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Hayley Robinson

Podesta's War on Resources & the BLM's Land Scam


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Monday, April 7th, 2014, 2:11 PM PERMALINK


John Podesta hasn’t wasted any time since he stepped foot into the White House in January. As special advisor to President Obama, Podesta is the mastermind of many controversial policies to come out of the White House, particularly how to interpret and implement environmental laws.

The policies advocated for by Podesta emphasize President Obama’s unprecedented executive power and ability to subvert Congress. Particularly concerning President Obama’s desire to dictate federal land management in an effort to weaken the oil and natural gas industry in America. In the fall of 2013, after meeting interest groups opposed to oil and natural gas development, the Bureau of Land Management suddenly pulled drilling leases 5 days before their auction was scheduled. Not only did this meeting violate the agency’s own policies, but the area set for auction was the San Rafael Swell, one of Podesta’s targets for national monument designation.

In 2003, Podesta founded the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in the heart of Washington, D.C. Pushing for Obama to use his authority to get radical policies enacted, CAP published “The Power of the President” in 2010. John Podesta wrote a forward for the white paper urging the President not to compromise with Republicans but to instead use his executive power to bypass Congress.

“The Power of the President” is filled with an extensive number of measures the President can take, almost entirely without Congress. The suggested areas for ‘opportunity’ include a variety of subjects, but one stands out among the rest: energy and environmental policy.  

Within its text, Podesta and his team at CAP write on the actions President Obama should take to dictate the oil and natural gas industry. In the section concerning land ‘conservation’, they discuss Obama’s power through the Antiquities Act:

The president should designate more than a dozen new national monuments and include them in the National Landscape Conservation System, which offers enhanced protection to BLM-managed public land… Among the areas cited by the BLM for possible monument designation are the San Rafael Swell in Utah, 2.5 million acres of northern prairies in Montana, the 1.2 million-acre Otero Mesa in New Mexico, and parts of the Owyhee Desert in Idaho and Nevada.

At a first glance, nothing seems out of place. But when you find out that Western Energy Alliance has an appeal filed against the Bureau of Land Management because of pulled leases in the San Rafael Swell, you might want to look a little closer at what is really going on. America’s vital energy sources are being attacked, and the White House is spearheading the onslaught.

In order to fully understand the controversial situation at hand in the Midwest, we have composed a timeline of events:

August 16, 2013: The Bureau of Land Management announces it will be selling leases to 82 land parcels in the San Rafael Swell in an auction to be held on November 19th in Salt Lake City.

September 16, 2013: Once the land leases are announced, there is a one month protest period. According to the Bureau of Land Management, All protests must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., Sept. 16, 2013.” No protests are to be heard or accepted after the deadline.

October 23, 2013: Federal land managers hold a closed-door, private meeting with the Utah Rock Art Research Association and others protesting land parcels.

November 7, 2013: A subsequent letter following up with the concerns raised in the meeting is sent to the Bureau of Land Management, nearly two months after the close of the protest period.

November 14, 2013: The Bureau of Land Management Utah State Director Juan Palmato announces that they will be pulling 57 of the leases (5 days before the auction). There was no indication they would be pulling any leases in the months following the protest period. As a result, energy companies spent $500,000 surveying the land parcels.

December 10, 2013: John Podesta is reported to be joining the White House as Counselor to the President on January 1, 2014.

January 13, 2014: Western Energy Alliance files an appeal before the Interior Land Appeals Board, asking the judges to require the Bureau of Land Management to offer the parcels at the next auction, providing evidence of the BLM not following procedure and having an environmentalist bias.

Let’s not forget that the first place slated for possible monument designation by Podesta and the Center for American Progress is the San Rafael Swell. Furthermore, many other areas slated for monument designation hold vital resources. In early 2013, the Star Tribune reported that there were nearly 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil under parts of North Dakota and Montana. Even more startling is that the prairies of northern Montana are rich in oil and gas. Furthermore, the Otero Mesa and Owyhee Desert have both been sought after for their resources.

