Patrick Gleason

Newsweek Ignores Effectiveness of Malpractice Caps and Liability Reform

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter makes clear what he doesn’t like about the status quo of the U.S. healthcare system in his July 31st squib, “What’s Not to Like?.” In dismissing Republican calls to cap malpractice awards, Alter contends that “nothing happened” when such reforms were recently passed in Texas. This is patently false. 

A study done by the Perryman Group last year found that the legal reforms Texas passed in 2003 have been a boon to the Lone Star State’s healthcare system. Analysis shows that these reforms yielded a 70 percent reduction in the number of lawsuits filed against hospitals in just the first year, a decrease in medical liability insurance rates by an average of 20 percent, 430,000 additional Texans with health insurance, and increased options resulting from an influx of 10,878 new physicians. The study also concluded that the reforms were directly responsible for an 8.5 percent growth in the state’s economy. In fact, in 2006 Texas became the first state to be removed from the American Medical Association’s list of states experiencing a liability crisis.
States have long been seen as laboratories of democracy where new policies can be tested. Results from Texas show that caps on malpractice awards and other liability reforms deserve more consideration on Capitol Hill than Mr. Alter lets on.
To view ATR's guide to medical tort reform, click here.

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Seattle Voters Reject Bag Tax

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, 11:55 AM PERMALINK


Seattle voters soundly rejected tax on paper and plastic shopping bags in yesterday's election. Referendum 1, which would have imposed at a 20-cent per bag tax in the city of Seattle, was rejected by nearly 60% of voters.
The 20-cent bag tax was passed by the Seattle City Council approximately one year ago. 22,000 signatures, 2,000 more than required, were submitted last September to put the referendum on the ballot.
Rob Gala, a city council staffer and proponent of the measure told the New York Times that the bag tax was defeated because “more people are concerned about their cost of living than what they take their groceries home in.”
Estimated to cost each consumer an additional $300 per year, the bag tax would have imposed a significant financial burden at a time when many in Seattle and around the country are already cutting back and struggling to make ends meet. What Gala fails to mention is the fact that not only was the bag tax too costly, it was unnecessary and would not provide any benefit to the city or Pudget Sound.
As has already been noted on this website, 9 out of 10 Seattle residents already recycle and reuse disposable bags and studies show that the bag tax, much like San Francisco's plastic bag ban, would have no visible impact on litter, which was not a problem to begin with in environmentally friendly Seattle.
Ultra-liberal Seattle's rejection should give pause to the coercive utopians that have been introducing bag tax proposals around the country. The Washington, D.C. City Council recently passed a 5-cent bag tax.
Voters in ever-so-blue Seattle, which voted for Obama by over 80%, have shot down a horrible and unnecessary law passed by their city council. It's time for DC voters to do likewise.

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ObamaCare Spells Trouble for the Lone Star State

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009, 5:21 PM PERMALINK

The Texas Public Policy Foundation released findings from a recent study which shows how the health care reforms pending in Congress would affect Texas. The study, conducted by Arduin, Laffer, and Moore Econometrics, explains how the Obama-Reid-Pelosi health care reform bill would hamper the Texas economy. Findings include:

Texas would see 4.7 percent lower economic growth in 2019 compared to the baseline scenario.

• In addition to federally-funded expenditures, the net present value of all Texas state government expenditures through 2019 that will occur due to federal health care reform is $8.9 billion, or a $365 bill for every man, woman, and child in Texas.

If the federal government requires states to financially cover the expansion of lower income individual’s health insurance, Texas taxpayers will have to cover an additional $28.2 billion in costs, for a total cost to Texas general revenue of $37.1 billion over 10 years.
• The current net present value of funding health care reform based on President Obama’s priorities will be $4,265 for every person in Texas. This equals $103.8 billion in total costs that Texans will have to bear.
•  Expansion of Medicaid eligibility may further increase Medicaid costs in Texas due to the Frew v. Hawkins lawsuit, a suit based on inadequate access for Medicaid enrollees because the state’s physician reimbursement was so low that not enough doctors would take Medicaid patients.
To view the report in its entirety, click here.

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ATR Joins Californians for Smart Energy

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, August 17th, 2009, 1:33 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform has joined Californians for Smart Energy. Californians for Smart Energy is a coalition of consumers, taxpayers, employers, trade associations and other organizations working to stop the California Energy Commission's (CEC) pending regulation that would ban certain TVs in the state. In the name of energy efficiency the CEC 

is moving forward with a new rule that would require TVs to use 33% 

less electricity by 2011 and 49% by 2013. 

ATR and other opponents of this measure contend that it will not have an impact on energy efficiency and will reduce the two items that the Golden State needs most and is already short on: jobs and revenue.

