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Ryan Ellis

ATR Will Rate a Vote on the<br> Pelosi-Obama-Reid Trillion Dollar<br> Tax Hike Budget

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, 5:33 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform WILL RATE a vote on the Pelosi-Reid-Obama budget.

Their budget taxes too much.  It will increase taxes for consumers of American energy, small business employers, and shareholders, to name just a few.

The Pelosi-Obama-Reid budget will hike the small business tax rate from 37.9 percent today to 42.5 percent in 2011.  Fully $2 out of every $3 in small business profits will see a tax hike.  One-third of working Americans—42 million people—work in small businesses that have fewer than 100 employees.

It will raise the capital gains and dividends tax rate from 15 percent today to 20 percent in 2011.  At a time when the stock market’s value has been cut in half, now is not the time to raise the tax rate on America’s nest eggs.

It will impose a global warming tax on American families that will cost them over $1000 per year.  It will take away tax breaks for energy companies, the cost of which will ultimately be bourn by American families who turn on a light switch or fill up their gas tanks.

Their budget spends too much.  The Pelosi-Obama-Reid budget raises spending to over $10,000 for every man, woman and child in America—forever.  As a percent of the economy, spending will be sustained at levels not seen for a generation.  About $1 out of every $4 in national wealth would be used to fund federal spending.  When state and local spending is included, total government spending will eat up one-third of the economy.  That puts America dangerously-close to Western European, “social democracy” levels of government spending.

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ATR Supports H.R. 735, the<br> "Rangel Rule Act of 2009"

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, March 30th, 2009, 5:20 PM PERMALINK

ATR today released a letter supporting H.R. 735, the "Rangel Rule Act of 2009."

H.R. 735 waives penalty and interest on any underpayment of income taxes by U.S. citizens.  All a taxpayer would have to do is write “Rangel Rule” on their 1040, and they would get to enjoy the same grace and leniency as is evidently enjoyed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

Chairman Rangel has admitted that he failed to pay income tax on rental property he owns in the Caribbean.  If ordinary taxpayers did that, they would be lucky to get away with penalties and interest totaling in the thousands of dollars.  Yet politicians like Charlie Rangel, who are responsible for writing tax law, seem to get a free pass again and again.

If it’s good enough for Charlie Rangel, it should be good enough for Joe and Jane Taxpayer.

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ATR Supports H.R. 1763,<br> "Responsible Reinvestment Act of 2009"

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, March 30th, 2009, 5:06 PM PERMALINK

ATR today released a letter praising Congressman Bob Latta for introducing H.R. 1763, the "Responsible Reinvestment Act of 2009."  This small business tax cut bill:

  • Permanently kills the death tax
  • Doubles small business equipment expensing to $500,000 per year
  • Provides first-year expensing for manufacturing and agricultural equipment
  • Creates a new tax deduction for 20 percent of self-employment income
  • Allows health insurance premiums to be fully-deductible for small employers
  • Allows health savings account (HSA) contributions to be fully-deductible for small employers
  • Creates a super-charged small business retirement account that would allow small employers to save nearly $50,000 per year for retirement, fully tax-deductibly

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The Mortgage Interest Deduction and the Taxpayer Protection Pledge

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Friday, March 27th, 2009, 1:38 PM PERMALINK

In recent days, the question has come up on NRO's the Corner, as well as here and here about what ATR's position would be on repealing the mortgage interest deduction.

I've already responded to the Corner on this, but also wanted to clarify here.

The mortgage interest deduction is not some spending program.  It's a tax cut built into current tax law.  To get rid of it and do nothing else is to raise income taxes by about $100 billion per year, every year.  This would be a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation.  172 Congressmen and 35 Senators have signed this no income tax increase Pledge.

Does that mean getting rid of this deduction everywhere and anywhere is a Pledge violation?  No.

One could get rid of this tax deduction and lower tax rates.  Or, one could get rid of this tax deduction and increase deductions and credits somewhere else.  The important thing is that you want to avoid an income tax increase on net.

The criticism that the mortgage interest deduction tends to raise the price of housing and create bubbles is probably true based on what I've read, but I'm no economist.  In any event, that discussion is outside the bounds of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and people of good will can be Pledge-compliant and either agree or disagree with that position.

Hope this clears things up.


