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Mattie Duppler

Airline Fees Should Be Off the Table in Debt Negotiations


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Friday, August 12th, 2011, 5:17 PM PERMALINK


With Congress continuing to extend the FAA reauthorization rather than address a long-term measures, the airline industry has been held captive by the whims of hostile lawmakers. Now the debt limit negotiations have provided another moving front in the fight.

It has been suggested that the Joint Committee may consider targeted taxes on the airline industry in the form of new fees in order to reach their $1.5 trillion deficit reduction goal. While we have outlined before why we believe a tax-hike would be a non-starter for the Committee, suggestion of "user fees" as code for tax hikes has been used to fool even the most fiscally resolute before.

Moreover, general aviation has borne increased scrutiny from revenue-hungry lawmakers since many Members of Congress suffers from the delusion that businesses can afford new burdens where individuals can't. In reality, new burdens on general aviation would unfairly target small and mid-size businesses who depend on general aviation for commerce, goods, medical care and a variety of other resources. With 85 percent of enterprises that depend on general aviation consisting of small and mid-sized businesses, Increased "user" fees would completely stifle the transportation faculties of many local communities.

New fees would, of course, be entirely unacceptable in the context of the debt limit negotiations and beyond. Not only would new fees fail to force the government to confront its spending problem, it would also be a punitive new tax on an industry that has been beleaguered by the lagging economy. The recent jump in gas prices has also put pressure on aviation when the industry has already been further hampered by capricious and hostile attacks by big spenders. Government already consumes half of the price paid for a commercial domestic ticket - lawmakers who believe heavier taxes on travelers and airlines are simply looking for a quick fix for their overspending addiction. Taxpayers , who expect meaningful spending reform from the Joint Committee, will not stand for it.

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2011 Cost of Government Day: August 12


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 10:28 PM PERMALINK


Every year, Americans for Tax Reform Foundation publishes its Cost of Government Day report, which calculates the day on the calendar year until which the average American must work to pay for the full costs of government spending and regulation.  The study is available online at www.CostOfGovernmentDay.com  “Highlights” of the report are as follows:

  • Overall government burden:  This year, Cost of Government Day falls on August 12, meaning Americans labor a full 224 days into the year to pay for local, state and federal government spending and regulations.
     
  • Impact of Obama overspending:  Americans have lost 29 days of the calendar year thanks to Obama’s overspending and regulatory zeal. 2011 marks the third straight year COGD has fallen in August. Prior to the Obama Administration, COGD had never fallen later than July 21.
     
  • Stimulus, bailouts, and federal spending:  The effects of the bailouts and failed “stimulus” plan are still being felt by Americans, who must work a full 103 days to pay for the costs of federal spending.
     
  • State and local government spending:  Americans spend 44 days working to pay off state and local government spending.
     
  • Regulatory burden of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank:  Americans are forced to labor 77 days to pay for total federal regulations, a workload that will increase exponentially with the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known more popularly as Obamacare.
     
  • Cost of Government Day in the fifty states:  The report also measures varying government burdens in each state to calculate their respective state Cost of Government Day. As in past years, taxpayers in Connecticut must work the latest to celebrate their COGD, laboring all the way until September 10 to pay off the full costs of government. Taxpayers in Mississippi worked the shortest amount of time to pay off their burden off government, laboring until July 19.
     
  •  Case Studies:  The report also details the impact on COGD of many factors in the growing cost of government. Case studies in the report discuss:   The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul which will severely increase the number of days Americans must work to pay off the regulatory burden; Obamacare, which will fail to rein in health care costs and continue to increase federal spending; The EPA, which has pursued an aggressive regulatory agenda that will further stall economic recovery.

Click here for a PDF version of this press release

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ATR Urges Senators to Support Debt Limit Deal


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 10:03 AM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform urged Senators to pass the Budget Control Act of 2011, the legislative solution to the debt ceiling negotiations. With the Senate continually deferring its budgeting responsibilities, taxpayers will learn who is truly serious about restoring the country's fiscal prowess when the measure comes for a vote today at noon. From our alert:

The debt ceiling deal will enact up-front savings of $917 billion while instituting caps to keep spending growth in check. The spending caps are enforced by sequesters, ensuring they cannot be exceeded. This signals a serious refutation of Washington’s spending habits, and lays the groundwork for permanent restraint in government spending.

The bill keeps the President’s aggressive spending agenda in check by establishing a two-step process to allow more borrowing authority. This requires a Joint Committee to enact at least $1.5 trillion in savings or a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution be sent to the states before another debt limit hike is authorized. If either of these initiatives fail, an across-the-board sequester will be enacted equal to the amount of borrowing authority the President is able to request. This ensures another debt limit hike cannot occur absent significant spending reform.

