ATR Releases Coalition Letter Opposing the Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 5714)
Americans for Tax Reform, joined by 21 free market organizations, today sent an open letter to Congress urging lawmakers to oppose H.R. 5714, the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2016” introduced by House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and the Committee’s Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Since 2007, USPS has posted more than $50 billion in losses and faces $125 billion in unfunded liabilities, despite an estimated $18 billion annually in indirect subsidies.
While reforms are needed, the Postal Service Reform Act ignores basic needed reforms to USPS, and instead increases rates, shifts USPS’s financial burden onto the American public, and allows for the diversion of resources away from the core mission of mail delivery.
Read the full letter below or here:
To Members of the U.S. Congress:
We, the undersigned organizations, representing millions of taxpayers and consumers nationwide, urge Congress to oppose H.R. 5714, the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2016” introduced by House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, and the Committee’s Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
For years, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has suffered from operational and financial inefficiencies, and while reforms are needed, H.R. 5714 misses the mark and may actually exacerbate the issues facing USPS.
The USPS enjoys a monopoly on the delivery of first-class and standard mail and is exempt from state and local sales, income, and property taxes. The USPS also has the power of eminent domain, is not subject to local zoning ordinances, and has borrowed billions from the Treasury at subsidized interest rates.
Despite such special treatment, which is estimated to be $18 billion annually in indirect subsidies, USPS’s financial health is continually waning. Since 2007, USPS has posted more than $50 billion in losses and faces $125 billion in unfunded liabilities. Much of this stems from USPS’s inability to adapt to changing markets, congressional impediments, and union quagmires.
Many of the reforms provided for in H.R. 5714 lead USPS further away from the core mission of mail delivery, unfairly shift the Postal Service’s financial burdens onto the American public, and fail to address many of the underlying issues facing USPS.
Diversion to Nonpostal Products and Services. Key provisions contained in H.R. 5714 would allow the Postal Service to divert resources away from the core mission of mail delivery to providing nonpostal products and services to state, local, and tribal governments and federal agencies. The Act creates a “Chief Innovation Officer” tasked with managing the development and implementation of nonpostal products. While intended to generate new sources of revenue, such provisions are only a point of distraction, and will see the Postal Service further competing with private firms.
Postal Rate Reforms and Increases. Chairman Chaffetz’s reform bill would allow the Postal Service to increase rates by 2.15 percent on monopoly products such as stamps. Monopoly products generate the bulk of USPS profits. Increasing rates will only reduce revenue and further drive more consumers away from USPS products and services.
Postal Service Governance Reform. The USPS Board of Governors is comprised of nine members, not including the Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General, who are Presidentially appointed and confirmed by the Senate and serve seven-year terms. Since 2015, the Board of Governors has had only one Governor serving due to congressional hurdles. H.R. 5714 would reduce the USPS Board of Governors from a nine-member board to a five-member board. This hollow reform does nothing to actually improve USPS governance, and instead reinforces the fact that most of the provisions in the bill are simply reforms for the sake of reforms, having no real impact on the status quo.
We recognize the need for reforming the U.S. Postal Service. However Chairman Chaffetz’s Postal Service Reform Act ignores basic needed reforms to USPS, and instead increases rates, shifts USPS’s financial burden onto the American public, and allows for the diversion of resources away from the core mission of mail delivery.
It is for these reasons that we ask members of Congress to oppose this legislation.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
60 Plus Association
John M. Palatiello
Business Coalition for Fair Competition
Campaign for Liberty
Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Jeffrey L. Mazzella
Center for Individual Freedom
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
George C. Landrith
Frontiers of Freedom
Hispanic Leadership Fund
Independent Women’s Forum
Institute for Liberty
Willes K. Lee
National Federation of Republican Assemblies
R Street Institute
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Tea Party Nation
Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz
I oppose this bill because it requires postal employees to purchase Medicare Part B in order to keep their Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan in retirement. This in effect requires us to pay twice for the same coverage. If this is forced upon us we should be offered Part B at the "hold harmless" premium rate.
Ok Genius, what is your proposal? Privatize, skim the cream areas, and leave all the rural and underserved to pay more and drop that larger burden on the American people?
