Jorge Marin

ATR Releases List of 2014 State Pledge Signers Ahead of Primaries in Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, and Pennsylvania

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Friday, May 16th, 2014, 2:01 PM PERMALINK


With the primary elections of several states slated to take place Tuesday, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for state legislative and state-wide office who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge for the states of Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania. These candidates have made a written commitment to their constituents to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes. ATR strongly encourages taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment when they vote on Tuesday, May 20. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot Tuesday can be found in the following links:

Arkansas

Georgia

Idaho

Kentucky

Oregon

Pennsylvania

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Tax Increases Enacted by Democrat Governors Since 2011

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Posted by Jorge Marin, Max Velthoven on Friday, May 9th, 2014, 11:30 AM PERMALINK


In a new report released today, Americans for Tax Reform has compiled all of the state tax increases enacted under Democrat governors since 2011. Key findings include the following:

  • Democrat governors have enacted over $58 billion in higher taxes since 2011.
  • This stands in stark contrast to Republican governors, who have signed over $38 billion in tax cuts into law since 2011.
     
  • By signing into law over $27 billion in higher taxes, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is the biggest tax hiker among Democratic governors.
     
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is the second biggest tax hiker among Democrat governors, having raised taxes on Maryland residents by over $3 billion since 2011, and more than $11 billion since 2008.
     

For the compilation of tax increases enacted by Democratic governors since 2011, click here.

At the end of 2013, Americans for Tax Reform released the list of state tax cuts signed into law by Republican governors following the 2010 wave election that gave the GOP total political control of 24 states, and Democrats total control of 13 states. Republican governors have signed over $36 billion in tax relief into law since 2011. Meanwhile, during that same time, Democrat governors have enacted over $58 billion in higher taxes.  

Below is a list of the tax increases signed into law by Democrat governors over the last three years. It should be noted that many, but not all, Democrat governors have raised taxes. In fact, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) recently went against the Democratic governor grain by signing a corporate tax cut into law this year.

However, in general, Democrat governors have been increasing taxes in their states, while Republican governors have been moving in the opposite direction. With some of the politicians on this list considering a White House run, this is a compilation worth saving.

This figure includes the 2012 tax increases championed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, but approved by voters. When counting only tax increases that were signed into law without voter approval, Democratic governors have enacted $40 billion in higher taxes since 2011.

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Paycheck Protection Legislation Advances In Louisiana

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014, 4:22 PM PERMALINK


The Louisiana House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee today took up House Bill 451, legislation introduced by Rep. Alan Seabaugh that would give workers say over what they do with their paychecks. Currently, union dues are automatically deducted from government worker paychecks using taxpayer resources. Rep. Seabaugh's Paycheck Protection bill would get the government out of the business of collecting political dues for unions and put workers back in control of their hard-earned income. ATR strongly supports HB 451 and has sent a letter to Louisiana legislators to encourage them vote Yes on this pro-taxpayer, pro-worker, commonsense measure.

An excerpt from the letter:

HB 451 recognizes the right of workers to organize, but ensures that workers have freedom of association and are not forced to join and fund a union against their will. If passed, HB 451 will end the use of state resources to collect union dues via paycheck withholding. With passage of this important reform, no employee will be forced to see his or her money used to support a political cause he or she does not believe in.

You can read the letter in its entirety here

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School’s Out, Jobs are Gone

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Friday, April 25th, 2014, 4:23 PM PERMALINK


The spirit of the nation is fueled by the youth, but the policies enacted under the Obama administration are doing their best to shut that spirit out of the job market. Thanks to a historically unpredictable regulatory environment, a massive culture of over taxation, and a proven record of anti-job decisions, young college grads are being subjected to one of the driest job markets in recent memory. 2014 does not paint a rosy picture for recently graduated job-hunters.

Sadly, the dearth of jobs has an unacceptable number of new college graduates stuck in a seemingly endless loop of underemployment and unemployment. What students can expect to find upon graduation is a whopping 10.9 percent unemployment rate. These are highly educated individuals who stand to see their professional skills atrophy and whither in the face of low paying jobs.

Couple this with an average student loan debt of $27,000 and the picture gets much bleaker. Young people will necessarily have to change course to deal with ballooning student debts, at the expense of later success.