According to a recent study, the new regulation will destroy 4,600 jobs in California tied to TV sales, distribution and installation, and will reduce government coffers by $50 million annually.

The new mandate would outlaw 25% of LCD and plasma screen TVs on the market and all plasma sets over 60 inches would be illegal.

While such bureaucratic interference with personal and economic liberty may seem troubling to most reasonable people, those familiar with California politics, where government control of thermostats and proposals to ban black cars are seriously considered, this is not unbelievable.

Visit the official Californians for Smart Energy website for more information about what is at stake and to get involved.

Click here to visit the Californians for Smart Energy Facebook page.

Click here to follow on Twitter.

Click here to visit the YouTube page.

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The Taxpayer Protection Pledge and the Arizona Budget

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, August 13th, 2009, 12:29 PM PERMALINK

The Arizona news cycle this week has been abuzz with discussion over the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and how it has factored into this year’s protracted budget debate. The Pledge commits signers to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes. However, groups on the left, liberal bloggers, and other spending interests in the Grand Canyon State continually try to portray the Pledge as a vow to Grover Norquist or a distant Washington organization (see here, here, and here). This is patently false.

Yes, Americans for Tax Reform sponsors and asks lawmakers and candidates from all parties – Republican, Democrat, Whig, Bull-Moose, you name it – to sign the Pledge. However, the underlying tenet of the Pledge is that it is a promise to the constituents of the signer , not any single organization or person. Need proof? Just read the wording of the Pledge itself .

Legislators who have signed the Pledge do not oppose tax increases simply because they signed the pledge. They signed the Pledge because they rightly believe that net tax increases adversely affect the economy and even more so during a recession. The steadfast insistence among Pledge signers that the final budget be a net tax cut or at least revenue neutral has brought Arizona closer to a budget agreement that is a much better deal for taxpayers than the initial plan brought forth by Gov. Brewer months ago.

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Pennsylvania Budget Update

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009, 5:35 PM PERMALINK

Things are getting tense in Harrisburg. So tense in fact that Gov. Rendell has begun to fantacize about gassing state legislators.

Gov. Rendell has signed the stop-gap budget so that 77,000 state workers continue to receive paychecks and now Pennsylvania's budget standoff is now in it's second act. Now lawmakers must go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan to close the state's $3 billion deficit. How they'll do that remains unclear.

Gov. Rendell and the Democrat majority in the House remain insistent upon raising taxes. Republicans control the Senate and remain opposed to any form of tax increase to address the state's overspending problem; a reasonable position considering that Pennsylvanians have to work until this Friday just to pay off the annual cost of their government.

Now that legislative Democrats have taken Rendell's 16% income tax hike off the table it is rumored that Dems will coalesce behind a sales tax hike or a severance tax increase on natural gas extraction. Click here for recent commentary from ATR on why a severance tax would be so bad.

ATR agrees with Senate Republicans that raising taxes right now is the worst thing that lawmakers could do for the state economy. ATR will continue to monitor negotiations

Stayed tuned for further updates on the protracted Pennsylvania budget fight.

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Governor Perdue (D-NC) Signs Billion Dollar Tax Hike; 4 Lawmakers Break Pledge

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, August 10th, 2009, 1:58 PM PERMALINK

Gov. Beverly Perdue's approval rating has been in free fall since she took office, recently dropping to a new low of 30%, As low as that is one can expect her approval to plummet further with her signing of the budget last Friday. The final budget deal, approved 38 days past deadline, will result in $1 billion in new taxes on North Carolinians in the middle of the state's greatest economic downturn in a generation.

Upon signing the bill Gov. Perdue stated that she "would not have signed a bill that did a broad-based income tax on working families." However the Governor conveniently ignores the fact that the budget contains a one point, 14.8% sales tax hike that, much like an accross the board income tax hike, is a broad-based tax increase that will hit all North Carolina working families.

The North Carolina budget will exacerbate the state's unemployment problem, which recently broke 11% and is the 5th highest in the nation. Prior to the latest budget, North Carolina had the worst business tax climate in the region. With a 3% corporate income tax surcharge included in the final budget, neighboring states will look even more attractive to employers. 

By imposing this surtax on corporate income, Gov. Perdue and legislative Democrats fail to recognize that ordinary workers, not big corporations, bear the burden of higher corporate taxes. As ATR has previously pointed out, there’s an emerging consensus among economists that at least $0.60 out of every $1.00 the corporate income tax collects is paid in the form of lower wages.  Furthermore, corporations are owned by the millions of 401(k) owners, IRA owners, pension plans, and individual shareholders who buy and hold corporate stock.  A majority of adults are part of this “shareholder majority.” At the end of the day, when corporate taxes rise and after-tax profits subsequently decline, the retirement plans of North Carolina residents take a hit.

