Out of Touch Oregon Governor Kate Brown Proposes Bevy of Tax Hikes in Her First Budget

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, December 21st, 2016, 8:30 AM PERMALINK


In her first-ever proposed budget, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has called for hundreds of millions of dollars in higher taxes and spending over the next two years. This comes on the heels of the announcement that the state faces a $1.7 billion overspending problem and a rejection by voters of a union-pushed ballot measure in November that would have raised taxes by $3 billion per year on Oregon businesses.

Brown’s tax hikes include:

  • Elimination of “Partnership Pass-through,” which allows for lower tax rates for S-corps as well as the IC-DISC dividend subtraction. This is personal income tax hike of more than $183 million.
  • Restructuring the Hospital Assessment tax. Currently, hospitals pay the state a portion of patient revenue to garnet matching federal dollars and get the money back after the money comes in from D.C. Turning the assessment into a higher “true tax” would raise taxes by $379 million (and game the system further).
  • Reinstating the recently expired insurance and managed care tax: $151 million;
  • Increase in cigarette tax of 85 cents per pack from $1.33 per pack to $2.18 per pack: $21.5 million;
  • Other Tobacco Products tax hikes across the board (from 65% to 75%) and specifically on products like cigars (+0.50/cigar) and moist snuff (+$0.89/oz): $13.7 million;
  • Liquor tax hike of 50 cents per bottle and a 100% increase in liquor licensing fees: $39 million;

 

Oregon taxpayers have an important protection from politicians like Gov. Kate Brown, with a supermajority requirement in the legislature to raise taxes. Three-fifths of legislators in both chambers must vote to raise taxes for passage, meaning Brown will need the support of both Democrats and Republicans to get her way.

Republican leadership seems to be hesitant to take her approach. In a statement, House GOP leader Mike McLane said:

“Until we are willing to … address the root of our budget problems, we will continue to experience the same kind of budget challenges we are facing today.”

The root cause? Overspending.

Oregon’s general fund and lottery revenues are expected to increase by more than $1.3 billion over the next two years. But even that isn’t enough to keep up with the out of control rate of spending in the state. What are among the main drivers of spending growth over the next two years, according to the Governor herself?

  • Obamacare’s misguided Medicaid expansion: nearly $1 billion;
  • Increased public education spending: $781 million;
  • Public pension payments: $354 million.

 

Each of these cost-drivers are best addressed through reforms that have been implemented successfully elsewhere, as opposed to the “Oregon Way” of throwing money at everything and hoping no one asks questions about outcomes. This budget represents a 9 percent increase in spending, more than three times population growth and inflation. 

The failure of labor unions in November to convince voters to approve a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on Oregon businesses, which would have made it the most burdensome and highest tax in the nation, has forced an important debate in the state. Without the billions of dollars Measure 97 would have taken from consumers and businesses alike, the state must now address the underlying problem in Salem: overspending.

Gov. Brown, who supported the Measure 97 tax hike, clearly didn't get the November memo that taxpayers aren't interested in raising taxes; they prefer spending restraint instead. The legislature should heed the will of voters though, buy rejecting Gov. Brown's tax hikes when they return for session next year. 

Photo Credit: 
Oregon Department of Transportation

Top Comments

RuReady

LOL. Progressive. LOL

MaxRedline

I wish we could deport her back to her home state of Minnesota.

TKList

Maybe they will learn from their mistakes.


ATR's Naughty and Nice List for 2016


Posted by ATR on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016, 3:00 PM PERMALINK


Nice

President-elect Donald J. Trump

For proposing a big, beautiful tax cut that will increase take-home pay for all income levels and Make America Great Again

 

Naughty

Hillary Clinton

For proposing a $1,000,000,000,000 tax hike on the American people.

Nice

Clinton campaign senior staff

For failing to send their candidate to Wisconsin and Michigan during the final stretch of the campaign. 

Nice

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady

For leading the charge for pro-growth tax reform.

 

Nice

Sedgewick County in Wichita, KS

For naming a building after Ronald Reagan for the very first time in the Sunflower State.

 

Naughty

Tom Steyer

For funding campaigns to tax e-cigs and vaping devices.

 

Nice

Ron Swanson

 

Naughty

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

For pushing yet another tax hike, this time to pay for an NFL stadium.

 

Naughty

Cook County, IL Board of Commissioners, and San Francisco and Boulder, CO voters

For approving soda tax hikes. As Senator Bernie Sanders has correctly pointed out, “a tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families.”

