ATR Supports FTC Reform Bills

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Wednesday, May 25th, 2016, 10:56 AM PERMALINK



In a letter to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Americans for Tax Reform lent its support to the SHIELD Act (HR 5118) and the STALL Act (HR 5097), which would instill much needed reforms in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Currently, the FTC has been able to avoid both congressional and judicial checks on its authority by operating under a system of “soft law” that treats guidelines and recommendations as binding legal edicts. This places an unnecessary burden on small businesses who have to comply with complex guidelines that are unchecked by any branch of government. HR 5118 remedies this and reins in the power of the FTC to circumvent proper oversight.

HR 5097 will help companies suffering from long, drawn-out cases with the FTC. The FTC can currently take action against a company for an infinite time period. HR 5097 limits that to six months and helps small businesses avoid frivolous legal fees, and emboldens them to litigate, instead of settle by limiting the amount of time the FTC can hinder their business.

These concerns and more have been reflected in the testimonies of people such as Berin Szoka, the President of TechFreedom, and Geoffrey Manne, the Executive Director at the International Center for Law and Economics. Their testimony can be found here.

The full text of the Americans for Tax Reform statement can be seen below:

 
May 24, 2016

Dear Members of Subcommittee on Commerce Manufacturing and Trade:

We urge you to support both H.R. 5118, the SHIELD Act, and H.R. 5097, the
STALL Act.

It is Congress’ job to provide rules for administrative agencies to follow.

Both the SHIELD and the STALL Acts set reasonable clarification and parameters of Federal Trade Commission enforcement action authority.

The SHIELD Act makes it clear that a violation of current law must take place before an FTC investigation can be pursued. Guidelines and recommendations are suggestions as to how a law can be followed; however, pursuing a different path that still complies with law does not warrant FTC enforcement action.

The uncertainty of an open-ended investigation in which no action has taken place for more than six months leaves is harassing. Individuals may have no idea how to prepare and could sit in a paralyzing state of limbo. The STALL Act, requires that investigations close if no action has been taken in six months. It is reasonable to expect an investigating agency to investigate within a six month timeline.

We encourage the Subcommittee to move these bills for full Committee consideration. 

Please contact Katie McAuliffe by email, kmcauliffe@atr.org, or phone, 202-785-0266, with any questions or comments.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist
 

Photo Credit: 
Richard Due

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ATR Supports Rep. MacArthur Pro-Growth Amendment to PROMESA

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 3:15 PM PERMALINK


ATR President Grover Norquist today sent a letter of support for an amendment introduced by Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) to H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) calling for tax reform to encourage long term, permanent growth for Puerto Rico. 

The latest iteration of PROMESA creates a growth taskforce that will recommend changes to federal law to spur long-term economic growth. As part of its recommendations the taskforce should suggest tax reform that allows the free flow of capital between Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States, as Congressman MacArthur's amendment calls for.

The full letter is below and can be found here: 

Dear Congressman MacArthur,

I write in support of your amendment to H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) calling for pro-growth tax relief as the solution to Puerto Rico’s long-term economic stagnation.

Puerto Rico is more than $70 billion in debt following a decade long recession. The island has no way of paying this back and will soon default on over $2 billion in bonds, including $800 million in constitutionally guaranteed bonds. Congress must act, and PROMESA is the best, most realistic, pro-taxpayer solution to Puerto Rico’s fiscal woes. Importantly, this legislation contains no bailout and does not retroactively grant the island super chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Although PROMESA addresses the immediate crisis, it is also important to promote pro-growth reforms as the solution to Puerto Rico’s underlying economic growth problem.

One cause of this is Puerto Rico being treated as a foreign country for tax purposes. As a result, American companies face double taxation in Puerto Rico, yet foreign competitors operating in Puerto Rico do not. Allowing free flow of capital between Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. would spur investment, create more jobs, and increase wages for the territory.

While it is imperative that Congress passes PROMESA to address the immediate fiscal crisis, lawmakers must also acknowledge the need for pro-growth tax reform. The best way to ensure long term, permanent growth for Puerto Rico is by facilitating tax reform that encourages competition, innovation, and the free flow of capital as your amendment calls for.

As such, all Members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and voting for this important amendment.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Chicago Attempts Yet Another Tax Increase to Rescue Pensions

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 2:55 PM PERMALINK


Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is trying to save his city’s bleeding pension fund by raising its phone tax for the second time in as many years. This new tax increase is meant to back up a $600 million General Obligation Bond the Chicago government issued.

