EIA Study Reaffirms CPP's Impact on U.S. Economy

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Wednesday, July 20th, 2016, 1:16 PM PERMALINK

A new study released from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP). Last August, the EPA released the final version of the CPP, which is projected to kill thousands of jobs, reduce GDP, and increase energy prices.

The EIA states that the CPP will mean higher prices for residential and commercial electricity, which translates over from the higher transmission and distribution costs. It is noted within the EIA study that electricity prices will increase with rising fuel costs and expenditures for electric transmission and distribution infrastructure. Also confirmed by this study is that residential and commercial electricity prices are significantly higher than industrial prices; this mainly reflects the higher costs of distribution services for residential and commercial customers.

In addition to the EIA study, multiple sources have stated that the EPA’s proposal of the CPP is harmful to economic growth and American families. The EPA’s proposal is the MOST expensive environmental regulation that has ever imposed on the electric power sector, costing at least $41 billion per year. This added expense will be especially harmful to low, middle, and fixed income families. The 60 million low and middle income households in America have witnessed a 22% decline in income and a 27% increase in energy costs; not to mention those who are dependent on Social Security, such as fixed-income seniors, are being hit the hardest by rising energy costs. Low and middle income households spend more than twice as much as high-income households for energy.

EIA projects that although energy consumption is projected to grow from 2015-2040, that higher energy prices could reduce the demand for energy. This is due to the fact that consumers will face higher energy costs if the EPA continues their over regulation. Consumers should not have to lose out on an abundance of affordable energy that America has to offer because of the Obama Administration’s and unelected bureaucrats “green” agenda. 

Charles McConnell, the former Obama Administration’s Department of Energy Fossil Fuel Director, recently told a congressional panel that the EPA’s plan of regulation is “ideological mumbo jumbo” and he states that it will NOT significantly affect global CO2 emissions. McConnell, now executive director of Rice University’s Energy and Environment Initiative, also explained that his ideology “is not against climate regulations, but against stupid regulations”, such as the Administration’s CPP plan.

A study from the Manhattan Institute points out the CPP will have no measurable impact on world climate. The study cites an EPA-sponsored climate model showing that the CPP will have an estimated impact of less than 0.01 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, which essentially is all cost and no benefit for U.S. consumers and businesses

Supporters of the EPA proposal ultimately argue that the U.S. must play a leadership role in reducing CO2 emissions. The EIA claims the initial impact of the CPP was to lower CO2 emissions; however, the EIA fails to mention the increase in CO2 emissions from emerging nations such as China, India, and Asian nations.  With the large amount of added expenses the CPP will burden consumers and businesses with; one would expect the CPP would have larger effects on domestic CO2 emissions.  Once again, we have failed leadership from our Administration that will only hurt, not help, American families and businesses.


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U.S. JAN Hosts Governors Forum on Justice Reform in Cleveland

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016, 10:03 AM PERMALINK

On Tuesday, U.S. Justice Action Network (U.S. JAN) and GOPAC Education Fund are hosting a Governors Forum on Justice Reform at the Republican National Convention. This will occur at 11 a.m. EST at the Great Lakes Science Center at 601 Erieside Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. A live stream is available here.

Follow the forum on Twitter using the hashtag #JusticeReformRNC. Watch the live stream on Facebook here and at the bottom of this post. 

The discussion includes Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, GOPAC Chairman David Avella, and U.S. JAN Executive Director Holly Harris.

ATR and the US Justice Action Network work to reform over-regulations and produce quality solutions to prevent recidivism and unnecessary incarceration within the US justice system. Both partner in the goal to work towards improving America's future.

At the event, there is a documentary screening featuring the above listed governors, exploring the accomplishments and challenges within their respective justice systems. The governors will conduct a panel discussion after the screening which is open to the press and includes a brief media availability with the governors.

Each panel member made a significant contribution to criminal justice reform in his or her respective state or organization. Specifically…

Georgia: In 2012, Georgia lawmakers, including Gov. Deal, passed a package to create a new system of graduated sanctions for burglary, forgery, theft, and simple drug possession. Low level, first time drug offenders were given community alternatives. Prison space is now reserved for the most serious offenses. The package improved probation, drug treatment programs, accountability courts, electronic monitoring, and data collections.