It is not just that there are few jobs out there; a big part of the problem is the actual work to be found. The Associated Press reports that “41 percent of graduates from top universities and 48 percent of those from other schools could not land jobs in their chosen field after graduation.” To be fair, however, there is not much that can be expected of an administration which attempts to raise taxes over 400 times. That kind of anti-growth tax record is bound to discourage businesses from hiring or expanding.

The hopelessness is beginning to seep into the politics of younger voters, a key Democratic constituency. According to Gallup, 49 percent of voters under 30 approve of the president, a significant 4 percent drop from their previous poll. While it is unlikely that these dissatisfied customers will rush to the polls to vote for Republicans, the drop is still represents a dark omen for Democrats in the 2014 elections.

Powerbrokers in Washington are failing the young. Without a major course-correction, increasing numbers of educated Americans will see dimmer future job prospects. With any luck politicians will reverse their over regulatory, over taxing, and over spending policies in favor of true pro-growth agendas. Or else, midterms are soon, and yesterday’s voters could find a reason to stay home to work on their resumes.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Aim to Sack Taxpayers

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Monday, April 14th, 2014, 10:46 AM PERMALINK


Although the roof collapsed at the Minnesota Viking’s former stadium,that has not stopped blitzing lawmakers from trying to raise the roof on taxes.

Minnesota lawmakers have decided to tap into NFL fans for more revenue. House Bill 7173 was introduced into the state House of Representatives last week. The measure would impose a 50 percent gross receipts tax on “the sale of stadium builder’s or seat licenses in the stadium.”

The 2013 law being amended with this bill taxed the rental of suites and skyboxes at 10 percent. Hungry for more money, now, individually licensed seats throughout stadium would be taxed at 50 percent. Sadly, not even the gridiron is safe from greedy politicians.

Far from being a cash-strapped state, Minnesota has the 7th highest state and local tax burden in the nation according to the Tax Foundation. However, rather than trying to boost the competitiveness of their state, legislators are seeking even more revenue to line Saint Paul’s pockets. In one of the most uncompetitive tax environments nationally this is clearly unsportsmanlike conduct.

While states across the country are getting serious about their own tax rates, Minnesota must stop playing games with their tax and spend policies before residents decide to take their hard earned money to where it will be more respected. Already Wisconsin has used its surplus to cut rates and Tennessee is poised to eliminate the last vestiges of their income tax altogether. Clearly these states have the future growth of their communities in mind.

In a year with a budget surplus, it’s incomprehensible that legislators would look to raise taxes on football fans instead of exercising more fiscal restraint.  ATR urges Minnesotans to contact their representatives and oppose this ridiculous attempt at extracting more money from taxpayers. Please contact your legislator at 651-296-8338 to voice your opposition to this unfair tax hike.

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ATR Supports Right to Work Legislation in Missouri

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Friday, April 4th, 2014, 4:18 PM PERMALINK


The Missouri House of Representatives is considering legislation to allow Missourians the opportunity to decide whether to enact right to work measures in their state. The economic data has repeatedly shown the benefits of allowing workers the opportunity to work without having to contribute or participate in an organization in which they do not wish to.

Americans for Tax Reform supports House Bill 1770 and recently sent a letter to the Missouri House of Representatives where the bill is being considered.

"Dear Members of the Missouri House of Representatives,

I am writing to you today to express my strong support of House Bill 1770. This bill, introduced by Representative Eric Burlison and co-sponsored by Speaker Tim Jones, would empower workers to choose where they want to work without being forced to join a union. Voters would be allowed to decide on the question for themselves in a ballot referendum...

There are twenty-four states which have adopted right to work, by continuing to postpone this initiative Missouri risks being left behind by its neighbors. The economic benefits of these right to work states are many and well documented. Right to work states have shown a 42.6 percent gain in employment from 1990 to 2011 according to the Bureau of labor statistics. During that same period non-right-to-work states gained only 18.8 percent. In the midst of this the Show-Me-State has lagged behind every Midwestern state economically...

