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Paul Blair

Eric Hovde Refuses to Make Written Commitment to Oppose Tax Hikes


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, August 6th, 2012, 4:18 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform calls on U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde to tell Wisconsin voters what taxes he intends on raising. In his bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Hovde is the only Republican candidate to refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, leaving the door open to higher taxes on Wisconsin families and small businesses. 

In a 2009 interview with CNBC, Eric Hovde admitted that he had “no problem” getting charged higher taxes. Such rhetoric today is mainstream among D.C. Democrats but in 2009, Eric Hovde was further left than the narrative of even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  They did not begin their tax hike crusade until after they lost control of the House in 2010. 

It seems puzzling that in the interview where Hovde asserted that America was steadily descending into a Depression, he claimed that higher taxes were completely acceptable. Candidate Hovde has attempted to walk back his 2009 admission, but what remains clear is that he has refused to make the written commitment to Wisconsinites to oppose higher taxes if elected to the U.S. Senate.

“When you go on a nationally syndicated business network television show and tell the world that you are open to tax hikes, you better anticipate those statements following you,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “By refusing to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Eric Hovde is only confirming the accusations being made against him this election.”

“Without the written commitment to oppose higher taxes, it only seems logical that Hovde’s plans are to join with Democrats to implement dangerous tax reform that includes higher taxes on everyone. Wisconsin voters should be aware both of Hovde’s rhetoric on higher taxes and his refusal to commit to Wisconsin taxpayers that he won’t raise their taxes. This lack of commitment should scare both the business community and Average Joe taxpayer.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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Crist and Nelson: Two Tax Hiking Peas in a Pod


Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 4:00 PM PERMALINK


Former Governor Charlie Crist has formally announced his support for Democrat Senator Bill Nelson. For Florida voters who were tricked into supporting the so-called “Republican” Governor who promised not to raise taxes and then did just that, this should come as no surprise.

When Crist ran for Governor, he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to Florida voters, promising to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes. When he was confronted with the need to make a decision on tax hikes and spending cuts, however, Governor Crist broke his promise to Florida taxpayers and signed a budget that included $2.2 billion in new fees and taxes.

Fortunately, taxpayers held Crist responsible for breaking his Pledge and stabbing them in the back. When he rain for U.S. Senate in 2010, Florida voters said “no thanks” and picked Marco Rubio instead.

Bill Nelson is in a hotly contested race with Representative Connie Mack. Mack is a fiscal conservative who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a Congressman and unlike Crist, has kept his written promise to Florida taxpayers. In his bid for US Senate, Mack has again made the written commitment to oppose higher taxes as their next U.S. Senator.

Nelson, on the other hand has unsurprisingly rejected the notion of getting Washington’s spending problem under control. He, like Crist, has supported the President’s spending spree without taking action on more than 20 job creating bills that the Republican-led House has passed. 

Crist’s announced support for Nelson comes only days after Nelson voted for the President’s tax hike bill, S. 3412. According to a report published by the accounting firm, Ernst & Young, the higher tax rates that Nelson voted for will cause the U.S. economy to lose 710,000 jobs, wages will fall by 1.8 percent, living standards will decline, and unemployment will rise by .5 percent.

For Florida businesses and taxpayers, Sen. Nelson can be thanked for a projected loss of nearly 40,000 jobs and $10.1 billion less in economic output. Crist and Nelson have more in common than they would like you to believe.

[PDF of Press Release]

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With Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Taxpayers Are Real Winners in Thursday's House Primary


Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 3:48 PM PERMALINK


Incumbent Representative Chuck Fleischmann defended his Congressional seat last night after defeating two serious challengers. Winning by more than 6,000 votes, Fleischmann was the only Republican to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to oppose higher taxes. With his victory, Tennessee taxpayers will remain in safe hands.

Americans for Tax Reform highlighted dairy mogul Scottie Mayfield’s refusal to make a written promise to them to oppose higher taxes by issuing a stern warning about the risk of electing him, shortly before the primary. Quoted as saying he wanted to “leave his options open” for higher taxes, Tennessee voters did not respond well to the risk of handing a Congressional seat to Mayfield.

