Paul Blair

New Braves, Falcons Stadiums Hand Local Taxpayers Major League Loss

Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, November 15th, 2013, 12:20 PM PERMALINK

Blumenfeld, now the Director of Advance for "How Money Walks" at Pelopidas, LLC, examines the cost to taxpayers for two new sports stadiums in the Atlanta area

Recently, the Atlanta Braves announced that they will not be renewing their lease with Turner Field, the home of major league baseball in Georgia for the past 17 years. Instead, the team will build a new stadium north of Atlanta in Cobb County.  While a new Braves stadium will provide needed upgrades from a facility and neighborhood attractiveness standpoint, there is one alarming factor being overlooked in talks over the estimated $672 million project. The Braves want $450 million in public funds from Cobb County – roughly 67 percent of the total cost – in order to build this grandiose baseball cathedral.

(Turner Field, Atlanta)

While it’s true that using public funds to finance extravagant stadium renovation and construction projects is the most popular trend among team owners, what is particularly interesting in this case is that the Atlanta Falcons are also requesting $300 million of hotel tax revenue from the city of Atlanta to fund their $1.2 billion dollar football stadium. Opening day for each stadium is tentatively set for the start of the 2017 season, yet taxpayers should refrain from celebrating that day, given the immense tab they are on the hook to pay.

Despite Georgia being announced as the number one place for business by Site Selectionmagazine, the men and women who live, work, and pay taxes in Cobb County and Atlanta were not consulted even once during the discussions to use public funds. In fact, no public vote was ever held. The officials overseeing these projects claim that the surrounding neighborhoods will see a boom in economic activity and revenue generated, but that is all reliant on attendance and tourism: volatile and inconsistent figures.

If the Falcons and Braves were really interested in keeping the fans who support these teams in mind, the proposals would incorporate a plan for the reimbursement of public funds used through ticket and concession sales over a designated period of time. Instead, the local governments are going to give money to privately owned and operated stadiums with teams that continue to profit, despite repeated promises to reduce government spending.  Rather than hitting a home run with the addition of the new Braves stadium, taxpayers will be on the receiving end of an economic tackle for significant loss.

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ATR Releases 2013 List of State Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers in New Jersey

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, November 4th, 2013, 5:04 PM PERMALINK

With the New Jersey general election taking place Tuesday, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for state legislative and statewide office who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. These candidates have made a written commitment to their constituents to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

ATR strongly encourages taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment when they vote on Tuesday, November 5. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot Tuesday is as follows:


Diane Bindler (A-12)

Patrick McKnight (A-16)

Dierdre G. Paul (A-37)

Michael Urciuoli (A-34)


Diane Allen (S-7)

Anthony Bucco (S-25)

Gerald Cardinale (S-39)

Michael Doherty (S-23)

Tom Kean, Jr. (S-21)

Samuel D. Thompson (S-12)

Shirley Turner (S-15)

Joe Pennachio (S-26)

John Amodeo (A-2)

Mary Pat Angelini (A-11)

Anthony Bucco (A-25)

Jon Bramnick (A-21)

Michael Patrick Carroll (A-25)

Caroline Casagrande (A-11)

John DiMaio (A-23)

Louis Greenwald (A-6)

Amy Handlin (A-13)

Sean Kean (A-30)

Eric Munoz (A-21)

Declan O’Scanlon (A-13)

David Rible (A-30)

Scott Rudder (A-8)

Jay Webber (A-26)**

[PDF of Press Release]

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ATR Releases 2013 List of State Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers in Virginia

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, November 4th, 2013, 4:33 PM PERMALINK

With the Virginia general election taking place Tuesday, Americans for Tax Reform has released an updated list of incumbents and challengers for state legislative and statewide office that have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. These candidates have made a written commitment to their constituents to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

ATR strongly encourages taxpayers to consider those who have made this commitment when they vote on Tuesday, November 5. The list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be on the ballot Tuesday is as follows:


EW Jackson (Lt. Gov)                                              

Mark Obenshain (Attorney General)

Dave LaRock (H-44)

John Bloom (H-95)

House Incumbents:

Dave Albo (H-42)