Podesta’s agenda is clearly an assault on natural gas and oil production in the United States. In the section following monument designation, the Center for American Progress outlines their goal of “transitioning the nation to clean, renewable energy sources that will increase our security and reduce carbon pollution”, and then advises Obama to therefore “rescind E.O. 13212 and E.O. 13211, which mandated oil and natural gas development be the overriding consideration in land management”. As Counsel to the President, Podesta holds significant power in pushing through these policies using the president’s authority.

Clearly, the goal for Podesta and now the Obama Administration is the sabotage of our energy resources at the expense of the American people. According to the Washington Post, Podesta has recently met with Democrats behind closed doors to discuss where they can put federal lands off limit to development. And let’s not forget that Podesta was Chief of Staff for President Clinton, who put more land into national monuments than any other president before him. “The nostalgic memories of the Clinton administration are not so sweet for those of us in the West who are still trying to recover,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). Oil dependency internationally is continually a controversial issue, as conflict boils in many regions of the world and resource dependency places the U.S. in a problematic situation. 

Luckily, a bill sponsored by Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) makes national monument declaration an open public process through applying NEPA to the president. Furthermore, each declaration must be accompanied by a feasibility study estimating the cost of managing the monument, while also including the loss of state and local revenues in the process. Land including private property is also prohibited from declaration unless there is written consent from the owner. Representative Bishop’s bill passed the house a few weeks ago, but now sits in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where Reid is likely to keep it unless attention is drawn to the threat posed to our resources and economy.

Drilling on our own soil creates jobs, less oil dependence, the potential for exports, and will give the U.S. more leverage internationally. Unfortunately, unless Rep. Bishop’s legislation, H.R. 1459, is passed by the Senate, President Obama will continue to abuse his executive authority to stifle oil and natural gas development. 

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Photo Credit: 
Center for American Progress Action Fund: https://www.flickr.com/photos/americanprogressaction/

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Walker's Tax Reform Bill Passes Senate


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014, 11:12 AM PERMALINK


Last week, the Wisconsin Senate passed Walker’s tax cut proposal, Senate Bill 1, by a vote of 17 to 15. The proposed legislation provides over $500 million in tax cuts for hardworking taxpayers in the Badger state.

SB 1 benefits Wisconsin taxpayers by cutting income and property taxes for families and businesses, and eliminating income taxes for Wisconsin manufacturers. According to the Journal Sentinel:

  • “Walker's plan for the surplus prioritizes the tax cuts and a roughly $320 million overhaul of income tax.
  • The average income tax filer would receive a tax cut of $46 in April 2015 and the typical homeowner would save $131 over the existing law on this December's bills, according to the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office.
  • Workers will have less taken out of each paycheck — about $520 a year for a married couple making a total of $80,000 a year — starting in April.
  • The bill would also lower income taxes for factory and farm owners by $36.8 million over the current two-year budget and $91.3 million over the following two years.”

 

Furthermore, Law360 reports:

  • “Tax cuts would reduce a homeowner's property tax bill by $101
  • A family making $40,000 would save approximately $58 in state income taxes, according to figures provided by Walker's office.”

 

After the tax cut proposal passed the Senate, GOP members emphasized their commitment to reducing the burden on taxpayers in the state and bringing Wisconsin out of a recession: Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) stated, “The bottom line is what a great day for the state of Wisconsin — to finally be out of what was a dark time for Wisconsin.”

After the more than 20 federal tax increases imposed by Washington over the last four years, Gov. Walker’s tax plan provides much needed relief to taxpayers at the state level. Wisconsin taxpayers know how to manage their money better than the government does. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal will allow Wisconsin individuals, families, and employers to keep more of their hard earned income.

Photo credit to Gage Skidmore.