The postal service does a tremendous job six days a week for EVERY American citizen. As demonstrated by UPS and Fed-EX being two of its biggest customers.
Last mile delivery, and the growth of internet shopping make an efficient ALL serving USPS pivotal for ALL of our countries citizens.
The useless Republican led congress has done ZERO to solve this countries problems over the past eight years.
Its time to make needed reforms that are good for ALL our citizens.
Study: Net-Metering Costs Non-Solar Customers $36 Million Annually
A new study released this month examined what, if any, benefits Nevada’s net-metering program produces for the state and residents. The study, conducted at the request of the Nevada Legislative Committee on Energy, focused on the cost-effectiveness of net metering and the impact of the program on ratepayers. The results of the study overwhelmingly showed Nevada’s net metering program amounts to all cost and no benefit for the state and residents.
Nevada has long been a focus point in the debate over net metering. In general, net metering programs require electric utilities to purchase excess electricity generated by customers with rooftop solar installations at the full retail rate, as opposed to wholesale. As a result, solar customers avoid paying many of the fixed costs of the grid that are factored into their monthly bills. As such, these fixed costs are then shifted onto non-solar customers.
As part of the study on Nevada’s net metering program, researchers looked at the impact the program has on Nevada ratepayers. The cost-shifting impact was undeniable. The study found a clear “cost-shift from NEM [solar] customers to non-participating customers for both existing installations and future installations.”
Nevada’s net metering program was shown to “shift approximately $36 million per year” in costs from existing solar customers onto non-solar customers. It was also found that future planned installations would shift an additional $15 million per year in costs onto non-solar customers. Thus non-solar customers are essentially subsidizing a portion of solar customer’s electric bills.
Even more concerning is that the study found the state’s net metering program produces no benefit for the state as whole. Overall, net metering from existing and future planned solar generation systems “increase total energy costs for Nevada.” In fact, the program was even found to have no real benefit from the solar user perspective.
Even when considering the “non-monetized benefits” of renewable generation the net-metering program still has little to no positive impact. Factoring in “externalities and non-monetized health benefits of reduced air emissions from self-generation, does not significantly change the results…for the costs and benefits” of net metering for Nevada overall. The study concludes, “There is no substantial net emissions reduction or additional health benefits attributable to NEM systems.”
Nevada’s net metering program is clearly all cost and no benefit. Not only does the program shift $36 million in costs annually onto non-solar customers, but also increases total energy costs for the state while having no impact on emissions or health.
As such, one can only wonder why Nevada, or any state for that matter, would continue net metering programs that quite literally have no beneficial impact on consumers or the environment, and instead serve only to burden residents and the state with higher energy costs.
Photo credit: Marufish
Happy Bday Clean Power Plan, Thanks for the Job Losses and Billions in Costs!
Today marks exactly one year since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Obama Administration formally unveiled their coveted Clean Power Plan (CPP). While EPA bureaucrats and the Obama Administration tout the so-called “benefits” of the CPP, the truth is the rule has already begun destroying the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working Americans even before enactment. With the rule turning one today, it is only fitting to reflect on the CPP's journey to this point since it was first proposed.
In February of this year, the CPP suffered a major blow when the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued a stay of the rule, meaning that the Obama Administration and EPA may not continue with enactment until all legal challenges have played out.
The SCOTUS ruling reinforced what CPP opponents have been arguing since the rule was proposed: that the CPP exemplifies federal overreach; would be disastrous for states and the U.S. economy; and is premised on backwards and illogical legal grounds. Even President Obama’s legal mentor, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, has argued that the CPP “is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority.”
Aside from the misleading and unlawful legal gymnastics the Obama Administration had to do just to propose the rule with a straight face, the CPP’s impact on the American economy is already being felt. Despite the fact that the CPP has not yet been enacted, in 2015 alone over 11,000 coal miners lost their jobs and a number of energy companies have filed for bankruptcy. Clearly Obama is comfortable with the state of things as long as his “green legacy” is preserved.
Even Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has expressed her support for the CPP and its impact on jobs and the economy. At a Town Hall in Ohio in April Clinton proudly stated that she is the only candidate with a policy to bring renewables “into coal country, because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Apparently Clinton is not up to date on the news because such policies are already devastating American workers.
