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Zoe Crain

Big Labor Targets California Farm Workers (and more...)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014, 1:26 PM PERMALINK

Matt Patterson, executive director of Americans for Tax Reform’s Center for Worker Freedom wrote an op-ed  for Forbes, entitled “Big Labor, Big Government Team Up To Oppress Farm Workers,” highlighting the ALRB’s attack on California farm workers.

Last November, Silvia, along with thousands of her coworkers, voted in a decertification election to rid their workplace of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union that had done nothing for them; the UFW had bargained no wages or conditions for the Gerawan employees, but still wanted three percent of their wages in dues.

For Silvia, that three percent is a significant sum. She saw no reason to surrender the money she earned with her own hands to union bosses, so last autumn she collected enough signatures from co-workers (3,000 to be exact) to trigger a decertification election. In November, the California Agricultural Labor Relations supervised the voting.

Unfortunately, the ALRB is refusing to count those votes. Was the UFW booted out of Gerawan? We don’t know- the ballots sit under lock and key in the Board’s office. The Board is claiming the votes can’t be counted until the election is “investigated.” Unfortunately, they are not doing any investigating, claiming they have run out of funds to do so.

Newsmax’s Greg Richter wrote a piece detailing the new confusions and challenges that will impact taxpayers next tax season as a result of Obamacare.

Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, testified before Congress in early June that the upcoming tax season “has the potential to be one of the most chaotic in years.”

One of the main problems, Ellis said, is in the calculation of subsidies, which are done by estimate and may not reflect actual income- especially for those whose income changes dramatically during the year.

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Individual Mandate Penalty Amounts to a Tax (and more...)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, July 28th, 2014, 2:07 PM PERMALINK

Chris Conover wrote an article for Forbes, detailing recent IRS releases which demonstrated that the Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance penalty amounts to a tax.

We’ve actually known for some time that the individual mandate is a tax, for reasons laid out by Americans for Tax Reform:

The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare structure.

The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.

Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.

Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax.

MoneyNews’s Dan Weil wrote an article regarding the necessity of corporate tax reform.

Obama has received some fierce criticism for mounting a charge against tax inversions rather than fighting for corporate tax reform.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, strongly disagrees with Obama’s strategy. “It’s the president’s fault that he has done nothing in five years to reduce corporate rates, which he said he was going to do,” Norquist tells CNBC. 

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Export-Import Bank Places Huge Burden on Taxpayers (and more...)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

Kevin Mooney of the Daily Signal wrote an article detailing the massive financial burden the Export-Import Bank places on American taxpayers. He spoke with Americans for Tax Reform federal affairs manager Chris Prandoni.

Data compiled by the Western Energy Alliance shows federal leasing for oil and gas exploration on land has dried up as well. The end result of the Obama administration's energy policies at home and abroad is a "lose-lose" for taxpayers, Chris Prandoni, director of energy and environment policy at Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal. Prandoni says: 

"While President Obama's EPA was writing regulations that forced 300 American coal-fired power plants to close down, his Export-Import Bank conceded the importance of coal by financing overseas coal development. This lose-lose for the American taxpayer is particularly painful: Our electricity rates will increase as we pay countries to burn what we no longer can.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an op-ed written by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and director of state affairs Patrick Gleason regarding the conservative fight against excessive shared economy regulation. 

Now, despite the Democrats' urban dominance, cities may soon be up for grabs. That's because the party's refusal in most cases to embrace the innovative technology and disruptive businesses that have greatly improved city life presents a challenge to Democrats- and an opportunity for Republicans. 

Democrats face a tough choice. A big part of their base is the unions now facing off against such disruptive innovations as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and charter schools. Do Democrats support the regulations pushed by taxi and other unions that help to protect the status quo but can also stifle competition? Or do they embrace innovative technologies and businesses that expand transportation options, create jobs and are increasingly welcomed by another key Democratic constituency: urban dwellers, particularly young urban dwellers?