It is time to allow Missourians to assert their own worker rights. During the current jobless economy legislators should be doing everything in their power to give their constituents the tools they need to grow their state and decide on their own representation. For this reason it falls to the Missouri General Assembly to act on behalf of the workers of Missouri beholden to whims of state unions. Today I urge you to support HB 1770, a bill which would show solidarity to Missourian laborers. Americans for Tax Reform will be educating your constituents as to how their representatives in the Senate vote on this important matter.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist"

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Natural Gas Boom leads to Population Explosion in Midwest

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Monday, March 31st, 2014, 2:45 PM PERMALINK


The natural gas boom is predictably creating a population boom in the mid-west. The dramatic upsurge of American natural gas has created a rush into states like Texas, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The effects of energy development are well documented, in addition to reducing carbon emissions in the long run, natural gas also reduces the cost of keeping families warm, and raises household incomes. It then comes as little surprise that natural gas is now helping states grow and prosper demographically. 

According to a report from the Census Bureau “Oil- and gas-rich areas in and near the Great Plains contained many of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. last year”. While the effects of an oil boom are not unexpected, it is always inspiring to witness the creative force of free enterprise and its effects on communities. In essence, the population growth is a manifestation of American resilience and ingenuity in the face of the existential need to provide for ourselves.

In fact, six out of the ten fastest-growing metropolitan areas were “within or near the Great Plains”. The amazing thing about this is that the growth is coming accompanied with new high-tech drilling and extraction jobs and the added tax revenue to boot. Unfortunately not all states are interested in cheap energy, a growing economy, and an expanding tax base.

States like New York have decided not to pursue energy friendly policies which would help New Yorkers. With the moratorium of hydraulic fracturing, the Empire State will not be able to experience the economic benefits of natural gas until at least 2015. Meanwhile, New York has also experienced sluggish population growth, so slow that it is expected to fall behind Florida in the coming years. This recent growth, however, has not upset a longstanding trend of decline. Between the years 2000 and 2010 New York lost a net 1.6 million residents just in out migration.

Hopefully the residents of New York will see the energy revolution taking place across the country and seek to unleash their state’s latent resources. The fires of innovation will burn somewhere in the nation no matter what, it is simply in the classic spirit of American entrepreneurship. The question will be where it will manifest and with what intensity. As the benefits of natural gas compound, let’s hope that the communities willing to embrace this revolutionary technology will multiply alongside them.

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Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Rejected in Maine...For Now

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Saturday, March 29th, 2014, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


Maine staved off a fiscally disastrous Medicaid expansion recently this week with a slim margin in the legislature. Though the bill to expand the program passed the Maine House of Representatives, it garnered only 97 votes; one less than the required two-thirds majority needed to override Governor LePage’s veto. It seems the Governor is the final levy against increased dependency rates in Maine, but Republican defections could soon allow Democrats to bypass the veto.

Democrats also failed to gain the two votes needed for a super majority in the Senate.

To make matters worse for state Democrats, a recent poll showed that the more Maine taxpayers find out about Medicaid expansion, the more they oppose it. According to the poll, 50 percent of Democrats, and 73 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support expansion once they were made aware of the fact that expansion was being paid for with $716 billion dollars in cuts to seniors’ Medicare coverage. This is just another example of politicians ramming through legislation which the common Mainer does not want.

With Strong (but not veto-proof) majorities in both chambers, Democrats can simply bide their time and keep voting on expansion while Republicans feel pressure to vote for expansion.

Unfortunately, Maine already ranks among the most welfare-dependent state in the Union. A 2012 Maine Heritage Policy Center report reveals that just between 2003 and 2010, Maine’s welfare enrollment jumped 70%. Sadly the trend will only be exacerbated with Medicaid expansion, which would ignore the root structural causes of poverty in Maine.

There are currently 21 states that have rejected Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. Though Democrats sought to force Medicaid expansion on all taxpayers and state government budgets, the Supreme Court rejected the mandate, giving states a decision. Budget-conscious legislators and Republican governors have demanded reform first as a prerequisite to any discussion about expanding a program that is swallowing state budgets.  

The upcoming November elections will provide Mainers an opportunity to send a message to state lawmakers who would play political games with the state’s finances. It’s time to show support to Senators and Representatives who stand up for fiscal responsibility.

