Justin Sykes

Obama's Paris Agreement: All Cost and No Benefit for the U.S.

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, April 22nd, 2016, 1:44 PM PERMALINK


Today the Obama Administration will sign the Paris climate agreement at a ceremony in New York, a move that is projected to severely impact the U.S. economy with ironically negligible impacts for the environment. The agreement will not only set the stage for increased regulation, but will crush U.S. economic output, reduce household income for millions, and likely lead to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

The agreement is a product of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where President Obama met with world leaders to commit the U.S. to non-binding emission reduction targets. Under the agreement, Obama committed the U.S. to wholly improbable reduction goals of 26 to 28 percent by year 2025.

Through a litany of regulations stemming from the agreement, Obama has essentially offered up the U.S. economy as a sacrificial lamb to further his own legacy.  Sadly, the agreement will not just hurt the country’s growth as a whole, but will trickle down to low-and-middle income Americans. As a result of the agreement, energy costs will skyrocket, in turn raising the cost of utility bills for families and increasing the costs of consumer goods.

A recent study by the Heritage Foundation projects that the Paris agreement and resulting policies will increase electricity costs for a family of four between 13 and 20 percent annually. The study also projected American families will see over $20,000 of lost income by year 2035. Such regressive policy hits the nation’s most vulnerable hardest, who ironically are the same people Obama uses to justify the deal. 

The Paris deal is also slated to reduce U.S. GDP by over $2.5 trillion, and result in an average shortfall of nearly 400,000 jobs by 2035. Of the 400,000 jobs lost, an estimated 200,000 will be in the manufacturing sector. This means Americans will also see the costs of consumer goods such as electronics, paper products, and apparel increase, inevitably taking more out of household income.

With such drastic costs to the U.S., American’s would expect an equally drastic benefit on the other end, yet that is simply not the case. Policies such as those resulting from climate deal would, even with a complete elimination of U.S. carbon emissions, result in less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius reduction in global temperatures. 

It is all to clear the Paris climate deal is all cost and no benefit for the U.S., and the Obama Administration is comfortable sacrificing low-and-middle income Americans, along with thousands of jobs and GDP, for an environmental benefit that is negligible, at best.   

 

Photo credit: Joe Crimmings

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ATR Supports Rep. Roe's and Sen. Isakson's Resolutions Blocking DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 1:29 PM PERMALINK


This week Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), joined by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently released “fiduciary” rule. A similar resolution was also introduced this week in the Senate by Sen. Johnny Isakson, (R-Ga.).   

The DOL’s fiduciary rule, finalized April 6th of this year, would limit the ability of IRA advisors to talk with potential investors or to recommend specific investment advice. This in turn will increase compliance costs, inevitably pushing some users out of the world of IRAs and discourage others from using them.

Speaking this week on the rule, Rep. Roe stated:

“It’s crucial Americans have access to the retirement advice they need…Unfortunately, the administration’s misguided rule does just the opposite. The new regulatory scheme will hinder access to retirement advice for low-and-middle-income families and make it harder for small businesses to help their employees plan for retirement.”

It is estimated the fiduciary rule could disqualify up to 7 million IRA holders from investment advice, and potentially reduce the number of IRAs opened annually by between 300,000 and 400,000.

Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop, with the full force of the law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a substantially similar rule without congressional authorization.  

Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers to support both of these important resolutions in order to protect low-and-middle income families, small businesses, and employees from increased retirement savings costs and reduced access resulting from the DOL’s fiduciary rule.

 

Photo credit: Matt Popovich

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Senate FAA Bill Leaves Much to Be Desired on Reforms

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, April 18th, 2016, 3:25 PM PERMALINK


The Senate this week will consider legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2017. While lawmakers were correct to leave renewable energy extenders out of the Senate version of the FAA bill, the two-year reauthorization still leaves much to be desired in the way of reform.

The FAA bill currently before the Senate maintains taxes on airline passengers as well as inefficiently administered federal funding for airports. The bill authorizes over $33 billion in funding for FAA functions during 2016 and 2017.  

As part of this authorization, Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants would see a 12 percent increase from $3.35 billion in 2016 to $3.75 billion in 2017. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects this will increase AIP outlays by $3.4 billion through 2026, subject to yearly appropriations. As Americans for Tax Reform has repeatedly pointed out, airport funding has hit historic levels in recent years and such spending is unjustified.

The Senate FAA bill also avoids reforming regulatory burdens, and instead increases the federal governments reach into the aviation industry. For instance, the bill contains a new “baggage refund mandate” that CBO projects will cost airlines $10 million annually, the cost of which will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of higher fees. 