On top of the economic extermination already taking place as a result of the CPP, the projected economic impacts if the rule is actually enacted are even more drastic. The rule is projected to cause a 12 to 17 percent increase in electricity prices. Every state in the continental U.S. will see rate increases, with an estimated 44 states seeing double-digit rate increases, and 17 states facing price increase of over 20 percent.
The CPP is also slated to decrease household spending power between $64 and $79 billion, with annual compliance costs projected to reach up to $73 billion. Such impacts are economically unsustainable for many businesses and families. Sadly, the low-to-middle income Americans President Obama has claimed will benefit from the CPP will actually be those hardest hit by reduced income, job losses, and higher energy costs.
Thus as the Clean Power Plan turns one year old today, Americans should thank President Obama and the EPA for birthing this tremendously disastrous and unlawful regulation. Americans can also thank the President and his EPA lackeys for the CPP’s contributions to the American economy: thousands of jobs lost; bankruptcy; reduced U.S. economic output and household income; and skyrocketing energy costs.
Happy Birthday Clean Power Plan! Hope it’s your last!
Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson
Rep. Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act Reins in Dodd-Frank, Increases Consumer Protections
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) recently introduced Financial CHOICE Act (FCA) looks to rein in a myriad of onerous and costly regulations enacted under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). In introducing the Act, Chairman Hensarling hopes to give Americans new ability to achieve financial independence and raise their standards of living, while also promoting economic growth for the economy as a whole.
Signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was aimed at promoting financial stability in the U.S. However, since enactment Dodd-Frank has only increased financial instability, reduced consumer access while increasing costs, and burdened businesses with billions in compliance expenditures.
Dodd-Frank provisions such as the Durbin Amendment, Volcker Rule, and rules governing fiduciary duties lessen market liquidity and reduce access to financial products and services for millions of Americans. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under Dodd-Frank empowered a new wave of unelected bureaucrats to essentially outlaw financial products unilaterally.
Thankfully, Chairman Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act provides much needed relief for financial consumers and U.S. businesses that have suffered under Dodd-Frank. The Financial CHOICE Act contains a number of pro-growth and pro-consumer reforms aimed at lessening Dodd-Frank’s regulatory burden and economic impact.
Some of the most needed reforms under the Financial CHOICE Act are provisions reining in the CFPB. For years the CFPB has been able to unilaterally ban certain financial services and products it deems “abusive” and has been able to collect personally identifiable information on consumers at will. The CFPB is also not subject to the appropriations process, leaving Congress with little oversight over the Bureau’s actions.
The Financial CHOICE Act would repeal the CFPB’s authority to ban bank products and services it deems “abusive” as well as requiring the Bureau to obtain permission before collecting personal information from consumers. The Act would also repeal the CFPB’s authority to prohibit arbitration, and would replace the current director with a five-member commission subject to congressional oversight and appropriations.
With regard to financial consumers, the Financial CHOICE Act would repeal price controls and regulations under Dodd-Frank’s Durbin Amendment that were imposed on debit card transaction fees. The premise of the Durbin Amendment was that the savings from regulated fees would be passed onto consumers, however studies show consumers have actually lost access to free checking and debit card rewards as a result.
The Financial CHOICE Act would also hold financial regulators accountable by requiring that financial regulations pass a cost-benefit analysis before enactment and that “major” regulations be passed by Congress instead of unilaterally by unelected bureaucrats.
Other pro-growth and pro-consumer reforms to Dodd-Frank contained in the Financial CHOICE Act include:
- Repealing the Volcker Rule’s restrictions on proprietary trading;
- Replacing “Orderly Liquidation Authority” which allows the bailout of financial institutions at the expense of taxpayers;
- Repealing the authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to designate firms as systematically important institutions (SIFIs);
- Repeal the CFPB’s indirect auto lending guidance; and
- Make all financial regulatory agencies subject to the REINS Act.
These and a number of other reforms contained in the Financial CHOICE Act will be a positive step to reining in costly regulations under Dodd-Frank and ensuring regulators are held accountable.
