Vote Alert: ATR & COGC Urge Support of Ryan Budget
The House Republican Conference Budget offers significant spending reform by cutting discretionary spending and making important changes to entitlements.
The Conference Budget would cut spending by over $6 trillion over the next decade and keep spending below its historical average of 21 percent of GDP by 2016.
In addition, the budget saves the entitlement programs by allowing states flexibility in welfare and Medicaid spending and allowing taxpayers to invest in their own healthcare, rather than relying on the bankrupt Medicare system as it exists today.
Importantly, the Conference Budget implements this necessary spending reform without raising taxes. In fact, the budget requires pro-growth tax reform, ensuring American prosperity and exceptionalism for generations to come.
Vote YES on H.Con.Res 112, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013
House Republican Budget Offers Important Spending Reform
The House Republican FY2013 Budget makes the necessary choices to reform and save entitlements while continuing to cut discretionary spending.
- Spending below historical average: In contrast to the President’s plan to keep spending above 23 percent of GDP indefinitely, the Ryan plan cuts spending to below 20 percent by 2016 – historically, spending has averaged 21 percent.
- Ends the Pelosi-Reid-Obama Spending Spree: The Ryan budget cuts $5 trillion in contrast to the Obama budget, which would increase spending $1.5 trillion from current policy and rack up $11 trillion in new debt over the next ten years.
- Requires Spending Cuts to Offset New Spending: The Ryan Budget requires new mandatory spending to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. This rights the broken PAYGO process, which slants the deck in favor of tax increases to “pay for” new spending. Other important reforms are included that will require honest accounting of federal spending habits.
- Establishes Discretionary Spending Caps: The Ryan plan sets spending for Fiscal Year 2013 at $1.028 trillion. This is below the $1.047 trillion cap set by the Budget Control Act but above the discretionary level that is required after the law’s sequester goes into effect.
- Nets Mandatory Savings: The sequester required by the Budget Control Act is replaced by instructions to reform mandatory spending, which never has to be reviewed during the annual appropriations process. These reforms will cut $261 billion over the next ten years.
- Cuts Back the Nation’s Debt: Under the President's plan, debt will be equal to the size of the economy in the next ten years. With significant structural reform that will save the entitlement programs from bankruptcy, the Ryan plan brings debt down to 61 percent in the same amount of time
Most notably, the Ryan budget reforms government without raising taxes. In contrast, the President’s spending plan lacks leadership and courage, forcing almost $2 trillion in new taxes on American families and employers. The House Republican Budget is an important step towards limiting the size of government and restoring solvency for America’s taxpayers.
Senators Should Oppose Highway Spending Bill
Americans for Tax Reform and its Cost of Government Center strongly urge Senators to vote no on the Highway Bill on the Senate floor today. The bill does nothing to reform the broken highway system and spends $109 billion over the next two years.
This bill is little more than another stop-gap measure to maintain current bloated spending levels. S. 1813 continues the practice of pilfering Highway Trust Fund monies for transit and other purposes; an approach that is expected to bankrupt the fund by next year.
The Trust Fund has, for too long, been used as a constant source of funding for parochial transit projects, rewarding lawmakers who maintain the status quo with pork for their districts. Lawmakers interested in investing in American infrastructure must first ensure a solvent Highway Trust Fund by reforming failed transportation policy. The Senate Highway bill is a step in the opposite direction.
Obama Plan Uses Budget Gimmickry To Mask Explosive Spending
Today, President Obama released his budget for the 2013 Fiscal Year. The spending blueprint mirrors other plans he has put forward during his administration. It keeps spending at unprecedented levels, fails to address the looming entitlement crises and uses budget gimmickry to claim fake savings and unrealistic projections.
- The budget continues to call for spending at historic levels: the request sets spending for the fiscal year at $3.8 trillion and projects $47 trillion in spending over the next ten years
- Holds spending at 23 percent of the next ten years, two percent higher than its historical average
- Uses totally dishonest accounting: the President claims to include $4 trillion in deficit reduction. These supposed cuts include $1.6 trillion in tax hikes and $900 billion in war spending the President plans to plow back into infrastructure spending
- Repeats failed “stimulus” spending: For the third year in a row, the plan looks to create a permanent Infrastructure Bank with $350 billion in new spending. The budget also requests $500 billion for a transportation package while shifting Highway Trust Fund spending to mandatory accounts, ensuring its insolvency for posterity
- Continues practice of extending Medicare providers payments without offsetting the $438 billion in spending with cuts elsewhere
- The budget only addresses 40 percent of the government spending problem: the President bankrupts the entitlement programs by once again refusing to confront the nation’s largest debt-drivers
- Fails to take into account the coming costs of the government takeover of healthcare and financial regulatory overhaul. Instead, the President’s budget claims zero effect for supposed cost-saving mechanisms, such as the implementation of the Obamacare Independent Payment Advisory Board
- Cements broken promises: breaks his campaign pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He already broke his "firm pledge" not to raise any taxes on earners making less than $250,000 many times over
Announcing the Cost of Government Center
Today, Americans for Tax Reform announces the launch of its new affiliate, the Cost of Government Center. The Cost of Government Center will focus on how government spending and regulation increase the burden of government on taxpayers. The Center will also concentrate on ending discriminatory excise taxes on goods and services. Building on the success of ATR’s annual Cost of Government Day report, the Center will uncover how the threat of big government is driven by excessive spending, onerous regulation and targeted tax hikes.
