Cameron’s Tax Pledge “had significant cut-through,” says Founder of Britain’s TaxPayers’ Alliance
The founder of Britain’s leading taxpayer advocacy group says David Cameron’s tax pledge against increases in the income, VAT, and national insurance taxes “had significant cut-through.”
Announcing the tax pledge in an April 29 address, Cameron asked the voters:
When you're standing in the polling booth, ask yourself: on the things that matter in your life who do you really trust? When it comes to your tax bill, do you trust the people who have taxed you to the hilt when they were in power and still haven't come clean about the taxes they want to increase next time round? Or do you trust the Conservatives, who have cut income taxes for 26 million people and who will cut your taxes again next time.
Following the Conservative victory, Matthew Elliott — Founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance — said:
A month out from Election Day, Prime Minister David Cameron's campaign was widely deemed to be faltering - the Conservative Party hadn't overtaken the centre-left Labour Party in the polls, and there was a feeling that a strong, believable case needed to be made to convince a skeptical electorate that his Government deserved re-election. A key announcement was the Tax Pledge - a pledge not to raise the key taxes on ordinary, hard-working families in the UK. This Pledge had significant cut-through, because it proved to voters that the Conservatives' plans for taxation were real, and concrete, as opposed to the illusionary promises from the other parties. Now the Prime Minister has an overall majority in Parliament, this Pledge will become an important part of Britain's fiscal debate. It's certainly works for taxpayers in the US, and it'll work here in Great Britain.
NRO’s John Fund agrees:
This British election was supposed to revolve around post-Thatcher worries about income inequality and resentment against the rich. A recent study by the London School of Economics found that 62 percent of Britons felt inequality had reached unsustainable levels and that 74 percent believed the rich should pay more taxes. Bart Cammaerts, the author of the study, wrote that it showed the country moving toward 'a renewed politics of redistribution.'
Goodbye to all that, for this election at least. If anything, British voters were motivated to turn out in support of Prime Minister David Cameron’s last-minute support of a version of America’s famous anti-tax pledge. Just last week, Cameron pledged that if the voters gave him a second term, he would push legislation blocking any increases in Britain’s national-insurance, income, or value-added taxes (the lattermost, a form of sales tax). 'We know it’s your money, not government money. You’ve worked for it, you’ve earned it, you should be able to keep it,’ he told voters.
Finally, in an item titled U.K. Conservatives’ Tax Stances Could Resonate in U.S., Politico Pro’s Katy O’Donnell writes:
Taxation was a prominent theme in the election: Conservative Chancellor George Osborne pledged to cut taxes for low-income workers and, late in the campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a five-year 'tax lock' — legislation banning any increases to the country’s Value Added Tax, income taxes and national insurance taxes. A Labour Party spokesman dismissed the idea as a 'last-minute desperate gimmick.'
All Formally Declared GOP Presidential Candidates Have Signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge
All three of the formally declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have signed a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes" if elected President.
Sens. Paul, Cruz, and Rubio have also signed and kept the Pledge as members of the U.S. Senate. Rubio signed and kept the Pledge as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and as state House Speaker.
"Elected officials face a choice: Reform government to cost less, or raise taxes instead of reforming government,” said Grover Norquist president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have made it clear that they stand with taxpayers now and in the future.” said Norquist.
With the exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, prospective GOP presidential candidates have signed the Pledge in their current or former capacity. As incumbent governors, Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.) have signed and kept the Pledge. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry signed and kept the Pledge.
In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Huntsman dropped out of the race on Jan. 15, 2012 after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary.
ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. This includes all members of the House and Senate GOP leadership as well as the chairmen of the tax writing committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.
Update: On May 7th, Carly Fiorina signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge becoming the fourth announced candidate for President to make a written commitment to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes" if elected.