Overall, Chairman Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act will increase financial opportunities and protections for all Americans, end taxpayer funded bailouts, and encourage economic growth through competition, transparency, and innovation.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
ATR Supports H.R. 5499, the Agency Accountability Act (AAA)
American for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist today sent a letter to Congressional lawmakers urging support for Representative Gary Palmer's (R-Ala.) Agency Accountability Act (AAA), H.R. 5499.
Congress has granted agencies the authority to collect fines, fees, and other revenues outside of appropriated funds. While most of these funds are used to offset appropriations, a large portion are used by agencies to self-fund programs and operations outside of the normal appropriations process.
H.R. 5499 would correct this discrepancy by requiring that all fines, fees, penalties, and other unappropriated proceeds, be directed to the Treasury, thus making them subject to the appropriations process. Agencies would still receive the funds required to exercise their standard functions, but those funds would now be placed back under Congressional oversight.
Below is the text of the letter, which can also be found here.
July 12, 2016
Dear Members of Congress,
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges your support of H.R. 5499, the Agency Accountability Act (AAA), introduced by Representative Gary Palmer (R-Ala.). Representative Palmer’s H.R. 5499 would increase transparency and oversight of the funds collected by federal agencies and in doing so would help to restore Congress’s Article I authority by subjecting such funds to the appropriations process.
Congress has granted agencies the authority to collect fines, fees, and revenue, with a portion of those funds being used to offset appropriations. However, some of these funds do not receive Congressional oversight as to how they are spent, leaving agencies to use those funds to finance programs and functions outside of the typical appropriations process. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in 2015 the federal government collected over $500 billion in user fees alone.
Congress’s “power of the purse” is thus being usurped as billions in annual revenue from fines and fees levied by federal agencies escapes the appropriations process. For instance, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) receive no appropriated funds from Congress.
H.R. 5499 would work to correct such discrepancies by requiring that all fines, fees, and penalties, and other unappropriated proceeds, be directed to the Treasury, thus making them subject to the appropriations process. Agencies would still receive the funds required to exercise their standard functions, but those funds would now be placed back under Congressional oversight.
H.R. 5499 is a positive measure to increase Congressional oversight over the actions of federal agencies, thus improving the overall transparency and accountability of the federal government.
I urge you to support and vote for H.R. 5499, the Agency Accountability Act.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Photo credit: Zach Stern
Postal Reform Bill Raises Concerns Ahead of Committee Markup
Today the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will markup the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, proposed by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the committee's Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
While the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in dire need of reform, given that it has posted consecutive billion dollar losses annually since 2007 and is facing $125 billion in unfunded liabilities, a number of provisions in the Postal Service Reform Act (the Act) are cause for concern.
First, the Act provides for an increase in rates on certain postal products. Such a move has the effect of forcing consumers beholden to a government monopoly to cover USPS shortfalls. Second, the Act works to expand the Postal Service's role to services outside of the USPS's core mission of mail delivery. USPS should not look to expand it's mission to areas such as grocery delivery, banking, and other ill-advised schemes, but instead focus on improving the Postal Service's core mission.
Ahead of the hearing, ATR President Grover Norquist sent a letter today to Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and committee members, expressing these concerns. Text of the letter is below:
July 12, 2016
Dear Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Committee Members:
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and millions of taxpayers nationwide, we write regarding the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s markup today of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, introduced by Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
While increasing the operational efficiency and financial stability of the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a laudable goal, a number of the reforms contained in the Postal Service Reform Act are not in line with achieving that goal. Instead, provisions within the Act providing for the increase of postal rates and an expansion beyond the core mission of mail delivery will only perpetuate many of the issues already plaguing the Postal Service.
It is no secret the Postal Service has suffered from prolonged financial instability. Since 2007 the Postal Service has consecutively posted billions in losses and is facing $125 billion in unfunded liabilities, most of which is due in part to the decline of traditional mail.
Although these issues are concerning, the answer should not be reforms that increase rates on some of the Postal Service’s most profitable products, essentially forcing consumers beholden to a government monopoly to cover USPS shortfalls. It is also not the answer to expand USPS services further outside of the core mission of mail delivery by creating a “Chief Innovation Officer” tasked with developing and implementing “nonpostal products and services.”
