Will Upton

A Told You So Moment in Maryland

Posted by Will Upton on Monday, September 19th, 2011, 3:51 PM PERMALINK

The Maryland Tourism Council has an interesting post on the July revenue numbers from the recent increase in the state’s alcohol tax: 

Maryland raised approximately $6 million in July from the increase in the sales tax on alcohol (from 6% to 9%). If the new revenue in July turns out to be the monthly average, it would add approximately $72 million a year, less than the $85 million projected, when the increase was approved.

ATR sounded the alarm this past April, noting that the alcohol tax increase was poor policy.  Simply put, lifestyle taxes on alcohol and tobacco rarely fulfill their revenue projections and are neither a sustainable nor stable tax base.   When Washington, D.C. increased the city’s cigarette taxes, they actually saw a decrease in the cigarette tax revenues by 20-percent.   

Additionally, either Maryland Democrats have poor math skills or they simply just didn’t care as the alcohol tax forced restaurants and bars to increase their prices to create even change so as to avoid having to use pennies.  Can you think of the last time a bartender gave you back nickels, dimes, and pennies as change? 

The alcohol tax increase has been nothing but a raw deal for the already over taxed people of Maryland.  They now pay higher prices and taxes on their alcohol, all the while the state once again falls short of their “revenue projections.”  Unfortunately this is not the first time Gov. Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats have displayed their ignorance as to the dynamic impact of increased taxes.  The infamous Millionaires Tax was pitched by Gov. O’Malley as a measure to make top income earners pay their “fair share.”  In reality, all it did was cause the flight of top income earners and job creators from Maryland, while creating $100 million revenue erosion in the tax base.   

What do you think?  Should Marylanders push their legislators to repeal the alcohol tax increase?

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Stephen Hunt and Jason Flanary Take the Taxpayer Protection Pledge

Posted by Will Upton on Sunday, August 21st, 2011, 1:50 PM PERMALINK

Stephen Hunt and Jason Flanary have both taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in their primary race for state Senate in Virginia’s 37th Senate District.

ATR has offered the Pledge to all candidates for federal office since 1987. To date, 41 U.S. Senators and 237 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. Additionally, thirteen governors and over 1,200 state legislators have signed the Pledge.

Click here for the PDF of each release. 

[Flanary] [Hunt]

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In Washington State, Tax Hikes Are Not the Solution

Posted by Will Upton on Friday, May 6th, 2011, 4:08 PM PERMALINK

State Senators in Washington State are looking to hike taxes on farmers and small businesses in an effort to close the $5.3 billion budget gap created by the state’s spending addiction.  

Three bills are being circulated in the State Senate that would increase taxes by $350 million.  Such an increase on a declining agricultural sector could stifle any economic progress that might be made.  

Currently Washington State has a projected unemployment rate of 9.2%, that’s 320,400 residents without work.  Washington is tied with Alabama and Colorado, ranking 33rd out of the 50 states in the number employed – raising taxes will not help them improve upon this number.  

This is not a revenue problem, as many politicians in the state seem to think, it is a spending problem.  Had Washington State lived within its means and kept spending in line with population and inflation over the last decade, the state would have spent $26.7 billion less than it actually did for that duration – money that could have been put in a rainy day fund or, ideally, returned to taxpayers.

Taxpayers in the Evergreen State, and taxpayers across the nation for that matter, need to remind their state legislators that raising taxes doesn’t solve their state’s economic problems.  Only reductions in taxation and spending will encourage economic growth and prosperity. 

To read ATR’s letter to the Washington State Senate click here.  

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ATR Opposes Oklahoma "Provider Fees"

Posted by Will Upton on Monday, April 25th, 2011, 4:29 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to members of the Oklahoma state Senate and the Office of Governor Mary Fallin in strong opposition to Oklahoma HB 1381. 

HB 1381 would lead Oklahoma down a dangerous road that is becoming more-and-more popular amongst fiscally reckless and irresponsible state governments.  Enacting a “provider fee”, HB 1381 would levy a new 2% tax – though that tax rate could rise upwards of 4% – upon hospital revenues in the state. 