Scottie Mayfield wasn’t the only candidate to leave tax hikes on the table. Weston Wamp, former Rep. Zach Wamp’s son, also refused to make the same written promise that his father did to Tennessee Taxpayers by signing the Pledge. In fact, he called himself a member of the “debt paying generation” and called for a rewritten tax code where “everyone pays a fair share.” The fact that he had the same central theme of President Obama’s tax policy may have played a role in his third place finish.

Americans for Tax Reform was heavily involved in highlighting the fact that Mayfield and Wamp refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. In the days leading up to the primary, ATR made tens of thousands of voter contact and sent multiple emails to Tennessee voters. Last night’s results demonstrate that voters took notice of who makes promises and what it takes to get serious about cutting government spending: signing the Taxpayer protection Pledge.

“I want to congratulate Chuck Fleischmann on winning last night’s Republican primary in Tennessee,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Republican primary voters clearly took their displeasure with Washington’s tax and spend agenda to the ballot box and rewarded the candidate who took the Pledge to stand with them against Washington’s tax and spend agenda,” contined Norquist.

[PDF of Press Release]

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Scottie Mayfield Should Scare All Taxpayers


Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 2:31 PM PERMALINK


In his bid to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, Scottie Mayfield has refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. When asked about why he would not be joining other Republicans in signing the Pledge, Mayfield confessed that he intends on raising taxes as part of his vague plan to rewrite the tax code.

The most recent admission should come to no surprise to those who have been closely listening to Mayfield’s statements on taxes and the Pledge. In May, Scottie Mayfield explained that he wants “to be in a position to vote the way that you want me to vote, and I think pledges get in [the] way.”

By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Mayfield would be making a written commitment to Tennessee taxpayers to oppose higher taxes. If Mayfield believes in keeping promises, the Pledge would certainly “get in the way” of permitting him to raise taxes. He is correct about that. 

The plot thickened recently as Mayfield told Tennessee This Week’s Gene Patterson that “there’s probably some people that might need to pay more taxes. They may be very wealthy, they may be very poor…I think I need to leave my options open.”

On January 1, 2013, America faces the largest tax increases in US history. The cost of Taxmageddon on Tennessee taxpayers is estimated at over $8 billion in higher taxes. The average taxpayer in Tennessee’s 3rd district will have to fork over an additional $2,513 every April to Uncle Sam. Although Mayfield would not take office until after January 1, the risk of giving him a seat at the negotiating table should leave Tennessee taxpayers scared.

“Given the fact that Scottie Mayfield now admits his vague plan for tax reform includes higher taxes on both the ‘poor’ and ‘wealthy,’ anyone concerned about the weight of their pocketbooks should reconsider support for Mayfield,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “With current tax rates set to automatically rise at the end of the year, candidates who express an openness to higher taxes, like Mayfield, demonstrate that they are unwilling to get serious about Washington’s real problem: rampant government overspending,” continued Norquist.

[PDF of Press Release]

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Weston Wamp to Tennessee Taxpayers: Pay Your Fair Share!


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, July 30th, 2012, 12:31 PM PERMALINK


In his bid to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, Weston Wamp has refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Unlike Fleischmann, a Pledge signer, Wamp is leaving the door open to higher taxes on Tennessee taxpayers and small businesses.

This puts him at odds with mainstream Republicans. By signing the Pledge, 98 percent of all House Republicans have made the written commitment to oppose higher taxes. Every member of the Republican leadership and GOP Presidential presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has also signed the Pledge. Even Weston’s father, former Congressman Zach Wamp signed the Pledge.

Weston Wamp calls himself a member of the “debt paying generation” and wants the tax code to be rewritten so that “everyone pays a fair share.” No word yet on President Obama’s response to the fact that a Republican candidate in Tennessee is using the central theme of his tax policy.

What Barack Obama and Weston Wamp have incorrectly identified as the problem with Washington is the need to have hardworking taxpayers and small businesses fork over more of their hard earned money. By leaving tax hikes on the table, Weston Wamp feeds into the Democratic narrative that budget deals and “compromises” should in fact include higher taxes.