The bill also is riddled with a number of regulatory mandates that not only drive up the costs for the aviation industry, but will inevitably increase the costs for traveling consumers. 

A new mandate contained in the bill requires new flight data recorders for commercial aircraft that will have little to no impact on consumer safety but will cost and estimated $700 million. There is also a new regulation mandating limits on flight attendant working hours and rest periods as well as a required study on airline seats. Again regulations that will have little impact on safety but increase costs for consumers. 

The growing drone industry also receives increased regulations under the bill, as one section requires all models of unmanned air systems (UAS) flown in the U.S. airspace receive FAA approval, thereby limiting recreational drone use. Additionally, recreational drone enthusiasts with drones weighing more than 4.4 pounds would have to pass a federal test on aeronautical knowledge.

It is clear that Senate lawmakers took into account taxpayers and the traveling public when they rejected efforts to extend renewable tax credits as part of the FAA bill. However, the bill still does little in the way of reforming federal spending and regulations, both of which increase costs for the traveling public and American taxpayers.

 

Photo credit: Elliott P.

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Clinton Vows to Put Coal Miners “Out of Business”

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, April 15th, 2016, 11:46 AM PERMALINK


At a recent Town Hall in Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proudly stated that she was the only candidate with a policy to bring renewable energy “into coal country, because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Such a statement not only evidences Clinton’s reckless indifference to the plight of thousands of hard-working Americans, but more importantly highlights the fact that Clinton is all to willing to capitalize on far left, populist talking points at the expense of low-and-middle income families. 

Tragically, Clinton’s pledge to put “a lot of coal miners…out of business” is already coming to fruition with her support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, or more commonly referred the “Carbon Rule.” Hillary’s support for the Carbon Rule shows that a Clinton Whitehouse would simply be a continuation of Obama’s war on affordable energy and the American economy.

Under Obama’s Carbon Rule, a projected 45,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electric generating capacity will be forced to retire. To put that in perspective, 45,000 MW is more than the entire electricity supply of New England. So when Clinton boast of putting coal miners out of business, her support for the Carbon Rule is already doing so, as thousands of coal country jobs are already being destroyed.

Yet the impact of Clinton’s support for the Carbon Rule, and her pledge to further destroy the already fledgling coal industry once in office, doesn’t just end with coal jobs. As more and more electricity generation is forced to shift away from affordable and reliable sources, the cost of that shift is passed onto consumers in the form of higher rates. 

For instance, the Carbon Rule is projected to cause a 12 to 17 percent average increase in electricity prices. An estimated 44 states will see double-digit rate increases, with 17 states facing price increases of over 20 percent. While Clinton claims that her support for the Carbon Rule and related policy stems from her desire to protect the nation’s most vulnerable, the exact opposite is true.

Hillary’s support for, and future plans to increase economically disastrous energy policy, will only reduce the disposable income of low-to-middle income families as more and more of their budget goes towards increased energy costs. Taken together, increased energy costs and thousands of layoffs under Clinton would be an economic disaster.

Make no mistake, when Hillary Clinton claims that her policies will destroy good paying jobs for thousands of hard-working Americans, she means it. 

 

Photo credit: Marc Nozell

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robocard

LOL

"have a jobs program for them, like so many other successful government-run programs"

like shovel ready jobs... didn't the gov already try that.

Dave Corsi

Isn't is about time the American people put the Clinton Foundation"out of business".

chiefpontiac

Someone should tell this demented hag that you can't replace the megawatts of power from a coal fired electrical plant with solar panels and windmills. If this dementia of getting rid of coal fired plants keeps going, liberals will find out the hard way about their idiotic policies when they are trying to charge up their phones by candlelight...


ATR Urges Opposition to Renewables Extension in FAA Reauthorization

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 10:10 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges lawmakers to oppose efforts by some in the Senate to try and attach extensions for expiring renewable energy provisions to legislation that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Efforts to extend the expiring renewable provisions are not germane to FAA reauthorization, and would also continue special interests handouts that distort the market and consistently fail to deliver the job and economic growth their proponents promise.

In December of 2016 Congress considered the issue of expiring tax provisions, eventually signing into law a $680 billion package that allowed some provisions to be made permanent and allowed over two dozen to expire. Congress also extended special tax treatment to renewable energy in the omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the tax extender package, which included extensions for the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the solar investment tax credit (ITC). 