Kentucky: Gov. Bevin created the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council in June 2016 to study the state’s code and suggest improvements for the 2017 General Assembly to consider. Specifically, the council will focus on sentencing and corrections. The 23-member council includes bipartisan lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, police, clergy, business leaders, and community leaders.

Oklahoma: Gov. Fallin signed a justice reform package in April 2016 to reform sentencing laws, expand drug court jurisdiction, and change lesser, nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors.

Ohio: The 2013-2014 Ohio General Assembly created the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee to examine the state’s criminal code. Meetings started in May 2015. The committee will recommend comprehensive reforms to simplify the code and efficiently consume state resources by preventing recidivism by August 1, 2016.

GOPAC Education Fund: As the organization itself notes, it is, “dedicated to furthering the common good and general welfare…by promoting conservative policies for federal, state and local governments that lower taxes, limits the size of government and sets the right business environment for job creation.” After examining conservative success through states like Texas and Georgia, GOPAC supports efforts to implement conservative policies to reform federal and state criminal justice systems.

To RSVP, contact carl@pinkstongroup.com. Shuttles for delegates and the press are provided at delegation hotels with a 10 a.m. departure time to the Great Lakes Science Center.

Follow the forum on Twitter using the hashtag #JusticeReformRNC.

ATR also encourages those who cannot attend to watch the live stream here.


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Government Says Pokemon Go is a No-Go

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Nanny-staters are at it again. Heat Street reports that the government’s latest overregulation grab takes aim at Pokemon Go. Elected officials want to regulate the nation’s latest fad, the augmented-reality game Pokemon Go, rather than address real pressing issues our nation faces, like our rising national debt or our unsustainable criminal justice system. Felix Ortiz, Democratic New York Assemblyman, has claimed that the game brings about numerous public safety concerns and should be addressed with regulations.

Ortiz, an established “nanny-stater”, has a history of proposing too many unnecessary and unimportant regulations surrounding personal matters and choices. His past proposed regulations include banning salt in restaurants, taxing alcohol and sugary drinks, and banning admission to strip clubs. Why one’s guilty pleasure, be it a Dirty Martini or Pokemon Go, matters to the government is ludicrous.

Other critics trying to impose regulations on Pokemon Go include Senator Al Fraken, who questioned Niantic about how much information is being collected from users.

Pokemon Go has had many positive effects, all of which has been neglected. Users have reported significant spikes in their physical activity, and many have been given a reason to explore the area where they live. In fact, the employees at Cardiogram, an app for Apple Watch, found that 45 percent of users playing Pokemon Go were exercising 30 or more minutes on the day of the launch and that people were walking 62.5 percent more on the weekend after the launch than past weekends. 

Technology, its advances, and effects on personal lives hold no place in the government. Rather than focus on miniscule and irrationally drawn out “concerns” on the nation’s latest fad game, the government should focus on real issues and finding real solutions. No wonder why 3 out of 4 millennials have such a big distrust of government.


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House Passes Interior-EPA Appropriations Bill to Rein in Costly Obama Regulations

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Friday, July 15th, 2016, 11:23 AM PERMALINK

With a vote of 231-196, the Republican led House passed its $32 billon Interior-EPA spending bill, the first time in seven years that the House has passed such a spending bill. The final vote count was largely along party lines with 228 Republicans voting in favor and 181 Democrats in opposition. This spending bill contains a number of positive spending reductions and looks to rein in the Obama Administration’s over regulation.

The spending bill, H.R. 5538, enables reduction of wasteful spending and harmful, unnecessary regulations. The spending bill also provides $32.1 billion in funding, which is a $64 million reduction from fiscal year 2016 and $1 billion below the Administration’s budget request. Under the spending bill, the EPA would see a reduction of $164 million from FY 2016 levels, which is $291 million below the amount requested in Obama’s budget request. The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund also see funding reductions under the bill.

The EPA-Interior spending bill would not only reduce EPA regulatory programs by 6 percent, but contains a number of provisions that would rein in costly regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and the Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS). The Obama Administration’s myriad of proposed and enacted regulations increase the price of energy in the U.S., reduce GDP, and threaten millions of American jobs.

