Paul Blair

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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In SC-07, Voters Should Know They Have Choices


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, June 25th, 2012, 5:05 PM PERMALINK


In SC-07, Voters Should Know They Have Choices

In this Tuesday’s runoff in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, voters have a clear choice. One option is Tom Rice, a moderate, tax hiking “Republican” who has a history of publically supporting job-killing tax increases. He presently refuses to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise to South Carolina taxpayers to never vote to increase their taxes.  Compare this to Andre Bauer, a conservative Republican who has a solid record of opposing tax increases. Not only has Bauer fought them as a State Senator, but he also used procedural rules to block them while presiding over the Senate as Lieutenant Governor.  By signing Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Bauer has made a promise to voters to never support tax increases.

When diving further into the facts ahead of Tuesday’s runoff in the Republican primary, the quite stark contrast for voters in the 7th Congressional District is clear. As a member of the Horry County Council, Tom Rice has an abysmal record of voting against the taxpayers interests. In his first budget as Chairman of the Horry County Council, Tom Rice voted in favor of legislation that increased property taxes on his constituents by .3 million dollars. And to add insult to injury, Rice has said in the past that he supports a federal gas tax hike of a dollar a gallon, which would burden the hard working families of the 7th district with even higher costs of living. Rice has even described himself as “more moderate” and says he is not ashamed of that characterization. Taking him for his word, it can only be expected that Rice would act as a moderate “Republican” in Washington, being among those who are willing to put tax hikes on the table in the foolish belief that spending cuts will materialize with them.

What the voters of the 7th district of South Carolina need is a Representative who will stand up for their interests in Washington and not sell them out as soon as the first talk of “compromise” (read: tax hikes) comes up. Given his past record and statements it is evident that Rice will not stand with the hard working South Carolinians of his district, but instead with special spending interests in Washington who consistently promote tax increases and burdensome regulations in the name of compromise. When heading to the polls tomorrow, voters should remember that they have a clear choice in this race:  a candidate who understands that Washington has a spending, and not a revenue problem (Bauer), and another who would burden future generations with more taxation and debt (Rice). 

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Contrary to Recent Claims, Rick Berg's Pledge is to Taxpayers


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, June 25th, 2012, 4:43 PM PERMALINK


When a candidate for elective office signs the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, they are making a concrete promise to their constituents and the American people that they will oppose higher taxes. Contrary to a claim made in the Fargo Forum, that is exactly what Rick Berg did when he signed the Pledge earlier this year. He made a commitment to taxpayers of North Dakota to stand with them against tax hikes and special spending interests in Washington.

Pledge signers are not pledging anything to Americans for Tax Reform or Grover Norquist. While ATR promotes the Pledge, the Pledge is made to a candidate’s constituents, who are entitled to know where a candidate stands on the issues before they vote them into office.

The text of the Pledge is as follows:

I,__________________pledge to the taxpayers of the state of ________________, and to the American people that I will:

  • ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
  • TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

___________________________        ___________________________________

Signature                                                             Date

The 238 members of the House of Representatives and the 41 U.S. Senators who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge understand that the Pledge is a steadfast commitment to their constituents to oppose tax increases, making tax reform all the more likely. The power of the Pledge rests with voters nationwide who have chosen to value this written promise to oppose higher taxes. That power has grown as voters have become more and more interested in genuine tax reform that focuses on reining in Washington’s out of control spending problem.

Rick Berg’s opponent, Heidi Heitkamp has refused to make this commitment to the taxpayers, leaving the door open for tax hikes. This comes as no surprise since she supported Obamacare, which contains 20 new or higher taxes on American families and small businesses.

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With Charlie Summers, Maine Taxpayers Are Real Winners in Tuesday's Senate Primary


Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, June 14th, 2012, 11:36 AM PERMALINK


Secretary of State Charlie Summers defeated five other Republican candidates last night to secure the GOP nomination his bid to fill retiring Senator Olympia Snowe’s seat this November. The true winners of the primary, however, were Maine taxpayers. Charlie Summers made a written commitment to them to oppose higher taxes when he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge earlier this year.