Mattie Duppler, Executive Director of the Cost of Government Center, issued the following statement:
“The Cost of Government Center will serve as a critical resource for policymakers and activists dedicated to shrinking the size of government. We are excited to complement the important work done by Americans for Tax Reform by emphasizing the role over-regulation and overspending play in the broader debate on taxes. The Center will also focus directly on the discriminatory nature of excise taxes and the growing threat they pose to employers and taxpayers.”
The Cost of Government Center will also provide research papers and policy analysis regarding the regulatory state and its impact on employers and industries. The Center will continue to produce the annual Cost of Government Day report and Tax Bites, a publication that uncovers how taxes drive up the price of popular goods and services.
“Americans for Tax Reform works to make taxes simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. “The pressure to raise taxes is increased when government spends too much. ATR’s mission to prevent tax hikes will be aided immensely by the Center’s efforts to cut spending, alleviating pressure on otherwise prudent lawmakers to increase revenues. It is important also to note that when revenue-hungry lawmakers are prevented from raising taxes—as they have been done by the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge—they try to regulate. The Center will be the next line of defense against the growing regulatory regime.”
Nanny State Activists Hit the Ground Running in 2012
Congress is back this week in Washington, but the hysterics of nanny staters hardly ebbed over the holidays. In the New Year, activists have turned their ire to regulatory agencies, asking the government to pick winners and losers in private industry. Most recently, an association of pharmacies has demanded the Federal Trade Commission arbitrarily restrict the pharmaceutical industry rather than allowing businesses to respond to consumer demands.
In pursuit of this goal, the National Association of Chain Drugstores has launched a scare campaign: TooBigToPlayFair.com. The NACD alleges that a merger between two Pharmacy Benefit Managers (companies that work with both drug companies and insurers to provide effective and affordable prescription assistance; in this case two successful enterprises, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions) would allow the companies to become a monopoly in the pharmaceutical market.
Oddly enough, the NACD seems to resemble just that; its own website claims its members fill 72 percent of prescriptions in the United States. From that, one might conclude that chain retailers have an (unfair?) large part of the retail market. Yet these groups want consumers to believe that a PBM merger—which would result in a company that covers about a third of the prescriptions written annually—would be more harmful to consumers than their “total” representation of the retail market. Experts say this is an unfounded allegation - the PBM industry is still highly competitive.
Incidentally, the NACD also has the powerful AFL-CIO on their side. Labor unions are long-time campaign backers of Big Government Democrats, and their support of the anti-free market NACD effort shows the campaign is aimed at subverting, not maintaining, a fair and competitive marketplace.
Obama's State of the Union Address to Mark 1,000 Days Without a Democrat Budget
When President Barack Obama offers his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, it will mark exactly 1,000 days since the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has passed a budget. The Senate has not bothered to pass a budget since April 29, 2009.
“The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the Paul Ryan budget that reduced Obama’s spending levels by six trillion dollars over the next decade. The Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in three years," said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. "When President Obama tries to blame a ‘do nothing’ congress for his problems….he is half right. The Democrat Senate has done nothing.”
The President should be alarmed that as the economy flounders, Senate Democrats have refused to offer significant budget solutions. A serious joint address to Congress must confront the Senate Democrats’ abdication of their duties.
President Obama is sure to try to blame Republicans in both chambers for his administration’s failed economic policies. However, on the 1,000th day without a Democrat budget, the President will be forced to explain how anyone else is to blame; it is his party’s Senate leaders who have ignored their basic Congressional responsibility for almost three years.
A short look back on the fiscal recklessness of the last few years shows that if President Obama is upset about budget hostilities in Washington, he has no one to blame but himself. If he is serious about fixing the ailing economy, the President should demand Senate Democrats get back to work:
- 0…Number of Senate votes taken on the massive Democrat spending package crafted last year in place of an actual budget.
- 0…Number of votes the President’s FY 2012 budget received in the Senate.
- 0…Senate Budget Committee budget mark-ups scheduled last year.
- 3…Number of years the deficit has topped $1 Trillion.
- 3…Number of years total government spending has exceeded $3 Trillion.