Provisions of the bill meant to rein in Obama’s regulatory regime include:

  • Prohibiting EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new or existing power plants;
  • Eliminating funding for greenhouse gas “New Source Performance Standards”;
  • Prohibiting EPA implementation of WOTUS;
  • Prohibiting EPA from changing the definition of “fill materials”;
  • Prohibitions on new methane requirements;
  • Prohibiting the regulation of the lead content of ammunition and fishing tackle; and
  • Prohibitions on harmful changes to the “stream buffer rule”

Americans for Tax Reform supports H.R. 5538’s spending reductions and measures that rein in costly executive overreach. The efforts of the bill’s Sponsor Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and the House Republicans will help rein in spending and protect American taxpayers, consumers, and businesses, from the costly and harmful effects of regulations put forth under the Obama Administration.


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Nita Shafer

Defund the EPA completely. I will enjoy watching EPA pukes clearing out their desks.

Congress Must Stop Obamacare Reinsurance Bailout

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Friday, July 15th, 2016, 10:19 AM PERMALINK

Obamacare drastically increased both federal spending as well as the costs of health insurance. In order to disguise the costs to American families, the law has relied on a web of confusing spending programs, subsidies, and taxes.

Among these programs are the reinsurance, risk corridors and risk adjustment programs which redistribute funds from different groups directly to Obamacare insurers. In the case of reinsurance, this took the form of a fee on each individual with private health insurance to raise $25 billion, including $5 billion that would go back to taxpayers via the Treasury general fund.

In practice the reinsurance program has failed to work as promised, like so many other parts of the law. As a result, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services has funneled money from treasury’s general fund in direct violation of federal law. As announced earlier this year, Obamacare insurance companies would receive $7.7 billion through the reinsurance program – $6 billion obtained from a fee on private health insurance and $1.7 billion taken from the Treasury general fund. Because HHS did the same last year, this means a total of $3.5 billion has been stolen from taxpayers using the reinsurance program.

This decision clearly violates federal law. Section 1341 of Obamacare, which establishes reinsurance, explicitly allocates taxpayer dollars that “shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used for the [reinsurance] program established under this section.”

A memo released by analysts at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that federal law “unambiguously” states funds must be deposited into the Treasury general fund. Similarly, former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray called the diverting of funds “unlawful” and questioned how it could possibly withstand legal scrutiny.

Despite this, the administration shows no signs of returning taxpayer funds. To force these funds to be returned, Congressman Mark Walker (R-N.C) recently introduced the “Taxpayers Before Insurers Act,” legislation that stops the Obama administration from illegally bailing out insurance companies through redirecting taxpayers funds to the Obamacare reinsurance slush fund. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE).

This pro-taxpayer legislation forces the Obama Department of Health and Human Services to obey the law and return billions in funds to their rightful owner – the American people. If they fail to do so, the legislation strips HHS of billions in taxpayer funds.

This is just one of many cases where the federal government has utilized wasteful or illegal subsidies and payments to keep Obamacare afloat.  In the past few years, the government has stolen a total of $8.5 billion in taxpayer dollars to illegally fund Obamacare through programs like reinsurance, and the law has provided more than $170 billion in corporate welfare payments to special interests.

The fact is, the $3.5 billion in Obamacare reinsurance corporate welfare payments are merely the latest effort by the administration to ignore the law to the benefit of monied special interests. Members of Congress should stop this latest cash grab and support Congressman Walker’s Taxpayers Before Insurers Act.

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obama and his communists fcku-ing American taxpayers...

ATR Supports H.R. 5818, the Mandated Expenses Tax Relief Act of 2016

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Friday, July 15th, 2016, 9:58 AM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa) introduced the Mandated Expenses Tax Relief Act of 2016. This important legislation allows assets that are used to comply with federal laws and regulations to be immediately expensed. Under current law, businesses must comply with the arbitrary and confusing system of depreciation. H.R. 5818 will allow any assets that are used to comply with federal regulations to be immediately expensed. In doing so, it will provide much needed relief to small businesses and make it easier for them to invest in new equipment and assets.

The letter can be found here and below: 

Dear Congressman Blum:

I write in support of the Mandated Expenses Tax Relief Act of 2016, legislation to allow small businesses to immediately expense the purchase of property used to comply with federal laws and regulations.

Under current law, small businesses are allowed to expense up to $500,000 in business purchases under section 179 of the tax code. However, some of these purchases may be forced through federal regulations, rather than investments in the business.

