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Zoe Crain

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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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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Alfredo Mendez

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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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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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Grover Norquist Discusses Taxes and the Upcoming Election Cycle (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, September 29th, 2014, 11:42 AM PERMALINK


Todd Beamon of Newsmax wrote an article about tax reform’s place in this upcoming election cycle.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, explained that Republicans are not talking much about taxes this election season because the media has focused on so many other issues.

“Do I wish everybody would talk about taxes all day?” he asked Politico. “Yes, in the same way that ministers wish everybody would read the Bible all day.”

“But am I reasonably happy that the congregation has a Bible and knows what they’re doing? Yes.”

Politico’s Brian Faler interviewed Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist about the media’s coverage of tax reform.

Grover Norquist, the influential head of Americans for Tax Reform, chalked up the lack of tax talk this year to the news media’s focus on other issues and rejected suggestions that Republicans’ enthusiasm for old-fashioned rate cuts has waned.

“Do I wish everybody would talk about taxes all day?” he asked. “Yes, in the same way that ministers wish everybody would read the Bible all day. But am I reasonably happy that the congregation has a Bible and knows what they’re doing? Yes.”

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Grover Norquist Discusses Kansas Gubernatorial Race (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Thursday, September 25th, 2014, 1:17 PM PERMALINK


Human Events ran an op-ed written by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, regarding the importance of Kansas’s gubernatorial election.

The genius of Brownback’s 2013 legislation to abolish the income tax over time is that the law now states that each year that state revenue comes in above a two percent increase- and this happens in a normal period of modest growth- all the additional revenue is used to permanently reduce the state personal income tax. Beginning in 2019, after the first round of tax rate reductions are enacted, every year the personal income tax rates will fall until they hit zero. Then the corporate income tax rate will be brought down year by year to zero. Lastly, Kansas has a banking tax that will then be reduced to zero. The tax rates will ratchet down every year there is modest growth in state revenues. Kansas can- and now by law will- fund necessary government expenses out of the revenues from growth over time and use those to replace the personal and business income taxes.

Rachel Stoltzfoos of The Daily Caller wrote an article featuring Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist’s take on the impact of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts.

“He’s actually governed well,” Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They’ve had strong growth.”

More people are moving into the state than are leaving, thousands of small businesses basically no longer have a corporate income tax, and future budgets will be stronger, he said, which are all steps in the right direction. “In the next ten years, a lot of money will come in through growth and that money will go back to taxpayers, not government unions,” he told The DCNF.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist was interviewed for an article written by HNGN’s Taylor Tyler which delved into Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s campaign.

After tax reductions are enacted, personal income tax rates will fall every year until they hit zero, claims Norquist. “Then the corporate income tax rate will be reduced to zero,” along with the banking tax.

States that follow this plan will be able to “fund necessary government expenses out of the revenues from growth over time and use those to replace the personal and business income tax,” said Norquist, concluding, “if Sam Brownback wins in November watch for more governors who have his courage to challenge anti-reform Republicans in primaries and to phase out their state income taxes.”

James Kilgore of Counterpunch wrote a piece discussing recent conservative support for criminal justice reform.

To top it off, the right wing joined the “softer on crime” fray. Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich sparked a conservative anti-imprisonment drift through their Right on Crime organization which decried the excessive use and cost of punishment. Then Rand Paul followed suit, standing shoulder to shoulder with Cory Booker to back a Redeem Act which would ease criminal penalties for juveniles. In the background a steady stream of popular advocacy combined with legislative and financial re-thinks appeared to be making major inroads into criminal justice orthodoxy. But last week, carceral optimism gave way to a much harsher reality. The Bureau of Justice’s annual statistical report on national prison population revealed that incarceration numbers were up for the first time since 2009. The rise was a mere 0.3% but even this slight uptick may have burst the bubble of the new paradigm.

John Gizzi of Newsmax wrote an article detailing a movement in Tennessee, supported by Americans for Tax Reform’s president Grover Norquist to keep the state from an enacting a state income tax.

“Basically, ‘Three’ is similar to constitutional bans on income taxes in other states, such as Florida,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told Newsmax. “Although Tennessee has no income tax and Republicans hold super-majorities in both houses of the legislature, that will not always be the case.”

“You can’t always count on tradition to protect you. With the Democratic Party so left-wing, if it ever got into a position of political power- even for a short time- it is very possible Democrats could enact an income tax. So you’ve got to have this barrier to protect the taxpayer from the income tax.”

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ATR president Grover Norquist Appears on NBC's "Meet the Press" (and more...)

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Posted by Zoe Crain on Monday, September 22nd, 2014, 4:14 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” hosted by Chuck Todd to discuss the successes of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts. An excerpt of his remarks is below:

“If you want your taxes higher, vote for a Democrat governor. If you want your taxes lowered, vote for a Republican governor. Right now, it’s overwhelmingly Republican governors in the country, and the people who are losing are guys like in Illinois, a Democrat who’s raised taxes too much in the state.”

Mike Lillis of The Hill wrote an article following Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist’s appearance on “Meet the Press.”

“They’ve had 57,000 jobs in the private sector created in Kansas; they’ve actually been spending more money, each year in the state, on education than in the past,” he said.

“The reason why the entire left in the country has jumped on top of Kansas is they have provided a model, a successful model, that will phase out the income tax,” Norquist added.

Newsmax’s Greg Richter covered the debate between Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and liberal author Thomas Frank this weekend on “Meet the Press.”

Norquist pointed out that there are 30 states with GOP governors who have cut taxes more than $30 billion over the past four years. The 20 states with Democratic governors have raised taxes $40 billion.

Those losing, Norquist said, are Democrats such as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and even one Republican, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett

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