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Zoe Crain

Grover Norquist Named Among The Hill's "Top Grassroots Lobbyists of 2014" (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014, 12:18 PM PERMALINK


The Hill named Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist as one of their “Top Grassroots Lobbyists of 2014.”

They say nothing is certain but death and taxes. In Washington, the third certainty is Norquist trying to kill the second.

Jennifer Hickey of Newsmax wrote a piece regarding former Gov. Jeb Bush admitted that he would be willing to raise taxes.

“If my father had thrown away a perfectly good presidency by raising taxes, I think one of the things in life I would learn is, ‘Don’t do that,’” Norquist said, referring to President George H.W. Bush’s broken “no new taxes” pledge.

Reason’s Zach Weissmueller wrote about the abuse visited upon Gerawan Farm employees by the United Farm Workers:

A group of Gerawan employees, less than eager to relinquish 3 percent of wages to an absent union, began petitioning for an election to decertify the union. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) eventually administered an election but never counted the votes, alleging unfair labor practices, such as encouraging anti-union behavior, on behalf of the company.

Brian Lowry of The Boston Herald’s The Edge wrote about the T.V. show “Alpha House,” in which Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist makes an appearance.

Appropriately returning just in time for the midterm elections, the second season finds the show loading up on star cameos from Hollywood (Bill Murray), media (Matt Lauer, Trudeau’s wife Jane Pauley, John King) and the world of political wonks (Grover Norquist, David Axelrod). Still, the formula and situations remain largely the same, with each of the solons grappling with various challenges and indignities.

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Gage Skidmore

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Politico: Jeb Bush's Tax Problem

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 2:40 PM PERMALINK


An article written by Brian Faler of Politico detailed criticism of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s admission that he would be willing to support tax increases.

Faler writes,

Bush’s views are already pitting him against one of his party’s most influential activists, Grover Norquist, the high priest of anti-tax orthodoxy who’s convinced nearly ever elected Republican to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

As the article highlights, a broken no-tax pledge led to his former President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection loss.

“If my father had thrown away a perfectly good presidency by raising taxes, I think one of the things in life that I would learn is, ‘Don’t do that,’” Norquist said. “But here you have Jeb Bush going, ‘I learned nothing from my father’s self-immolation.”

Bush’s statement is especially poignant given his name has been brought up as a potential contender in 2016.

But Republican strategists say the primary will again surely be stocked with tax increase hardliners who, if anything, will be promising tax cuts.

“I don’t even know if you’ll get out of the starting gate with that kind of message,” said Greg Mueller, a conservative strategist. “That’s a deal breaker for a lot of voters.”

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Rollins College

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ATR's Grover Norquist Appears on Mike Essen Show

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 2:31 PM PERMALINK


Recently, ATR president Grover Norquist was a guest on the Florida-based Mike Essen Show. Grover and Mike discussed tax reform and ways to improve the economy.

Listen to the interview here: http://mikeessen.com/podcasts/politics/mike-interviews-grover-norquist.html

Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, wrote an op-ed for Forbes detailing hypocrisy in liberal support for oppressive labor unions.

And where are the Democrats? Where are the liberals fighting for Silvia’s “right to choose?” Nowhere to be found, of course: Organized labor has become little more than a slush fund for the Democratic Party, funneling billions in dues (often plucked from members’ pockets without their consent) to left-wing politicians, who then bray on about being “pro-choice.”

Patterson also wrote an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee regarding the fight between Gerawan Farming employees and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board who refuse to count employee votes in an election to decertify the United Farm Workers.

The labor board is engaging in active, state-sponsored voter suppression in its attempt to help the UFW. The board has sequestered the ballots from the decertification election and refuses to count them in direct violation of Gerawan workers’ First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.

And by forcing the workers into a contract (against their will) that will siphon 3 percent of their pay to union bosses, the board is effectively confiscating property in direct violation of the 14th Amendment.

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Gage Skidmore

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Grover Norquist Appears on "The Willis Report" to Discuss the CDC and NIH


Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, October 16th, 2014, 1:57 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist appeared on Fox Business Network’s “The Willis Report,” hosted by Gerri Willis, to discuss wasteful NIH and CDC spending, and their failed response to the ebola crisis. An excerpt of his comments is below:

“It’s kind of sad that the Democratic groups, instead of trying to solve the problem, are trying to exploit this crisis for political gain- step one. Step two, let’s look at the numbers- in 1980, the National Institute of Health had $3 billion, today, it’s 10 times that size: $30 billion.  The Center for Disease Control, which is supposed to be focusing on this sort of stuff, has about $6 billion. It got an extra $4 billion over the past few years, and they turned around and spent about 6% of that on infectious diseases. So the Center for Disease Control and the NIH decided to make Ebola and other similar infectious diseases not exactly a top priority. They say if they had more money, they would have done something. They had $30 billion. They had lots of money and they chose to spend it other places.”

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Taxpayer Dollars Used to Fund Union Activities (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, October 9th, 2014, 1:00 PM PERMALINK


Connor Wolf of The Daily Caller wrote an article discussing the massive amount of taxpayer funds that are spent on union activities for public employees.