Other ill-advised tax increases in the final budget include the Amazon tax, a tax on digital downloads, a personal income surtax, and tax increases on alcohol and tobacco.

The 2009 legislative session should make one fact very clear to all North Carolinians: as long as both chambers of the legislature and the governor's mansion remain controlled by Democrats with a penchant for tax hikes, the debate at the capitol will always be over what taxes will go up, not whether they should go up.

The following legislators, in voting for the final budget, broke their Pledge to constituents to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes:



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Seattle Residents Set to Vote on Bag Tax

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, August 6th, 2009, 4:05 PM PERMALINK

Seattle residents recently began receiving mail-in ballots for the August 18 Mayoral election. On this same ballot Seattle voters will decide the fate of Referendum 1. Referendum 1, if passed, will create a new 20-cent tax on every disposable plastic and paper bag used in retail and grocery purchases. There are a myriad of reasons why this ballot measure should be rejected.

A 20-cent bag tax would hit family budgets in the middle of a recession and at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. What's more, it is simply not necessary. 90% of people already reuse and recycle their plastic and paper bags. According to a study by the Washington Policy Center, disposable grocery and retail bags account for 0.5% of all solid municpal waste. The study adds that if the new bag tax were to operate as supporters hope, it will only reduce the amount of garbage produced in Seattle by a paltry 0.0014%.

Results from places that have already imposed a bag tax or outright ban show that it does little to reduce the use of plastic bags or combat pollution. Since Ireland's bag tax went into effect, use of plastic grocery bags declined but sales of other plastic bags rose 400%. In fact, total plastic bag use in Irelend has increased 10% since the bag tax became law. San Francisco's ban on plastic shopping bags has had no visible impact on litter.

To make matters worse, a bag tax may even pose a threat to public health. Reusable bags, whose use Referendum 1 seaks to encourage, become easily contaminated when used to transport common household items. Tests conducted by a Miami news station found a reusable bag used to transport meat "covered with bacteria." A bag that had been used to transport produce contained "80 organisms of coliform." Coliform is a bacteria found in the feces of warm blooded animals, not exactly something you want your groceries wading in.

A 20-cent bag tax would raise the cost of living in what is already high cost city and do nothing to reduce waste production and litter. Seattle residents worked 203 days last year just to pay for the cost of their government and face the 15th highest per capita state and local tax burden in the nation. For this and all the other aforementioned reasons, ATR urges Seattle residents to vote "NO" on Referendum 1.

A poll recently conducted by the University fo Washington found that 55% of likely Seattle voters oppose Referendum 1, 41% are supportive, and 4% are undecided.

To join the coalition working to defeat Referendum 1, click here.

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Rendell Expected to Sign Stop-Gap Budget Today

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009, 11:10 AM PERMALINK

A stop-gap budget passed by the Pennsylvania House and Senate yesterday is expected to be signed by Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) sometime today. As the new fiscal year enters its second month, Pennsylvania lawmakers remain unable to reach a complete spending package that addresses the state's $3.25 billion deficit.

Rendell has remained insistent upon his calls for a $1.6 billion personal income tax increase. However, House Democratic leadership announced this week that Rendell's personal income tax increase is now off the table. That's a good thing seeing as the 16% income tax hike that Rendell wants would result in a loss nearly 24,000 jobs according to analysis by the Beacon Hill Institute.

Pennsylvania legislators must now go back to the drawing board. It's uncertain where things will go from here. Rendell insists that he still wants $1.6 billion in new revenue however he can get it. Senate Republicans, who hold a 30-20 majority in that chamber, remain steadfast against any tax increases.

Smart money is on Pennsylvania lawmakers spending a long, hot summer in Harrisburg.

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South Carolina Gubernatorial Candidates Sign Taxpayer Protection Pledge

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, July 31st, 2009, 6:53 PM PERMALINK

Two Republican candidates in the South Carolina gubernatorial race, Congressman J. Gresham Barrett (R-03) and Atty. Gen. Henry McMaster (R-SC), signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge this week. The Pledge commits signers to, “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

To date, 34 U.S. Senators and 172 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. Additionally, seven governors and over 1,100 state legislators have signed the Pledge.
“Americans, now more than ever, need leaders committed to fiscal responsibility and pro-growth economic policies,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Americans are desperately searching for candidates and politicians that will protect their livelihoods and put their wallets ahead of government coffers.”
“By signing the Pledge, Atty. Gen. McMaster and Congressman Barrett demonstrate their commitment to hardworking South Carolina taxpayers. I applaud them for their leadership and dedication to the ideals of limited government and pro-growth policies,” added Norquist. “I strongly encourage, and challenge, every candidate for state and federal office to sign the Pledge.”

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