Robert Bell (H-58)

Kathy Byron (H-22)

Ben Cline (H-24)

Mark Cole (H-88)

Barbara Comstock (H-34)

Kirk Cox (H-66)

C. Todd Gilbert (H-15)

Greg Habeeb (H-8)

Tim Hugo (H-40)

Steve Landes (H-25)

Scott Lingamfelter (H-31)

Robert G. Marshall (H-13)

Randy Minchew (H-10)

Israel O’Quinn (H-5)

Chris Peace (H-97)

David Ramadan (H-87)

R. Lee Ware, Jr. (H-65)

Michael J. Webert (H-18)

Tony Wilt (H-26)

Tommy Wright (H-61)

[PDF of Press Release]

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Proposes Highest Cigarette Tax in Nation

Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013, 8:45 AM PERMALINK

In an effort to close Chicago’s projected $339 budget shortfall next year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed increasing the city’s cigarette tax by 75 cents per pack. This would make Chicago the most expensive place in the nation to purchase cigarettes, where the total tax per pack will rise to $7.42.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at Annual Summit

While the Emanuel administration claims that the tax hike would generate roughly $10 million for vision care for low-income students in public schools, countless examples demonstrate that raising taxes on tobacco does not necessarily generate more revenue.

In 2006, Chicago collected $32.9 million in cigarette taxes. After two consecutive tax hikes, revenue fell to $16.5 million this year. Carrie Austin, chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee acknowledged this reality, stating, “we’ve run sales away.”

In May of 2012 when Illinois raised the cigarette tax by $1-per-pack, nearly doubling the state’s tax rate to $1.98 per pack, the tax delivered $138 million less than expected. What’s more, local small businesses lost tens of thousands of dollars as a direct result as consumers purchasing tobacco across state lines.

To avoid higher cigarette taxes, consumers constantly demonstrate that they are willing to purchase the products in less expensive markets. This is especially true for Illinois’s highest tobacco tax rival New York. Nearly 21 percent of cigarettes are smuggled into the state as a direct consequence of their absurdly high tobacco taxes. If Chicago’s goal is to compete with New York’s black market for cigarette smuggling, this is a step in a right direction. If however, Chicago politicians are concerned about the resulting theft, violence, and lost revenue, it’s a complete step in the wrong direction.

Tobacco taxes are an extremely volatile revenue source that prompt future tax hikes. Proponents of cigarette taxes neglect economic realities. To argue that a cigarette tax will increase revenues while decreasing the number of people buying cigarettes is absurd. When prices increase, consumption declines, taking revenue with it.

Mayor Emanuel’s proposed tax hike will do little to solve Chicago’s budget woes. It will hurt Chicago small businesses and when tobacco sales fall, resulting in less revenue for the city, Chicago politicians will again be debating what to do about the city’s empty coffers.

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Acid-Trip Obamacare Ad Costs Taxpayers $3.2 Million

Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, September 17th, 2013, 1:11 PM PERMALINK

Taxpayers are on the hook for $3.2 million for acid-trip TV ads promoting Obamacare in Oregon. Devoid of information about the state exchange, Oregon’s newest Obamacare ad features absolutely no information about the health care law and what enrolling in the state exchange means. Cover Oregon, the state Obamacare agency, began airing this ad last week thanks to a taxpayer funded $9.9 million contract awarded to a Portland public relations firm.

Here are the lyrics:

“We fly with our own wings. Care about the same things. We stand strong together. So let me hear you say. We fly with our own wings. Dreamin’ all the big dreams. Long live Oregonians; we’re free to be healthy. Long live Oregonians; we’re free to be healthy."

“Free” has quite the interpretive meaning in the context of a bill projected to cost more than $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years.

With 20 new or higher taxes and a slew of big government mandates, Obamacare was destined to fail from the get go. This ad exemplifies why more people trust Republicans on health care than Democrats – a first in over 20 years. It also possibly explains why 46% of the uninsured have negative opinions about President Obama’s health care law.

Obamacare is more unpopular today than it has been at any point since its passage in 2010. That may explain why Cover Oregon’s objective is to get a song stuck in the heads of young hipsters instead of outlining the true consequences of the job-killing and disastrous legislation.

