Chris Prandoni

Unions Butter Bread With Obama Tools

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 2:38 PM PERMALINK

This article was originally published by the Washington Times.

Unions have good reason to thank President Obama, who has gone to unprecedented lengths to reverse demographic trends and public sentiment to help unions cling to power. In the past 100 years, Americans have never thought less of organized labor. This disenchantment didn’t happen overnight - Gallup polls show that Americans increasingly disapprove of labor unions and think they should have less power.

Given this negative perception of unions, it is not surprising that union membership has dropped dramatically: Twenty-four percent of America’s workforce was unionized in 1979 while only 12 percent are unionized today. Trying their best to buck this 30-year trend, unions began lobbying for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) - more commonly known as "card check" - during the tail end of the Bush administration. Card check would have stopped unions’ membership from deteriorating further. It would have allowed unions to bully workers into unionization by eliminating the private ballot during union elections.

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars during the 2008 election cycle to help Democrats secure both chambers of Congress, unions had their best chance to have card check signed into law. However, the 111th Congress came and went without even a vote on EFCA. Constituents barred their representatives from even considering this legislation. It turns out the same Americans who don’t want to join a union in the first place don’t want to be forced into a union.

With Congress no longer a viable vehicle to implement pro-union policy, the Obama administration began using federal agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the National Mediation Board (NMB) to achieve similar ends. Appointing former union officials to both federal agencies, Mr. Obama’s unabashedly pro-union appointees went to work writing rules to facilitate unionization.

The National Mediation Board - the federal agency that oversees union-employer relations in the transportation sector - overturned 75 years of accepted law to tilt the scales in unions’ favor come election time. Traditionally, for a union to win representation, a majority of workers had to vote yes for the union. Under the new NMB rule, only a majority of voting workers have to agree to unionize. This is especially problematic as it is practically impossible to decertify a union in the transportation industry - no body of workers with more than 400 members has ever decertified a union.


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ATR will Keyvote H.R. 2587, the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 12:03 PM PERMALINK

The NLRB’s decision to issue a legal complaint that will potentially force the Boeing Company to relocate production of 787 Dreamliner is indicative of the job-killing regulations proposed by this Board. The National Labor Relations Act was never meant to allow the NLRB to dictate where a business can setup shop.

South Carolina, a right-to-work state, created an environment for Boeing to develop and grow uninhibited by Big Labor. South Carolina should not be punished for its ability to attract investment. Boeing and every other company should unquestionably have the right to open offices or plants in the state that offers the best opportunities for growth and job creation.

The federal government should not stand in the way of our job creators when families from South Carolina to Alaska are suffering and the unemployment rate is once again nearing ten percent.

We encourage you to use every tool available to stop the NLRB from implementing policies to appease Big Labor at the expense of workers, businesses, and our economy. The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act will rein in the NLRB and allow business to decide how and where they operate and create jobs.

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Obama Demonizes Job Creators During "Jobs Speech"

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, September 9th, 2011, 1:23 PM PERMALINK

The White House spent the better part of August marketing last night’s speech as THE “Jobs Speech.” Given the amount of hype leading up to last night and partisan nature of this Administration, it is not surprising that the Obama’s speech fell flat. Instead of proposing novel, meaningful ideas that cleavages of both parties support, like repatriation of foreign earnings, the President advocated for many of the failed policies of the past.

Similarly puzzling is Obama his Party’s fixation with raising taxes on oil and natural gas producers—some of America’s most adept job creators. Instead of acknowledging these companies as some of the largest employers and creators of wealth in the country, Democrats propagate the notion that oil and natural gas companies are greedy and exploitative, and must be taxed even more. While this sentiment is widely held by those on the Left, it is telling that Obama couldn’t help but demonize an industry employing 9.2 million Americans.

And you wonder why unemployment is still above 9 percent?

Let’s look at some of the investments oil and natural gas companies have made transforming sleepy North Dakota and Pennsylvania communities into bustling commercial regions. Almost entirely due to oil and natural gas companies’ investment in the state, North Dakota has the lowest employment rate in the country at 3.8 percent.

In western North Dakota, there are currently 19,000 workers directly employed by oil producers. This number is expected to rise 8 percent in 2011 as companies look to extract the 3.0-4.3 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken Formation.

