues to shed jobs, offshore drilling would bring 5,098 long-term, well paying jobs to the state of New Jersey over the next seven years – every job associated with offshore drilling earns above average wages, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
  • Investment in oil exploration would bring in $217 million in additional tax revenue annually, without raising taxes, and could be used to pay down New Jersey’s $11 billion deficit. 

The current plan proposed by President Obama restricts or prohibits states from complete oil exploration, substantially reducing the economic gains readily available to struggling states.

 “All of the benefits associated with offshore drilling, increased economic output, well-paying jobs, new tax revenue, remain locked up in America’s oil reserves. Although a majority of Americans support offshore development, the Obama administration has put forth a plan that inhibits New Jersey’s economic recovery and ability to grow over the coming years,” said Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform.

Click here for the PDF Version and click here for source

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AFL-CIO Throwing in Towel on Card Check


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 5:07 PM PERMALINK


From Chamber Post

Today the AFL-CIO removed the large banner supporting EFCA which had covered the corner of the building facing the White House for the past year or so. Let's just take in the moment:

Picture 005


A second banner just around the corner was taken down as well.  But now the bad news. BNA reports today that the AFL-CIO is "not backing away" from EFCA. So removing the issue from public view might not indicate surrender, but merely that a decision has been made by the AFL-CIO to bypass a public debate on card check in Congress to try and slip it through the back door.

For today though, let's stay positive.

For more on card check and the Employer Free Choice Act click here

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Maine Would Gain $522 Million From Offshore Drilling


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, April 23rd, 2010, 9:21 AM PERMALINK


With Maine facing a predicted $849 million shortfall and 8.3 percent unemployment, Americans for Tax Reform continues to urge President Obama, Congress, and state elected officials to look toward energy exploration and production to create jobs, decrease the cost of energy and increase our domestic supply. 

  • Allowing for full development of Maine’s offshore resources would bring necessary commerce to Maine, increasing its economic output (GSP) by $522 million annually. 
  • While the private sector continues to shed jobs, offshore drilling would bring 2,467 long-term, well paying jobs to the state of Maine over the next seven years – every job associated with offshore drilling earns above average wages, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
  • Investment in oil exploration would bring in $66 million in additional tax revenue annually, without raising taxes, and could be used to pay down Maine’s $849 million deficit
The current plan proposed by President Obama restricts or prohibits states from complete oil exploration, substantially reducing the economic gains readily available to struggling states.
 
“All of the benefits associated with offshore drilling, increased economic output, well-paying jobs, new tax revenue, remain locked up in America’s oil reserves. Although a majority of Americans support offshore development, the Obama administration has put forth a plan that inhibits Maine’s economic recovery and ability to grow over the coming years,” said Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform.


Data taken from The Economic Contribution of Increased Offshore Oil Exploration and Production to Regional and National Economies. Joseph R. Mason. American Energy Alliance. February 2009.

PDF version

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Happy Earth Day, A Look at Obama's Failed Anti-Growth Energy Policies


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010, 9:28 AM PERMALINK


This Earth Day, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) takes a look at what this Administration has done for the earth – called for higher taxes, supported job killing legislation, and attempted to increase the cost every American family pays for energy. 

The President’s own budget calls for direct increases in energy taxes of over $220,000,000,000 by 2020, and there’s more: 
  • The Administration supports cap-and-trade
    • A family of four can expect its per-year energy costs to rise by $1,241
    • Including taxes, a family of four will pay an additional $4,609 per year
    • Net job losses approach 1.9 million in 2012 and could approach 2.5 million by 2035
    • Gasoline prices will rise by 58 percent ($1.38 more per gallon) and average household electric rates will increase by 90 percent 
  • Backs the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangerment Finding
    • Findings concluded that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
  • Supports Senator’s Kerry (D-Mass), Graham (R-S.C.), and Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) Energy Bill:
    • Gasoline prices rising an average of 27 cents a gallon from 2013 to 2020
    • Sets emissions reduction targets of 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 
“Rather than continue to harm our economy and support tax increases, this Administration should seek to expand American production of energy, in all forms, to create jobs and increase economic productivity,” said ATR President Grover Norquist.
 
Click here for PDF Version  

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Florida Would Gain $2.52 billion From Offshore Drilling


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, April 19th, 2010, 1:40 PM PERMALINK


WASHINGTON, D.C. –With Florida facing a predicted $6.0 billion shortfall and 12.2 percent unemployment, Americans for Tax Reform continues to urge President Obama, Congress, and state elected officials to look toward energy exploration and production to create jobs, decrease the cost of energy and increase our domestic supply.

  • Allowing for full development of Florida’s offshore resources would bring necessary commerce to Florida, increasing its economic output (GSP) by 2.52 billion annually. 
  • While the private sector continues to shed jobs, offshore drilling would bring 20,454 long-term, well paying jobs to the state of Florida over the next seven years – every job associated with offshore drilling earns above average wages, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
  • Investment in oil exploration would bring in $242 million in additional tax revenue annually, without raising taxes, and could be used to pay down Florida’s $6.0 billion deficit.

The current plan proposed by President Obama restricts or prohibits states from complete oil exploration, substantially reducing the economic gains readily available to struggling states.

“All of the benefits associated with offshore drilling, increased economic output, well-paying jobs, new tax revenue, remain locked up in America’s oil reserves. Although a majority of Americans support offshore development, the Obama administration has put forth a plan that inhibits Florida’s economic recovery and ability to grow over the coming years,” said Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform.

Click here for the PDF Version of this release and click here for source.

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Connecticut Would Gain $213 million From Offshore Drilling


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, April 15th, 2010, 10:01 AM PERMALINK


With Connecticut facing a predicted $4.7 billion shortfall and 9.1 percent unemployment, Americans for Tax Reform continues to urge President Obama, Congress, and state elected officials to look toward energy exploration and production to create jobs, decrease the cost of energy and increase our domestic supply.

  • Allowing for full development of Connecticut’s offshore resources would bring necessary commerce to Connecticut, increasing its economic output (GSP) by $213 million annually. 
  • While the private sector continues to shed jobs, offshore drilling would bring 812 long-term, well paying jobs to the state of Connecticut over the next seven years – every job associated with offshore drilling earns above average wages, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
  • Investment in oil exploration would bring in $21 million in additional tax revenue annually, without raising taxes, and could be used to pay down Connecticut’s $4.7 billion deficit.

The current plan proposed by President Obama restricts or prohibits states from complete oil exploration, substantially reducing the economic gains readily available to struggling states.

“All of the benefits associated with offshore drilling, increased economic output, well-paying jobs, new tax revenue, remain locked up in America’s oil reserves. Although a majority of Americans support offshore development, the Obama administration has put forth a plan that inhibits Connecticut’s economic recovery and ability to grow over the coming years,” said Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform.

Click here for the PDF version  of this release and click here for the source.

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