This legislation offers relief to business owners by modifying section 179 to allow assets used to comply with federal laws and regulations to be expensed in addition to the $500,000 allowance.

In the perfect world, businesses of all kind would be permitted to immediately expense all assets against their taxable income. It makes no sense that a business can write off a box of paper clips immediately but has to wait five years to recover the full cost of purchasing a computer, or seven years to recover the full cost of purchasing a desk.

Unfortunately, that is the system we have. This outdated, complex, and bizarre system places far too much of a burden on small businesses and should be replaced with the much simpler immediate, full business expensing.

While full expensing is the desired goal, this bill moves us in the right direction. By allowing small businesses to expense purchases associated with onerous government regulations, the Mandated Expenses Tax Relief Act grants important tax relief to millions of businesses across the country. ATR encourages all Members of Congress to support and co-sponsor this important legislation.


Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Top Obama Advisor: The Keep-It-In-The-Ground Movement is “Unrealistic”

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Thursday, July 14th, 2016, 3:44 PM PERMALINK

This week, President Obama’s top scientific advisor, John Holdren, bucked the Administration’s growing opposition to natural gas, stating that the “Keep-It-In-the-Ground” movement was “unrealistic.” It is clear that Holdren, who is the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, realizes the integral role reliable energy sources such as natural gas play, unlike some of his Administration counterparts who are beholden to far left ideology.

The Administration’s goal has been to continually drive affordable and reliable energy sources out of the market, through the use of executive policies and high-ended taxes. This goal is much in line with the ideology of the Keep-it-in-the-Ground movement, that opposes traditional energy sources. However, the Administration is wrong for demonizing traditional energy. When discussing energy policy, ridding the world of abundant, cost-effective, and reliable energy sources should not be a goal.

The increasing role of natural gas in America has been to create jobs, reduce energy costs, and do so with a lessened environmental impact, which may be a point some on the left like to ignore. Holdren however, has not been scared to tout the benefits of natural gas, much to the likely dismay of the President. Clearly it would be a good idea if our President spent a little more time listening to his staff and less focusing on his “green” legacy.

The irony of the disconnect between President Obama and his top advisor on reliable energy sources is that Obama was not always a student of the Keep-it-in-the-Ground Ideology. In 2013 President Obama remarked that:

“We’ve got to tap into this natural gas revolution that’s bringing energy costs down in this country, which means manufacturers now want to locate here because they’re thinking that we’ve got durable, reliable supplies of energy.”

The economic pain on taxpayers, energy consumers, and businesses can be felt from our current Administration’s regressive, anti-growth energy policies. Overregulation and subsidization are the two biggest problems with our current U.S. energy policies.

We need a government that will allow for the free market to decide and not depend on taxpayers to have to be responsible for the federal government’s irresponsible spending and regulation. Holdren’s comment on natural gas comes as the Administration seems intent on waging further war on affordable energy in the last year of his tenure as President. 


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Norquist Statement in Support of Digital GAP Act

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Thursday, July 14th, 2016, 12:52 PM PERMALINK

The Digital GAP Act, H.R. 5537, introduced by Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce, Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ranking Member Eliot Engel and Rep. Grace Meng, passed out of the Foreign Affairs Committee on voice vote.

The following can be attributed to Americans For Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist:

“Passing the Digital Gap act would build on the success of the Electrify Africa Act passed last year.  The “Dig Once” policies, promoted in the Digital Gap Act, make sense in Africa and also in the United States of America.  When we export good ideas we should also use them ourselves at home.  The Digital Gap Act will increase the value of U.S. international aid contributions without increasing the burden on taxpayers.” 

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Rep. Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act Reins in Dodd-Frank, Increases Consumer Protections

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, July 14th, 2016, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) recently introduced Financial CHOICE Act (FCA) looks to rein in a myriad of onerous and costly regulations enacted under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). In introducing the Act, Chairman Hensarling hopes to give Americans new ability to achieve financial independence and raise their standards of living, while also promoting economic growth for the economy as a whole.

Signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was aimed at promoting financial stability in the U.S. However, since enactment Dodd-Frank has only increased financial instability, reduced consumer access while increasing costs, and burdened businesses with billions in compliance expenditures.

Dodd-Frank provisions such as the Durbin Amendment, Volcker Rule, and rules governing fiduciary duties lessen market liquidity and reduce access to financial products and services for millions of Americans. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under Dodd-Frank empowered a new wave of unelected bureaucrats to essentially outlaw financial products unilaterally.