- 34…number of months unemployment has been above 8 percent, the jobless rate the “stimulus” was supposed to prevent.
- 1.4 million…number of jobs killed by President Obama
- $16.4 Trillion…amount of debt held by the nation after three years of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending binge.
- $80 Billion…Amount by which Obama would have increased spending in 2011 without Republican resolve to cut spending.
Senate Dems Holding Up Tax Relief for Families in the New Year
The Democrat hyperbole regarding the payroll tax debate has obscured the actual events leading to the current standoff: the GOP-led House is the only body that has passed a comprehensive tax and spending cut package that ensures American families and employers will not see a payroll tax hike for the entirety of the coming year.
The President's allies in the Senate have instead offered a short-term extension of the payroll tax holiday, refusing to confront the expiring tax relief head on. Beyond the poor policymaking represented by short-term fixes, the tax relief the Senate bill ostensibly provides is undermined by the logistical implications of implementing it. As explained in a letter sent to lawmakers from the National Payroll Reporting Consortium:
[M]any payroll systems are not likely to be able to make such a substantial programming change before January or even February. The systems affected tend to be highly complex, normally requiring at least ninety days for a change of this magnitude for software testing alone; not to mention analysis, design, coding and implementation.
What's more, the Senate bill is not a flat extension of the current payroll tax rates, As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would have you believe. Phil Kerpen at AFP explains:
Instead, [the Senate bill] creates a two-tiered payroll tax with a rate of 4.2 percent for the first $18,350 of income in those 60 days, with a 6.2 percent rate above that. For the first time, we would have a graduated, progressive system of tiered rates for payroll taxes.
The House, then, in demanding the Senate to negotiate a compromise, is not holding up tax relief for American families - it is preventing the Senate's vision of a tax relief bill from replacing a comprehensive extension of the payroll tax cut. If the Senate Majority Leader truly does not wish to see Americans families' payroll taxes rise in the new year, he should appoint conferees to get the job done.
One Year Ago Today: Why Conservatives are Winning the Spending Debate
Today, Congress is poised to take up the final FY2012 spending package. The bill brings spending in line with the levels agreed to in the August debt limit deal, cutting spending by over $6 billion from last year's levels.
Many conservatives have expressed frustration that the bill still spends above the levels written into the House-passed 2012 budget. Arguably, those spending levels would have instilled unprecedented spending restraint in federal budgeting, but they were never passed into law. The events of the past year, however, should not dishearten taxpayers.
One year ago today, the Senate was on the verge of passing a $1.3 trillion Cromnibus bill. This legislative morass was 2,000 pages long, included 7,000 earmarks and would have increased spending from previous levels by almost $100 billion. This rubber-stamp budgeting had been common practice, and Democrats were confident they could continue business as usual to round out the 111th Congress.
Instead, Senate Republicans defeated the measure, securing a Continuing Resolution that allowed the incoming 112th Congress to wrap up the funding fight. As a result, the final FY 2011 funding was lower than previous levels - an unprecedented victory for taxpayers.
This brings us to today, where Congress is about to consider a bill that is $300 billion less than the omnibus measure that very nearly became law last year - cutting three times the amount by which Democrats wanted to increase spending last year. Moreover, this omnibus eschews the earmark practice of old and contains several significant policy changes, including restrictions on abusive grant spending and positive energy policy. ATR sent a letter this morning supporting these important policy changes.
To be sure, there is much work still to be done. But the small victories of the past year show that patience is a virtue - two years in a row where spending is being cut in appropriations, rather than increased, is progress.
ATR Urges Senators to Vote Yes on the Republican Consensus BBA
Americans for Tax Reform urges all Senators to vote YES for S.J. Res 10, introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. S.J. Res 10 includes the critical components for a successful Balanced Budget Amendment: both significant spending restraint and, most importantly, a super-majority requirement to raise taxes. This will ensure lawmakers will rein in spending rather than force taxpayers to foot the bill for their foolhardy budgeting.
Washington has an overspending problem, not an under-taxing problem. Historically, outlays have averaged about 21 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while revenues have amounted to about 18 percent of GDP. Due to the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats’ spending binge, outlays now average almost 25 percent of GDP, and are projected to stay around 23 percent in perpetuity.
The Senate Consensus BBA not only limits spending, but caps it at 18 percent, bringing outlays in line with historical revenue averages.
The alternate Democrat BBA, introduced by Senator Mark Udall, has many fatal flaws. It would prohibit tax relief for employers and would guarantee tax increases every year Congress fails to restrain spending, allowing tax hikes by a simple majority vote.
Any lawmaker concerned about restoring American solvency cannot seriously vote for a BBA that does not include a super-majority requirement for tax increases. To pass a BBA that allows a tax hike by simple majority is to distract from the real problem of government spending, and leaves taxpayers to foot the bill for feckless federal budgeting.