Documents: California Department of Public Health Launches $75 Million Campaign to Discourage Vaping

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 4:33 PM PERMALINK

Today, the California Department of Public Health (CADPH) kicked off a new public relations campaign aimed at discouraging consumers from using electronic cigarettes and vapor products. Documents reveal that a cost of $75 million to taxpayers, this campaign is the most recent in a long list of efforts to create negative public sentiment about vaping.

In a press release, the CADPH stated that today they were going to “premiere a series of television, digital, and outdoor ads in a new campaign called ‘Wake Up,’ as part of its educational effort to inform the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”

Thought they do not announce the cost of the program in the press release, documents from the California Tobacco Control Program Funding Opportunities and Resources reveal the cost of this campaign: “Approximately $75 million is estimated to be available for the five-year contract period.”

A website, is being promoted by the state. To the tune of the 1958 song by The Chordettes, one ad flashes images of young adults vaping. Another ad claims that e-cigarettes are “a new way to inhale toxic chemicals with a drug addictive as heroin.”

"The orchestrators of this campaign at the California Department of Public Health should be ashamed of themselves. For years, public health bureaucrats claimed that efforts to discourage smoking were about increasing public health. This most recent $75 million taxpayer-funded effort has further exposed the fraud of those claims by demonstrating that anti-vaping government activists care about one thing and one thing alone: money," said ATR president Grover Norquist. "Campaigns like this are clearly aimed at preventing smokers from making the transition to a much healthier alternative so that the state can continue to fund big government initiatives with cigarette tax revenue." 

The original documents from the state show that a Request for a Proposal (RFP) was released in December of 2013 as RFP 14-10003. A “pre-proposal webinar” stated that at the time, the goal was to make California “America’s largest non-smoking section.” Despite the fact that vapor products don’t contain tobacco and smoke isn’t produced in their use, this proposal asked a firm to apply for available taxpayer resources for this project.

A PowerPoint at the time noted “Other Tobacco Products” like electronic cigarettes were an area of concern. One slide suggested, “Funding: Less smoking = less tax collected” with regards to smoking.

In targeting an effective smoking cessation device – vapor products – it is clear that the California Department of Public Health wants to maintain cigarette sales as an important funding source for their big spending priorities. By discouraging vaping, the state may recoup potential revenue losses that occur when a smoker transitions from unhealthy cigarette use to products proven to be 99% less harmful, but not taxed as much. In doing so, the CADPH is putting at risk thousands of lives as they promote lies about the innovative and disruptive technology products that have grown in popularity over the last 5 years.

E-cigarettes are accomplishing what social engineers never could: they’re getting people to quit smoking across all demographics. And they’re accomplishing this without taxpayer funded PR campaigns or government bans and regulations.

A joint effort by the American Vaping Association, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, and the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association mocks CADPH’s propaganda and creates a different narrative about the product with a website of their own: The website uses similar graphics and images, flipping the script on the CADPH.

Here is one example from a CADPH ad:


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Some Rabbit

tax revenue is more addictive than nicotine apparently.


This is not going to end well for Public Health California - even Californians can't be blind to what's going on - this is blatant lying manipulation, and people will pay for it with their lives, literally!

mobtek mobtekl

Time for a class action to sue California for putting peoples lives at risk from continued smoking.

New Mexico Fights for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 4:32 PM PERMALINK

The New Mexico legislature passed a bill on Saturday which will change the way authorities are able to seize property under civil asset forfeiture rules. HB 560, introduced by Representative Zachary J. Cook (R-N.M.), is designed to curtail the practice of civil asset forfeiture and ensure that it is only used against criminals while applying strict rules of due process.

Civil asset forfeiture is a process by which authorities are permitted to confiscate the property of an individual suspected of a crime. The key word being suspected, meaning no conviction, warrant, or proof is required to take control of the property. This property, once taken, goes to the department that performed the confiscation, thereby padding their budget.

A person who has their property taken in such a way must engage in lengthy and often times expensive legal proceedings in order to prove the property had no connection to a crime.

Things may soon be different in New Mexico.