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The House Democrat Budget<br> Taxes Too Much

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 3:13 PM PERMALINK

•    The House Democrat budget resolution reported out of the Budget Committee taxes too much

•    Under the committee’s budget, tax revenues are scheduled to rise from $2.2 trillion in 2009 to $3.3 trillion in 2014.  That is a $1.1. trillion increase in tax revenues in just five years, or $3600 for every man, woman, and child in America

•    Expressed as a percent of the economy, taxes would rise from 15.7 percent of GDP in 2009 up to 19.2 percent of GDP in 2014, well above the post-War historical average of 18.5 percent of GDP

•    The budget calls for tax revenue growth of 7 percent a year after inflation

•    Federal taxes in 2014 would exceed $10,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States, which has only happened a handful of times since the Second World War (even adjusting for inflation)

•    The tax rate on $2 out of every $3 in small business profits would rise from 37.9 percent today to 42.5 percent in 2011. 

•    This small business tax hike also affects the 42 million Americans who work at small businesses with fewer than 100 employees

•    The tax rate on capital gains and dividends would rise from 15 percent today to 20 percent in 2011.  This will lower the price of every stock in the stock market, which in turn takes a bite out of every American’s 401(k) plan or IRA

•    This budget will result in massive tax increases on American-made energy.  The worst of these is the “cap and tax” proposal of the Obama Administration and his allies on Capitol Hill.  According to a CBO score of the most popular version of this, “cap and tax” will raise energy bills by about $1000 for every family in America, every year

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Obama vs. Fact:<br> Taxes and the Latest Press Conference

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 12:23 PM PERMALINK

A Tax Cut for 95 Percent of Working Families?

OBAMA:    “…this plan will provide a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families that will appear in people’s paychecks by April 1.”

FACT:    Obama is referring to the “Making Work Pay” refundable tax credit, which will begin to show up in the form of less withholding from paychecks on April 1.  This part of his statement is true.  However, it’s impossible to cut taxes for “95 percent of working families.”  According to IRS data, one-third of all income tax filers don’t have an income tax liability.  About 15 percent of all working families don’t even have a FICA tax liability, and these numbers are before taking into effect all the new refundable tax credits of the Obama budget.  For these “working families,” all Obama’s budget will do is cut them a welfare check.

Is the Tax Code Skewed Toward the Rich?

OBAMA:    “…for the top 5 percent, they’re the ones who typically saw huge gains in their income…let’s not renew the Bush tax cuts…let’s go back to the rates that existed…during the Clinton era”

FACT:    Obama gives the impression here that the tax code has gotten friendlier to the rich since the Clinton years.  A simple check of the data, though, shows that the rich are paying a higher percentage of federal income taxes than ever before.

In order to be in Obama’s “top 5 percent,” a family must earn at least $150,000—from all income sources combined.  Putting aside that this is well under the $250,000 that Obama says he will be raising taxes on, this is hardly a figure that most Americans would consider “rich.” 

It might surprise many to learn that this “top 5 percent” is paying a higher and higher percentage of all income taxes.  Back in 2000, the last year of the Clinton Administration, these households were paying 56 percent of all income taxes.  In 2005, the latest year for which the IRS has data, they were paying nearly 60 percent of all income taxes.  So after tax rates on small businesses and investors were dropped, the tax code became more progressive, not less.  There’s no “problem” to fix.

What about the “richest of the rich,” the top 1 percent?  These families make at least $365,000 per year.  In 2000, they paid 37 percent of all income taxes.  That number today is nearly 40 percent.  So even the richest households are paying a higher amount of all income taxes then they were before the tax cuts of the Bush era.

Demonizing Investors and Entrepreneurs

OBAMA:    “…the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit.  That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity…”

FACT:    This is 100% true, so what is it doing in a myth/fact?  The problem is, the Obama budget doesn’t square with the Obama rhetoric.  His budget calls for massive tax increases on investors.  The capital gains and dividends tax rate will rise from 15 percent to 20 percent.  The death tax will go from dead to 45 percent overnight.  The top tax rate on small businesses will rise from 37.9 percent to 42.5 percent, and that’s before his promised Social Security tax hike.

If that’s not using the tax code to demonize investors and entrepreneurs, what is?


Is the Deficit the Issue, or Is It Spending?

OBAMA:    “(Questioner) Do you worry that your daughters…will be inheriting an even bigger fiscal mess if the spending goes out of control?”  “(Obama) Of course I do, which is why we’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit.”