Americans for Tax Reform international programs manager Lorenzo Montanari wrote an op-ed for Breitbart highlighting how new cigarette packaging regulations have failed in Australia and should be prevented in Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

The stated purpose of plain packaging is that once you take away tobacco companies' branding, people will be less inclined to buy their products. The results thus far appear to be the opposite. More than a year after Australia enacted the policy, studies by London Economics and renowned professors at the Universities of Zurich and Saarland (Switzerland and Germany) concluded it's not deterring adults nor adolescents from smoking. 

In fact, according to the tobacco industry's sales volume data, cigarette sales increased by 59 million sticks in Australia during the first year of plain packaging, offsetting a four year downward trend. The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores even reports that its members' sales grew by 5.4 percent. 

Jason Pye of United Liberty interviewed Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who described free market reform opportunities at the state level: 

"We're opportunistic right now. Nothing is moving at the federal-level because you have gridlock between a Democratic president and a Republican House, and neither is going to let the other team do anything either useful or evil," said Norquist. "But in the 50 states, there are 24 states with united Republican control, so there's the opportunity there to do pension reform, tax cuts, [and] concealed carry. In the 13 blue states, there they're raising taxes rather than fix the pension system."

Bob Adelmann of the New American detailed the success of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts. 

A close look at what is happening in the Kansas City metro area is revealing: From May 2011 through May 2011 (June numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics won't be published until July 18), almost three-fourths of job growth took place in Kansas City, Kansas. What's even more impressive, however, is that Kansas City, Kansas has one-fourth the population of Kansas City, Missouri: 145,000 compared to 476,000. As Will Upton modestly concluded in his blog at Americans for Tax Reform, "It is arguable that the 2012 spike [in employment on the Kansas side of town] was caused by businesses anticipating a better tax climate in Kansas after the 2012 tax cuts."

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Gov. Walker Not Phased by Opponent's Lies

Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, July 10th, 2014, 11:13 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform director of state affairs Patrick Gleason wrote an op-ed in Forbes highlighting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s opponent, Mary Burke, who has been misleading her supporters with falsehoods about Gov. Walker’s tax policy.

Gov. Walker signed $650 million worth of income tax cuts into law in 2013, reducing all rates and consolidating the state personal income tax from five income tax brackets to four. Contrary to what Burke claims, low and middle income Wisconsin households actually saw the greatest relief from Walker’s 2013 tax cuts. The top rate was only reduced by one percent, whereas the bottom three tax brackets were reduced by anywhere from three to five percent.

Mike Godfrey of wrote an article regarding a coalition letter sent to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, discouraging members from short-term tax reform measures.

The coalition, including such associations as Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute and Americans for Prosperity, pointed out that, “while the clock is running out on the legislative calendar for 2014, with the August recess fast approaching and the midterm elections around the corner,… there’s still not much taxpayers are seeing out of Congress on comprehensive tax reform.

Wall Street Daily ran a piece by Floyd Brown discussing “Cost of Government Day,” an initiative developed by Americans for Tax Reform’s Cost of Government Center.

Now, the Cost of Government Day had never fallen past June 27 before our current president’s tenure. But for the sixth consecutive year, it’s fallen in July.

This time, the official date was July 6, as calculated by Americans for Tax Reform.

In 2014, the government’s share of GDP has climbed over 50%. Our backpacker (the economy) can’t regain his momentum, and he’s struggling to make progress. You’ve probably noticed that the economy has been unable to reach pre-2008 growth levels. Instead, we’re having difficulty growing productivity, employment, corporate earnings and personal income.

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Grover Norquist Appears on C-SPAN Washington Journal

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, 12:06 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist appeared on C-SPAN Washington Journal, hosted by Pedro Echevarria, where he discussed a number of topics, including the continued impact of failed economic policies under President Obama. An excerpt of his comments is below.

If Obama’s economy had grown at Reagan’s pace, since the bottom of the recession, there’d be 10 million more Americans working. The cost of raising taxes, spending- creating new entitlements rather than reforming the ones we have that don’t work as well as we would like them to- is 10 million people out of work today. 10 million Americans don’t have jobs because instead of having lower taxes and less regulations, this administration has had more regulations, more spending, higher taxes, new government programs without reform.

Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, wrote an op-ed in FlashReport detailing the fight of farm workers in California against union bosses and a corrupt labor relations board.

The union’s motivations are clear- a once-powerful force boasting over 50,000 dues paying members, the UFW has lost decertification elections time and time again over the last several decades. Farm workers have decided en masse that the union does little to justify its outrageous dues. Today the UFW claims merely 5,000 members; if they successfully organize Gerawan they will have instantly doubled their membership.  

The Washington Examiner published an editorial featuring the Cost of Government Center’s work surrounding “Cost of Government Day.”

According to the Cost of Government Center (which is part of Americans for Tax Reform), it took the U.S. economy 121 days- roughly the first four months of the year- to produce enough for government to spend at all levels (81 days for federal and 40 days for state and local spending). It took an additional 65 days to produce the resources required to pay for the costs of regulatory compliance at all levels.

Ashley Dobson of Red Alert Politics wrote an article detailing how Cost of Government Day has been pushed later into the calendar year under President Obama.

This was the sixth consecutive year that Cost of Government Day fell in July. Prior to President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, the latest it had fallen was June 27, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

Politico’s Morning Tax Briefing covered a letter sent to Congress by Americans for Tax Reform, along with other conservative organizations, imploring House and Senate committees to avoid short-term fixes in addressing corporate tax reform.

The groups- including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform and Americans for Prosperity, among others- write in a letter that will be sent to the leadership of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees today that they want to “strongly caution against the urge to take action on short-term fixes aimed at individual symptoms, rather than the entirety of the tax code. We are specifically concerned about proposals that seek to make changes to our tax laws as a means to pay for projects that are totally unrelated to tax reform. Attempts like these are a step in the wrong direction. Their passage will do nothing to help America’s job creators. In fact, it will make it even more difficult to achieve true tax reform.”

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Threats to Uber and Lyft Present Opportunity for Republicans

Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, July 7th, 2014, 1:16 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform federal affairs manager Katie McAuliffe authored an op-ed in the Bakersfield Californian encouraging support for The Email Privacy Act.

Though Americans’ online communications are currently vulnerable to government snooping, there is pending legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives that could remedy the gaping hole that exists in our privacy rights. The Email Privacy Act would extend protections to Americans’ private communications stored in the cloud. This legislation, led by Reps. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., and Jared Polis D-Colo., has garnered broad, bipartisan support from more than half of the members in the House. This is legislation new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy could help move forward to ensure Americans’ private communications stored online are protected. Moreover, there is clear momentum for protecting Americans’ data with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that Fourth Amendment protections extend to cell phones.

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and director of state affairs Patrick Gleason co-wrote an op-ed in Reuters detailing the opportunity for Republicans in fighting against regulatory threats to ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Politically, this presents an opportunity for Republicans to make a comeback in cities. By championing the often disruptive share-economy businesses, defending them against the status quo and focusing their political campaigns on these issues, the GOP can show it is the party that embraces companies that improve the quality of life in cities. 

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Rep. Dingell Points Finger at Pledge, Rather than Party

Posted by Zoe Crain on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014, 2:53 PM PERMALINK

John Gizzi's article in Newsmax detailed Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist's response to Rep. John Dingell blaming the Taxpayer Protection Pledge for Congress's inefficacy.

After Newsmax read Dingell's words to him later that day, Norquist replied: "It's very flattering and there's real wisdom in his words. Mr. Dingell is wrong in citing me, but quite correct in citing the pledge as a substantial blow to the left. This is a high honor."

What Dingell means by Congress working, Norquist said, "is through raising taxes and that the pledge has made it difficult for government to work as it did for so many of the years he was in Congress."

The Associated Press ran an article featuring Grover Norquist's warnings to the Indiana Tax Summit about hidden tax increases as the state considers overhauling their tax code.

How can officials avoid pushing the electorate into the kind of cynicism infecting national politics? Winning the support needed for major tax reform will be especially difficult, said tax activist Grover Norquist, because the natural suspicion is that a tax increase will be hidden somewhere in the reform.