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Rubio to the Rescue: His Plan to Stop Obamacare's Big Insurance Bailouts


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Monday, February 24th, 2014, 1:53 PM PERMALINK


Obamacare has been a disaster from the very beginning. From new taxes and higher premiums to the lies of “you can keep your plan”, it has been nothing but bad news. And when it rains, it pours: it has recently been reported that there is a bailout for insurance companies in Obamacare.

There’s hope: Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently introduced The Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act, which would get rid of taxpayer-funded bailouts of insurance companies struggling as a result of the ill-conceived law.

When more people file claims than officially projected in the layout of Obamacare, the insurance companies encounter a growing deficit. Our government will bailout these companies for half of their deficit once claims surpass the projected costs by at least 3 percent. If the deficit grows to 8 percent or more, 80 percent of a company’s cost will be reimbursed by the government. 

The bailout provision isn’t the only program outlined in Obamacare to help insurers adapt to their new costs, but it is the only provision of all three that relies on federal funds (AKA taxpayer dollars).

Luckily, Senator Rubio is trying to repeal the transitional program. In a hearing with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Senator Rubio declared, “It’s time for the President and Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius and for Obamacare supporters to level with taxpayers about the fact that their hard-earned tax dollars will soon be needed to bailout the Obamacare exchanges.”

A larger number of older, sicker adults than originally expected have enrolled in Obamacare, making it nearly inevitable that the bailout will cost the government money, and taxpayers will bear the burden.

Adding salt to the wound, insurance companies are now coming forward with dreadful details on their losses. A recent Forbes article outlined the millions needed to bailout just one insurance company:

Humana announced that it expects to tap the three risk adjustment mechanisms in Obamacare for between $250 and $450 million in 2014. This amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer’s expected exchange revenue. This money is needed to offset losses that the insurer will take as a result of slower enrollment in its ObamaCare plans, and a skewed risk pool that weighs more heavily toward older and less healthy members than it originally budgeted.

Furthermore, Obamacare yields a reinsurance pool of $25 million, the funds for which are collected through taxes on employer-sponsored healthcare plans. A reinsurance pool is like government-backed insurance: it’s a pot of gold that you pay into so if companies suffer a deficit, they’ll be covered for their costs. More than half of the money needed to bailout Humana will come from this reinsurance pool, or in other words, directly from taxpayers’ pockets.

Obamacare is clearly a flawed program, and propping up such a program by bailing out insurance companies left and right with federal funds is atrocious. Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) plan to repeal the bailout is just another example of Republicans trying to save the taxpayer from the mess Democrats made with Obamacare.

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Taxes Drive Up the Cost of Valentine's Day


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Friday, February 14th, 2014, 2:28 PM PERMALINK


Today is Valentine’s Day. Romantics all over the nation have spent the week buying gifts and making dinner plans, all at a considerable price. The National Retail Federation estimates consumer spending on Valentine’s Day will hit $17.3 billion this year. This means the average person can expect to spend $133.91 to celebrate the holiday.

That price is driven up by an unexpected third wheel – Uncle Sam. For every aspect of the day spent with that special someone, government taxes and fees drive up the cost.

Roses & a Valentine: A must have. An estimated 233 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day, and consumers will spend $1.9 billion on flowers. Cards will accompany the flowers: 145 million Valentine’s cards will be purchased for the occasion. The government will cash in $1.1 billion off the flowers and cards

Dinner: For three? $3.5 billion is spent dining out on Valentine’s Day, but 31% of the cost of the bill comes from government taxes.

Wine: If you’ve been saving a nice bottle of wine for the occasion, be sure to savor it- - 33% of this purchase is due to government costs.   

Chocolate: Consumers will spend nearly $1.3 billion on chocolate. Of this, 31% will be paid to the government. Your dessert just got a little less sweet.

Jewelry: In 2013,6 million people expected or planned a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day. This year, it is projected that $3.9 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold, and silver. The government drives of the price of your most important purchase, making up 36% of the cost, so choose wisely.