The worst part about the fact that Wamp has left tax hikes on the table by refusing to sign the Pledge to Tennessee taxpayers is that on January 1, 2013, America faces the largest tax increases in US history.

The cost of Taxmageddon on Tennessee taxpayers is estimated at over $8 billion in higher taxes. The average taxpayer in Tennessee’s 3rd district will have to fork over an additional $2,513 every April to Uncle Sam. Although Wamp would not take office until after January 1, the risk of giving him a seat at the negotiating table should leave Tennessee taxpayers scared.

[PDF of Press Release]

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Claire McCaskill to Missouri Farmers: You Didn't Build That


Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, July 26th, 2012, 1:45 PM PERMALINK


Yesterday, Senate Democrats dropped President Obama’s proposal to raise the death tax in favor of their own. Their plan included stripping all death tax provisions out of S. 3412. By purposefully dropping the death tax provision, at the end of the year the tax is set to revert to pre-2001 tax cut levels, a rate that is higher than the President’s initial proposal.

With her AYE vote on S. 3412, Senator McCaskill voted to subject Missouri small businesses, farms, and ranches to millions of dollars in additional taxes on earned assets.

In 2006, McCaskill said that she supported “extending the current exemption so that we don’t hurt family farmers.” ("Estate Tax Issue Draws Local Input," Columbia Daily Tribune, 6/7/06)

Hardest hit by the death tax are Missouri ranchers and farmers. They deserve answers about why McCaskill stood opposed to higher taxes that hurt them and now supports giving more than half of their acquired assets to the government in the unfortunate event that they die. Perhaps she stands with the President in thinking that if you’ve got a farm “you didn’t build that.”

“There is only one explanation for Senator McCaskill’s evolved position on a death tax hike for Missouri farmers and ranchers,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “She must agree with President Obama in that if you own a farm, ‘you didn’t build that.’ There is no other justification for taking over half of one’s assets in the unfortunate event of death. The death tax kills family farms.” continued Norquist.

“Missouri farmers are no more prepared to get ‘hurt’ today than they were in 2006, when the economy was doing much better. Senator McCaskill’s priorities should now be very clear to Missouri voters: higher taxes to pay for the government’s overspending problem” continued Norquist.

[PDF of Press Release]

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DCCC Beats Dead Horse With Lies About Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 1:54 PM PERMALINK


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently issued an attack against Republican Mark Meadows in his bid to fill the seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Heath Shuler. Lying about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge isn’t a new tactic for the DCCC, nor is ignoring the fact that independent organizations have called them out on their fallacious claims.

The DCCC suggests that as a Pledge signer, Mark Meadows has promised to protect companies who “ship jobs overseas.” Unfortunately, when the same claim was levied against Pledge signers in 2010, the Associated Press labeled the attack as “one of the wildest claims of the 2010 campaign.” Adding insult to the DCCC injury, the non-partisan FactCheck.org rated the attacks against the Pledge as “blatantly false.”

As FactCheck.org has noted: [The Pledge] leaves ample room for the elimination of any number of special tax breaks so long as the overall level of taxation is not increased. To claim that this “protects” a particular provision is simply untrue. The overall goal of Pledge signers is to reduce the size of the government by focusing on spending alone.

Hayden Rogers should denounce this proven false claim so that both he and Meadows can focus on what North Carolina voters care most about: unsustainable government spending and Taxmageddon. Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen given Rogers’ pride in being one of the DCCC’s “top priorities” in this November’s election.

“I applaud Mark Meadows for taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Taxpayers in North Carolina have clearly shown their displeasure with tax-and-spend policies coming out of Washington, policies that the DCCC champions,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The most recent false claims by this group further demonstrates the difficult time national Democrats are going to have defending the Democrat ‘plan’ for economic recovery: Taxmageddon and more government spending,” continued Norquist.

[PDF of Press Release]

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Reminder: President George H. W. Bush Regretted Raising Taxes


Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, July 13th, 2012, 1:58 PM PERMALINK


In 1990, President George H. W. Bush was promised two dollars in spending cuts for every one dollar in tax hikes. He fell for the bait and violated his Pledge to not raise taxes. After a $137 billion tax hike, spending actually rose by $22 billion.