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Uber Revs its Engine Against State and Local Regulations

Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, June 30th, 2014, 4:19 PM PERMALINK

Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast wrote an article detailing political challenges to the sharing economy, including companies like Uber and Airbnb.

Given that, it’s not surprising that Uber is gaining friends on the right side of the political aisle. For example, Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist, on Thursday tweeted “Today, there are two political parties/movements in America. One is Uber, the other is with taxi commission. Choose.”

The Associated Press ran an article written by Tom LoBianco which covered some of the highlights from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference.

Tax experts and conservative thought leaders who tangled with all manner of esoteric tax questions last week also debated a more philosophical question: How do you win the public’s trust?

The question was floated last week at Gov. Mike Pence’s tax summit by Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute President John Ketzenberger. Well-known tax opponent Grover Norquist said the public often is ware of a tax hike being slipped into any tax reform effort.

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute wrote an op-ed in the Indy Star regarding the successes of last week’s tax summit.

I’ll concede the headliners at the recent Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference was a Who’s Who of conservative economists and fiscal policy experts.

If the idea was to hammer home Gov. Mike Pence’s faith in the ideas of supply-side economist Arthur Laffer and Americans for Tax Reform Founder Grover Norquist, it was mission accomplished.

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EPA Proves They're Full of Crap

Posted by Zoe Crain on Friday, June 27th, 2014, 3:04 PM PERMALINK

In a literal example of government waste, the Environmental Protection Agency spent taxpayer funds this week on a “crisis intervention and trauma recovery” expert in order to stop a serial pooper in the Region 8 (Denver, CO) office from defecating in the hallways.

Government Executive obtained a copy of the email sent to EPA employees, which referenced several incidents, including “clogging the toilets with paper towels” and “an individual placing feces in the hallway outside the restroom.”

In response to the fecal freebooter, psychologist John Nicoletti, whose website describes him as a “national expert in police psychology, violence risk assessment, workplace and school violence prevention, as well as crisis intervention and trauma recovery,” was brought in to explain the risks associated with this type of behavior. But, perhaps an expert on potty training would have been more appropriate.

The EPA did release a statement on the unidentified bathroom bandit, saying,

“EPA cannot comment on ongoing personnel matters. EPA’s actions in response to recent workplace issues have been deliberate and have focused on ensuring a safe work environment for our employees. Our brief consultation with Dr. Nicoletti on this matter, a resource who regularly provides our office with training and expertise on workplace issues, reflects our commitment to securing a safe workplace.”

This is only the latest example of federal funds sent down the toilet at the EPA. Earlier this year, ATR reported on EPA employees using federal charge cards to purchase gym memberships and gift cards. That same month, news broke that an EPA employee had downloaded over 7,000 pornographic images onto the EPA server, and finally admitted to looking at porn for over 6 hours a day at work.

Something smells foul in this whole situation. Perhaps it’s simply a revolution against the surely environmentally harmful plastic dog waste bags? Or maybe it’s just an effort to fertilize naturally. Regardless, such a crappy expenditure of taxpayer funds is just another instance of the EPA being caught with their pants down. 

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DC City Council Cuts Taxes Against Gym Owners' Desires (and more)

Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, June 26th, 2014, 3:52 PM PERMALINK

Brian Faler of Politico wrote an article detailing the Washington, D.C. city council’s expanded sales tax.

“Buying a home gym should be taxed at the same rate as going to one next door, and currently that’s not the case,” said Paul Blair, state affairs manager at Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “The same is true for bottled water, carpet cleanings and car washes- buy the products yourself and you’re taxed; have someone else perform the service for you and you’re not.”

An article in Newsmax by Sandy Fitzgerald detailed increased support for Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist’s idea of renaming the Washington Redskins to the Washington Reagans.

Earlier this month, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist got in on the joke, telling Buzzfeed he thinks the plan is a “great idea” and that the team “can be the Ronald Reagans on winning years and the Nancy Reagans on losing years. Unless that gets us in more trouble elsewhere.”

An Indianapolis Star write up of Gov. Mike Pence’s Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference highlighted a quote from speaker Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform: “People say they want taxes simple. But what they really want is lower taxes… the worst taxes are the ones people don’t know about.”

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