Lawmakers should instead look to make meaningful reforms that focus on improving the efficiency of the Postal Service’s core mission of mail delivery and increase operational transparency and accountability.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz
House Looks to Stop $500 Million Taxpayer Funded Transfer Overseas
The House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs approved a State Department spending bill this week that would prohibit the use of funds for the U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF). Such prohibition would stop $500 million in taxpayer dollars from being sent overseas as part of President Obama’s unilateral commitment to fund the GCF.
As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris last year, the GCF fund was created with the goal of transferring funds from wealthy nations to developing nations to further the commits under the agreement. As part of the GCF, President Obama committed to helping raise $100 billion annually in funding, without the consent of Congress, and pledged $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to the GCF.
The first installment of President Obama’s self-serving, ideological commitment came in March when $500 million was handed out to the GCF. Obama has since requested an additional $500 million as part of the second payment for 2017. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would allow for the $500 million requested transfer to the GCF.
Thankfully, lawmakers on the House side realize the perverse nature of President Obama’s commitment to send millions, and eventually billions, in taxpayer’s hard earned dollars overseas at a time when such funds are desperately needed at home. For FY 2016 U.S. public debt totals $22 trillion, and while $3 billion is a relative drop in the bucket, there is no reason those funds should not be used domestically for the benefit of U.S. taxpayers.
Photo credit: Pictures of Money
Nearly 4,000 EPA Regulations Issued Under President Obama
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing this week to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory activity under the Obama Administration, which highlighted the President and EPA’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and State authority. The hearing also addressed the drastic impact increased regulations have on U.S. energy and the economy as a whole.
Since President Obama assumed office in 2009, the EPA has published over 3,900 rules, averaging almost 500 annually, and amounting to over 33,000 new pages in the Federal Register. The hearing highlighted growing concerns from states and affected entities about the mounting complexity, costs, and legality of EPA rules.
The compliance costs associated with EPA regulations under Obama number in the hundreds of billions and have grown by more than $50 billion in annual costs since Obama took office. Such high costs, especially those related to the energy sector, ripple throughout the economy, impacting GDP, killing thousands of jobs, and increasing the cost of consumer goods.
In his opening statement, Chairman of the Subcommittee Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) noted that the impact of compliance costs is only part of the issue with EPA regulations. Chairman Whitfield stated the EPA’s “controversial and extreme interpretation” of it’s statutory authority has transformed it’s role to that of “ultimate” regulator.
Testifying on the Administration and EPA’s overreach of authority, David J. Porter, Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, lambasted the Administration’s disregard for the rule of law, stating:
“The President disregards the Constitutional limits of his office and public opinion to forward his own liberal agenda…[and] in promoting his agenda, he has allowed EPA to become the mouthpiece for ideological propaganda.”
Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-Texas) echoed the concerns of Chairman Whitfield and Mr. Porter during his questioning of Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Rep. Olson argued that the EPA’s drafting of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) amounted to the Agency writing laws, far outside the scope of EPA statutory authority and in clear violation of the Constitution.
Subcommittee members further pointed out that the EPA is so removed from the rule of law that it has continued to move forward with new rules to implement the CPP, despite the Supreme Court having issued a stay of the rule. Obviously under Obama’s “pen and phone” mentality, EPA bureaucrats feel emboldened to continue enacting major regulations without fear of legal recourse or retribution from Congress or the public.
It is clear from the Subcommittee hearing that President Obama has allowed, and even encouraged, EPA regulators to stretch the legal limits of the U.S. Constitution and the Agency’s statutorily granted authority. The President is obviously indifferent to the regulatory precedent he has set, as well as the impact his economically destructive “legacy” will have on American families, businesses, and the economy.
Photo credit: Billy Hunt
House EPA-Interior Spending Bill Would Rein in Regulatory Overreach
As lawmakers return this week from the July 4th holiday, they will have only until July 15th to act on a number of bills before heading home for the summer recess. Although the legislative schedule is packed, one of the bills that could potentially see floor time next week is the House Appropriation’s Interior and Environment spending bill for fiscal year 2017.