Matt Patterson, executive director, for the Center for Worker Freedom, told the Washington Examiner the relationship between public-sector unions and federal agencies was suspect at best.

“People are under the impression that tax dollars go to pay public employees to do public business, but that’s not always so,” Patterson said. “It all amounts to a huge public payoff from elected officials to their Big Labor campaign contributions.”

The American Spectator’s Matt Schlapp wrote about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s successes over the course of his term.

Four years ago, Sam Brownback was elected the governor of Kansas in a landslide. Within two years, he was able to elect a conservative majority in the state senate, a goal that had alluded GOP activists for decades. Then Brownback did what he said he would do- cut taxes, reformed education, and opposed Obamacare, earning the praise of many on the right, including Grover Norquist.

First, it has become a truism that when a Republican governor aggressively takes on the left, he or she will be viciously attacked. Brownback has succeeded in enacting a solid conservative agenda. He eliminated income taxes on small businesses, and reduced income taxes on everyone else. He fought to keep coal as part of electricity generation feedstock. He refused the money and mandates of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Combine Brownback’s bold reforms with his longtime reputation as a cultural warrior, and you get a tantalizing target for the left.

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401(k)2012

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More Support Rolls In for Ridesharing Companies

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, 4:55 PM PERMALINK


Following a successful summer defense against regulatory challenges in major cities across the country, ridesharing companies now have more good news. This week, The Initiative on Global Markets Economic Experts Panel, hosted by the University of Chicago, unanimously agreed that allowing ridesharing companies, like Uber, Lyft and, Sidecar to operate without oppressive regulations increases consumer welfare. In short: stop suing Uber, and start using it instead. This is welcome news in the nation’s capital, where this week, cab drivers are protesting against Uber, while failing to realize that spending all day not working in protest just gives even more incentive for DC consumers to request an Uber instead.

When asked whether they agree or disagree that “letting car services such as Uber or Lyft compete with taxi firms on equal footing regarding genuine safety and insurance requirements, but without restrictions on prices or routes, raises consumer welfare,” an overwhelming majority “strongly agreed” or “agreed.” Specifically, 56% “strongly agreed,” while 37% “agreed.” 0% were uncertain, disagreed, or strongly disagreed, while several panelists abstained.

The panel includes 43 top economists from institutions such as MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, who vote weekly on a series of socially, politically, and culturally relevant statements. As share economy companies have grown and expanded to provide more ease and function to their users, they’ve also become the prime target for regulators, who see them as disruptive and threatening.

In his comments, University of Chicago professor and IMG panelist Steven Kaplan wrote, “new technology/information more than offset any net benefits of regulation.”

Certain city councils, on the other hand, disagree. Over the past few months, large cities held hostage by entitled cab companies and transportation networks sent cease-and-desist letters, issued fines, and even banned the ride-sharing services completely. In response, the share economy geared up to push back against the punitive proposed regulations, encouraged by thrilled consumers.

In Austin, for example, the city began issuing cease-and-desist orders to ride share companies. In response, Uber offered completely free rides throughout the city during the South by Southwest Interactive festival, which attracts over 30,000 attendees per year (at the time, there were only 270 cabs in the city’s entire fleet.) Naturally, people were thrilled, and Austin is now implementing a pilot program to lead towards embracing ride-share companies.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Peterson Institute for International Economics senior fellow Justin Wolfers writes,

“The latest survey asked these economic experts about ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft. These services are popular with customers, but are despised by their competitors. The incumbent taxi and limousine services have largely eschewed trying to compete with lower prices or better service, instead working behind the scenes to persuade regulators to banish ride sharing. Their arguments dress their naked self-interest in the guise of public policy concerns. But do the economists buy it? Should regulators restrict the prices, the number of drivers or the available routes available to Uber and its brethren?

                In a word: No.”

ATR’s John Kartch writes in a Forbes op-ed that Republicans and center-right groups need to take advantage of this upswing, and use it to develop a new generation of pro-innovation, free-market voters.

“The votes of sharing economy participants are up for grabs. Feeling a personal stake in public policy, a critical mass of voters will be open to calls to rein in the tax and regulatory excesses that get in the way of their pursuit of happiness.”

Looks like the pursuit of happiness is now just a quick Uber ride away.

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JJinTX

Wow, short sighted, one sided, and not entirely accurate. As a conservative in support of tax reform, I am rather appalled by some of these opinion columns I have read in recent months.


Taxpayer Funds Spent on Union Activities (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, 2:05 PM PERMALINK


Center for Worker Freedom executive director Matt Patterson was quoted in a Washington Examiner article written by Sean Higgins regarding the massive amount of taxpayer funds spent on union activities.

Matt Patterson, executive director of the conservative Center for Worker Freedom, said the cozy relationship between public-sector unions and federal agencies was suspect at best.

“People are under the impression that tax dollars go to pay public employees to do public , but that’s not always so,” Patterson said. “It all amounts to a huge public payoff from elected officials to their Big Labor campaign contributors.”

An op-ed written by Americans for Tax Reform director of state affairs Patrick Gleason was highlighted in Eric Boehm’s Watchdog.Org article regarding California’s plastic bag ban.