This ad is the second ad aired by Cover Oregon in an effort to convince people to enroll in the state exchange. The first similarly contained no information and simply directed people to a website.

(h/t to

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City of Duluth Considers Nonsensical Regulations on e-Cigarettes

Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 5:13 PM PERMALINK

The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota will take up a new set of regulations for e-cigarettes at an upcoming meeting that unfairly lumps these products in with traditional tobacco. By banning the use of tobacco-free e-cigarettes in the same locations as cigarettes, the City Council is using unnecessary force on a product that poses no threat to the public.

The emerging popularity of tobacco free products should be encouraging to Council members, not concerning. Studies have shown that electronic cigarettes stand to improve health and prevent disease. By using e-cigs instead of smoking cigarettes, consumers can obtain a nicotine fix without the combustion and smoke — responsible for much of the negative health effects of tobacco cigarettes. For smokers already addicted to nicotine, e-cigs provide an alternative delivery mechanism that does not come with the proven harm that results from smoking.

An unintended consequence of this proposed ban could be to keep Duluth citizens smoking tobacco cigarettes, a product that kills hundreds of thousands of people annually. E-cigs help people end their dependence on traditional cigarettes, which is extremely beneficial from a policy perspective.  

What about second-hand effects? A study released this month by Drexel University concluded that the chemicals in e-cigs are not harmful to users or those in their proximity. That’s probably because you’re producing water vapor.

As ATR’s Patrick Gleason recently pointed out in Reuters:

This new attack on e-cigs demonstrates that for many politicians, it really was always about bossing people around.

 Members of the Duluth City Council would be wise to sack the proposed ban on e-cigs and focus on other, more pressing issues.

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Top 5 Most Ludicrous Taxpayer-Funded Obamacare Promotions

Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, July 11th, 2013, 5:34 PM PERMALINK

Here are the top five most ludicrous taxpayer-funded Obamacare promotions:  

1. Coffee Cup Sleeves. Oregon may begin printing Obamacare notices on coffee cup sleeves so everyone is aware of the great “opportunity” for higher premiums. Lisa Morawski, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange said, “That’s what we’re thinking right now for getting to those hard-to-reach populations.”

Yes, the hard to reach hipster populations who might fear enrolling if it becomes too mainstream.

2. “Modern Family” Plot Revisions. California has signed a $900,000 contract with a public relations firm to market the state Obamacare exchange. One proposal is to write about the exchange in plotlines for primetime shows.

3. Airplane Banner Ads across Beaches. Federal dollars provided through exchange grants in Connecticut will pay for beach flyovers advertising Obamacare...

4. …and Customized Sunscreen That Says “Get Covered.” Access Health CT, the official state health insurance exchange will even be at Sailfest, a southeastern Connecticut event that attracts more than 300,000 people annually, to promote their exchange.

5. Porta-Potty Ads. Washington’s health exchange is promoting itself to young people in the music-loving state with outreach at concerts and music festivals. Michael Marchland, who does communications for the exchange said, “We’ve talked about everything we could use, even whether we could do some branding on porta-poties.”

A fitting place for those of us with an appreciation of strong metaphors.

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7 Things to Know for Monday

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, July 8th, 2013, 1:42 AM PERMALINK

1. The Congressional docket is packed full

Unresolved legislative issues ranging from student loans (which doubled last week) the farm bill (which recently failed) and immigration reform (which is still in the early stages of being put on paper in the House) are all on the table.

2. Elliot Spitzer is running for office again

Seriously. Client Number 9, New York’s former Governor will be seeking the position of NYC comptroller. It’s so real he Tweeted it. As if that wasn’t enough Kristin Davis, the woman who provided him with call girls, is running for the spot as well. This probably doesn't help Anthony Weiner's bid for mayor. Something's clearly in the drinking water.

Remember this? 

3. North Carolina legislature extends session to deal with tax reform

After the state house passed the largest tax cut in state history, several sticking points must be addressed before a compromise with the senate can be finalized. The fiscal year began on July 1 and the legislature needs to reach a deal by the end of this month. North Carolina taxpayers will emerge as winners once that’s done.