Naughty

Hillary Clinton

For proposing to increase the Death Tax to 65%


 

Nice

Sierra Club and other green groups

For opposing a ballot measure that would’ve imposed a revenue neutral carbon tax, and in so doing making it crystal clear that environmental groups care more about growing government than supposed reductions in emissions.

 

Naughty

IRS Chief John Koskinen

For stonewalling the investigation into Lois Lerner/IRS abuse of conservative grassroots groups.

 

Nice

San Diego voters

For rejecting a massive hotel tax hike that would have been funneled to an NFL stadium

 

Naughty

The United Nations

For launching an assault on IP through its Access to Medicines report.

 

Naughty

The World Health Organization

For recommending that all countries impose a soda tax.

 

Nice

NRSC staff and Chairman Roger F. Wicker

For holding the Senate majority

 

Naughty

Hillary Clinton

For refusing to offer any income tax rate reduction for any American family or business.

 

Nice

Fairfax County voters

For rejecting the “Meals Tax”

 

Naughty

The United Kingdom Courts

For upholding plain packaging laws that are a clear violation of IP rights

 

Naughty

President Obama

For continuing to break his no middle class tax hike pledge by vetoing Obamacare repeal.

 

Nice

Voters in Iceland

For overwhelmingly choosing the Center-Right Independence Party in this year’s elections.

 

Naughty

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

For pushing for government controlled tax preparation.What could possibly go wrong?

Naughty

IRS Chief John Koskinen

For skipping his own impeachment hearing.

 

Nice

The India Property Rights Alliance

For hosting its 2nd annual conference that helped with the global launch of the International Property Rights Index.

 

Naughty

President Obama

For proposing a $3.4 trillion tax hike in his final budget.

 

Naughty

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager

For retroactively taxing US companies based on the argument that competitive taxation constitutes “illegal state aid”.

 

Nice

Dr. Tom Price

For his work holding CMMI accountable.

 

Naughty

The IRS

For wasting $12 million in taxpayer funds on an unusable email system.

 

Naughty

President Obama

For imposing new, complex, unconstitutional regulations on Americans.

 

Nice

President-elect Donald Trump

For promising to repeal Obamacare and its massive tax hikes.

 

Naughty

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

For signing into law a bill that prohibits people from advertising their property online for short-term rental.

 

Nice

House Speaker Paul Ryan

For his “Better Way” plan to get the economy working again by cutting taxes, reining in regulations, and repealing and replacing Obamacare.

 

Nice

Congressman Rob Bishop

For passing legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis without a taxpayer funded bailout.

 

Naughty

CFPB Director Richard Cordray

Out of control, unaccountable imposition of nearly 50 rules since CFPB creation just five years ago.

 

Nice

Congressman Peter Roskam

For his oversight of the IRS and illegal Obamacare subsidies.

 

Naughty

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

For massive tax hikes.

Naughty

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler

For opening the door for taxing the internet.

 

Nice

Congressman Warren Davidson

For fighting back against Obama’s unilateral Death Tax hike.

 

Naughty

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)

For pushing a capital gains tax hike on investment partnerships​.

 

Nice

Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens 

For his opposition to use of taxpayer funds to build a soccer stadium in St. Louis

 

Nice

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R)

For pushing hard for pro-growth tax reforms in Puerto Rico.

 

Nice

Congressman Mark Walker and Sen. Ben Sasse

For fighting against the billion dollar Obamacare Reinsurance bailout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice

Bill Clinton

For acknowledging the need to cut the uncompetitive corporate rate, despite his wife's hostile position on the issue.

 

Nice

State Senator Mark Green

For making Tennessee a true no income tax state by leading the successful effort to pass legislation getting rid of the state’s six percent tax on investment income.

 

Nice

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)

For working to protect consumers and American businesses by pushing Congress to reform the costly and burdensome Dodd-Frank Act.

Top Comments


Highlights of The Sharing Economy

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Posted by Laurens ten Cate on Monday, December 19th, 2016, 5:26 PM PERMALINK


Recently the Federal Trade Commission brought out a report on the Sharing Economy. This very positive report included almost two thousand (2000!) individual comments submitted by Americans participating in this new style of economy. People use the sharing economy as a way to thrive and survive in the slowest recovery of a recession since the Great Depression and this sentiment is felt in almost all comments in this massive database.

In the midst of holiday cheer it’s good to spend some time thinking about not just why more choice for people and how flexibility in setting your own hours is good but also how the Sharing Economy has impacted the thousands of Americans working in it. I went through most of the by the FTC collected comments and picked out some of the most warm, heartfelt and inspiring quotes found among them.