The path towards fiscal solvency must start with an initial step. The House-passed Budget Control Act provides fiscally prudent lawmakers the opportunity to begin enacting lasting spending reform. Senators serious about getting the country’s fiscal house in order should support the debt limit solution before them and vote to concur in the House amendment to S.365. By keeping taxes off the table in the debt limit debate, this proposal rightly focuses on government overspending and sets the stage for greater federal fiscal improvements.  

Click here for the full alert.

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Members Should Support Budget Control Act of 2011


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Monday, August 1st, 2011, 11:03 AM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability sent the following alert to the United States House of Representatives:

Americans for Tax Reform May Rate a Vote on the Budget Control Act of 2011

Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability urge all Members of the United States House of Representatives to support the Budget Control Act of 2011. This deal to solve the debt limit debate represents a significant step towards lasting spending reform, and avoids a debt crisis without raising taxes.

The Budget Control Act will enact up-front savings of $917 billion while instituting caps to keep spending growth in check. The spending caps are enforced by sequesters, ensuring they cannot be exceeded. This signals a serious refutation of Washington’s spending habits, and lays the groundwork for permanent restraint in government spending.

The bill keeps the President’s aggressive spending agenda in check by establishing a two-step process to allow more borrowing authority. This requires a Joint Committee to enact at least $1.5 trillion in savings or a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution be sent to the states before another debt limit hike is authorized. If either of these initiatives fail, an across-the-board sequester will be enacted equal to the amount of borrowing authority the President is able to request. This ensures another debt limit hike cannot occur absent significant spending reform.

Lawmakers serious about getting the country’s fiscal house in order should support the debt limit solution before them and vote yes on the Budget Control Act of 2011. By keeping taxes off the table in the debt limit debate, this proposal rightly focuses on government overspending and sets the stage for lasting fiscal reform.   

Americans for Tax Reform MAY RATE a vote on the Budget Control Act of 2011

Click here for the full alert.

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Final Debt Limit Deal Looks Good for Taxpayers


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Sunday, July 31st, 2011, 10:27 PM PERMALINK


Announced two days before the country is expected to fully exhaust its $14.3 trillion in borrowing authority, a deal to end the debt ceiling negotiations has been announced. After Congresional Republicans held firm in their commitment to taxpayers to reject any and all tax increases, the deal forces lawmakers to get serious about government spending that drives the country’s mounting debt. While final legislative language is yet to be fully agreed upon by the full caucuses in both chambers, a strong sketch is emerging on what the deal looks like.

  • The first portion remains the same (as far as we can tell) as the House’s Budget Control Act. It curtails the President’s aggressive spending agenda by allowing $900 billion in new borrowing authority in exchange for $917 billion in savings.  
  • The second tranche of debt authority has many moving parts:
    • A Joint Committee would be established charged with finding savings greater than $1.5 trillion. Should the Committee report be enacted into law, the President is authorized to receive a $1.5 trillion increase in the debt ceiling
    • Should the Committee fail to report a proposal or Congress refuse to pass such a report, Congress must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment for the President to request additional borrowing authority.
    • If the Committee fails to enact at least $1.2 trillion in savings, the President may request $1.2 trillion in new borrowing authority, which can only be extended if an across-the-board sequester is enacted to make up the difference between cuts that have been enacted and the amounts necessary to amount to a total of $1.2 trillion.
  • Taken together, these measures incentivize serious progress in the Select Committee. We have already discussed how this Committee is pressured to report legislation that focuses solely on spending. It is highly unlikely such a body would be able, much less willing, to approach any kind of tax reform.
  • The plan seriously addresses spending restraint, implementing annual spending caps that limit the annual growth of spending, enforced by sequesters. Our Cost of Government Day Report fully explains the significance of establishing a metric for spending growth, which will net trillions in savings for taxpayers over time. Spending caps, enforced by sequesters, have achieved significant savings in the past.
  • The focus on cutting discretionary spending up front will catalyze mandatory spending reform in the future. The spending limitations enact almost $1 trillion in discretionary savings, removing the low-hanging fruit of easy spending cuts to force lawmakers to confront the entitlement burden.

The debt limit machinations have shown that until legislative language is made available and the caucuses can certify agreement on the deal, no plan is certain. We will provide further analysis and comments as more details become available. However, this framework – that totally rejects any tax increases and enacts lasting and critical spending reform – is a serious game-changer that bodes well for taxpayers as we move into future tax and spending battles in the 112th Congress.