FACT:    Obama is focusing on the wrong target.  The questioner asked, correctly, if he was okay passing along a spending budget as big as Obama is proposing to his daughters.  Obama ignored the fact that his budget grows the size of government to levels not seen since World War II.  Instead, he focuses on deficits, which is an uninteresting number you get by subtracting one interesting number (spending) from another (taxes).  A balanced budget won’t help Obama’s daughters if they are forced to pay taxes to support a government 50% bigger than the one their father inherited.


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Tonight's Press Conference: Five Questions for Obama

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 5:55 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform suggests the following five questions be put to President Obama during his press conference tonight:

1. Which of the tax increases in your budget will create jobs?  Is it raising the small business tax rate?  Is it imposing over a trillion dollars of new taxes on American energy?  Is it raising the capital gains and dividends tax on our nest eggs?  Why do any of these things to our economy?
2. Secretary Geithner came out with a plan for the government to help buy up toxic assets. What gives you confidence that Geithner can do this considering what just happened with the AIG bailout?
3. By expanding government to record levels, your budget crowds out private sector investment. How does this contribute to economic growth or create jobs?
4. Labor unions are still making a push for the so-called "card check" bill that would also impose binding arbitration in collective bargaining. Do you think a recession is the time to change the rules in favor of Big Labor?
5. What's the highest marginal tax rate any American should have to pay?  Many polls say that most Americans believe that figure is 25 percent. What do you think?

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ATR Urges "No" Vote on<br> H.R. 1596, AIG/Geithner Bailout Bill

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, March 19th, 2009, 12:10 PM PERMALINK



Americans for Tax Reform remains STRONGLY OPPOSED to H.R. 1596, the Rangel-Pelosi bill to tax AIG bonuses in order to deflect blame from Secretary Geithner’s failed mismanagement of Treasury funds. 

Secretary Geithner and the White House promised taxpayers that every penny of their latest bailout would be well-spent.  AIG has received $170 billion in taxpayer money, and recently announced that it was granting $165 million in bonuses for AIG executives.

It was wrong for President Obama to put as head of the Treasury Department someone who didn’t pay all his taxes.  It was wrong for Congress to vote to give taxpayer money to bail out failing companies.  It was wrong for Chris Dodd to carve out a special deal for his friends and donors at AIG.  It was wrong of Geithner to hand out funds without any protection for taxpayers (such as the Geithner AIG bonus scandal).

The Democrats in Congress are now trying to cover up their expensive mistakes, and to protect Obama, Dodd and Geithner (who made these bad decisions).

The Democrat ploy to cover up and detract from the Obama/Geithner/AIG scandal is to pass a bill of attainder, probably unconstitutional, to pretend to recoup perhaps one-tenth of one percent of the $160 billion they have given AIG.

ATR urges Members of Congress who care about taxpayers to vote “no” on this ploy.  The Democrat leadership is bringing this cover-up vote under “suspension,” which means it requires a two-thirds vote.  Unlike most House votes, a pro-taxpayer minority can actually stop this measure.

ATR urges all Members to vote “no,” to demand that Geithner resign, and that Congress enact real legislation forbidding future bailouts and specifically banning AIG from receiving further funds.

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AIG Bonuses Are Reason to End<br> All Bailouts, Past and Future

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009, 4:12 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform, a grassroots policy activist organization opposed to any and all tax hikes,  today announced their opposition to the proposed "AIG Bonuses" excise tax.

In recent days, bailout-recipient AIG has come under fire for going ahead with bonus payments to executives and other employees.  The criticism has been that companies that receive bailout money funded by taxpayers should be sharing the pain that taxpayers are facing.

"Let's be clear---the bailout should have never happened, no matter who is benefitting,  No more bailout money should be paid.  Any monies that are set to go out should be immediately-rescinded," said ATR President Grover Norquist.  "But two wrongs don't make a right.  A tax increase does not 'make up for' a bad decision on spending.  If politicians decide that taxes need to be raised on AIG executives, they should at least have the decency to cut taxes somewhere else."

This tax increase--which to date has been written behind closed doors and with no input from the public or policymakers--would take the form of an excise tax hike on executive compensation packages.  Going forward, the mechanisms used in this bill might serve as a precedent for populist tax increases on other companies' executive pay--even companies that never received a dime of bailout money.

"If the politicians who want to raise taxes felt confident that they were doing the right thing, why wouldn't they do this in the light of day?  What are they afraid of?" continued Norquist.  "President Obama has said that any bill he signs should be publicly-available for five days.  This tax increase isn't publicly-available now.  It's clear that this secret tax increase is merely a smokescreen to cover up the failed policies of bailouts and waste."

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