Under the new law, authorities will first have to convict an individual of a crime or prove the property was used in a crime in order to take it. Additionally, the money will go to a general state fund instead of the individual police budgets in order to remove the profit incentive.

As it stands the bill only requires the signature of Governor Susana Martinez in order to become law. Given the short legislative sessions in New Mexico, this will likely be the only opportunity to pass such a reform for the next few years. If it passes, HB 560 will become a milestone in the nation-wide effort to change civil asset forfeiture laws.

Billions of dollars have been taken under civil asset forfeiture since the eighties, when the rules were expanded. Though it will take the combined efforts of the state and federal governments to rectify the problem, measures like the one passed over the weekend will go a long way to protect individuals from government overreach.

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lets see who votes against it and why.

Governor Paul LePage’s Plan for Prosperity in Maine

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Posted by Sven Werner, Paul Blair on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 2:12 PM PERMALINK

Governor Paul LePage (R-Maine) recently announced his plan to place on the ballot a referendum in 2016 to abolish the income tax. His proposed amendment to the Maine Constitution would eliminate the income tax for good, preventing Augusta politicians from re-implementing the income tax in the future via legislative vote.

LePage announced that he would likely set 2020 as the year the income tax repeal would go into effect. If the referendum were successful, Maine would become the tenth state to not tax income, which would help fulfill one of the promises LePage made regarding his two terms in office.

Gov. Le Page recently pitched his budget and the elimination of the income tax at a town hall forum:

“The whole purpose of my budget is to make Maine more prosperous and to give the Maine worker the largest wage increase since the 1960s,” LePage said. “This is better than any minimum wage you can talk about. This will propel the economy for decades.”

According to his new budget, he not only wants to abolish the entire state income tax - which is comprised of two brackets - but also reduce the top tax rate from 7.95 % to 5.75%. His budget also reduces top corporate tax rate from 8.93% to 6.75% while broadening and raising the state sales tax from 5.5% to 6.5%.

The Tax Foundation concluded in their State Business Climate Index, that if all of Le Page’s budget proposals were implemented, Maine would move from being ranked at 33rd to 23rd in the index.

The budget would result in more than $250 million in net tax cuts, independent of the plan to eliminate the income tax.

In 2014, Forbes ranked Maine as second worst state to do business in, something that clearly concerns Gov. LePage. The governor has worked to make the case since his first election 5 years ago that the tax code must be simpler, flatter, and encourage more economic growth. His most recent budget and his plan to place the elimination of the income tax on the ballot further demonstrates his commitment to those principles.


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Andrew Lachance

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Norquist Praises Cruz Upon Campaign Launch

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Posted by John Kartch on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 12:18 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist today praised Sen. Ted Cruz upon his announcement as a candidate for President of the United States:

“The first announced Republican candidate for President has taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a Senate candidate, kept that pledge as a Senator, and should be commended for his history of championing pro-growth, tax-reducing legislation."

As the campaign season unfolds, Americans for Tax Reform will release evaluations of tax plans and summaries of the tax voting record and pledge-taking status of all declared candidates.

As governors, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry have all signed — and kept — the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As Senators, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio (and Ted Cruz, as noted above) have all signed — and kept — the pledge. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee did not sign the pledge while in the statehouse, but did sign the pledge as a presidential candidate in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races.

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Gage Skidmore

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ATR Endorses Senate 2016 Budget Plan

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie, Jorge Marin on Friday, March 20th, 2015, 5:11 PM PERMALINK

ATR President Grover Norquist today released a letter of support for the recently released U.S. Senate Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016. This budget balances the budget by promoting fiscally responsible solutions that reins in the bloated federal deficit. In particular, this proposal repeals Obamacare and its numerous job killing regulations, reforms the healthcare system, and protects seniors through strengthening Medicare and Medicaid.

Perhaps most importantly, this budget proposal also maintains the spending restrictions mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which will lead to $1.79 trillion in savings through 2021.

See the full letter below: 

Dear Chairmen Enzi,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, I write in strong support of the U.S. Senate budget proposal. The budget blueprint authored by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) will ensure that Washington lives within its means by balancing the budget in less than ten years and cutting $5.1 trillion in federal spending over a ten-year period.