Oversight Chairman Peter Roskam’s Remarks at ATR Press Conference: Stop IRS Abuse
House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) addressed ATR’s annual tax day press conference in the U.S. Capitol. Chairman Roskam successfully shepherded a series of IRS reform bills through the full House, with overwhelming bipartisan support. As Roskam pointed out, the measures are common sense yet necessary to begin to rein in the out of control IRS. The full text of Roskam’s remarks are below:
"I'm really pleased -- there is a bipartisan consensus that's developed in the House of Representatives as a restraining influence for what we've seen from the Internal Revenue Service. We've seen the IRS over the past few years act with impunity, act with impunity as it relates to targeting people, act with impunity as it relates to squandering resources, making the false claim that they're not able to get their work done because they don't have enough money, all of which is nonsense.
And on a bipartisan basis, coming out of the Ways and Means Committee, we've marked up a series of bills and we expect to have a debate on them today and have a vote on them tomorrow. And if past is prelude, I think that these are all likely to get out of the House and over to the Senate.
Let me highlight a couple of them. Two of them I've sponsored. One forces the IRS to implement the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. What's important about this legislation is it makes it a distinct responsibility of the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to make sure that the agency, in fact, fulfills these obligations under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Second is the Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act, which is HR 1104 which permanently ensures that the IRS cannot tax gifts to nonprofit organizations. Again, this is one of these things that goes beyond your sense of wonder, that the IRS would contemplate creating a gift tax liability when there shouldn't be one, and this clears that up.
Congressman [Kenny] Marchant has jumped in to all the IRS email drama, making sure that emails are only used through official accounts. Congressman Mike Kelly has the [Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act]. Congressman George Holding is sponsoring legislation that will allow social welfare groups to self-declare their tax-exempt status, not unlike other elements of the code in order to expedite the process. Congressman Pat Meehan heads legislation that would permit organizations to appeal denied requests for tax-exempt status to some entity that is new and fair and neutral so they'd get a fair hearing. And, finally, Congressman Jim Renacci has legislation that makes it a firing offense to target organizations -- target Americans for political purposes.
All of these things when you hear them are fairly intuitive. All of these things when you hear them seem very, very common sense and, yet, it's only in Washington, D.C., that this tends to be groundbreaking legislation. So I am really pleased that it seems like there is a bipartisan consensus that's developing about this and that, essentially, what is happening is the American public, through their elected representatives, are reclaiming delegated authority. It was delegation that was abused and now it's authority that's being reclaimed."
Norquist Praises Cruz Upon Campaign Launch
Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist today praised Sen. Ted Cruz upon his announcement as a candidate for President of the United States:
“The first announced Republican candidate for President has taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a Senate candidate, kept that pledge as a Senator, and should be commended for his history of championing pro-growth, tax-reducing legislation."
As the campaign season unfolds, Americans for Tax Reform will release evaluations of tax plans and summaries of the tax voting record and pledge-taking status of all declared candidates.
As governors, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry have all signed — and kept — the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As Senators, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio (and Ted Cruz, as noted above) have all signed — and kept — the pledge. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee did not sign the pledge while in the statehouse, but did sign the pledge as a presidential candidate in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races.
Jeb Bush Still Refuses to Rule Out Tax Hikes
Jeb Bush has enthusiastically endorsed a "grand bargain" tax increase with Democrats, says his father's 1990 "Read My Lips" tax increase "created the spending restraint of the 90's," (false -- see details below) and refuses to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people.
And today, as reported in a piece by The Daily Beast's Tim Mak, the Jeb Bush camp refuses to even answer the question of whether Jeb will make any general statement promising not to raise taxes:
Pressed regarding Jeb Bush’s positions on taxes, his aides did not directly respond to a question about whether Jeb Bush might make a general promise to voters more broadly not to raise taxes.
Meanwhile, as governors, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry have all signed — and kept — the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As Senators, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have all signed — and kept — the pledge.
As president, George W. Bush kept his tax promise to the American people.
George H.W. Bush, reflecting upon his "Read My Lips" tax hike, deemed it the greatest mistake of his presidency.