Given the special interest handouts renewables received last December, which will cost upwards of $20 billion over the next decade, the current push for further extensions is wholly unjustified. The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions now under consideration, which include those for wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities, and combined heat power (CHP) properties, were left out of the December discussions and should not be extended as part of the FAA reauthorization.

Despite the arguments from proponents of such renewable energy handouts, such preferential treatment repeatedly fails to produce neither sustainable job creation nor real economic growth. The role of government should not be to use loans, subsidies, and mandates to prop up politically connected industries at the expense of the free-market and taxpayers.

Such market distorting policies come at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers who are left with higher energy costs, while also being deprived of affordable and reliable energy sources. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, which is why Americans for Tax Reform opposes the ongoing efforts to attach renewable extenders to FAA reauthorization, and encourages lawmakers in Congress to do the same. 


Photo credit: Elliott P.

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Hillary Was for Fracking Before She Was Against It

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, March 7th, 2016, 4:56 PM PERMALINK


During the Sunday, March 6th Democratic debate in Michigan, Hillary Clinton led a verbal assault on the energy extraction method known as “hydraulic fracturing.” In doing so Clinton was not only lying through her teeth in criticizing an extraction method she was all too happy to promote while Secretary of State, but was also ignoring the economic benefits of “fracking,” of which she knows all too well.

When asked at the debate about fracking, Clinton proceeded to outline a slew of far-flung and ideological conditions under which she would oppose the oil and gas extraction method. Clinton closed with a statement so ominous it should give voters in energy rich states extreme cause for concern:

“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” 

The irony of Clinton’s anti-fracking double-speak is suffocating. Not only has Hillary Clinton urged countries around the world to expand fracking operations during her time as Secretary of State, but has openly praised the benefits of fracking.

Speaking at a 2010 meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, DC, Clinton touted America’s efforts to increase fracking abroad and the known benefits of doing so, stating:

“I know that in some places [it] is controversial,” she said, “but natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available for power generation today, and a number of countries in the Americas may have shale gas resources. If developed, shale gas could make an important contribution to our region’s energy supply, just as it does now for the United States.”

In 2014 Clinton also stated with regard to fracking that “expanding production is creating tens of thousands of new jobs,” and “lower costs are helping give the United Stated a big competitive advantage.” While Hillary may no longer admit this about fracking, her past statements of support are completely accurate.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), fracking has led to reductions in imported energy, down from 60 percent of what the U.S. used in 2004 to 38 percent in 2013. For 2012 alone, this led to a $284 billion increase in U.S. GDP, 2.1 million jobs created, and increased the income of every American household by roughly $1,200.  

Hillary Clinton’s criticism of fracking at the recent Democratic debate is a blatant attempt by her campaign to gain power by appealing to the misinformed prejudices and emotions of the extreme left.

Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton’s new found critique of fracking has nothing to do with actual concerns over the practice itself, as evidenced by her time as Secretary of State. Instead, Hillary’s opposition is simply a thinly veiled, narcissistic effort to combat the momentum of her anti-fracking, socialist primary opponent, nothing more, nothing less.  

 

Photo credit: edition88

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JackSavage

Whenever I worry that our politicians in the UK are venal and mendacious....I look to the USA and realise it could be a lot worse. Why...WHY...do you put up with it?


ATR Supports Rep. Johnson's Legislation (H.R. 4557) to Block EPA Regulatory Interference

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, February 29th, 2016, 12:14 PM PERMALINK


This week the U.S. House of Representative is expected to consider legislation to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not allowed to pre-emptively subject another American industry to costly and burdensome regulations until legal challenges have been resolved. ATR supports this legislation and urges all members to vote YES on the bill.

H.R. 4557, the “Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act of 2016,” sponsored by Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) will protect the U.S. brick industry from being forced to comply with the Brick Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) air quality issued by the EPA, until judicial challenges to the rule are resolved. 

The brick industry was previously damaged by such regulations when the EPA enacted similar rules under the Brick MACT in 2003. While the 2003 rule was subsequently thrown out in court, the industry had already wasted millions in compliance costs and investments. 

H.R. 4557 would prevent such a scenario from again impacting the industry, by setting a compliance date for the final Brick MACT rule until after judicial challenges are completed and after any subsequent final rule is issued.

The common sense protections afforded under H.R. 4557 would protect this vital American industry from forced and costly compliance with a rule that may later be thrown out. ATR urges a Yes vote on the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act.   

Photo credit: Christina Castro

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ATR Supports The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, February 12th, 2016, 9:13 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform today expressed support for H.R. 2017, “The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act”, being offered by Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). H.R. 2017 would stand in stark contrast to the White House menu-labeling law, the language of which is overly broad, and increases the regulatory burden and compliance costs through enhanced bureaucratic red tape. 