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Is This the End of Obamacare’s Individual Mandate? Administration Continues to Test the Constitution

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Thursday, March 13th, 2014, 3:09 PM PERMALINK


A recent rule change by the HHS may signal the beginning of the end of the controversial Individual Mandate. The Wall Street Journal reports

“That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.”

It seems like the administration is ramping up its constitutionally dubious delays. Though the current administration has gone through great lengths to assure the American people of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, their recent slew of delays and exemptions suggest that the HHS is itself unsure of how to implement the law. The possible opt out appears to work in a criteria not much stricter than the honor system, people can exempt themselves if they

“believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy" or "you consider other available policies unaffordable."

While it is still unclear how this rule change would be implemented, and whether it would constitute a practical delay in the individual mandate, the apparent lack of coherent policy does not speak well for the health insurance overhaul. There is also speculation that a possible Mandate delay might be linked to the dismal insurance registration estimates.

“The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted "surge" of young beneficiaries isn't materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.”

Meanwhile HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is emphatic in her denial of an individual mandate delay. The Hill reports that during a hearing at the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) questioned the possibility of a delay:

“Given the problems caused by ObamaCare's faulty website last year, Brady asked Sebelius directly if delays to the individual mandate or enrollment deadline would be next.”

“No, sir,” Sebelius responded.”

While she seems adamant in her defense of deadlines and rules, the fact remains that Obamacare’s implementation has suffered delays, setbacks, exemptions, and waivers far exceeding the parameters of the original law. Simply put, there is a strong case to be made that a president in such blatant disregard of the law is acting unconstitutionally. Even though the Secretary is adamant in her defense of HHS policy, Republican lawmakers already seem to smell blood in the water

In other words, the administration is moving in a quasi-repeal in which the mandate stands, but anyone can opt out of it by checking a box. What remains even less clear than the mechanisms of the opt-out is the economic health of the entire house of cards that is Obamacare. Without the individual mandate (harmful as it is) there is no way to ensure the survivability of the American Health Care Industry.

There is at least one benefit from this fracas: at least Representative Pelosi is starting to find out what is in the bill which cost her the House.

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ATR urges Tennessee Lawmakers to Reject Hotel Tax Hike, End Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Thursday, March 13th, 2014, 10:10 AM PERMALINK


Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax reform, sent a letter to Tennessee lawmakers in support of HB 2293 and in opposition of HB 2506. HB 2293 would allow county officials to end the practice of using taxpayer dollars to hire the very lobbyists who push for tax increases while HB 2506 would increase the cost of travel by permitting a 20 percent increase in local hotel occupancy taxes. The bills are currently pending in committee. The text of the letter is as follows:

 

Dear Members of the Tennessee House,

I write today regarding HB 2293 & HB 2506, two bills of importance to Tennessee taxpayers. I urge you to support HB 2293, legislation that allows a county commission or appropriate taxing authority to eliminate taxpayer-funded lobbying from school board budgets. I urge you to oppose HB 2506, a bill that would permit a 20 percent increase in local hotel occupancy taxes.

Taxes already make up far too high of a proportion of the cost of travel. Taxes currently account for a whopping 39% of the cost of the average hotel stay. HB 2903 would increase the tax burden associated with travel at a time when legislators should be looking to go in the opposite direction by reducing taxes and mitigating the negative impact they have on the Tennessee economy.

Speaking of tax increases, often the biggest proponents of higher taxes are taxpayer-funded lobbyists. HB 2293 would allow county officials to put a stop the odious practice of using taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists. This is a common sense piece of legislation that lawmakers should approve before adjourning the 2014 session.

Over the past several years, Tennesseans have seen over 20 new or higher federal taxes imposed on them from Washington. In light of this, it is imperative now more than ever that the legislators in Nashville not pile on with further tax increases. As such, I urge you to reject HB 2506, the bill to permit local option hotel tax hikes; and support HB 2293, much-needed legislation that would allow country officials to end the dubious use of taxpayer dollars on lobbyists.

Americans for Tax Reform will be educating your constituents as to how their representatives in the legislature vote on these important matters. If you have any questions or if ATR can be of assistance, please contact Patrick Gleason, ATR’s director of state affairs, at pgleason@atr.org or 202-785-0266.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

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