Regarding Jeb's claim that the 1990 Read My Lips tax hike created spending restraint, let's take a look at what actually happened:
The 1990 “Read My Lips” Budget Deal Scam
Starting in May of 1990, President George H.W. Bush huddled with Democrat House and Senate members at Andrews Air Force Base.
- What was Promised: Congressional Democrats convinced a number of Republicans to join them in a bipartisan deal promising $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. President Bush signed the deal on November 5, 1990.
- What Actually Happened: Every penny of the tax increases ($137 billion from 1991-1995) went through. Not only did the Democrats break their promise to cut spending below the CBO baseline by $274 billion—they actually spent $23 billion above CBO’s pre-budget deal spending baseline. Thirty-four House Republicans broke their own Taxpayer Protection Pledges and went along with this one-sided “deal.” As a result, Republicans lost eight seats in the 1990 Congressional midterms, and President Bush only received 38% of the vote in the 1992 Presidential election.
Norquist on Obamacare Tax Debacle: “How many Obama appointees will get fired?”
With the AP reporting the Obama administration sent 800,000 Healthcare.gov customers the wrong tax information, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:
"800,000 or more Americans are having their lives disrupted and damaged by the Obama administration’s incompetence and overreach. They said they could run our lives better than we can. They were wrong. They can’t even get this one piece right. How many Obama appointees will get fired? My guess: Zero."
Flashback: Navigators Warned Not to Leave Tax Returns on Fax Machines
The Associated Press is reporting that "800,000 HealthCare.gov customers the wrong tax information, and officials are asking those consumers to delay filing their 2014 taxes.”
The Obama administration says it is "still investigating the root cause of the problem.”
Taxpayers got an early warning that Obamacare’s interaction with the tax code was going to be a debacle. In 2013, the official Obamacare Navigator manual warned navigators not to leave Americans’ personal tax information laying around “on printers and fax machines”:
The Department of Health and Human Services has a helpful tip for the program's so-called Navigators: “Do not leave documents that contain PII [Personally Identifiable Information] or tax return information on printers and fax machines.”
The warning is contained in Section 2.4.3 of the 207-page Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator Standard Operating Procedures Manual.
The same section asks navigators to “double-check” the fax number before faxing Obamacare enrollee’s tax returns:
“When faxing PII or tax return information, double-check that the recipient’s fax number is correct and that someone is able to pick up the faxed information immediately.”
Because the key components of Obamacare are being enforced by the IRS, navigators will have access to highly sensitive identifying information. The Navigator manual describes Personally Identifiable Information as follows:
- Identifying information such as consumers’ names, addresses, or SSNs
- Information about consumers’ incomes, personal finances, debts, deductions and exemptions
- Any action taken by the IRS against consumers, such as investigations or penalties
- Any private written agreements (such as a pricing agreement) with the IRS and any background information about these agreements
- Relevant information, even if not found on the return (e.g., expenses)
Additional excerpts from the Navigator Manual:
- No fake smiles: "Do not pretend to smile, or produce a false smile; these are easy to spot and send the wrong messages." – Section 2.2.1
- Listen: “By not listening you can become very frustrating to consumers.” – Section 2.2.3
- Apologize: “Apologizing when things go wrong demonstrates that you care about consumers and their experiences.” – Section 2.2.4
- "Be Memorable - For the Right Reasons." – Section 2.2.6
The Navigator manual can be found here.
Obama Still Believes in Taxing College Savings Plans
The White House today confirmed the Obama administration still believes in taxing college savings plans:
Question: "So you call this [taxing 529 college savings plans] a distraction. Do you still think this is a good policy? There was so much backlash particularly from middle class Americans who said - we really value these plans, so do you still stand by this as good policy?”
White House spokesman Eric Schultz: “Sure. We do.”The White House also confirmed that the tax hike on 529s will remain in the President’s official budget:
Schultz: "I do want to give you one heads up for your planning which is the 529 piece will still be in the written budget that will be released. The announcement yesterday was made after the book was in the shop to be produced so just for your planning.”