Similarly, the discovery of the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve has proved to be a boon for Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia. Natural Gas producers have already invested $4 billion in Pennsylvania creating 44,000 thousand jobs in 2009 and an estimated 89,000 jobs in 2010.

Extrapolating the North Dakota and Pennsylvania case studies, a Wood Mackenzie study found that full development of America’s oil and natural gas reserves would likely create 460,000 jobs by 2020 and 530,000 jobs by 2025.

Instead of encouraging oil and natural gas companies to continue investing, producing, and creating wealth Democrats have consistently advocated for job killing tax increases. If Democrats successfully eliminated standard, longstanding tax deductions employed by the oil and natural gas industry, these job creators would be unable to recover many of their costly investments resulting in 170,000 job losses.

Explicitly encouraging these understood job losses, Obama has left struggling Americans in limbo waiting for green shoots.


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ATR Urges Congress To Let The Ethanol Tax Credit Expire

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 2:28 PM PERMALINK

Today Americans for Tax Reform reiterated its opposition to the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) in a letter sent to Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin. ATR President Grover Norquist explained why VEETC is bad tax policy and ever worse energy policy, writing:

The ethanol regime, the Renewable Fuel Standard (ethanol mandate), ethanol tariff, and VEETC, are indicative of government overreach. Unnecessarily attempting to wean Americans off of petroleum products, Washington propped up an industry at the expense of the American consumer.

As often happens when politicians inject themselves into the marketplace, every justification ethanol proponents have espoused over the last thirty years has been proven false—the fuel does not meaningfully reduce emissions and is an inefficient substitute for traditional gasoline. 

Allowing the VEETC to expire is a necessary first step towards dismantling government-induced ethanol consumption. Alternative fuels may very well prove to be a viable substitute for gasoline someday but forcing Americans to carry this politically connected industry’s weight is both unfair and unsustainable.  

Click here to view ATR’s complete letter.

EPA will delay one of many regulations

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 4:08 PM PERMALINK

Today the White House announced it will delay their premature tightening of America’s ozone standards. Every five years, the Environmental Protection Agency is required to reassess the amount of emissions present in the ozone. Given the predisposition of the agency’s regulators, the EPA regularly places stricter, unnecessary limits on the amount of emissions legally permissible.

In an attempt to appease discontented environmentalists, the EPA was considering implementing drastically tighter ozone standards two years before they are required to do so. Acknowledged by the EPA as the most economically burdensome regulations the agency is considering, the proposed ozone standard would have exacerbated America’s economic woes and induced job losses in the millions.

Americans for Tax Reform Foundation’s Cost of Government Day Report highlights a NAM study which quantifies just how disastrous the EPA’s proposed ozone standard would be:

In a report on ozone reduction, the Manufacturers Alliance found that the EPA’s proposed allowable ozone emission standard of 60 parts per billion (ppb) would cost $1.01 trillion in 2020 and in subsequent years through 2030.  These attainment costs are particularly high because the marginal cost of ozone reduction rises quickly as more expensive technologies are required to meet more stringent standards. Using CBO federal spending baseline estimates for the next ten years, the Obama ozone regulations will increase the cost of government by 18 days.

If growth is premised upon historical averages rather than CBO estimates, the ozone regulation will increase the cost of government by 21 days in 2020. The Manufacturers Alliance report estimates job  losses of 7.28 million in 2020.

While the Obama Administration’s announcement to delay a new ozone rule for two years comes as good news, the EPA is still busy implementing a handful of other regulations which could prove to be just as burdensome: The Coal MACT, The Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR) and Utility Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT)—just to name a few.

Click here to learn more about the rules the EPA is still pushing and their effect on our struggling economy.

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Senator Rockefeller Kills Bipartisan Agreement for FAA Extension

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, 4:20 PM PERMALINK

Senator Rockefeller and Senate Democrats said NO to the White House, said NO to the Transportation Secretary, FAA and Jobs. And insist on continued subsidies and favors for Union allies and a partial shut down of the FAA

Majority Leader Harry Reid On August 2, 2011: 

QUESTION:  Senator, if [Senate] Republicans don't accept a clean extension, temporary extension to the FAA act here on the floor by the end of the day, will you guys accept the House version and reopen the FAA?