The new tax, a $118 million tax hike, would be funneled into a pool that would receive matching funds from the federal government’s Medicaid program.  The pool would then be redistributed to hospitals in Oklahoma.  This is essentially a shell game with taxpayer dollars with Oklahoma politicians cleverly gaming a failing welfare system. 

Despite the argument that the cost of the new tax will not be passed on to consumers because of Medicaid’s matching funds, it must be understood that it is not in the self interest of profit-seeking entities of such great size to incur these fees without passing on at least a portion of the burden to their consumers.

Finally, as ATR has noted in the past, “Giving additional money to states changes their ‘fiscal behavior,’ encouraging them to increase spending and taxes… States receive matching federal funds based on the revenue they collect. This encourages states to increase taxes to generate more revenue to receive more aid… Overall, these aid transfers to states are comparable to the parent who continually gives their spendthrift child more and more money every week. Rather than learning some fiscal restraint, the child continually spends with the assumption he will receive more.”

To read ATR’s letter to the Oklahoma state Senate click here

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Take Action: Stop MD Legislators from Raising Taxes on Alcohol

Posted by Will Upton on Thursday, April 7th, 2011, 1:32 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform urges the Maryland House of Delegates to vote against SB 994 – an unprecedented 50 percent hike in the sales tax on alcohol. 

The proposed tax hike would up Maryland’s current 6 percent tax to 9 percent.  Democrats in the state Senate planned for the tax hike to occur over three years with a 1 percent hike each year.   

Revenues generated from the 1 percent hike in the first year would overwhelmingly go to off-set modest cuts made to education aid in Prince George’s County, Allegany County, Garrett County, and to pay for retired teachers’ healthcare in Baltimore.  In the first year, alcohol taxes would be raised by an estimated $30 million – by the third the increase could exceed $85 million.  

“Vice” taxes do not work.  Last year’s cigarette tax hike in Washington, D.C. actually caused revenues to decrease by 20 percent!  Additionally, these taxes hurt small business owners and the poor the most – a new tax hike on alcohol will only further Maryland’s economic stagnation.  

ATR encourages you to write your Maryland House delegate and tell them to vote no on SB 994.  You can write to your delegate here:

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Daily Media Spotlight December 14, 2010

Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 4:06 PM PERMALINK

Grover Norquist is in Politico’s ‘Arena’ discussing the minefield that sits between today and the 2012 elections: “Unlike 2006, the only potential presidential candidate who must vote on such compromises is South Dakota’s John Thune. All the other possible Republican candidates, including the new governors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, etc., are free to oppose such compromises, signaling the (obvious and largely irrelevant ) point that if they were president, such a compromise would have been settled much to the right. True… But not terribly useful in discussing how one constructs the frustrating, but necessary “deals” between now and 2012 when, Republicans expect, the presidency and the Senate majority fall into their hands.”

From Business Wire and The Daily Caller, “The Daily Caller to Co-Host Republican National Committee’s Chairmanship Debate with Americans for Tax Reform on January 3rd.”  Here is Grover’s take on the event:  “‘We are pleased to host this debate with The Daily Caller. The actual vote for RNC Chairman will be made by the 168 members of the Committee, but the impact will be felt by all,’ said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. ‘Therefore, every activist should play a role in questioning the candidates and communicating with RNC members who cast votes...just like lobbying your Congressman and Senators.’”

ATR friend and ally Christopher Freind expresses a grave concern in The Philly Post over the prospects that the GOP may not have a viable candidate to challenge and tax-and-spend (and tax some more) Senator Bob Casey in 2012: “You would think that with Pennsylvania’s Republican roots, which have run especially deep over the last several decades, freshman Democratic senator Bob Casey would be vulnerable in 2012… You would be wrong… Incumbents don’t lose unless they’re challenged by viable, first-tier candidates, as the Senate elections in Nevada and Alaska proved…”

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Daily Media Spotlight December 13, 2010

Posted by Will Upton on Monday, December 13th, 2010, 4:29 PM PERMALINK

The Daily Beast says he is, “The One Man Who Can Sink Obama’s Tax Plans.”  When it comes to President Obama’s debt commission proposal, which may raise taxes by $1 trillion, $2 trillion, or $3 trillion depending on who you ask, ATR’s Grover Norquist stands athwart yelling stop!  So does the proposal have a chance? “Not if Grover Norquist has anything to say about it. The longtime face of the GOP’s anti-tax wing has been leading a crusade against the commission’s fragile progress through his group Americans for Tax Reform, and budget experts are openly fretting that he’ll sink their proposals before they get anywhere near Congress.”