Only one of the top three candidates refused to take that same Pledge: Rick Bennett. This fact was highlighted in debates and by the Portland Press Herald in the days leading up to the primary.

“A candidate who says ‘Yes, I signed the Pledge,’ has the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval as far as taxes are concerned,” said Maine’s Pledge Chair Mary Adams. “Signing the Pledge can make a difference in the outcome of elections because voters are seriously looking for candidates who won’t raise their taxes and who are willing to sign off on that fact, not just talk about it.”

Charlie Summers received nearly 30 percent of the vote to Bruce Poliquin’s 23 percent and Richard Bennett’s 18 percent. Both Poliquin and Summers signed the Pledge. After all of the votes were counted, Pledge signers received an overwhelming majority of the votes cast in Tuesday’s primary.

“I want to congratulate Charlie Summers on securing the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Maine,” 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 candidates who took the Pledge to stand with them against Washington’s tax and spend agenda.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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Bob Kerrey on Tax Increases: "Oh Yeah!"


Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, June 14th, 2012, 10:46 AM PERMALINK


In a recent interview with an independent watchdog group, Nebraska Watchdog, Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey confirmed that he’s ready to raise taxes on Nebraska taxpayers. It’s a rare occasion that a politician gives a straightforward answer to a simple question but Kerrey made an exception to confirm what many people have known for a long time: Bob Kerry is ready to raise taxes.

Kerrey was asked a direct question from the Watchdog reporter: “Are you ready to vote for a tax increase?” Kerrey barely hesitated to give the following answer: “Oh yeah!”

This should not surprise anyone familiar with his record in the 103rd Congress as a U.S. Senator. Kerrey was the deciding vote in favor of President Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike, which Kerrey himself declared as the “biggest increase in the history of the country.”

Thanks to Bob Kerrey, small business’ top rate skyrocketed from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. With small businesses currently accounting for more than 30 percent of Nebraska’s economic activity, those crippling tax rates would deter economic growth and hurt Nebraskans trying to find jobs to pay for government overspending.

Although those rates were reduced after President Clinton left office, President Obama has promised to let the rates go back up at the end of this year. With Taxmageddon looming, the risk of giving Kerrey a seat at the negotiating table to be a deciding vote for further tax increases on families and small businesses should scare all Nebraska taxpayers.  

“Bob Kerrey is a serial tax hiker. As the deciding vote on the largest tax increase in U.S. history at the time, he’s now affirmed that on tax policy, he has not evolved,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “By promising to raise taxes again, Kerrey is letting Nebraskans know that he has no interest in getting serious about reining in government overspending or real tax reform.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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Bill Owens Rehashes False Attacks Against Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 12:23 PM PERMALINK


Democrat Bill Owens’ campaign recently made a feeble attempt to distract voters in his 2012 reelection bid by issuing misleading statements about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and U.S. job outsourcing. By attacking Republicans who have signed the Pledge, Owens’ efforts mirror his 2010 failed struggle to downplay the importance of promising taxpayers to oppose higher taxes, a promise Owens will not make.

In 2010, the non-partisan FactCheck.org rated the attacks against the Pledge as “blatantly false.” Bill Owens may have evolved on his 2010 attempted attack by subtly hinting that he won’t sign the Pledge because “he believes we should eliminate tax loopholes for companies who ship jobs overseas.” Unfortunately for Owens, the Associated Press rated his last attack as “one of the wildest claims of the 2010 campaign.

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.

This is a goal that Bill Owens fundamentally opposes, as is evident by his voting record. Having voted for Obamacare, which adds $1.76 trillion dollars to the federal deficit while increasing taxes by more than $500 billion over the next decade, Owens has never demonstrated an interest in standing with taxpayers and against Washington’s special spending interests.

