Chris Prandoni

Don't Raise Taxes To Avoid Sequester


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, February 21st, 2013, 10:41 AM PERMALINK


The below op-ed was originally posted at Townhall.com

President Obama has a new plan to avoid sequestration: kill private sector jobs. In 2011 Republicans required spending cuts to raise the debt ceiling. President Obama suggested that, in addition to freezing spending levels, broad-based spending cuts be implemented on March 1, 2013 via sequester.

Listening to Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney, you would never know that the sequester Obama is so eager to avoid, in fact, came from the White House. Citing estimates that 750,000 people could lose their jobs as a result of the sequester, Carney told reporters on Feb 20 that “the choice that Republicans are making is … throw these people out of work in order to protect these special tax breaks for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies. It makes no sense and it’s bad policy.”

Republicans have passed legislation that would replace the sequester with targeted, equivalent spending cuts. Democrats and the White House are using the threat of sequestration as justification for tax hikes – surprise, surprise. Negative consequences associated with the mechanisms of sequestration, like job loss, are not caused by oil and natural gas companies’ expensing provisions, but result from an intransigent Democrat Party. According to this ideology, every problem, even the ones Democrats are responsible for, can only be solved one way: tax increases to fund more government spending.

Categorizing the oil and natural gas producers’ expensing provisions as tax breaks or subsidies makes it easier to justify raising taxes on this industry, which is why Democrats do it. Like every other industry, oil and natural gas producers are allowed to deduct some of their expenses. For example, one “subsidy” Obama wants to repeal is the Domestic Manufacturer’s Deduction known as Section 199. While all domestic manufacturers are eligible to employ Sec. 199 and deduct 9 percent of the income earned from manufacturing and extracting, oil and natural gas producers can only deduct 6 percent of the same expenses. Democrats would like to drag the already penalized 6 percent rate down to zero.

To finish the post, please visit Townhall.com
 

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Repeal the Jones Act, Reduce the Price of Gasoline


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, February 18th, 2013, 2:40 PM PERMALINK


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While the United States is on the verge of an energy revolution, an obsolete law threatens to stall oil production and already inflates the price of gasoline. Passed over ninety years ago, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – commonly referred to as the Jones Act – requires all vessels carrying goods between domestic ports to have been built in the U.S. and crewed/owned by Americans.

In the energy industry, the Jones Act raises the cost of gasoline at all points in the supply chain. We’ll look at two examples that show how the protectionist Jones Act increases the price of gasoline and inhibits the flow of crude oil.

Refiners to consumers
Due to the limited pipeline infrastructure in the North East, consumers from this region rely heavily on ships to deliver the large amounts of gasoline they require. Since the two major Pennsylvania refineries are closing, the East Coast will depend almost entirely on gasoline manufactured in the Gulf. An EIA report describes a “major logistical hurdle” that must be overcome to transport gasoline from the Gulf to the North East:

The pipeline that delivers products from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast is at or near capacity. As a result, additional volumes will need to move from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast by water. Shipments between two U.S. ports require vessels that meet Jones Act requirements. Generally, Jones Act ships are chartered months in advance, limiting their short-term availability.

Only a small number of American ships meet strict Jones Act requirements driving up transportation costs and removes nearly all flexibility from the shipping market. The EIA report warns that:

In 2012, close to 40 tankers and perhaps as many as 270 barges are used to move petroleum products and crude oil in coastal waters. But not all of these vessels are capable of or available to move product from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast due to size and other factors.

Since this Administration has shown a reluctance to support new pipelines, they should at least mitigate nation-high gasoline prices by suspending or repealing the Jones Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, John Demopoulos of Argus Media, which tracks shipping pricing, estimates that foreign-flagged carriers could move oil from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast for about $1.20 a barrel, compared with $4 a barrel on U.S. ships.

Oil producers to refiners
North Dakota has passed Alaska and California and now ranks as the second highest oil producing state in the U.S. Owing much of the new development to the pervasive practice of hydraulic fracturing on private lands, North Dakota’s oil production ascendency happened, what seems like, overnight. While the welcomed oil renaissance has turned sleepy towns to vibrant economic centers, the influx of activity has increased roadway traffic. Missing adequate pipeline infrastructure and with the Keystone XL pipeline in limbo, North Dakota oil producers are forced to transport substantial amounts of crude oil mostly by road and train, hence the congestion.

If the Jones Act were repealed, it would give oil producers another medium to transport oil, by boat. Platts reports that:

“Among the obstacles for moving crude by ship in the Great Lakes region are vying regional crude pipelines and a US-flagged vessel shortage, sources say. A Jones Act (US-flagged) vessel is needed to ship from one US port to another.”