Cell Phones: If you’re in a long-distance relationship and can’t travel to see your sweetheart, hopefully you’ll still be able to give them a call. You might want to keep it short and sweet: Uncle Sam will be on the line as well, and he’ll be responsible for 40% of the cost of your bill.

Long Distance: Making a surprise visit to your long-distance loved one? Whether you’re driving or flying, you won’t be alone. 45% of the cost of gasoline is the result of government taxation, while other taxes and fees account for 44% of the cost of airfare. An annoying backseat driver or snoring seat mate would be better than the travel companionship offered by Uncle Sam.

Single or steady, taxpayers will remain heartbroken this year when it comes to the costs imposed by the government.   

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Obamacare May Cost Montana over 8,000 jobs


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014, 4:34 PM PERMALINK


Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which shows that Obamacare may cost the economy the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024. That is a lot of lost income and economic growth for the nation. Today, ATR released analysis of the CBO report and Bureau of Labor Statistics data that breaks down the impact by state.

Montana, home to one of top 2014 battleground senate races, may lose 8,153 jobs over the next decade thanks to Obamacare. It will certainly be interesting to see Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. John Walsh explain where he stands on Obamacare. Walsh was endorsed by departing Senator Max Baucus, who cast the tie-breaking vote for the bill that will result in the destruction of tens of thousands of jobs across the state.

Votes matter, and Max Baucus’ vote for Obamacare is another example of how Democratic leadership has failed the people of Montana. More importantly, the people of Montana deserve to know where Lt. Gov. Walsh stands on Obamacare.

For the full breakdown of Obamacare job losses by state, click here.

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Obamacare May Cost Kentucky over 33,000 Jobs


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014, 4:19 PM PERMALINK


Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which shows that Obamacare may cost the economy the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024. That is a lot of lost income and economic growth for the nation. Today, ATR released analysis of the CBO report and Bureau of Labor Statistics data that breaks down the impact by state.

Kentucky, home to one of top 2014 battleground senate races, may lose 33,497 jobs over the next decade thanks to Obamacare. It will certainly be interesting to see Alison Lundergan Grimes explain where she stands on Obamacare, as it will result in the destruction of tens of thousands of jobs across Kentucky.

It will also make for quite the contrast with her Republican opponent, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. Standing in stark contrast, McConnell not only voted against Obamacare, as has lead the Republican fight to repeal this legislative monstrosity, which imposes 20 new or higher taxes on Kentucky residents.

The people of Kentucky deserve to know where Grimes stands on Obamacare.

For the full breakdown of Obamacare job losses by state, click here.

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How Paycheck Protection Empowers Workers


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 12:07 PM PERMALINK


Democrats and progressives like to portray themselves as pro-choice, but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to the rights of workers to have a say in what they do with their hard-earned income. This is on full display in Pennsylvania, with the backlash against legislation that would protect workers’ paychecks.

In a Lancaster Online editorial, staff writer Gil Smart responded to a recent Reuters op-ed by ATR’s Grover Norquist & Patrick Gleason that made the case for passing paycheck protection legislation in Pennsylvania.  Smart took aim at ATR’s assertion that the pending legislation would “empower workers – making union leadership more responsive and accountable to them.” Smart retorts: 

Empowering workers to what? Withhold support from the union? Slit their own throats, economically? ... This notion that these bills are about empowering workers is simply dishonest. This is about disempowering them. … It’s about limiting wages, limiting benefits, maybe limiting job security.

Smart can believe whatever he wants, but union members themselves agree with ATR that paycheck protection will make union bosses more accountable to rank-and-file workers. The Commonwealth Foundation highlights a recent report that illustrates this fact:

The Educational Intelligence Agency summarized a survey of National Education Association (NEA) members, disclosing that teacher union members hardly ever hear from their state or national union officials: ‘More than 60 percent had zero contact with the state affiliate board, more than 70 percent had zero contact with an RA delegate, and more than 80 percent had zero contact with a member of the NEA board of directors.