The legislation, which was approved by the House Appropriation Committee (31-18) last month, provides funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Services, the Indian Health Service, and other related agencies. Overall, the bill provides $32.1 billion in funding, which is a $64 million reduction from fiscal year 2016 enacted levels and $1 billion below President Obama’s budget request.
Under the spending bill, the EPA would see a reduction of $164 million from FY 2016 levels, which is $291 million below the amount requested in Obama’s budget request. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Land and Water Conservation Fund would also see funding reductions.
Most importantly, the legislation looks to rein in extensive regulatory overreach. Since taking office President Obama, along with the help of agencies such as the EPA, has enacted and proposed an avalanche of costly energy regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and Ozone Rule that threaten the livelihood of millions of Americans and the economy as a whole.
The EPA-Interior spending bill would not only reduce EPA regulatory programs by 6 percent, but contains a number of provisions that would rein in costly regulations that increase the price of energy in the U.S., reduce GDP, and threaten millions of American jobs. Such provisions include:
- A prohibition on the EPA from implementing new GHG regulations for new and existing power plants and the elimination of funding for GHG “New Source Performance Standards”;
- A prohibition preventing EPA changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the CWA, essentially blocking the “Waters of the U.S. Rule”;
- A prohibition on new methane regulations and requirements;
- Provisions to stop economically harmful changes to the “stream buffer rule”; and
- A rejection of the President’s proposal to increase inspection fees on energy producers.
Speaking on the legislation, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers stated, “This bill will stop many harmful and unnecessary regulations – by the Environmental Protection Agency and others – that hurt recovering communities and kill jobs.”
The House Rules Committee has now set a Thursday, July 7th deadline for amendments to the EPA-Interior spending bill, so many are optimistic it could see floor time soon. While it will likely receive resistance from President Obama, given the provisions blocking EPA and other agency rules, the bill highlights lawmaker opposition to the increase in bureaucratic regulatory overreach that has grown exponentially under President Obama.
Photo credit: John Griffiths
ATR Supports H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agicultural Machinery and Equipment (FAME) Act
ATR President Grover Norquist today sent a letter to Congressional lawmakers urging support for Representative Ralph Abraham's (R-La.) Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment (FAME) Act, H.R. 4474.
The U.S. agricultural industry relies heavily on farm machinery and equipment, however the current depreciation schedule for such equipment is not aligned with the average length of debt service on that same equipment. H.R. 4474 would correct this discrepancy by reinstating and making permanent five-year depreciation for farm equipment, thus aligning depreciation and debt service. Doing so is projected to increase after-tax farm income by $1 billion annually.
Below is the full text of the letter, which can also be found here:
July 5, 2016
Dear Members of Congress,
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges your support of H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Act, otherwise known as the “FAME Act.” Introduced by Representative Ralph Abraham (R-La.), this pro-growth legislation would increase after-tax income for American farmers by reinstating and making permanent five-year depreciation for farm business machinery and equipment.
The U.S. agricultural industry is heavily dependent on farm machinery and equipment, which on average accounts for over eight percent of assets owned by farmers and ranchers. In fact, farm machinery and motor vehicles in use in 2014 were valued at almost $260 billion, according to the USDA.
The USDA also finds that a majority of farmers and ranchers generally finance business equipment and machinery for a period of five years. Currently however the allowed number of years to depreciate such equipment does not align with the average period of debt service, thus depriving those in the industry of potentially higher tax benefits that could otherwise be used toward the financing of related payments.
H.R. 4474 would correct this discrepancy by aligning depreciation and debt service for farm equipment and machinery with a fiver-year depreciation schedule. It is projected that doing so would increase after-tax farm income around $1 billion annually. With net farm income this year projected to fall by almost half of what it was in recent years, farmers and ranchers need relief wherever possible.
While ATR does support the eventual repeal of depreciation schedules, moving instead to full business expensing, for now H.R. 4474 is a productive step to allow farmers and ranchers to better manage costs and reduce their tax burden.
I urge you to support and vote for H.R. 4474, the Fairness for Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Act.
Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform
Photo credit: Elliott P.