With the Jones Act in place, it doesn’t usually make economic sense to transport oil to regional ports – but it could. Repealing the Jones Act would lift this unnecessary shortage, reducing road congestion and injecting competition into the shipping market.

EIA Jones Act PDF download

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Sarcastic Texan

The idea being that should that happen then some other flag take their place. Never underestimate financial interests.

The Jones act is more about protecting Union interests. All of those "mariners" are highly paid unionized employees.

Sarcastic Texan

There aren't a million mariners. Being a US Citizen is no guarantee they're any good at their craft. If Americans can't compete for their jobs by being the best (they often can't), they often beg government to rig the labor market in their favor.

snapper

Why do you want to put millions of Americans out of work? Do you really want less then professional foreign Captains and Engineers piloting the Staten Island Ferry? Wake Up !!! Don't let them wipe out another industry. There are millions of Merchant Marines in the U.S. and you want to just eliminate their jobs? Crazy. If you truly want Tax Reform, Go FairTax !!! Equally Fair to all.


Three executive actions the Obama Administration can take to lower gasoline prices


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 3:01 PM PERMALINK


Since Obama was sworn in, the price of gasoline has risen from $1.84 to $3.60. Much like perpetual high unemployment rates, expensive gasoline might be one of the lasting legacies of the Obama presidency.

But this doesn’t have to be so. Blaming Republicans for Congressional gridlock, President Obama has not shied away from using his “privileges” as executive of the United States: from the illegal drilling moratorium after the Macondo disaster to unconstitutionally appointing members to the NLRB, Obama flexes his muscles with some regularity.

While the below suggestions would likely upset blocks of Obama’s base, his reelection should allow the president to put policy before politics, and alleviate Americans’ pain at the pump.

Approve the Keystone pipeline
If Republicans and Midwest Democrats sound like a broken record, it’s because TransCanada filed the Keystone XL pipeline paperwork over 1600 days ago. Even after Environmental Impact Statements found that the pipeline was totally safe, Obama refuses to approve the project. Apart from the immediate 20,000 jobs the $9 billion project would create, the Keystone pipeline would also be a boon to American refiners which currently import heavy crude from Venezuela.

Refining gasoline is a lot like making a fancy cocktail – it is a multistep process that requires many different ingredients. One such ingredient is heavy, dense crude – the same oil that would be transported by the Keystone pipeline or imported from Venezuela.  Not only is it cheaper to ship oil from our northern NAFTA ally – boats and the requisite insurance isn’t free – it is also safer.

Obama should approve the Keystone pipeline which will deliver 830,000 barrels of oil to refiners in Texas and Oklahoma every single day.

Suspend the Jones Act
The cheaper it is to get American oil to refiners, the cheaper manufactured gasoline will be. While pipelines represent one way for oil producers to transport oil, another means is to ship the oil by boat. Unfortunately for American consumers, an arcane union subsidy referred to as the Jones Act requires that all shippers transporting goods between two points in the United States to use vessels built in the U.S., owned by U.S. companies, and manned by American crews. This strange protectionist policy is a holdover from the 1920s and is inflating the cost of shipping oil by over 300 percent per barrel. From the WSJ:

John Demopoulos of Argus Media, which tracks pricing, estimates that foreign-flagged carriers could move oil from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast for about $1.20 a barrel, compared with $4 a barrel on U.S. ships.

Mr. Kunkel said the ships cost about $35 million to $50 million to build in Europe. But under the Jones Act, he'd need to buy American. The U.S. price: more than $100 million per ship. He shelved his business plans.

Since the Administration is dragging their feet on Keystone approval, temporarily suspending the Jones Act so oil producers can ship North Dakota oil through the great lakes, for a reasonable price, makes sense. This move would not be unprecedented – President George W. Bush waived the Jones Act immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Of course, full repeal of the Jones Act is preferable but suspension as a bridge to Keystone pipeline completion is a good place to start.   

Scrap EPA’s Tier 3 sulfur rule
Last spring the EPA delayed Tier III sulfur rules – apparently only until after the election –since on January 29, 2013, the EPA submitted the rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget. Presumably, the EPA would not have delayed the Tier III regulation if it was something consumers wanted.

Tier III is a discretionary rule meaning that it is not mandated by the EPA. It is entirely legal and appropriate to scuttle the rulemaking, especially given that a recent analysis of the regulation could impose capital costs on the refining industry for as much as $10 billion. Refiners will not pay the cost of this regulation – consumers will in the form of higher gasoline prices. And all for little to no benefit, the prior Tier II rulemaking reduced gasoline sulfur emissions by 90 percent.