Timeline: Obama Hypocrisy on 529 College Savings Plans
August 3, 2006: As U.S. Senator, votes to make 529s permanent.
2006: Praises 529s in his book, The Audacity of Hope.
2007: Makes a $240,000 contribution to his own 529 accounts.
Sept. 9, 2009: White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families issues a detailed report on 529s. Top conclusion from the report:
"529 plans are an attractive and convenient means of saving for college.”
The report makes several recommendations on how to further promote 529s.
Sept. 9, 2009: Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Geithner, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan share a stage at a Middle Class Task Force event at Syracuse University. Geithner strongly touts 529 plans:
"As the Vice President has said, we are also working to implement, expand or improve a wide array of other government programs that encourage education savings and increase college enrollment. Today I want to highlight one program in particular, Section 529 savings plans.
These plans can be an immensely effective way for Americans to save for college. They are generally administered by the states, and they allow people to put aside money for college and enjoy investment earnings that are free of federal taxes and, in some cases, receive state tax benefits, as well. When state tax benefits are included, a typical middle class family can accumulate 25 percent more in 529 accounts than they can in a typical taxable savings account."
Sept. 9, 2009: Official White House statement praises 529s:
"A 529 plan, offered by states, provides a convenient, tax-preferred way for families to save for college, and works much like ROTH IRAs, wherein contributions are made with after-tax income, returns accumulate tax free and distributions can be for qualified educational expenses without taxes."
July 23, 2010: President Obama sits for a lengthy interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was asked, “can you feel the pain directly that other Americans are feeling?” Obama answers by citing his 529s as a example of how he can identify with the middle class:
"Well, part of it has, that part that is devoted to Malia and Sasha's college fund was in a 529, you know, that had been set up when I was still a state senator. And, obviously, that goes up and down with the stock market and so it's lost value like everybody else."
Jan. 17, 2015: On a Saturday evening, the White House shares with reporters an outline of President Obama’s tax plan. The ten-page, single-spaced document describes 529s as “upside-down.”
Jan. 23, 2015: White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman, in an interview with BloombergBusinessweek, deems 529s “ineffective” and “tilted towards the upper end."
Jan. 23, 2015: White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismisses a reporter question on 529s:
"My guess is those who are saying that are critics of the president. And that’s fine. The—I think the facts about the president’s proposal speak for themselves."
Jan. 27, 2015: Anonymous Obama administration official announces that the White House is abandoning its plans to tax 529s.
Obama Praised 529 College Savings Plans in “The Audacity of Hope”
In his 2006 bestseller, The Audacity of Hope, then-Senator Barack Obama praised the tax-free college savings accounts he now seeks to scuttle.
On page 165 — within a chapter titled “Opportunity” — Obama writes:
But no matter how well we do in controlling the spiraling cost of education, we will still need to provide many students and parents with more direct help in meeting college expenses, whether through grants, low-interest loans, tax-free educational savings accounts, or full deductibility of tuition and fees.
One year later, in 2007, Obama took advantage of the opportunity afforded by 529 college savings plans. As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Obama made a jumbo $240,000 contribution to his own family 529 plans. (View the actual tax form here).
Also in 2006, then-Senator Obama voted to make the current tax treatment of 529 plans permanent.
Fast forward to 2015. On Jan. 17, late on a Saturday night, the Obama administration proposed raising taxes on 529 accounts, criticizing the plans as “upside down.”
The Obama 529 tax hike plan, and arrogant comments to the media -- often from anonymous administration officials -- have since caused a nationwide uproar. And according to the College Savings Foundation:
-"Over a million middle class students are currently enrolled in college and benefiting from 529s."
-"Almost 95 percent of 529 accounts are in households with income below $250,000."
The $250,000 statistic is significant in rebutting Obama administration claims: It is the number President Obama has used repeatedly since 2008 to define "middle class."