The decision by Emanuel comes on the heels of the Illinois Supreme Court striking down his previous plan, the Chicago Pension Reform Act (CPRA). Under CPRA, employee contributions to the pension plan would have to be increased 29 percent, and tweaks were made to adjustments in Social Security.

This new phone tax is nothing new for Chicago taxpayers. In 2014, the wireless tax was raised by 56% from $2.50/month to $3.90/month for every phone line, wired and wireless phone. According to Randy Nehert, the President of the Illinois Telecommunications Association, this would cost a family of four an extra $425 a year. That tax was also meant to save the Laborers’ Pension Fund.

This tax, as it stands now, is already the highest in the nation. For perspective, New Yorkers only pay a rate of $1.50/month. In Houston, the rate is 50 cents/month. And, for Los Angeles, that rate is a mere 38 cents, less than ten percent of what Chicago taxpayers are burdened with. Now Emanuel wants to hike the rate once again to save the Pension Fund.

Emanuel is trying to follow through on a promise he made to ex-Governor Pat Quinn, to avoid raising property taxes in order to fund the pensions. However, Emanuel did recently raise property taxes by $700 million, with $588 million earmarked in order to rescue another pension fund for police officers and firefighters.

Now, the Laborers’ Pension Fund is running out of money yet again, in Chicago, and the city government’s solution is to just throw out taxes on their citizens to try and fix the problem. It has yet to work, and Emanuel is not even confident this one will either. The goal of this new tax is only to have the pension fund funded to 90% by the year 2055. The plan is, evidently, to use the same tactic that failed in the past, to partly fix a problem over 40 years.

The Chicago government’s policy will also tax the city’s middle and lower classes out of existence. Most obviously, these types of taxes cut into a greater percentage of lower income families’ paychecks. Below the surface, though, many of these families are using phones as their primary access to the internet. Tax increases like this are threatening the stability of Chicago’s residents and their access to basic needs. We urge Mayor Emanuel to find other means to save his city’s floundering economy.

Photo Credit: 
Tim Furman

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Joe Smith

probably most of the lower income are getting federal government paid cell phones, so in the end this is a back door way of getting the feds to pay for the pensions.


President Obama’s “Methane Rule” Threatens to Eradicate Energy and Innovation

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 2:01 PM PERMALINK


With less than a year left in his presidency, President Obama is looking to leave yet another harmful legacy behind. With the use of executive agencies such as the EPA, Obama is trying to carry out his own agenda with the help of the unelected EPA bureaucrats.

In the last year, the EPA has been over-regulating large quantities of energy sources, most of which are relied on by for low to middle-income families. Not only does over-regulation harm many American families by ignoring the fight to keep abundant low cost energy options, but it also creates a new problem: job loss and economic downfall. It is clearly abundantly clear that the bureaucrats of the EPA and our President are on a self-guided mission to increase costs to consumers, tax payers, and the energy industries. 

With the new mandates of the Methane Rule, energy producers will now be forced to install expensive equipment on new operations, the costs of which will inevitably be passed onto consumers in the form of higher energy rates. Once again, we see that our government is out of touch and out of date with technology and innovation.

 Even though gas production has increased by 44% in recent years, the energy industry has decreased methane emissions. By businesses making investments and innovation in new technology, methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector have decreased by 12%, with the largest reductions coming from natural gas recovery sites, which have decreased methane by 73%.

To continue to allow businesses, especially in the energy industry, to provide low cost services to low and middle-income families, we must have a government that does not seek to over-regulate and overtax its citizens. Washington’s lawmakers need to realize that the Methane Rule has an underlying agenda that will harm more than help taxpayers and industries. Furthermore, President Obama’s “one-size fits all” style government regulatory regime must be rained in before any further damage is done.

 

Photo Credit: José Luís Agapito

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ATR Supports Sen. Blunt's Resolution Opposing a Carbon Tax

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 12:39 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Congress this week, urging support for Senator Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) resolution opposing a carbon tax. The resolution introduced by Senator Blunt expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States. 

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 9, 2016

Dear Senator Blunt:

Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports your leadership in the fight against any form of a carbon tax.

I urge all members of Congress to support and vote for your Senate Resolution, which puts Congress on the record in opposition to a carbon tax. 

A carbon tax would kill jobs in the United States, reduce economic growth, and set the stage for future tax hikes. Such a tax would drive up energy prices for American families and businesses, leading to an increase in the costs of consumer goods and reduced household income.

A carbon tax would be wholly regressive, falling hardest on low-income families who can least afford it. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office pointed out, “low-income households spend a larger share of their income on goods and services whose prices would increase the most” as a result of a carbon tax.