Thankfully, Chairman Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act provides much needed relief for financial consumers and U.S. businesses that have suffered under Dodd-Frank. The Financial CHOICE Act contains a number of pro-growth and pro-consumer reforms aimed at lessening Dodd-Frank’s regulatory burden and economic impact.  

Some of the most needed reforms under the Financial CHOICE Act are provisions reining in the CFPB.  For years the CFPB has been able to unilaterally ban certain financial services and products it deems “abusive” and has been able to collect personally identifiable information on consumers at will. The CFPB is also not subject to the appropriations process, leaving Congress with little oversight over the Bureau’s actions.

The Financial CHOICE Act would repeal the CFPB’s authority to ban bank products and services it deems “abusive” as well as requiring the Bureau to obtain permission before collecting personal information from consumers. The Act would also repeal the CFPB’s authority to prohibit arbitration, and would replace the current director with a five-member commission subject to congressional oversight and appropriations.

With regard to financial consumers, the Financial CHOICE Act would repeal price controls and regulations under Dodd-Frank’s Durbin Amendment that were imposed on debit card transaction fees. The premise of the Durbin Amendment was that the savings from regulated fees would be passed onto consumers, however studies show consumers have actually lost access to free checking and debit card rewards as a result.

The Financial CHOICE Act would also hold financial regulators accountable by requiring that financial regulations pass a cost-benefit analysis before enactment and that “major” regulations be passed by Congress instead of unilaterally by unelected bureaucrats. 

Other pro-growth and pro-consumer reforms to Dodd-Frank contained in the Financial CHOICE Act include:

  • Repealing the Volcker Rule’s restrictions on proprietary trading;
  • Replacing “Orderly Liquidation Authority” which allows the bailout of financial institutions at the expense of taxpayers;
  • Repealing the authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to designate firms as systematically important institutions (SIFIs);
  • Repeal the CFPB’s indirect auto lending guidance; and
  • Make all financial regulatory agencies subject to the REINS Act.


These and a number of other reforms contained in the Financial CHOICE Act will be a positive step to reining in costly regulations under Dodd-Frank and ensuring regulators are held accountable.

Overall, Chairman Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act will increase financial opportunities and protections for all Americans, end taxpayer funded bailouts, and encourage economic growth through competition, transparency, and innovation. 


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IRS Manager Caught Playing Hooky To Attend Obama Rally

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Wednesday, July 13th, 2016, 3:32 PM PERMALINK

An IRS manager shirked her official duties to attend an Obama re-election rally in 2012, according to a statement issued Wednesday from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. According to the statement, the IRS employee canceled a site visit and disappeared for four hours: 

OSC’s investigation confirmed allegations that the employee, while on official travel to perform site visits with her subordinates, canceled a site visit and asked a subordinate to drop her off at the location of a presidential candidate’s campaign rally.

The employee did not return to her place of duty for over four hours and did not request leave. OSC concluded that the employee attended the campaign rally and thus violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against engaging in political activity while on duty.

Amazingly, the IRS employee gets to keep her job. As noted by Politico, OSC has announced the slap on the wrist given to the guilty IRS employee, a mere 14-day suspension:

“A supervisor at the Internal Revenue Service has received a 14-day suspension for ditching work in 2012 to attend a re-election rally for President Barack Obama. The IRS official's actions violated the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting politicking by government employees.”

The supervisor blatantly disobeyed the Hatch Act, which states that one must “not engage in political activity while on duty or in the workplace.” Not only did she defy a federal law that was meant to protect citizens from unelected bureaucrats engaging in partisan activities, but she also abused her power as a supervisor to instruct her subordinates in helping her shirk her duties.

The political engagement of an IRS manager at an Obama rally should be of no surprise. The IRS has a history of engaging in a left-partisan manner, even though it is supposed to be a politically neutral entity. During a three-year period of time that Lois Lerner was an IRS boss, only one conservative group was granted non-profit status.

Like Lerner, the IRS supervisor engaged in political activity on the taxpayers’ dime. She should be fired, not given a wrist slap. A 14 day suspension will not cure her negligence or defiance of her federal duties under the law. Breaking federal law does not result in a fourteen day suspension for most people, and the same should apply to the supervisor. 


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