 

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ATR Launches New EPA-inspired website


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, January 25th, 2013, 11:44 AM PERMALINK


Today Americans for Tax Reform launched http://epafakeidentitycreator.com/, a website which allows users to create EPA aliases, just like Lisa Jackson created the persona Richard Windsor.  

In early 2012, an EPA whistleblower told the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that Administrator Jackson was using the name alias Richard Windsor to hide communications she did not want to come to light.

After learning about the fake alias, CEI's Chris Horner filed suit with the EPA to access Jackson's Richard Windsor emails. The Department of Justice reluctantly agreed to produce 12,000 Richard Windsor emails in four 3,000 email tranches, the first of which was delivered on Monday, January 14. Although the EPA was ordered to deliver 3,000 emails, they only delivered 2,100, nearly all of which were news clippings and Google alerts.
 
Skirting or ignoring inquiries from Congressional Leaders, Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Science, Space and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the EPA’s reticence begs the question, “what are they hiding?”
 

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Trade Is Good


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 11:42 AM PERMALINK


Trade is good. It pressures companies to provide the best products to consumers, because if they don’t, someone else will. Consumers get more bang for their buck, companies get new markets, everybody wins.

Which is why Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports are unambiguously good.

The combination of hydraulic fracturing – a 60-year-old process – with horizontal drilling has made unthinkable amounts of natural gas economical to develop. This technological revolution has created tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of wealth in sleepy towns in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains.

The U.S. has produced so much natural gas that the price has plummeted – which is good for electricity consumers that use the fuel to heat their homes and keep the lights on – and the chemical industry that uses natural gas as a feedstock. The price of natural gas is so low that it often doesn’t make sense for natural gas extractors to develop the resource. It costs more money to develop natural gas than producers can sell it for, so many have been forced to delay projects.

However, the US has a huge opportunity to export some of our natural gas in the more easily transportable form of LNG. While protectionists claim that exports would raise the domestic price of natural gas, this increase will likely be minimal. Exporting LNG would give domestic producers a new market for natural gas and would allow them to resume drilling. Prohibiting exporting LNG isn’t protecting domestic prices, it is keeping natural gas in the ground and producers on the sidelines.

A recent Department of Energy report concludes that “Across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG exports.”

Our Republican friends at the Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee excerpted the best parts of the DOE study. In short, “the more LNG we export, the better for the U.S. economy. The biggest gains are in the short-term, so the sooner, the better.”

ENR’s GOP analysis of the export study:

The Obama administration’s report is a sophisticated and transparent study of the impacts of LNG export. It examines in detail 13 different scenarios, each based on different assumptions concerning the supply and demand of natural gas, as well as a range of export levels. In the final analysis, every single scenario was good for the United States.

•    “Across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG exports.” – p. 1

•    “In all of the scenarios analyzed in this study, NERA found that the U.S. would experience net economic benefits from increased LNG exports.” – p. 6

•    “Across the scenarios, U.S. economic welfare consistently increases as the volume of natural gas exports increased.” – p. 6

The more LNG we export, the better for the U.S. economy. The biggest gains are in the short-term, so the sooner, the better.

•    “Moreover, for every one of the market scenarios examined, net economic benefits increased as the level of LNG exports increased. In particular, scenarios with unlimited exports always had higher net economic benefits than corresponding cases with limited exports.” – p. 1

•    “Every scenario shows improvement in GDP over the No-Exports cases although in the long run the impact on GDP is relatively smaller than in the short run.” – p. 77

•    “All export scenarios are welfare-improving for U.S. consumers. The welfare improvement is the largest under the high export scenarios even though the price impacts are also the largest.” – p. 55

•    “Even with the highest prices estimated by EIA for these hypothetical cases, NERA found that there would be net economic benefits to the U.S., and the benefits became larger, the higher the level of exports.” – p. 12

The generalized gains…

•    “The macroeconomic analysis shows that there are consistent net economic benefits across all the scenarios examined and that the benefits generally become larger as the amount of exports increases.” – p. 76

•    “In conclusion, the range of aggregate macroeconomic results from this study suggests that LNG export has net benefits to the U.S. economy.” – p. 78

•    “In all of these cases, benefits that come from export expansion more than outweigh the losses from reduced capital and wage income to U.S. consumers, and hence LNG exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher domestic natural gas prices.”

…far outweigh the localized negatives.