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ATR Urges Senators to Vote No on Reid Debt Proposal


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Sunday, July 31st, 2011, 8:49 AM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability sent the following alert to the United States Senate, urging Senators to vote no on the Cloture motion to proceed to debate on Leader Reid's flawed debt limit proposal.

Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability urge all Members of the United States Senate to vote NO on cloture for S. 672, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deeply flawed debt limit legislation. This bill is nothing more than a fig leaf for true fiscal restraint, and will do little to solve the government’s overspending problem and impending debt crisis.

The bill completely distracts from the real debt problem – government overspending – by slanting the deck in favor of tax increases. It establishes a joint committee that is specifically directed to consider “tax reform” while considering other bipartisan solutions available, tactility encouraging the committee to adopt Gang of Six-style bipartisan tax hike deals. The committee is directed to focus on reducing the deficit to 3 percent of GDP, rather than devise targeted spending cuts and lasting fiscal reform.

The bill eliminates basic budgeting responsibilities by “deeming” spending and revenues levels for the next two years, locking in current law and increasing the hurdles to preventing tax increases. After failing to produce a budget for over 800 days, this would allow the Senate to continue this negligence for another two years – an astounding dereliction of duty in the face of a national debt crisis.

“Deeming” a budget resolution also increases the implausibility of this bill becoming law as it assumes a massive violation of the President’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 and makes it extremely difficult to prevent such a tax hike form occurring. What’s more, the House of Representatives will absolutely reject a bill that assumes major tax increases; a cloture vote signals Senators are more interested in the politics of running down the clock than arriving at a serious solution to end the debt limit negotiations.

Importantly, Senator Reid’s bill fails to provide any oversight over the President’s borrowing authority. The bill would require supermajorities in both chambers to reject the President’s request for an increase in the debt ceiling, with no preconditions. Lawmaker serious about getting the country’s fiscal house in order should support the real debt limit solution passed by the House yesterday and reject the cloture vote on S. 672.

Taxpayers deserve better.

Click here for the full alert.

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Harry Reid's Solution? Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Saturday, July 30th, 2011, 6:46 PM PERMALINK


Today, the House rejected the Senate’s debt limit plan which effectively ignores months of negotiations to call for higher taxes, eschews spending restraint and offers no redress for the country’s debt crisis. Rather than begin work on the House-passed solution, the Senate is expected to wait until Sunday to vote on its bill. Amongst other things, the Senate bill:

Taxes

  • Continues to excuse the Senate’s dereliction of its budgeting duty by “deeming” budget resolutions for the next two years. This locks in current projections on spending and revenue, increasing the hurdles for enacting positive tax reform.
  • Establishes a Joint Committee tasked with reducing the deficit, rather than reporting real savings, as it would have been required to do under the House plan.
  • By focusing on the deficit, rather than spending, the Committee is directed to undertake tax reform and explicitly encouraged to consider existing proposals, such as the bipartisan tax-hiking Gang of Six plan.
  • The Committee’s proposal is not tied to another debt limit increase, greatly reducing its incentive to produce workable solutions that could net support in both chambers of Congress

Spending

  • Grants the President the largest debt ceiling hike in history to continue his spending spree, uninhibited by a debt ceiling. The Senate bill increases the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, eliminating any ability to restrain the President’s spending agenda until after the next election.
  • Eschews real spending restraint by including numerous loopholes that allow Congress to flout the statutory spending caps. The bill ordains that during "times of slow economic growth" spending limitations need not be recognized, regardless of the fact that that is when the country needs it most. It also continues the practice of designating spending as “emergency” spending to surpass limits.
  • Fakes it to Make it: Reid attempts to take credit for $1.2 trillion in savings that are already slated to happen with the troop drawdowns in the Middle East. Thus, the number of cuts the bill actually enacts is less than $1 trillion.
  • The bill rejects the basic principle of cutting more than it spends by giving the President $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority in exchange for less than $1 trillion in real spending cuts

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ATR Opposes Senate's Tax Hike Debt Plan, H.R. 2693


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Saturday, July 30th, 2011, 11:58 AM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability sent the following alert to the United States House of Representatives. The alert urges Members to reject H.R. 2693, Senate Democrats' flawed debt limit propsal that attempts to increase taxes to avoid spending reform in the debt limit debate. From our alert:

The bill completely distracts from the real debt problem – government overspending – by slanting the deck in favor of tax increases. It establishes a joint committee that is specifically directed to consider “tax reform” while considering other bipartisan solutions available, tactility encouraging the committee to adopt Gang of Six-style bipartisan tax hike deals.