Susanne Warfied from New Jersey talks about how she felt safe and empowered to invite guests to stay at her apartment through Airbnb’s platform and how this has helped her pay for the enormous increases in her healthcare premium through Obamacare.

“I joined AirBNB in March of this year as I was having problems making ends meet. I am self-employed and have been struggling to make mortgage payments and maintain my association management company and pay for the so-called Obamacare. The impact of Obamacare alone has raised my personal health care premium by over $300 a month! I thought it was supposed to help small business owners?”

Ridesharing was praised for reducing drunk driving deaths and tragedy for thousands every year.

“May 26, 2015

To Whom it May Concern, 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has had great success since our founding in 1980 in reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. In 2013 over 10,000 people were killed due to a drunk driver. This accounts for almost one-third of all traffic deaths. While the best way to stop drunk driving is to couple strong drunk driving laws with strong DUI enforcement and educating the public on the consequences of breaking these laws, it is also important for those over the age of 21 to have a safe ride should they go out to consume alcoholic beverages. To that end, MADD supports new ridesharing platforms and alternative means of transportation that use new and emerging technologies to enable more transportation options throughout the country. MADD knows that the Federal Trade Commission is holding a workshop on the sharing economy and wanted to weigh in support of new rideshare programs and platforms which include companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. Of particular interest to MADD is the potential for these new alternatives to take drunk drivers off the road and provide a safe alternative. Due to the competition that Uber has introduced into the market, people can now get a safe and cash-free ride home at the touch of a button. Please consider the tremendous social value that ridesharing companies offer as you put together your June 9 workshop. We urge you to take into consideration the issue of drunk driving as you continue to debate this issue.

Thank you and best wishes, J.T. Griffin”

And finally, Carlton Timeus regales the story of how he once saved a young man’s life.

“There was a night, a young man requested for ride while he was in a very bad area in Miami. He cried that I came quickly because he feared for his life. When I arrived, 3 guys were getting ready to jump him for his watch and wallet. So I quickly pull my car between him and those 3 guys. That's just one story.”

These are just three of the two thousand comments on the Sharing Economy collected by the FTC.

The Sharing Economy has empowered thousands of people with the opportunity to make their lives better. For Americans working in the Sharing Economy the case seems clear, they overwhelmingly like it. The report by the FTC found that over 90% of the two thousand comments were positive and of the 10% negative comments, many came from existing industry players such as hotels, bed and breakfasts and taxi companies.

For innovation to be possible, disruption of old incumbent industries needs to be allowed. The Sharing Economy is just another example of that. The market has spoken and they overwhelmingly shouted in favor. The Sharing Economy is here to stay. 

Photo Credit: 
Mark Warner, http://bit.ly/2i8xXMn

Top Comments

Jeremy Wales

This Sharing Economy ideal sounds like a common sense pro-idea


Obamacare Individual Mandate Devastates Families and Businesses

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Thursday, December 15th, 2016, 11:12 AM PERMALINK


When it was passed into law in 2010 Obamacare created more than $1 trillion in higher taxes on American families and businesses over the course of 10 years. Of the trillion dollars, seven of Obamacare’s tax increases directly hit Americans making less than $250,000 a year, violating President Barack Obama’s “firm pledge” to not raise taxes on the middle class. One of the seven tax increases, the individual mandate, has proven one of the most burdensome for Americans.

The individual mandate  will cost $43.3 billion over the course of the next 10 years and prove devastating for taxpayers. The tax penalty gave Americans a choice - purchase “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services – or pay an income surtax to the IRS. In 2016, the annual fee was $695 for an individual, and $2,085 for a family of four, or 2.5% of your household income, whichever is higher, for “noncompliance.”

In order for Obamacare to work, there needs to be a significant portion of young healthy people to offset the cost of older, less healthy people. For a sustainable Obamacare, 40% of all enrollees need to be in the “golden” 18-34 age. However, Obamacare does not have its 40%. According to HHS, only 28% of enrollees are in this “golden” age range. Because of high costs and one-size-fits all insurances that does not suit the needs of young people, the economics of Obamacare are setup to fail.

For many Americans, going uninsured is a more financially feasible option for their families than paying the skyrocketing costs of Obamacare premiums. Close to 7.5 million taxpayers, or six percent of all filers, opted to pay the individual mandate tax in 2014, more than 25 percent higher than the administration’s highest estimate. As of the fall of 2015, this number increased by 3 million, to 10.5 million Americans.