•    “The benefits that come from export expansion more than outweigh the losses from reduced capital and wage income to U.S. consumers, and hence LNG exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher natural gas prices.” – pp. 6-7

•    “A higher natural gas price does lead to higher energy costs and impacts industries that use natural gas extensively. However, the effects of higher price do not offset the positive impacts from wealth transfers and result in higher GDP over the model horizon in all scenarios.” – p. 56

•    “However, even in the year of peak impacts the largest change in wage income by industry is no more than 1%, and even if all of this decline were attributable to lower employment relative to the baseline, no sector analyzed in this study would experience reductions in employment more rapid than normal turnover.” – p. 9

•    “Serious Competitive Impacts are Likely to be Confined to Narrow Segments of Industry.” – p. 12

•    The cap-and-trade program in the Waxman-Markey bill would have caused increases in energy costs and impacts on EITE [energy-intensive, trade exposed industry] even broader than would the allowing of LNG exports . . . . “ p. 67

While natural gas prices are projected to increase domestically, the effects will be limited.

•    “U.S. natural gas prices increase when the U.S. exports LNG. But the global market limits how high U.S. natural gas prices can rise under pressure of LNG exports because importers will not purchase U.S. exports if U.S. wellhead price rises above the cost of competing supplies. In particular, the U.S. natural gas price does not become linked to oil prices in any of the cases examined.” – p. 2

•    “Natural gas price changes attributable to LNG exports remain in a relatively narrow range across the entire range of scenarios. Natural gas price increases at the time LNG exports could begin range from zero to $0.33 (2010$/Mcf). The largest price increases that would be observed after 5 more years of potentially growing exports could range from $0.22 to $1.11 (2010$/Mcf). The higher end of the range is reached only under conditions of ample U.S. supplies and low domestic natural gas prices, with smaller price increases when U.S. supplies are more costly and domestic prices higher.” – p. 2
 

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Democrats stuff wind PTC and other energy-tax policies in fiscal cliff bill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013, 11:14 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday Congress passed HR 8 to mitigate the fiscal cliff, the expiration of marginal tax rates and a handful of tax extenders.

While Republicans fought to extend income tax rates for as many Americans as possible, Democrats were busy loading up HR 8 with misguided energy tax credits. Of the dozen or so energy tax extenders contained within HR 8, the expansion of the already damaging wind Production Tax Credit is certainly the most egregious. Although the wind PTC is only extended for a year, it is now available to wind producers that begin construction in fiscal year 2013. As long as a wind company “begins construction” (an intentionally vague term) in 2013, they can employ the PTC for a full decade whenever the facility begins actually generating intermittent power.     

For the past 20 years, the wind PTC was available to wind generators that began producing energy the same year the tax credit was available. To summarize, if traditional PTC language had been included in the fiscal cliff bill, wind generators would need to begin producing power this year (since the tax credit expires December 31, 2013).

But the PTC isn’t the only distortive tax credit included in HR 8. Below you will find a list of all the energy tax policies included in the fiscal cliff bill, most of which should probably be repealed with the coinciding tax increase offset in a revenue neutral way – the last thing conservatives want to do is help fund Obama’s bloated government. Click here to see JCT’s revenue implications.

 

  • Credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property is extended to 31 December 2013.
  • Credit for 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles. In the case of a qualified 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle, up to 10% of the cost of the qualified 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle, or $2,500 may be allowed as a credit.
  • Qualifying 2- or 3-wheel vehicles need a 2.5 kWh pack (down from 4 kWh), are capable of achieving a speed  of 45 mph (72 km/h)or greater, and must be acquired after 31 December 2011 and before 1 January 2014.
  • Extension and modification of cellulosic biofuel producer credit. The extension now carries through to qualified production beginning before 1 January 2014. Algae is treated as a qualified feedstock.
  • Additionally, the section strikes the term cellulosic biofuel in favor of “second generation biofuel”.
  • Incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel are extended to 31 December 2013.
  • Credit for energy-efficient existing homes is extended to 31 December 2013.
  • Extension of production credit for Indian coal facilities placed in service before 2009 for an 8-year period rather than a 7-year period. The amendment applies to coal produced after 31 December 2012.
  • Extension and modification of credits with respect to facilities producing energy from certain renewable resources. Among other provisions for municipal solid waste, hydro, and biomass facilities, production tax credits for wind facilities are extended to 1 January 2014.
  • Credits for energy-efficient new homes are extended to 31 December 2013.
  • Credits for energy-efficient appliances are extended into 2013.
  • The special allowance for cellulosic biofuel plant property is extended to 1 January 2014. In addition, algae is treated as a qualified feedstock for such.
  • The special rule for sales or dispositions to implement FERC or state electric restructuring policy for   qualified electric utilities is extended to 1 January 2014.
  • Alternative fuels excise tax credits are extended to 31 December.