REID  :  Yes.  I have said that we have 80,000 jobs at least on the line…The Essential Air Service is a program that I believe in, but I also believe that $3,500 per passenger is a little extreme.  That's what Ely, Nevada is.  and I think as we -- we learned with this big deal we've just done, sometimes you have to step back and find out what's best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues.  And I'm willing to give that up.  I hope the other senators would do the same. 

Speaker Boehner Statement on August 3, 2011:

“All it will take to end this crisis is for the Senate to pass the House-approved FAA extension.  The only reason so many jobs are at stake is Senate Democratic Leaders chose to play politics rather than pass the House bill.  I respect the fact that Senators have certain objections, but they have had two weeks to respond to the House bill and done nothing, leaving tens of thousands of workers in limbo.  The House has done its job, and now it’s time for Senators to do theirs.”

Senator Rockefeller at Press Conference on August 3, 2011:

“I don’t know why we didn’t pass the bill…[responding to why Democrats didn’t pass FAA Reauthorization when they had the majority over the past 4 years]

“Of course I care about Morgantown” [which receives large subsidies in West Virginia]

The White House Pushed To Get the Senate To Accept The House Extension To Put 4,000 FAA Employees Back To Work.  “A last-minute Obama administration effort to get the Senate to accept a funding extension that would have returned 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees and about 70,000 others to work failed Tuesday as Congress headed home until September.”  (“Congress Heads Home Without Extending FAA Funding,” Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, August 2, 2011).

President Obama Demanded That Congress Break “That Impasse Now.”  “President Obama weighed in Tuesday morning, calling the impasse ‘another Washington-inflicted wound on America’ and demanding that Congress break ‘that impasse now’.” (“Congress Heads Home Without Extending FAA Funding,” Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, August 2, 2011).

Transportation Secretary Lahood Implored Senators To Accept The House Extension In Order To Avoid Losing $1.2 Billion In Ticket Tax Revenue.  “With House members already departed and senators packing their bags for the summer recess, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pressed hard in a final round of meetings and calls with Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other key senators. LaHood implored them to accept a funding extension sent over by the House that contained provisions some senators found unpalatable, but he told them it was the only avenue left that would return people to work and avert the lost of $1.2 billion in ticket tax revenue.” (“Congress Heads Home Without Extending FAA Funding,” Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, August 2, 2011).

Secretary LaHood Told The Senate That Their Inaction Would Result in 70,000 Construction Workers Out Of Work But The Senate Ignored Him.  “We have heard many, many grandiose speeches by members of Congress about creating jobs and putting people to work,” LaHood said. “Well, this is not the way to put people to work, to lay off 70,000 construction workers in the middle of the construction season.”  (“Congress Heads Home Without Extending FAA Funding,” Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, August 2, 2011).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Initially Agreed That The Senate Should Accept The House Extension Before Going Out Of Session.  In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, August 2, Senator Reid said that “80,000 jobs at least” were “one the line” and people were laid off in Nevada and even though he wanted to “protect” his state on the EAS subsidies, “you have to be reasonable” and “sometimes you have to step back and find out what’s best for the country…”  (Harry Reid Press Statement on August 2, 2011).

Senator Reid Said He Hoped The Other Senators Would Agree With Him On The Extension.   “Sometimes you have to step back and find out what’s best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues.  And I’m willing to give that up [Nevada’s EAS subsidy] I hope the other senators would do the same.” 

QUESTION:  Senator, if [Senate] Republicans don't accept a clean extension, temporary extension to the FAA act here on the floor by the end of the day, will you guys accept the House version and reopen the FAA?

REID  :  Yes.  I have said that we have 80,000 jobs at least on the line.  In Nevada, as an example, we have a new airport tower there where they started the construction about two weeks ago.  All those people have been laid off.  That's a huge project.  I don't know, but it's nearly a $100 million project. …

The Essential Air Service is a program that I believe in, but I also believe that $3,500 per passenger is a little extreme.  That's what Ely, Nevada is.  And I do my best to protect the state, but sometimes you have to be reasonable.