The budget proposal calls for reforms to struggling entitlement programs, clamps down on inefficient and ineffective government programs, and lays the groundwork for strong economic growth. The plan also empowers the states to make their own decisions by applying federalist principles.

Notably, the Senate budget repeals Obamacare in its entirety and reforms the health care system to increase access to affordable care while providing patients with better medical choices. Repealing Obamacare would eliminate numerous job killing regulations including the employer mandate and the individual mandate. In place of this complex system, the Senate budget prioritizes a patient-centered approach that gives power back to the individual.

In order to protect our seniors, the Senate budget ensures the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by five years. It applies the savings dictated by law to the program as it repeals the harmful Independent Payment Advisory Board. Moreover it keeps to the savings goals proposed by the president but maintains ultimate financial decision-making agency with congressional committees working with beneficiaries.

Finally, the budget implements improvements to Medicaid. Specifically, it repeals the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and instead expands the Children’s Health Insurance Program to protect our most precious charges.

The Senate Budget maintains the spending restrictions mandated in the Budget Control Act of 2011, ensuring the continuation of the savings from discretionary spending. In contrast to the White House budget, which ignores 2011 spending caps and raises spending through misleading promises, the Senate budget abides by federal law.

It is important to keeps the caps in place that have stabilized federal spending since 2011 and will lead to $1.79 trillion in savings through 2021. You should be congratulated for proposing a more fiscally responsible solution despite the urging of some of his more reckless colleagues to break spending caps and undo years of fiscal restraint.

We urge the Senate to support this bold pro-growth proposal. It returns power to states and localities while making great, positive strides in the tax code.


Grover G. Norquist                                                                        
Americans for Tax Reform           

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Simon Cunningham

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Texas Lawmakers Take on The Reviled Margin Tax

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Posted by Sven Werner, Patrick Gleason on Friday, March 20th, 2015, 4:16 PM PERMALINK

Despite being more progressive from a tax policy standpoint than most states, Texas still has a major flaw in its tax code: a gross receipts tax on employers known as the margin tax. The Texas margin tax is complex, unnecessary and keeps small and mid-size businesses from creating jobs. It even applies to companies who don’t make a profit. The good news is lawmakers are working to fix this problem during the 2015 legislative session. Two bills that would reduce the margin tax’s burden on Texas employers, Senate Bill 7 & Senate Bill 8, were approved by the Texas Senate Finance Committee this week.

SB 7 would, if signed into law, reduce the margin tax by 15 percent. SB8 would raise the exemption from $1 million to $4 million and exempt businesses that owe less than $1,000. While either of these bills would be better than passing nothing, cutting the tax rate is better approach than raising the exemption. The best outcome would be to put the margin tax on a path to elimination. There are six bills pending in the Texas Senate that would ultimately do away with the margin tax.

Texas is currently ranked as the 10th best business tax climate on the non-partisan Tax Foundation’s annual index. By getting rid of the margin tax, Texas would improve to the 3rd best business tax climate in the nation. A Texas Public Policy Foundation Report found that, based on dynamic econometric models, repealing the margin tax would lead to the creation of 129, 200 jobs in the first five years after its elimination.

It’s wise for Texas legislators to use the 2015 legislative session to improve their tax code as much as possible. Other states are working to cut taxes this session, even states with relatively competitive tax codes. One example is Tennessee. Like Texas, Tennessee does not tax worker paychecks. However, Tennessee does tax dividend income. Even though Tennessee has a lower state and local tax burden than Texas and all but three other states Tennessee lawmakers are planning to approve legislation this year to phase out their tax on investment income. With other states working hard to make themselves as attractive as possible to investment and job creation, Texas lawmakers cannot rest on their laurels.

Fortunately it looks like some form of margin tax relief will be approved this year. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently declared that he “will reject any budget that does not include genuine tax relief for Texas employers and job creators.” A great way for legislators to send Gov. Abbott what he has requested is to pass legislation to end or at least significantly cut the margin tax.