As a reminder, he regretted breaking his Pledge to oppose higher taxes after he realized he got tricked into letting it happen.

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Obama Does "Fair Share" of Whining about Truth on Obamacare Tax Hikes


Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 4:57 PM PERMALINK


Over the last couple of months, Americans for Tax Reform has highlighted the 20 new or higher taxes on American families and employers created by Obamacare. The significance of these tax increases is that they are a direct violation of candidate Obama’s promise not to raise “any form” of taxes on these families.

In an attempt to justify this widely unpopular piece of legislation, the Obama campaign released their own sort of “Fact Check.” The response, however, missed the mark by ignoring hard numbers and common sense. They chose 5 of the 20 overall new or higher taxes to defend.

  1. The Medical Device Manufacturing Tax. This is a $20 billion tax increase that Obamacare imposes on medical devices like pacemakers, wheelchairs, joint replacements, and other costly medical devices. The Obama campaign attempted to justify this tax by saying, “the law simply asks the industries that will gain more business from the expansion of coverage to pay their fair share.” They did not deny that it was a tax increase. Instead reverted to the age old rhetorical nonsense of saying that if you are a business and make money, you should give it to the government.

Even liberal Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren thinks the medical device tax is a bad idea. She wrote an op-ed in opposition of the tax, saying:

“When Congress taxes the sale of a specific product through an excise tax, as the Affordable Care Act does with medical devices, it too often disproportionately impacts the small companies with the narrowest financial margins and the broadest innovative potential. It also pushes companies of all sizes to cut back on research and development for life-saving product.”

What Warren understands in this particular circumstance and President Obama does not is that when you make it more expensive to produce a product, you hurt businesses.

On the 2.3% excise tax, the trade association for medical device makers such as Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic says:

“Many companies will owe more in taxes than they generate from their operations. The result will be devastating to innovation, patient care and job creation.”

Becton, Dickinson & Co. is another company that produces medical devices for hospitals. In an interview with a local paper, Chairman, CEO, and president of the company, Vince Forlenza had this to say of the tax:

It’s a “huge tax increase” for the company, equaling about $50 million per year in the United States. He noted that “it’d be very difficult in this environment for hospitals…to pass that on.”

Asking small businesses who produce life-saving devices to pay their “fair share” is an attack against the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that motivates businesses to develop technologies that do in fact prolong and save lives.

  1. The High Medical Bills Tax. Current law permits Americans to deduct medical expenses if the costs are more than 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. Obamacare increases this threshold to 10%, resulting in a $15.2 billion tax increase.

The Obama campaign did not deny that this was a tax increase. Instead they said essentially responded by saying that because everyone will have healthcare, getting sick won’t make you bankrupt, thus the threshold was increased. If you thought that following the logic on that was difficult, you’re not alone. Thanks to Obamacare, you now have to spend more money in a given year on healthcare to deduct those healthcare costs from your taxes.

  1. The Flexible Spending Account Capaka Special needs Kids Tax. Prior to Obamacare, families were permitted to set aside an unlimited portion of their earnings to pay for certain medical and health care expenses. Under Obamacare, a cap of $2500 is imposed on everyone. This new cap hits the parents of children with special needs, who can use this money for special education, the hardest.

The Obama campaign says that “the change has no impact on the vast majority of families.” The President is correct: Many families do not have special needs children. For those who do, however, punishing them by limiting how much money that are permitted to set aside and spend through flexible spending accounts is neither “fair” nor just. It burdens them with higher personal costs. The CBO estimates this new cap will cost $13.2 billion over the next ten years.

  1. The Surtax on Investment Income. This is the largest tax increase in Obamacare. Amounting to $123 billion over the next ten years, Obamacare creates a new 3.8% surtax on investment income earned in households making more than $250,000 ($200,000 for single people). The following top tax rates on investment income will rise next year:
    1. Capital Gains – The current 15% tax rate will increase to 23.8%.
    2. Dividends – The current 15% dividends tax rate will nearly triple to 43.4%

The Obama campaign does not deny that this is a tax increase. Instead, they double down by saying that “wealthy Americans who make a majority of their income from investments shouldn’t be exempt from paying their fair share.” 