And I think as we -- we learned with this big deal we've just done, sometimes you have to step back and find out what's best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues.  And I'm willing to give that up.  I hope the other senators would do the same.  (Harry Reid Press Statement on August 2, 2011)

But Senator Rockefeller, The Chairman Of The Committee That Oversees The FAA, Refused To Move The Extension Before The Senate Went Out Of Session.   Despite Secretary LaHood’s appeals, Senator Rockefeller refused to agree to the extension:  “Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the FAA, held out the possibility that if the Senate were able to pass a bill acceptable to Democrats, it could still be approved by the House using obscure parliamentary procedures, and sent to the White House.” (“FAA Shutdown To Continue As Congress Leaves,” Associated Press, August 2, 2011.

House Chairman Mica – Agreeing With The White House, Secretary LaHood And Harry Reid, Said The Only Way To End The Shutdown Was To Pass The House Extension And Senator Rockefeller Was Blocking It"The only one holding this up now is Mr. Rockefeller," Mica said. One of the 13 communities that would lose subsidies is Morgantown, W.Va.”  (“FAA Shutdown To Continue As Congress Leaves,” Associated Press, August 2, 2011.

Morgantown, West Virginia – In Rockefeller’s Home State – Is One of the 13 Communities That Would Lose Subsidies. "The only one holding this up now is Mr. Rockefeller," Mica said. One of the 13 communities that would lose subsidies is Morgantown, W.Va.”  (“FAA Shutdown To Continue As Congress Leaves,” Associated Press, August 2, 2011.

Just This Week, While Thousands Of Jobs Were On The Line, Senator Rockefeller Wrote An Op-Ed In USA Today Defending The Large Essential Air Service Subsidies.  “The EAS program has long been a lifeblood of economic development in rural America….at its core, EAS is a smart use of limited resources to support rural economies.  In my state of West Virginia, and many others, hub airports are hours away for most communities, and many businesses won't consider locating in places that lack air service. EAS, which is less than 2% of our aviation budget, makes a difference.” (Sen. Rockefeller: Rural America Needs Essential Air Service,” Senator Jay Rockefeller, USA Today, August 1, 2011)

Senator Reid Has Now Changed His Tune And Is Back To Blaming Republicans Despite His Agreement With The White House And Secretary LaHood On Tuesday, August 2.  “The Federal Aviation Administration has been in a partial shutdown mode since July 22. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the shutdown will continue, with some 4,000 federal workers remaining on furlough.   ‘It'll be closed until... maybe not September, maybe more than that,’  he tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris….’The House has tried to make this a battle over essential air service,’  he says. ‘It's not a battle over essential air service. It's a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board].’  The issue, Reid says, is Delta's ‘non-union’ stance. The bill to fund the FAA, as crafted by House Republicans, includes language that sets new rules for aviation workers' votes on labor representation.”  (“Reid Says FAA Shutdown Will Continue; Blames House, Delta Airlines,” Bill Chappell, NPR, August 2, 2011).

But Majority Leader Reid Now Ignores That The Labor Provision Isn’t Even In The FAA Extension As Chairman Mica Explains:  "To be clear, the House extension does not include any National Mediation Board labor provisions, which is another contentious issue between the House and Senate," he said. “Hardworking Americans are suffering because some powerful leaders in the Senate want to protect their own pork programs," Mica continued. "We are all fed up with the sham that is going on in the Senate. The Senate made a clear choice — political pork over American workers.” (“Mica:  Senate chose ‘pork’ over ending FAA partial shutdown,” Keith Lang, The Hill, August 2, 2011).

The FAA Has Already Had 20 Extensions Before But This Time Senate Democrats Said No.  Since the last FAA long-term funding bill expired in 2007, the agency has limped through 20 extensions of its funding while Congress bickered over how to craft a new long-term package. (“Congress Heads Home Without Extending FAA Funding,” Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post, August 2, 2011).

Already The Government Has Lost More Than 12 Times What The Subsidies Cost.  “The government already has lost more than $200 million since airlines are unable to collect taxes on ticket sales because the FAA's operating authority has expired.  The Senate recessed on Tuesday until September, erasing any possibility for quickly resolving the issue. The House left Monday night.  (“FAA Shutdown To Continue As Congress Leaves,” Associated Press, August 2, 2011).