Warner Todd Huston has a great post at Publius’ Forum taking on the notion that business extenders are earmarks.  He argues, “Many on the left are saying that the business extenders in the deal are pork, or are an earmark, or are even ‘costing the government.’ Ryan Ellis explains why these claims are incorrect re the business extenders… The first thing he mentions is that business extenders aren't new to this tax deal and that they've been around for a long time… In any case, whatever else is wrong with this idea -- such as the pork that is being added every other hour at this point -- the business extenders are not a detraction here.”

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All Formally Declared Candidates for RNC Chairman Confirmed for January 3 Debate

Posted by Will Upton on Monday, December 13th, 2010, 1:07 PM PERMALINK

All four of the formally declared candidates for the Chairmanship of the Republican National Committee (RNC) have confirmed their participation in the Monday, January 3 debate at the National Press Club.  Hosted by Americans for Tax Reform and The Daily Caller, the debate will begin at 1:00 p.m. ET.

As of today at Noon, the formally declared candidates are Saul Anuzis, Maria Cino, Reince Priebus, and Ann Wagner. 

The event details are as follows:

When:   Monday, January 3, 2011 from 1:00 pm – 2:30 p.m. ET (Doors open at Noon).

Where:  National Press Club (529 14th St. NW), 13th Floor, Ballroom

RSVP Required:  debate@atr.org

Hosted by:  Americans for Tax Reform and The Daily Caller

Additional co-sponsors:  The Susan B. Anthony List

Metro, driving directions, and parking information: Click here

Debate Website:  You are encouraged to submit and vote on questions to be asked during the debate at www.RNCdebate.org

Note: ATR hosted a similar debate on January 5, 2009.  The dedicated website for the event – RNCdebate.org – allowed activists to propose and vote on debate questions.  The site drew 60,000 votes on 925 different questions. 

The C-SPAN coverage of the 2009 debate can be viewed by clicking here.

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Daily Media Spotlight December 9, 2010

Posted by Will Upton on Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 3:34 PM PERMALINK

ATR president Grover Norquist asks in Human Events: “Will Taxes Doom Obama In 2012?”  He concludes, “…the 'deal' is a truce, not a peace treaty.  Every part of the 'deal' lasts exactly two years.  All the moving parts of the “deal” will be front and center in the 2012 election.  Nothing has been solved.  Every conflict of vision, of policy, of ideology, has been deferred.  Two years… He put the Democrats weakest issue—taxes—front and center in 2012.  And he has made all the tax cuts temporary so as to minimize their help in bringing down unemployment… Evidently he is now getting strategic advice from the folks who thought up Harriet Miers.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman notes, “Tax Proposal Wins Norquist Seal of Approval… With so many Republicans signing Americans for Tax Reform’s ‘no new taxes’ pledge, the judgment of ATR President Grover Norquist matters for the fate of the tax deal cut between Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama… And the judgment is, the deal does not raise taxes… ‘We’ve been supportive of it,’ said Ryan Ellis, head of tax policy for Americans for Tax Reform.”

“Estate tax proposal draws fire from conservatives who want full repeal,” is the headline of Russell Berman’s piece in The Hill, “Americans for Tax Reform, the group run by conservative activist Grover Norquist, is supporting the overall Obama-GOP agreement and does not consider the estate-tax provision a tax hike… ‘It’s not a tax increase relative to 2011 in current law,’ Ellis said. He added that like most conservatives, Americans for Tax Reform supports ending the estate tax permanently. Of the broader tax package Republicans are signing onto, Ellis said Americans for Tax Reform is ‘very supportive of it.’… ‘It is not perfect, but it is pretty damn good, and we like it,’ Ellis said.”

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