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise the nutritional information that restaurants and retail food establishments must disclose. Doing so would protect restaurants and related businesses of all sizes from the ever-growing regulatory burden created by the President and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

In 2015 the FDA released expansive new regulations in a one-size-fits all regulatory approach that will have a disproportionate impact on smaller, and medium sized businesses. Under the new regulations, the FDA created a broad and expansive new definition of “menu” that requires any food industry related materials that contain a photo of an item and a phone number to be considered a menu.

The compliance costs inherent in this expanded definition will be too much for smaller and medium size restaurants and related businesses to absorb. These increased costs have led some larger restaurants and chains to advocate in support of the FDA rules, as the increased compliance burden will likely offer a competitive advantage. 

Americans for Tax Reform believes Congress should work towards increased and fair competition in the market place, and urges lawmakers to support H.R. 2017. Doing so will ensure that the FDA and Obama Administration’s costly policies do not create a crony capitalistic regime that disadvantages small, medium, and growing businesses in the industry.    

 

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Logic Prevails, Supreme Court Blocks Obama's Carbon Rule

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 8:40 AM PERMALINK


The Supreme Court dealt a major blow this week to President Obama’s climate legacy and his aggressive regulatory regime. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of staying the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (Carbon Rule), meaning the rule cannot take effect while legal challenges are ongoing.

The stay by SCOTUS prevents the EPA from enforcing the carbon rule until lower courts decide on challenges brought by a number of states and industry groups that have alleged President Obama and the EPA exceeded their authority. The ruling confirms what many opponents of the President’s carbon rule already new: that the rule exemplified federal overreach; would be catastrophic for states and the economy; and was premised on backwards and illogical legal grounds. 

As Harvard Law Professor and Obama mentor Laurence Tribe has stated, the rule “lacks legal basis” and “is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority.” The court obviously realized just how disastrous this rule would be for the country, while at the same time having little to no impact on the environment. 

The President’s Carbon rule represents the worst of federal overreach, and would have sent electricity rates soaring by double digits in over 40 states. The rule was also projected to kill thousands of jobs, potentially pushing integral industries to look for lower energy prices, potentially overseas.

The ruling by SCOTUS blocking the carbon rule prevents an economically disastrous outcome, much like what was seen with the recent mercury rule. In Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA’s Mercury regulation was legally unsound. However roughly 40 gigawatts of generating capacity had been prematurely shut down in response to the rule despite the fact the legal challenges had not yet been resolved.

To begin implementing the new carbon rule before legal resolution would have repeated the mistakes of the past, destroyed thousands of jobs, and cost millions in wasted taxpayer dollars. The ruling by the Supreme Court this week is a victory not just for the states and American economy, but also a victory for basic common sense and logic. 

 

Photo credit: Jeff Kubina

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SEC Taking Heat on...Climate Change?

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, 9:54 AM PERMALINK


Recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has come under fire for it’s handling of climate change disclosures with regard to SEC filings. At first blush one would assume very limited, if any, justification for considering the science of climate change in SEC filings…and this assumption would be logical.

So why is the SEC being pressured to require disclosures on climate science in filings by companies, that for the most, are not nor have been engaged in the field of climate science? The issue arose in 2010, when the SEC proposed “interpretive guidance” on existing disclosure requirements with regard to climate science. To be clear, the SEC did not issue a disclosure rule, simply “guidance” most likely the result of outside influence from extreme idealist and the government.

Given that most companies filing SEC disclosures are not climate scientist, and are not likely engaged in climate science research, the “guidance” went somewhat unheeded. In fact, the SEC has seemed to agree for the most part with reluctance to follow up on the issue.

In the two years following the release of the interpretive guidance, the SEC issued over 40 comment letters to companies addressing climate change disclosure. Yet that number dropped significantly with only three letters issue in 2012 and zero issued in 2013. 

The most logical reason being that the SEC came to realize that such disclosures find little company in basic logic, and the agency’s time is better spent on its core mission, instead of serving the ideological musings of the extreme left. Just the same these outside pressures have reared their misguided head again, recently pushing an agency charged with holding expertise on securities laws to expand to climate science.

The SEC should take comfort in the fact that such a push for climate science based disclosures in securities filings sounds, as far outside the scope of SEC functions to most as it does the agency itself. One can only hope the SEC stands strong, sending a message to other federal agencies, that serving core policy goals, and not outside ideologies is the goal. 

 

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