The Senate Leadership Is Willing To Cost The Government Over $1 Billion In Tax Revenue To Protect Their Subsidies. “As Eyder reported earlier today, The FAA shutdown has already cost the government more money than the disputed $16.5 million in cuts approved by the House. In fact, he wrote, the federal government stands to miss out on "more than $1 billion in revenue from uncollected airfare taxes."  (“Reid Says FAA Shutdown Will Continue; Blames House, Delta Airlines,” Bill Chappell, NPR, August 2, 2011).

Democrat Senator Mark Warner Says The Math On Not Passing The Extension Doesn’t Make Sense:  “Here’s a thing that has really got to make you scratch your head:  during this furlough, and with the FAA shutdown, the airlines who traditionally charge passengers a small tax to help fund the FAA so you can build the airports, maintain the airports, keep them safe, while the FAA is shut down, the airlines aren’t required to collect the tax.  So during this period, particularly if we go through this whole month and leave the FAA furloughed, the United States government….because of this political back and forth , would lose $1.2 billion in ticket taxes…$1.2 billion because of a dispute about a program to support rural airports that in total is $14 million.  Now, if people scratch their head on that kind of math, they’ve got a right to scratch their head.”  (Senator Mark Warner, Floor Statement on FAA Reauthorization on August 2, 2011)

Republican Senator Jon Kyl Calls On Senate Leadership To Put The American People First Instead Of Their Union Allies And Pass The Extension.  "Democrats have to decide if they are going to be the handmaidens of the labor unions in every policy," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader, told reporters. "Every now and then they should put the American people first instead of their constituency." (“FAA Shutdown To Continue As Congress Leaves,” Associated Press, August 2, 2011).

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ATR will Keyvote against cloture on S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 11:51 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today announced it will keyvote against cloture on S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011. There are many amendments still pending on this bill which deserve a fair up or down vote. Among the most important of these is Senator DeMint’s SA 460, a measure which would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (ethanol mandate) and kill the death tax. When paired with SA 476 (the Feinstein/Coburn amendment repealing the ethanol tax credit and import tariff) the pair of amendments kills the government’s preference regime for ethanol without raising net taxes.

The ethanol mandate is the true impetus spurring non-free market ethanol consumption, since it alone is responsible for most government-induced production of ethanol. Any consideration of ethanol policy without a vote to kill the ethanol mandate is at best nibbling at the edges of the government’s ethanol regime.

S. 782  would almost double the funding for what has become a permanent “stimulus” office; the Economic Development Agency doles out hundreds of millions each year to politically well-connected localities and organizations under the guise of federal economic assistance.

Senators should have the opportunity to vote on killing all the government’s policies that prop-up the ethanol industry. Furthermore, they should have the opportunity to do so in a way that does not result in more tax dollars going to the Appropriation Committees which fund Obama’s supersized government. This is only possible if a vote is permitted on Senator DeMint’s amendment.

A vote for SA 476 (Feinstein/Coburn) combined with a vote for cloture on S. 782, is a vote in favor of protecting the ethanol mandate and proceeding to a vote on a net tax increase.

Senators that voted for Feinstein/Coburn and for cloture today will violate their Taxpayer Protection Pledge. A vote for cloture is a vote against consideration of the DeMint amendment (which would make S. 782 tax revenue neutral).

To keep faith with taxpayers in their state, Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers who supported the Feinstein/Coburn amendment must vote against cloture today to indicate an intent to vote for the DeMint amendment prior to final consideration of S. 782, and thereby keep their Pledge.

Click here for a PDF file.

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Conservative groups urge Senators to eliminate the ethanol mandate, tax credit and tariff

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 6:05 PM PERMALINK

Dear Senator,

We are writing this letter to urge you to end government support for the ethanol regime by supporting both Senator Coburn’s Amendment #436 and Senator DeMint’s Amendment to S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011. Together, these two amendments would end the three policies that inflate American ethanol consumption—the Renewable Fuel Standard (ethanol mandate), The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), and the import tariff.

Even after increasingly supporting the ethanol industry since the 1970s, ethanol consumption is still largely predicated on government programs, not consumer preference. Ethanol’s advantageous treatment has skewed America’s energy market and crippled the industry making it reliant on federal handouts.

Neither reducing national gasoline prices nor meaningfully mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, there is little justification for the American people to continue to prop-up the ethanol industry. For much of the past thirty years, a gallon of ethanol has been more expensive than a gallon of gasoline. Furthermore, ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline making it substantially less efficient.