4. Republican Bob McDonnell Remains Virginia’s Governor

A blog post on Virginia’s most popular political blog sent social media afire when a contributor at Bearing Drift claimed that Governor McDonnell was “in the middle of finalizing a plea agreement which includes his resignation as governor.” Spokesmen for the Governor immediately denied the claim as did UVA’s Larry Sabato. All that is clear at this point is that McDonnell’s tax hikes took effect on July 1st.

5. “No one is talking about Biden”

...said one source involved in Democratic fundraising. Regarding 2016, if Joe Biden’s going to make moves, Politico notes he’s got to start raising money now. Funny enough, they point out that he’s never been too good at it.

6. Unemployment Stuck at 7.6%

In case you were enjoying the July 4th weekend, you might have missed Friday’s jobs report. 195,000 new jobs and no net change in unemployment. If labor force participation were back to pre-recession levels, unemployment would be at 11.1%. On the plus side, 5,000 government employees lost their jobs.

7. Liz Cheney Eyeing 2014 US Senate Run Against Incumbent Republican

Former Vice President and Wyoming native Dick Cheney’s daughter, Liz, reportedly called Senator Enzi (R-WY) to tell him “she’s looking at” running against him next year. That would open up a contentious primary battle between the 46 year old and Enzi. Liz has recently stepped up her political and public appearances around the state, signaling she may actually be considering it.

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Top 10 Reasons Obama's Approval Ratings Are at Record Low

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, July 1st, 2013, 1:57 PM PERMALINK

According to a new poll, President Obama’s approval ratings hit an all-time low at the end of June. The Presidential Leadership Index fell to 43.2 from 48.9 just one month ago, the lowest since Obama took office. It’s no surprise giving all of the scandals in Washington.

Here are the top ten reasons Obama’s approval is plummeting:

  1. Obamacare Tax Hikes: The 20 new or higher taxes on American families and small businesses result in one of the largest tax increases in American history. Six of those taxes took effect this year including the Medicare payroll tax hike, medical device tax, and flexible spending account (FSA) cap. Three more kick in next year including the highly unpopular individual mandate and employer mandate.

  1. Obamacare Resulting in Higher Premiums: There’s are plenty of reasons why 52% disapprove of Obamacare today – 8 points higher than when Republicans blew Democrats out of the water, and House.

Candidate Obama: “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.”

Example of Reality: “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.” –Forbes

  1. IRS Scandals: Every day more details emerge about absurdities associated with the embattled IRS. First, news that they targeted (see: harassed) conservative non-profits. Next, we learned that they’ve cried wolf quite a bit about lacking funds necessary to operate (see: raid your wallets). Click here for our Top 10 Reasons Your IRS Agent Deserves a Bonus, relating to their plan to pay union employees $70 million in bonuses. Click here to check out a review of the IRS employee credit card program that paid for things like nerf footballs, Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands, and kazoos. Seriously.


  1. Public Knowledge of NSA Overreach: People might not be so comfortable with the fact that, “They quite literally can watch your ideas as you type”  

  1. Unemployment in May Rose to 7.6%: Only in fantasy land does running up a $16 trillion debt, demanding trillions in higher taxes spending, and threatening vetoes on every Republican jobs bill put us on a course to recovery.

  1. No Discernible Plan for Recovery: Still Waiting

Feel free to comment on this post with a link to a plan if you’ve run into one! We’re extremely interested.

  1. Leading From Behind on Energy: Obama’s energy plan speech last Tuesday was underwhelming, expected, and unfortunate. His plan directs the EPA to step up their War on Coal. Despite the fact that coal supplies roughly 40% of American electricity, reality doesn’t seem to hinder the Left. As opposed to increasing energy exploration and production domestically, the President prefers we rely on imported energy to appease domestic environmentalists who have no regard for job loss or the effect on energy rates. It has taken many needless months just to get the President to consider permitting the construction of Keystone Pipeline, which will create 20,000 immediate jobs and 118,000 indirect ones, and billions of dollars in economic activity.