The lack of healthy, young people on the Obamacare exchanges means insurers are unable to break even and are being forced to pull out of the system. This economic instability of Obamacare caused 1.4 million Americans to have their insurance terminated this year. Major insurance companies, like Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group, Inc., and other regional carriers have pulled out of the individual insurance markets. In addition, 17 of the 23 Obamacare exchanges have collapsed leaving millions more without health insurance and putting taxpayers on the hook for $1.8 billion.

According to a HealthDay/Harris Poll, 64% of respondents said that they would like to see the individual mandate provision of Obamacare repealed. The poll revealed that the individual mandate is overwhelmingly unpopular and creates a needless headache for millions of Americans.

Luckily for Americans, Republicans in Congress and President-elect Trump finally have an opportunity to repeal Obamacare and the individual mandate and take the burden of the disastrous healthcare law off of millions of American families.

Sign the petition and tell Congress and President-election Trump to repeal Obamacare in the first 100 days in office.

Photo Credit: 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sandiandsteve/

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Dodd-Frank is Crushing America's Credit Unions

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Posted by Johnathan Sargent on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016, 2:40 PM PERMALINK


Get ready to say goodbye to your neighborhood credit union! Slowly, but surely regulations imposed by Dodd-Frank are putting credit unions out of business across America. As a result of the Dodd-Frank regulatory burden, U.S. credit unions have seen skyrocketing compliance costs and loss of revenue that are not only hurting credit unions, but also the American consumers that they serve.

The financial services industry has always been a heavily regulated industry, but since the financial crisis the level of regulations placed upon this industry has reached astronomical heights. Instead of solving what caused the financial crisis, Dodd-Frank imposed a new regulatory regime upon the financial services industry. This has made the industry as a whole less profitable and less competitive. While larger institutions that are able to absorb these costs thrive under Dodd-Frank, smaller institutions, like credit unions, are left to struggle for survival.

Credit unions are staples of every community across America. They offer a consumer focus larger institutions are unable to give since credit unions are member-owned, and not purely for profit like many of their larger competitors. This commitment to consumers and communities allows credit unions to focus on helping members save and borrow and receive affordable financial services. In many cases this means lower rates, reduced fees, and personalized service. Dodd-Frank puts this all in jeopardy.

Under Dodd-Frank the cost to simply comply with regulations continues to increase. According to a 2016 study, credit unions see three sources of these increased costs from regulations: additional staff; third party expenses; and depreciation of capitalized costs.

In order to simply understand the complex rules put in place by Dodd-Frank, credit unions have to hire additional staff, and in order to make sure that they are complying with regulations they must hire third party companies to review their work. Fully one in every four credit union employees time is now spent on regulatory compliance. All of this extra staff and expenditures added up to an additional $6.1 billion in costs for credit unions in 2014 alone.

Unfortunately, not all credit unions are created equal. Naturally some credit unions have more assets than others, and as a result are able to spread the costs. In fact credit unions with assets under $100 million face a regulatory burden almost 3 times greater than credit unions with over $1 billion in assets. As a result revenue from these institutions are drastically affected by Dodd-Frank regulations like the Durbin amendment. Estimates show that the total impact of these regulations comes in at $1.1 billion in lost revenue in 2014, and that’s just the conservative estimate.

Fortunately, amongst all of this bad news there is some hope for the millions of Americans that use credit unions. President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, along with a unified Republican government will have the tools to repeal much of Dodd-Frank. Should they need any guidance they will have the work of Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Senator Pat Toomey (R- Penn.) to use as a roadmap.

Photo Credit: Johnathan Haeber 

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Reforming the IRS Should be on The Agenda in 2017

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK


In addition to overhauling the tax code by lowering rates, simplifying the system, and updating the code, the House GOP “Better Way” Tax Reform Blueprint outlines several reforms aimed at creating a more efficient, less-abusive IRS.

The GOP’s outline for a new IRS transforms the way in which the agency operates with a new “service first” mission, the creation of a taxpayer bill of rights, and structural changes to the agency. Given the unaccountability exhibited by employees and officials in past years, changes to the agency are long overdue.

History of Failure and Abuse

The modern IRS has a history of failing to fulfill its basic responsibilities to taxpayers. Most notably, the IRS applied improper, politically motivated scrutiny to tea party and conservative organization during the Obama presidency. As a result of this scrutiny, Congressional investigations revealed that the agency granted just one conservative non-profit tax exempt status over a three year period between 2009 and 2012. 