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Stuart Seeger

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North Carolina Senators Propose Corporate Tax Relief

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Friday, March 20th, 2015, 3:37 PM PERMALINK

North Carolina has received a lot of attention in recent years for the historic tax reform package approved there in 2013. This week, North Carolina senators introduced a proposal to build upon those reforms and make the state even more economically competitive.

On Wednesday, legislation was filed in the North Carolina senate that would cut the state corporate tax, which is currently 5%, to 4% in 2016, and 3% in 2017. The 2013 tax reform act brings the corporate rate down to 3%, but only if certain revenue targets are met. The bill filed this week, Senate Bill 338, would make sure that the corporate tax will go to 3% no matter what. This corporate tax reduction will increase the job-creating capacity of North Carolina employers and benefit the broader populace. The fact is that corporations don’t pay taxes, people do. Aside from the fact that the corporate tax is one of the most economically damaging forms of taxation, the burden of corporate taxes is borne by ordinary people in the form of reduced wages and shrunken 401Ks. This corporate tax cut would total $500 million per year once fully phased in. 

The senate plan would also change the formula under which the state corporate tax is calculated. The current formula is based on in-state payroll, property, and sales. The plan announced by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger this week moves the state corporate tax to a formula based only on in-state sales, commonly referred to as “single sales factor.” This is a good move from an economic standpoint, as the current formula penalizes companies that hire more workers or expand in-state operations. Moving to a single sales factor reduces this disincentive on in-state investment and payroll growth. It is for this very reason that lawmakers in neighboring Tennessee have introduced legislation year to move to a single sales factor corporate tax system.

Every state bordering North Carolina has a lower state and local tax burden. Legislators in South Carolina and Tennessee are moving to make their tax codes even more competitive by cutting income taxes this year. As such, it’s wise for North Carolina lawmakers to use the 2015 session allow individuals, families, and employers to keep more of their hard-earned income. The plan introduced in the North Carolina senate this week would do just that. 

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But who will build the roads? A case for privatization

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Posted by Sven Werner on Friday, March 20th, 2015, 1:05 PM PERMALINK

If a state owned road is closed, why not build your own? That’s exactly what English businessman Mike Watts did. But just how is that possible, without the government?

In August 2014 Watts built a private toll road across a field in a matter of 10 days after the government-controlled road was closed due to a mudslide. To avoid the 14 mile detour on government roads, people were ready to pay a small toll for using the road. Watts spent a total of around 300,000 pounds on the 365 meter road. In the two months, that his toll road was open, and the government road was closed, Watts nearly broke even on his investment. If the English government had been any slower in clearing the mudslide and repairing their road, Watts would have assuredly made a profit.

That the government and the government only, has the special knowledge and abilities to build roads is often a myth peddled by lawmakers and special interests when the suggestion of privatizing transportation comes up. But this is just a myth - one used by those afraid of budget efficiencies and innovation. 

Private toll roads already exist in the US. Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels decided to lease Indiana’s toll road to private developers after Indiana had been losing money on it for years. Because private companies, opposed to the state, have an interest in efficiency and cutting wasteful spending, the private developers implemented electronic tolling. This investment in making the process more efficient led to saving more than 55% on toll collection. And that’s only one example how they figured out how to save money and make the toll road more cost effective.

France, in terms of privately run highways, takes it to a whole other level: 8000 kilometers of 11000 kilometers of highway are under by private concession. More than half of Italy’s highways are run by private companies who implemented electronic tolling in 1998 - unthinkable for state-run highways back then. The customers of the private run highways are billed by the distance they travel on the roads, maximizing the "user pays" philosophy many lawmakers seek when it comes to transportation funding.

These examples emphasize how drivers and taxpayers can benefit from private-run roads and how governments can work with private industry to ensure that transportation is truly funded on a "user pays" basis. 

Photo Credit: 
Mark Stevens

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Of course, the company that Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road to has now gone bankrupt. I'm not sure that necessarily detracts from the strength of the author's argument, especially when one considers the deplorable condition of streets and roads throughout Indiana (especially in and around Indianapolis, the state's capitol).