Dana Summers – tribune Media Services

  1. Student Loan Rates Just Doubled: Today, interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled, thanks to Democrat obstructionism. With youth unemployment at 16.2%, and unpaid student loans topping $1 trillion, it’s unfortunate Democrats preferred to play politics than provide a solution to this pressing problem. House Republican passed the “Smarter Solutions for Student Act” which would set the rate at a market-based price and even includes a rate cap.

  1. Gave Small Business Employees the 27 Hour Workweek:  Obamcare requires that employers offer health insurance to part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week. More than two million workers across the US now face cuts in their hours, as companies look for ways to stay in business. Long Beach, California, for example, is cutting hours of up to 1,600 part-time workers to less than 27 hours per week to prevent $2 million in Obamacare compliance costs. These employees have the President to thank for less hours and a smaller paycheck.


  1. Obama Broke His Firm Tax Pledge: Though he made a “firm” pledge that no one under making $250,000 would see any form of tax hike, he abandoned that promise very quickly.

Obama: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.[Video]

During a White House press briefing on April 15, 2009, spokesman Robert Gibbs was even asked if Obama’s tax pledge applied “to the health care bill.” Gibbs replied:

Gibbs: “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”

Ranging from a 156% increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco (16 days into his Administration) to Obamacare itself, denying that the President has raised taxes on people making less than $250,000 per year is a farce.

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Top 10 Reasons Your IRS Agent Deserves a Bonus (with GIFs)

Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, June 20th, 2013, 3:08 PM PERMALINK

First established to levy funds from farmers in 1862, today’s IRS employs nearly 100,000 people, many of whom are represented by the National Treasury Employees Union. Thanks to a collective-bargaining agreement, the nice folks at the NTEU claim good work should be rewarded.

We agree! Here are the top ten reasons your IRS agent deserves a bonus:

10. They Pray A Lot. Why else would they ask an Iowa pro-life group about the content of their prayers?

"Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3)," reads the letter. 


9. They Are Well-Read. They must be, given their inquiries to Tea Party groups about the names and summaries of books read at local book clubs. A kind conservative was generous enough to mail the agency a copy of the Constitution.

8. They’re Very Interested in Where Money Not Sent to Them Winds Up. Despite legal precedent protecting the identity of donors who contribute to non-profits, IRS agents requesting that information were probably just curious.

7. They’re Generous. At a $4.1 million 2010 Anaheim, CA conference, 38 local employees joined the fun by racking up a $30,000 hotel tab instead of attending the conference from home. The Deputy Commissioner even got to stay in a two-bedroom Presidential Suite at the Hilton, which goes for $3,500 per night. The maid service was totally worth it.

6. They’re Artsy. According to the official Inspector General report, at that same conference, the IRS spent $27,500 for an artist to paint portraits. Agency bonuses will help establish the “Collection of Funny Looking Auditors” at your local library.


5. They’re Intrigued by Etymology. "Please explain in detail the derivation of your organization's name” read a letter to the Ohio-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.


4. They Do Background Checks. Another read, Submit the following information relating to your past and present directors, officers, and key employees: a) Provide a resume for each.”

3. They’re Dedicated to Serving You Even When They’re Stuck On an Island.  Awaiting the “SS Continuing the Voyage for Quality in Field Assistance” the “Skipper” opines, “Remember what’s important. Enhancing the taxpayer experience, improving quality, and educating the taxpaying public.”

Adding insult to injury but without commentary, the Skipper goes on: “Remember in 2008 when we had the Economic Stimulus Program?” Yes, we remember.

2. They Can Dance.

One exhausted Cupid Shuffler proclaims, “They don’t pay me enough to do this.” Good thing those bonuses are on the way!

1. They’re Trekkies. In a Star Trek-like training video set one hundred years in the future on the planet “Notax”, the stated quest is a “never-ending mission … to seek out new tax forms, to explore strange new regulations, to boldly go where no government employee has gone before.” The citizens on the foreign planet are “Notax-ians”!

One crewman says, “Back in Russia I dreamed one day I’d be rich and famous.” His fellow mate responds, “Me too, that’s why I became a public servant.”

Obviously these guys need bonuses.

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