According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of IRS data, 70% of households over age 55 receive dividend income. 71% of all dividends paid flow to these households. This tax increase disproportionally falls hard on seniors.

  1. Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Increase. This .9% tax increase on income made over $200,000 amounts to $86 billion in higher taxes. The Obama campaign doesn’t even try to defend this as anything but a tax increase. Instead, they say that they’re just asking Americans to “do their fair share” by giving the government more of their hard earned money.

What remains clear about Obamacare is that the law’s tax hikes hit everyone with hundreds of billions of dollars in new or higher taxes. From seniors to small businesses, there is no escaping the higher costs imposed on everyone thanks to Obamacare.

[PDF of Press Release]

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Wisconsin Columnist Upset that Voters Demand Spending Restraint and Not Tax Hikes


Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 3:44 PM PERMALINK


In a recent column in the Post Crescent about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Mike Muoio seems dissatisfied with the effectiveness that the Pledge has with preventing tax hikes. His misplaced anger is emblematic of tax-and-spenders in Washington who are more and more upset that voters demand reasonable tax reform that excludes tax hikes. He even goes so far to state that Pledge signers like Senator Ron Johnson violate the U.S. Constitution. Muoio’s claims are baseless and untrue.

The Pledge is not to Grover Norquist or Americans for Tax Reform. Muoio, having included the text of the Pledge in his post, should have taken a moment to read it. The Pledge is a written commitment to the constituents in every state and Congressional district to oppose higher taxes. If Muoio has an issue with the effectiveness of the anti-tax message, perhaps his concerns should be directed at the American taxpayer. That is where the power of the Pledge rests: taxpayers who demand that politicians get serious about spending reform by taking tax hikes off the table. 

When Senator Johnson signed the Pledge, he put his commitment to stand with taxpayers in writing to Wisconsin citizens. This is the same commitment that Governor Walker made as well. Both were rewarded by voters for their understanding that higher taxes are a non-starter in any budget discussions.

The greatest domestic enemy of American taxpayers is a Congress that refuses to get serious about reining in Washington’s addiction to overspending. To suggest that by making a promise to United States taxpayers to oppose higher taxes is in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is to suggest that the ability to tax is the same as the responsibility to tax more. Such a suggestion should certainly offend any college professor who has ever taught a lesson on logical fallacies and anyone with an elementary understanding of the Constitution itself. Voters certainly seem to disagree.

Muoio goes on to suggest by signing the Pledge to taxpayers, Congressional signers may be unable to meet the fundamental requirements of the federal government. There are two reasons that this fails to meet the smell test for reasonableness.

First and foremost, American taxpayers expect Congress to spend within their means. Spending one trillion dollars more annually than the federal government takes in is both unsustainable and asinine. This is exactly what we’ve done since President Obama took office. American families and most U.S. states are required to balance their budgets. There is no reason that Congress cannot take a hint from those whom they were elected to serve.

Second, Muoio seems to suggest that in order to provide for the general welfare, Congress has to be open to higher taxes. He suggests that Pledge signers put at risk Congress’s ability to pay for national security needs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, etc. Unfortunately Muoio is unaware that Congress is unable to pay the bills for all of the general welfare programs it has created.

American taxpayers do not expect Congress to continue to pay for things it cannot afford. American taxpayers expect Congress to reform the tax code to be simpler and fairer. American taxpayers expect Congress to work on bringing down the cost of programs that are unsustainable through reforms that are fiscally responsible. That is what Pledge signers understand and what the American taxpayer demands.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not simply a political position; it is a concrete and written commitment to a candidate’s constituents to get serious about Washington’s true problem: overspending. Only by taking tax hikes off the table are any sort of genuine spending reforms possible.

The generic talking points about what the writer of this column demand include: rational tax policy, and sustainable expense reduction and fiscal policy. Americans for Tax Reform and Pledge signers agree. That’s exactly why they promise their constituents to take tax hikes off the table.

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