Only in an energy market so convoluted with duplicative regulations and preferential laws could ethanol be so ubiquitous. What fuel Americans use should be dictated by the free market and consumer choice, not government mandates. It is imperative that we begin peeling back the numerous policies which facilitate certain types of energy while inhibiting others. Repealing the ethanol mandate, VEETC and import tariff would go a long way towards achieving this end.  

American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, Chairman
Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, President
Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, President
Competitive Enterprise Institute, Myron Ebell, Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation (MA), Chip Faulkner, Associate Director
Citizen Rep. Holmes Norton (D-DC) Waste, Tom Schatz, President
Freedom Action, Myron Ebell, Director
Human Events, Thomas S. Winter, Editor-in-Chief
National Center for Public Policy Research, David A. Ridenour
National Taxpayers Union, Andrew Moylan, VP of Government Affairs
Tea Party W DC, Lisa Miller, Founder

PDF File

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ATR applauds Passage of Sens. Feinstein/Coburn Ethanol Amendment

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 2:47 PM PERMALINK

While eliminating these two policies that buttress the ethanol industry are an encouraging first step, Senators who truly wish to end the government’s favoritism towards the ethanol industry must also vote for Sen. DeMint’s forthcoming amendment.

Sen. DeMint’s amendment repeals the real policy distorting the energy market —the Renewable Fuel Standard (the mandate)—and eliminates the death tax. The tax cut contained within the DeMint amendment overwhelms the Feinstein/Coburn tax hike allowing Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers to freely vote to eliminate the ethanol tax credit and tariff so long as they also vote for the DeMint amendment.

Again, as long as Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers that voted for the Feinstein/Coburn amendment also vote for the DeMint amendment, they will be in keeping with the Pledge they made to their constituents. Taken together, this elimination of favoritism toward ethanol is not a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

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What are the Taxpayer Implications of today's amendments in the Senate?

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 12:52 PM PERMALINK

16 June 2011

To: Pro-Taxpayer Senators
From: Grover Norquist
            Americans for Tax Reform

Cc: state and local taxpayer groups.

Republican Leadership is insisting that the DeMint amendment to end the death tax and to end the ethanol mandate be voted on before cloture is invoked on the underlying bill entitled S. 782, the Economic Development Reauthorization bill.

The DeMint amendment abolishes the death tax and abolishes the ethanol mandate.  The DeMint amendment is a significant reduction in taxes and a giant step towards full tax reform by eliminating the double taxation of lifetime savings caused by the death tax.  Ending the ethanol mandate is a significant move towards a free market in energy.

The Coburn amendment ends the ethanol tax credit that is already set to end on December 31 of this year.  It is a small one year tax increase and because it leaves the underlying ethanol mandate in place does little if anything to end government distortion of the energy market. However, coupled with the significant and useful DeMint amendment the Coburn amendment would help clean up the tax code and also ends a tariff on imported ethanol.  Tariffs are taxes.

Senators who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to their states’ voters have promised to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase net taxes. A vote for DeMint alone or a vote for Coburn and DeMint are both consistent with keeping one’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge to your voters.

There have been deliberate efforts to confuse both Senators and voters about what is and is not a vote for a tax hike.   The Tuesday vote for cloture was not a vote for higher taxes as it just opened the door to vote on both the Coburn amendment which was a small tax increase, but also moved towards the DeMint legislation which is a larger tax cut and a real improvement in removing government from controlling the production and consumption of energy.

Today, a Senator might choose to vote for the Coburn amendment to send a largely symbolic message of disapproval of government picking winners and losers in the energy industry. As long as that vote was followed by a vote for DeMint (or a vote to deny cloture if the offsetting tax cut and real energy reform in DeMint is denied a vote by Reid) a Senator will have voted consistent with his or her pledge to voters.

If a Senator wishes to vote for a small tax hike, and against ending the death tax and for maintaining the ethanol mandate, then one simply votes for Coburn and against the DeMint amendment.

As always, if the final bill has a net tax hike inside it a vote for the tax increasing bill would of course be a violation of a Senator’s pledge to his states’ voters.

Grover G. Norquist

Click here for a PDF file of the above letter

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