(h/t gas2.org)
 

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A Carbon Tax Makes the Democrats' Overspending Problem Worse


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, December 10th, 2012, 11:19 AM PERMALINK


After Democrats spent the past four years creating trillion dollar deficits, they are now asking the American people to foot the bill. Even with Obamacare's trillion dollar tax hikes set to kick in on January 1, Democrats are still telling the American people that they are undertaxed.

Creating an entirely new revenue stream, a carbon tax would be a boon for Democrats looking to sustain inordinately high levels of federal spending. While many carbon tax proponents argue for a "revenue-neutral" carbon tax—where the federal income tax or payroll tax is reduced by an identical amount—such a bill is unlikely to ever emerge from the halls of Congress. Even if an ostensibly "revenue-neutral" carbon tax were to become law, it would only be a matter of time before tax and spend politicians ratcheted up the carbon tax, payroll tax, and income tax. Opening up another front in the battle to restrain growth of government would be disastrous.

With the economy crawling along at 2 or 3 percent growth and the unemployment rate stuck around 8 percent, a carbon tax would only exacerbate our economic hardship.

Knowing this, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas just introduced a resolution opposing a carbon tax. Highlighting the undeniable damage a carbon tax would have on the American economy, Vitter and Pompeo write:

Full article: Click Here

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Support Sen. Vitter and Rep. Pompeo's resolution to oppose a carbon tax


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, December 3rd, 2012, 2:28 PM PERMALINK


December 3, 2012

Dear Senator:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I urge you to support Sen. Vitter’s (R-La.) resolution opposing a carbon tax. With a wide range of special spending interests advocating for a carbon tax, it is important to show that elected Republicans explicitly, unambiguously oppose a carbon tax.

Increasing federal spending by nearly a trillion dollars annually, Democrats have spent the past four years creating enormous debt and deficits. Democrats and appropriators are now looking for ways to fund their large government.

Opening a new revenue stream for Congress would increase Americans’ tax burden over time. The creation of any new tax such as a VAT or energy tax – even if originally passed with offsetting tax reductions elsewhere – would inevitably lead to higher taxes as two taxes would be at the disposal of politicians to increase. Two smaller tapeworms are not an improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow.

Proving that the government will spend every dollar it can get its hands on, Obamacare represents a $1 trillion tax increase over 2013-2022. And now we are told that Americans are under taxed and that the government needs even more money.

The answer to America’s deficit problem is not higher or new taxes, it is to reduce government spending.

A “carbon tax” would hit every single American. Americans’ utility bills would increase, the price of gasoline would rise, and since nearly every product we consume requires energy, everyday expenses would similarly increase.

It is for these reasons that I urge you to support Sen. Vitter’s resolution opposing a carbon tax.

Onward,

Grover Norquist
President

Full Download: Click Here

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Is Obama's Treasury Department Planning a Carbon Tax?


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 11:58 AM PERMALINK


The Competitive Enterprise Institute thinks so and today “filed suit to force the Treasury Department to release more than 7,300 emails believed to discuss a new ‘carbon tax’ Obama administration allies in Congress are expected to propose in the upcoming lame duck session.”

The CEI press release continues, “the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks emails on official government accounts that CEI had requested under the Freedom of Information Act.  Treasury has said nothing about this topic publicly, but the existence of such extensive email traffic likely reflects serious ongoing discussions between Treasury officials, outside pressure groups and other special interests groups.”

For more on CEI’s lawsuit, click here.

The trillion dollar question
Since assuming office four years ago, President Obama has overseen annual trillion dollar deficits. Showing no signs of curbing record levels of federal spending, President Obama and the Democrat Party are searching for new sources of tax revenue to finance a bloated government.

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Americans for Tax Reform Opposes a Carbon Tax


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 9:27 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform opposes a carbon tax and will work tirelessly to ensure one does not become law.  

Taxing American energy consumption not only opens up a new revenue stream for proponents of big government, but threatens to forever damage the American economy. 

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist describes a carbon tax this way:

"The creation of any new tax such as a VAT or energy tax -- even if originally passed with offsetting tax reductions elsewhere -- would inevitably lead to higher taxes as two taxes would be at the disposal of politicians to increase taxes.Two smaller tapeworms are not an improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow.   

There is no conceivable way to add an energy or VAT tax to the burdens American taxpayers face that would not violate the pledge over time.  If someone first passed and implemented a constitutional amendment with 2/3 of the House and Senate and 3/4 of the states concurring to forbid the restoration of the income tax, we might more safely consider passing a VAT or energy VAT. And then it would be foolish and economically destructive thing to do."

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