The committee is directed to focus on reducing the deficit to 3 percent of GDP, rather than devise targeted spending cuts and lasting fiscal reform. The bill detaches any committee report from further extensions in borrowing authority, removing any incentive for the committee to produce productive legislation that could pass both chambers of Congress.

The bill eliminates basic budgeting responsibilities by “deeming” spending and revenues levels for the next two years, locking in current law and increasing the hurdles to preventing tax increases. The supposed spending limitations in the bill are devised so that any plausible contingency allows them to be easily flouted.

What’s more, the H.R. 2693 fails to provide any oversight over the President’s borrowing authority. The bill would require supermajorities in both chambers to reject the President’s request for an increase in the debt ceiling, with no preconditions. Lawmaker serious about getting the country’s fiscal house in order should support the real debt limit solution passed by the House yesterday and reject Senate Majority Leader’s proposal, H.R. 2693.

Click here for the full alert.

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FAA Lapse Illuminates Lawmakers' Economic Ignorance


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Friday, July 29th, 2011, 5:38 PM PERMALINK


With Congress fixated on the debt limit negotiations, the authority for the FAA to collect taxes lapsed last week providing a much-needed reprieve for the airline industry which is beleaguered by aggressive government regulation and onerous taxation.

Lawmakers immediately deflected from their own dereliction by alleging that the lapse in FAA authority amounted to “theft” by airlines of funds supposedly owed to the government. More exactly, lawmakers are apparently dumbfounded why airlines aren't collecting taxes that are no longer in effect, and refusing to take a voluntary hit on prices as a result.

This newest derision from the Feds reflects a longstanding ignorance of market forces in the travel industry (and, one could argue, private enterprise writ large). In the past decade, the average federal tax burden on airlines has grown by 37 percent, while the average price of a round-trip flight fell by 21 percent. Recently federal bureaucrats have intruded further, dictating to airlines the prices they can charge for services, how customers can book travel and even the schedule airlines are required to keep, regardless of the multitude of contingencies outside a carrier’s control. Even while admitting that the crushing tax burden on airlines has suppressed the industry, the federal government has pushed on, auguring a steep rise in gas prices, an additional burden on the industry.

Now, Members of Congress are alleging their negligence in reauthorizing the FAA to collect taxes requires airlines to step in and do the job for them. This ignores the reality of the heavy handicap government places on an otherwise robust market.  Failing to learn from the elusive economic recovery the harm created by an uncertain tax climate, lawmakers are castigating airlines’ natural response to myopic tax policy.

Rather than questioning why airlines didn't drop prices below market value to reflect the temporary tax reprieve, policymakers should recognize only a long-term reprieve from heavy taxation will ensure lower prices.  The current inflation of prices from heavy taxation creates an artificial floor on the price airlines can afford to offer travelers. Bureaucrats requesting lower prices on air travel should recognize the role they’ve played in proscribing that possibility.

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The Do-Nothing Senate: By The Numbers


Posted by Mattie Duppler on Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 3:17 PM PERMALINK


The Senate has shown it has little appetite for governing this Congress, refraining from budgeting or even passing many bills since the months since the 112th has begun. The debt limit debate will be the pivotal moment that determines whether Senators are interested in grandstanding or actually legislating.

Already, the Senate has shown signs that it will continue to defer its duty to act, pre-emptively deriding the House’s plan to avoid a debt default. If Senators actually refuse to pass the Budget Control Act, the only serious legislative proposal to end the debt limit stalemate, it will illustrate an unprecedented negligence by lawmakers. For the past few months, Senators have dithered over tax hikes and budget gimmicks. Voters and credit markets are tired of the charade – it’s time for the Senate to step up to the plate.

  • 820…Number of days since the Senate passed a budget
  • 0…Number of votes the President’s budget received in the Senate
  • 0…Number of debt limit solutions that have been passed by the Senate
  • 0…Number of strong enforcement mechanisms in the Reid bill that requires spending to stay under any statutory limits
  • 2…number of years additional years the Reid plan would jettison the Senate’s responsibility to actually produce a budget resolution
  • $1.2 trillion…Amount of false savings Senator Reid’s plan claims
  • $2.7 trillion…amount by which the Reid plan increases the debt ceiling without any guaranteed spending restraint in return
  • 67…the number of Senators the Reid bill requires to avoid tax hikes in 2013 on any American paying income taxes—not the current rules that dictate 60 votes are necessary.

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