Under a system in which the state government serves as the money bagman for government union bosses, rank-and-file workers all to often looked to as nothing more than ATMs for government union lobbyists and political action committees. When workers have say in how they spend their hard-earned income and what political causes they support, union bosses will be forced to talk to and be responsive to workers. That’s why ATR is urging Pennsylvania legislators to end the use of taxpayer resources for union dues collections

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U.S. Government's Waste in Diapers


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014, 6:12 PM PERMALINK


Tell me again how much our national debt is at right now? Oh yes, $17 trillion and counting. And how much did Medicaid waste on diapers?  $62 million? Right. These diapers must be laced with greatness. That’s the only logical answer. Or is it?

Here’s a hint: MEDICAID. Ironically enough, Obamacare expands the Medicaid program. In other words, it grows the amount of waste in diapers. But just what is the problem with Medicaid this time? Apparently a lack of competitive bidding processes!

Competitive bidding processes. The Medicare website makes it sound so financially sound…so appealing. They tell you that the program helps you AND Medicare save money, and it ensures that you can receive “quality medical equipment, supplies, and services.” I can’t really argue with the quality of the supplies, as Medicaid wasted millions so these diapers must be the best of the best, ultra soft. But saving money? They haven’t really managed to do that either, but the idea sounds nice.

There has to be a reason only 5 states adopted competitive bidding programs for diapers.

A young child with a dirty diaper.

Hmm, maybe because it’s now being seen as the “troubled” bidding system, as some say it was set up to fail. According to Healthcare Matters, the American Association for Homecare has been lobbying against the competitive bidding program from day one. American Association Homecare President Tom Ryan stated, “The best chance we have of relieving the tremendous burden the badly mismanaged Medicare bidding program has put on patients is to develop fixes based on a real marketplace solution.” Maybe if there was a program that was focused on the patients…a program that’s the complete opposite of Obamacare.

There’s hope: a proposal introduced by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would get rid of Obamacare and instead, replace it with a system that is “sustainable, affordable, [and] patient-centered.” According to the Washington Free Beacon, Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program would be no more. Instead, patients would be able to apply their Medicaid benefits to a private insurance plan.

People need to look at the bigger problem: Medicare and Medicaid are only wasting money and Obamacare will only give more life to this issue. $62 million is a lot of dough to waste on diapers.

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ATR Urges Pennsylvania Legislators to Support Paycheck Protection Proposals


Posted by Hayley Robinson on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014, 5:58 PM PERMALINK


Dear Members of the Pennsylvania House,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our members across the Keystone State, I write today in strong support of HB 1507, legislation that would provide paycheck protection for Pennsylvania workers and end the use of state resources for political purposes.

Do not be fooled or intimidated by the union protestors storming the capitol this week; they do not represent the views of most Pennsylvanians. Ending automatic deduction of government employee payroll deductions for the benefit of a private organization is a commonsense reform that also has overwhelming public support. According to a recent Commonwealth Foundation survey, 79% of likely Pennsylvania voters are opposed to the use of state resources for political activities.

It’s time for the state to end the practice of serving as the money bagman for Big Labor. In 2012, Pennsylvania unions reportedly spent almost $5 million of dues on political activities and lobbying in favor of higher taxes and larger government. If that weren’t bad enough, this money was taken from workers involuntarily and was collected at taxpayer expense.

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by union bosses and taxpayer-financed protestors. The reality is that the paycheck protection legislation pending in the House would empower workers, making union leadership more accountable to rank-and-file workers. HB 1507 would give workers a choice in who they give their hard-earned income to and would ensure they don’t see part of their paycheck go toward causes they don’t agree with.

For this and the other aforementioned reasons, please fight for those you represent by supporting House Bill 1507. Americans for Tax Reform will be educating your constituents as to how their representatives in Harrisburg vote on this important matter.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

 

To view a PDF copy of the letter, click here.

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