A study by the National Association of Manufacturers found a carbon tax would: have a negative effect on consumption, investment and jobs; increase the cost of coal, natural gas and petroleum products thus resulting in higher production costs and less spending on non-energy goods; and lead to lower real wage rates, lower labor productivity, and decrease workers’ incomes.

Americans for Tax Reform encourages all members of Congress to vote for your resolution opposing a carbon tax. 

Thank you Senator for your continued strong leadership in protecting Americans from a carbon tax today and forever.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

President 

Americans for Tax Reform

 

PDF link to letter

Photo credit: Bill Dickinson

 

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ATR Urges Lawmakers to Act on TSCA Reform

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 9:03 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform today sent the following letter to Congress urging lawmakers to act quickly to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Since enactment of TSCA in 1976, industry innovations and product development have outpaced the Act's provisions leaving it outdated and untouched by lawmakers for almost 40 years. 

Reforming TSCA will provide a more cohesive national chemical regulatory program that gives businesses and states a new level of certainty with regards to interstate commerce. Reform will also increase consumer safety and confidence. 

May 24, 2016

Dear Members of Congress: 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I strongly urge you to act to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Reforming TSCA would not just be a boon to the economy as whole, but would also increase consumer confidence and safety, and give certainty to key American industries such as manufacturing.    

Since enactment of TSCA in 1976, industry innovations in product development and chemical safety have far outpaced the Act’s provisions leaving it outdated and untouched by lawmakers for almost 40 years.

This has given rise to criticism from industry, environmental, and consumer groups that all point to inefficiencies in the Act’s chemical evaluation process, as well as a patch work of state regulations that can stymie interstate commerce and increase compliance issues for businesses. Such issues have far reaching impacts on the economy and consumer confidence.   

Reforming TSCA would remedy compliance issues by providing for a more cohesive national chemical regulatory program that gives businesses and states a new level of certainty with regards to interstate commerce. TSCA reform would also increase consumer confidence and safety. 

Americans for Tax Reform encourages members of Congress to act swiftly to reform and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

​President

Americans for Tax Reform

PDF link to letter

Photo credit: Ryan Bowley

 

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Senate Should Pass Resolution Blocking Fiduciary Rule

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 4:05 PM PERMALINK


The U.S. Senate is expected to soon vote on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently released fiduciary rule. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) already passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234-183. Now, the Senate should follow suit in approving this resolution and blocking the rule that has been compared to Obamacare for your retirement savings.

Under the thousand page rule, expert investment advisors will have to prove they are acting in the “best interest” of their client. While this sounds reasonable, economists warn the standard is “a vague open-ended obligation with seemingly no bounds.”

As a result, the regulatory costs of complying with the rule will likely be immense for business. While large investment firms will have the economies of scale to continue, smaller advisors will not. The impact of increased compliance costs will disproportionately fall on low and middle income families who may lose their broker of choice or be priced out of the market entirely.

In turn, this will directly impact the ability of American families to utilize savings accounts. It is estimated that the rule will result in 7 million IRA holders being priced out of investment advice and between 300,000 and 400,000 fewer IRAs will be opened every year as a result of the rule. All told, this regulation could mean more than $80 billion in lost savings.

Although supporters of the rule claim it is necessary to ensure savers receive the best possible advice, the final product is so complex and burdensome that millions will inevitably be locked out from receiving the guidance they need. Through this regulation, the federal government is essentially moving to exert close control over the retirement saving decisions of Americans across the country.

Clearly, the fiduciary rule will make saving for retirement worse, not better. Senators should vote for this resolution and show their commitment to protecting the ability of millions of American families and savers to seek sound financial advice toward their retirement savings.

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IRS Chief Skips Own Impeachment Hearing

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 1:13 PM PERMALINK


IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will not appear at a Tuesday impeachment hearing examining allegations of his misconduct despite an invitation to testify from the House Judiciary Committee.

As reported by Politico, the IRS says the Commissioner Koskinen does not have time to “fully prepare” because he just returned from China. The agency claims that he was not given enough notice of the hearing, which was scheduled more than a week ago.

The hearing is the first step in examining findings from the House Oversight Committee, which last year called for Koskinen’s impeachment.

Following the revelations that the IRS had been applying improper, politically motivated scrutiny to tea party and conservative organizations, Koskinen was appointed head of the agency promising reform and transparency. Koskinen has failed:

  • Throughout the investigation into the targeting scandal, Koskinen’s IRS continually failed to provide important information or perform basic due diligence. Koskinen also made several misleading or incorrect statements while under oath testifying before Congress.