As Patrick Gleason of Americans for Tax Reform pointed out in a 2011 National Review article about the San Francisco plastic bag ban: “I don’t know about you, but bags from the store I usually keep to reuse again, to line waste bins, clean up after a pet, etc., so when you don’t have a stockpile built up and aren’t saving those bags, you have to go buy new ones. This goes together with the nonsensical nature of this policy, which has no positive impact on the environment. What’s the point of discriminating against bags on one side of the checkout from bags on the other?”

Julie Gunlock of the Independent Women’s Forum wrote a piece highlighting funds being taken away from breast cancer research and funneled into wasteful, redundant projects.

Mattie Duppler of the Cost of Government Center made this point in a recent post for The Hill newspaper, where she explains that “since 2000, nearly $170 million in grants has been doled out to focus on researching one chemical- bisphenol A (BPA)… despite regulators around the world insisting BPA is safe.” Duppler also points out the paradox that exists in these funding streams- while the agency declares a product safe, it simultaneously funds anti-chemical activist groups that are trying to ban BPA and release dubious studies that claim it’s unsafe for human contact.  

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ATR's Grover Norquist Helps "Call Out Kay" (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, 12:24 PM PERMALINK


A National Review op-ed, written by Erik Telford, highlighted redundant and expensive research conducted by the NIH and funded by taxpayer money.

So why the fears? Sadly, it appears that our tax dollars are largely to blame. As Mattie Duppler of the Cost of Government Center notes, data from the National Institutes of Health show that since 2000, nearly $170 million in grants has been doled out to fund research on BPA. Some of this money has been funneled through the NIH to anti-BPA causes.

Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg wrote a piece about the bipartisan push to have the Penatgon audited.

The Pentagon “should have to meet the same general principles of audit as every American taxpayer” who “must give the IRS numbers you stand behind, have receipts and face immediate financial consequences if you fail to meet the deadline,” said Rafael DeGennaro, director of the “Audit the Pentagon Coalition,” a group that says on its website it has bipartisan backing from lawmakers and advocates including Ralph Nader and Grover Norquist.

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist recently participated the “Call Out Kay” tour, as chronicled by Barnini Chakraborty of FoxNews.com.

Political parties, private donors and outside groups are pouring cash into the contest between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenge Thom Tillis. With just a few weeks until Election Day, total midterm spending in the state has hit an estimated $228 million and is climbing still, with most going toward the Senate contest- putting North Carolina on course to be among the costliest midterms in history. That total is close to what all Democratic Senate candidates spent on their races a decade ago. 

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New TIGTA Report Reveals More IRS Incompetence

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014, 4:23 PM PERMALINK


The newest victims of IRS incompetence are those requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA.) The report revealed that the IRS is still rife with issues, including accidentally releasing confidential information and refusing to provide requested information.

As part of TIGTA’s recurring audits, the group seeks to ensure that the rights of taxpayers are protected. The reports both identify ongoing issues with the IRS’s interaction with information requesters, as well as making recommendations to the group, which are included in TIGTA’s semiannual reports to Congress.

This latest release specifically evaluated Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act information requests, as well as those under IRC Section 6103. The results were the cherry on top of an objectively horrid year for the IRS, which included issues with non-profits, Congress, and now the taxpayers themselves.

In over 11% of surveyed Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act cases, “taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to the requestors.” Whether this was due to missing hard drives or not still remains to be answered.

More concerning, 21% of FOIA/Privacy Act information requests “inadvertently” contained sensitive taxpayer information. This number was up from last year’s 16%.

When it comes to Internal Revenue Code Section 6103, which deals with “confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information,” the IRS’s grade was equally dismal. 15% of information requests under this category were also missing information that the IRS had failed to sufficiently search for and provide.

All of these revelations fly in the face of the IRS’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which includes among its points, “privacy,” “confidentiality,” and “quality service.” Maybe their code should be rewritten to include the taxpayer’s right to shoddy information and released sensitive information.

Apparently, the IRS is too concerned with improperly targeting conservative media, or sending catty emails to actually fulfill the requirements of their jobs. 

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Ray Tsang

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ATR's Patrick Gleason Highlights Issues with Municipal Broadband (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014, 2:01 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform director of state affairs Patrick Gleason wrote an op-ed for Forbes detailing the issues with implementing municipal broadband.

The inherent problem with municipal broadband is that government entities are incapable of fairly competing in the free market, as they are taxpayer-backed and therefore able to charge less for a service than it actually costs. Private businesses cannot do this, as doing so would result in bankruptcy.

The costs of building out and maintaining broadband networks are considerable. It is not a fiscally sound use of scarce taxpayer dollars for governments to compete with billion dollar networks already in existence.

Townhall ran an article by Ky Sisson regarding a recently revealed scandal involving Democratic Kansas gubernatorial candidate, Paul Davis.

During Brownback’s first term, he supported substantial tax reform that reduced the top income tax rate by 25 percent, lowered the state sales tax, and did away with a tax on small business income. Though many liberal opponents disagreed with his approach, the advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform praised Governor Brownback and said that the “tax cuts are working.”

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