“I applaud Kellie Greene and Matt Doheny for taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Taxpayers in New York have clearly shown their displeasure with tax-and-spend policies coming out of Washington, policies that Bill Owens champions,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “New York taxpayers want real pro-growth solutions to get the economy going again and rein in the irresponsible and reckless spending in Washington,” contined Norquist.

Bill Owens’ latest line of attack is a rehashed and failed attempt to distort the truth about the Pledge, while taking the attention away from the fact that he is a tax-hiker who has no interest in reining in Washington’s out of control overspending problem.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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Rick Bennett Leaves Door Open to Higher Taxes on Small Businesses


Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 12:55 PM PERMALINK


In his bid to secure the U.S. Senate GOP nomination, Rick Bennett has refused to give specifics about his economic plan. Bennett has left the door open for tax hikes on Maine taxpayers and small businesses.

On his campaign website, Bennett states, that in order to end the deficit and our national debt, “everything should be on the table.”  No word yet on a response from national Democrats regarding the fact that Bennett is borrowing a phrase that Nancy Pelosi and others used during the debt limit debate last year.

The phrase has been employed by Democrats over the past three years as an argument for tax hikes. What Nancy Pelosi and Rick Bennett have incorrectly identified as the problem with Washington its need to have taxpayers fork over more of their hard earned money.  Bennett’s 8 year absence from public office has left him unaware of a new political reality: voters expect Republican candidates to have an interest in reining in Washington’s over spending, not raising taxes.

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

There are more than 147,000 small businesses in Maine that account for more than 38 percent of Maine’s economic activity. The average small business has $1.3 million in revenue, subjecting them to the top tax rate of 35 percent. In January, that rate is set to rise to 39.6 percent. Although Bennett would not take office until after January 1, the risk of giving him a seat at the negotiating table should leave Maine’s small businesses scared.

 “By refusing to sign the Pledge and leaving tax hikes on the table, Rick Bennett joins the ranks of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Obama,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Given the importance of small businesses to Maine’s economy, Rick Bennett’s openness to higher taxes should cause voters who support Bennett to reconsider.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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Abel Maldonado Voted For Largest State Tax Increase in U.S. History


Posted by Paul Blair on Friday, June 1st, 2012, 3:24 PM PERMALINK


Congressional candidate Abel Maldonado is no friend of taxpayers. Not only has Maldonado refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge for his CA-24 race, he betrayed voters by violating his written commitment to them to “oppose any and all tax hikes” as a state legislator. In 2009, Maldonado cast the deciding vote for a $13 billion tax hike. Although the former State Senator and Lieutenant Governor may have the talking points of a Republican candidate, he is far from a supporter of limited government and pro-growth economic policies.

The 2009 tax hike was the largest tax increase of any state in history. It seemed unconscionable at the time that in the middle of the largest recession in modern history, Maldonado’s political ambitions took precedent over a promise he made to the taxpayers who elected him.

Under the facade of “compromise,” Maldonado stood with Sacramento special interests and against Californians. For that, Americans for Tax Reform awarded him the “Richard Rich Backstabber Award” for what he did to taxpayers.

 “Abel Maldonado is a tax hiking Republican and voters should pay close attention to his record,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “California’s number one employer is the government and the state budget has more than doubled in the last decade, both thanks to politicians like Maldonado.”

 “Because of Maldonado, joint filers and families in California had to pay $125 more in income taxes after the 2009 tax increases. Buying a new car cost buyers an additional $250. To license that same car, it cost an additional $125,” continued Norquist. “California has raised taxes and fees each and every time they run out of money. The problem that tax hikers like Abel Maldonado face is that as anti-growth policies and high tax rates force people and businesses out of the state, it becomes much more difficult for the government to pay the bills.

Not only has Abel Maldonado joined with liberals in the California-tax-and-spend-a-thon, but he played a key role in making it more expensive to live and work in the state. I urge voters who are thinking about voting for Maldonado on June 5 to reconsider.”

[PDF of Press Release]

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