 

  • The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails. The only source they bothered to search – her hard-drive – was destroyed after a cursory search deemed information unrecoverable. In hindsight, documentation suggests that more could have been done to recover data.

 

  • The agency’s ineptness -- or corruption -- resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidentally” destroyed despite the existence of an agency-wide preservation order.

 

  • Koskinen then withheld from Congress both the preservation order and destruction of tapes during sworn testimony. He also failed to disclose details regarding Lois Lerner’s mysteriously destroyed hard drive during testimony.

 

The carelessness of the agency means that important information is no longer available to Congress and the American people because of the actions of the IRS, while countless misleading statements and dodges have caused investigations to drag on for years.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/mseery/

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MAS

I'd put the odds somewhere between slim to none...based on the previous performance of this bunch of RINOs.

Kelly McConnell

Does anyone see the pattern of these vile humans. Hard drives are not arbitrarily erased/wiped. This is purposeful, intentional and this SOB should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If it were up to me he'd be tried, stripped of his pension and spend a considerable amount of time in prison. Oh and Lois Lerner (still collecting her pension and God knows what else). These people need to be drummed out with no pensions (for arrogating their sworn duty to the American public). Egregious abuse of power that needs to be curtailed and penalized in the most severe fashion. John N Michell received the according punishment. Koskinen deserves no less. Abuser and collusion is his modus operandi. Lerner and Koskinen earned the heaviest of penalty.

Beverly Thorpe

Okay then, set it another week, by supoena, if necessary, and if he doesn't appear, take him to court.


ATR Recognizes Georgia Pledge Signers Ahead of Tuesday’s Congressional Primary

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 12:57 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform recognizes the Georgia incumbents and candidates who have taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a written commitment to their constituents and the American public to oppose tax hikes.

Incumbents

  •   Sen. Johnny Isakson
  •   Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01)
  •   Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)*
  •   Rep. Tom Prince (GA-06)
  •   Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08)
  •   Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09)
  •   Rep. Jody Hice (GA-10)
  •   Rep. Barry Loudermilk (GA-11)
  •   Rep. Rick Allen (GA-12)
  •   Rep. Tom Graves (GA-14)

Candidates

  •   Mike Crane (GA-03)
  •   Drew Ferguson (GA-03)
  •   Jim Pace (GA-03)
  •   Chip Flanegan (GA-03)
  •   Angela Hicks (GA-08)
  •   Paul Broun (GA-09)

*Rep. Westmoreland will be retiring at the end of his term

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hwicker

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ATR Urges West Virginia Lawmakers to Rein in Spending During Special Budget Session

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Posted by Paul Blair on Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, 3:35 PM PERMALINK


As the West Virginia legislature enters the second week of deliberations during the 2016 Special Session, Americans for Tax Reform is urging lawmakers to focus on spending restraint instead of tax increases to address the state's $270 million shortfall. Unfortunately, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) has limited the options of the legislature in his narrow call for session, and has proposed tax hikes as the ultimate solution to the state's overspending problem.

Among the most significant elements of the tax increases being considered is a tobacco tax hike, which would disproportionately harm low-income consumers and border communities. SB 1005 would increase the cigarette tax by 45 cents per pack, raise the wholesale tax on other tobacco products to 12 percent, and impose a new 7.5 cents per mL tax on the liquid contained in tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

ATR outlined our opposition to these proposals in a February letter to the legislature, which can be read here.

In urging the legislature to focus on spending restraint instead of tax hikes during the Special Budget Session, ATR president Grover Norquist and Americans for Prosperity - WV state director Jason Huffman (AFP) have jointly authored a letter explaining:

"Imposing tax hikes on residents will do little to make West Virginia more attractive to investment or stop residents from continually fleeing to other states." 

They explain further:

"West Virginia does not have a revenue problem; the state government has an overspending problem. At $12,910, per-capita government spending in West Virginia was the third highest in the nation in 2014. It should be noted that the two states with higher per-capita spending – Alaska and Wyoming – don’t impose income taxes and currently have among the lowest tax burdens among any states."

There are still significant elements of the budget that contain waste, cost overruns, and abuse that the legislature should work to eliminate.

"An estimated $100 million a year is wasted by bureaucrats on Medicaid because of improperly awarded managed care contracts obtained without competitive bidding.

Similar waste exists at the Division of Highways, where Deloitte identified 15 instances of waste that cost taxpayers $25-50 million a year in cost overruns because of the  inefficient use of resources."

ATR will closely monitor deliberations and continue to urge lawmakers to focus on spending restraint, budget transparency, and government reform instead of tax hikes in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to read the ATR-AFP coalition letter to lawmakers.

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Noel Benadom, Flickr

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