The question, though, is why would private road construction companies have any interest in taking on the responsibilities associated with regular road maintenance and repair? They're already making a fortune from state and federal tax dollars flowing their way from government. In the long run, it seems, once these road construction companies do the math, they'll decide that it makes more financial sense for them to just keep raking in tax money in return for doing shoddy repair work. Little chance of these companies going bankrupt if they stick to their current model. And politicians won't lose the precious campaign donations they get from the road companies in return for the work the politicians send the companies' way.

In short, although the author's thesis is sound, it completely ignores the reality of the special relationship road companies and politicians share. That's a relationship that will take some strain to break. And, so far, it seems to be working too well for the parties involved.

ATR Supports Tax Simplification for Seniors

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, March 19th, 2015, 3:22 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, the “Senior Tax Simplification Act” was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Complying with the U.S. tax code costs Americans six billion hours and $168 billion each year.  This legislation will simplify tax compliance for those who need it most – our seniors. ATR supports this legislation and urges all Congressmen and Senators to vote for and otherwise support this bill.

H.R. 1397, introduced by Congressman John Fleming (R-La) and S. 716, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) would instruct the IRS to create a new 1040 tax form specifically for senior citizens. The form would simplify the process of filing taxes and include information for the most common types of income reported by seniors - interest, dividends, capital gains, Social Security benefits, pension payments, IRA distributions, wages, and unemployment compensation.  

Each year, 21 million returns are filed in households where the primary taxpayer is over 65. The creation of a streamlined tax form will make life easier for these millions of households and lead to a more efficient system.
A similar form already exists for young taxpayers, the 1040-EZ. This form is used by almost 5 million households each year. Given the success of this form in simplifying the tax code for younger workers, there is no reason that seniors should not be given this same assistance.

The Senior Tax Implication Act will provide much needed clarity and grant seniors a more efficient and streamlined process.


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Jeb Bush Still Refuses to Rule Out Tax Hikes

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Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, March 19th, 2015, 12:34 PM PERMALINK

Jeb Bush has enthusiastically endorsed a "grand bargain" tax increase with Democrats, says his father's 1990 "Read My Lips" tax increase "created the spending restraint of the 90's," (false -- see details below) and refuses to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people.

And today, as reported in a piece by The Daily Beast's Tim Mak, the Jeb Bush camp refuses to even answer the question of whether Jeb will make any general statement promising not to raise taxes:

Pressed regarding Jeb Bush’s positions on taxes, his aides did not directly respond to a question about whether Jeb Bush might make a general promise to voters more broadly not to raise taxes.

Meanwhile, as governors, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry have all signed — and kept — the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  As Senators, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have all signed — and kept — the pledge.

As president, George W. Bush kept his tax promise to the American people.

George H.W. Bush, reflecting upon his "Read My Lips" tax hike, deemed it the greatest mistake of his presidency.

Regarding Jeb's claim that the 1990 Read My Lips tax hike created spending restraint, let's take a look at what actually happened:

The 1990 “Read My Lips” Budget Deal Scam

Starting in May of 1990, President George H.W. Bush huddled with Democrat House and Senate members at Andrews Air Force Base.

  • What was Promised: Congressional Democrats convinced a number of Republicans to join them in a bipartisan deal promising $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. President Bush signed the deal on November 5, 1990.
  • What Actually Happened:  Every penny of the tax increases ($137 billion from 1991-1995) went through. Not only did the Democrats break their promise to cut spending below the CBO baseline by $274 billion—they actually spent $23 billion above CBO’s pre-budget deal spending baseline. Thirty-four House Republicans broke their own Taxpayer Protection Pledges and went along with this one-sided “deal.” As a result, Republicans lost eight seats in the 1990 Congressional midterms, and President Bush only received 38% of the vote in the 1992 Presidential election.

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The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia

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We pay enough taxes! Here's an idea - stop spending and shut down the damn government! No more Bushes, no more Clintons!

Earl P. Holt III

Just like his stupid and gullible father. (The Bushes have betrayed conservatives more times than Richard III betrayed England and the House of York...)