Following this, IRS Chief Commissioner John Koskinen deliberately misled the public and failed to provide crucial information into the investigation surrounding the political targeting while under oath before Congress.

Koskinen and other IRS officials have also claimed the agency is underfunded, with one official even claiming that the agency was “struggling to keep the lights on.” But the facts say otherwise – the agency has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted to wisely spend taxpayer dollars.

For example, the agency made the costly and illegal decision to hire a litigation-only white shoe law firm for over $1,000 an hour to audit Microsoft. As noted by Congressional investigators, this was completely unnecessary -- the agency has 40,000 employees dedicated to enforcement efforts and access to the IRS office of Chief Counsel or a Department of Justice attorney for audits. But instead, the agency chose to hire an expensive law firm for at least $2.2 million.

The waste doesn’t end there. Other investigations have caught the IRS wasting over 500,000 hours, or $23.5 million a year on union activities, and show that they gave 57 contracts worth a total of $18.8 million to corporations that had federal tax debt or a felony conviction.

Need for A Service First Mission

Quality service has never been a priority for the IRS. In recent years, this has become only more pronounced as frustrated and confused taxpayers seeking help by calling the IRS have found themselves “courteously disconnected” – the term the agency uses when it cannot take your call. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, in 2015, the IRS not-so-courteously disconnected 8.8 million taxpayers. 

Needs for customer service at the IRS have reached such dire levels partly because we have such a complicated tax code, which stretches to 74,608 pages long.  From 2010 to 2015, average wait times have tripled from 10.8 minutes to more than 30 minutes according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Additionally, GAO reported that during fiscal year 2015 the IRS had offered “the lowest level of telephone service”. Only 38% of taxpayers who called were able to reach an IRS representative.

Most taxpayers fear being audited and they deserve to receive all the help they need. By refocusing on a “service first” mission, taxpayers can lessen their fears knowing full well that they will get the help they need.

Taxpayer Bill of rights

One way the IRS can better respect taxpayers is through an enshrined “taxpayer bill of rights,” as the House GOP plan proposes. The plan lays out ten rights that taxpayers should expect from the IRS. These include:

• Be informed

• Quality service

• Pay no more than the correct amount of tax

• Challenge the position of the IRS and be heard

• Appeal a decision of the IRS in an independent forum

• Finality

• Privacy

• Confidentiality

• Retain representation

• A fair and just tax system

Having quality rights and having them specifically laid out in such a form will enable taxpayers to hold the IRS accountable for their actions and ensure that taxpayers and their information are treated properly. Taxpayers will be guaranteed the basic rights most Americans would say should be automatically expected.  

The IRS has proven itself to be a potentially-dangerous arm of federal power.  It’s important that the natural authority given to agencies like the IRS be checked with strong protections for ordinary, everyday taxpayers.

Organizational Reform for the Agency

Reforms outlined in the Better Way plan also propose streamlining the organizational structure to the agency. While the tax code is overly complex, so too is the IRS inefficiently structured. One solution to this is separating the agency into multiple units – a families and individuals unit, a business unit, and a small claims court.

• The families and individuals unit will focus on providing state of the art customer service so that taxpayers can get efficient help and answers to their tax questions.

• The business unit will focus on administering the new tax code for businesses of all sizes and types, including specialists with expertise on the issues facing start-up entrepreneurs and small businesses and specialists with expertise on the issues facing large domestic companies and American-based global corporations.

• The “small claims court” unit will be independent of the new IRS. This will allow routine disputes to be resolved more quickly, so that small businesses no longer spend more in legal fees to resolve a dispute with the IRS than the amount of tax that was at stake.”

Just as a taxpayer bill of rights enshrines the service that taxpayers must receive, these structural reforms will ensure that the agency is in a better position to do its job.

Photo Credit: 
Becky McCray

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States Pave Road for Autonomous Vehicles

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Posted by Quinn Gasaway on Monday, December 12th, 2016, 4:47 PM PERMALINK


As they say, the future is now.

Just last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed into law legislation that will establish a favorable legal and regulatory climate for innovative businesses looking to operate in the autonomous vehicle (AV) sector.

With this new law, it is now possible to research, develop, and test autonomous vehicles in Michigan. Already known for its rich history in the automotive industry, the Great Lakes State is now more appealing to many cutting-edge businesses, including General Motors, Google, Uber, and Lyft. 

Earlier this year, Tennessee approved similar legislation, which was championed by State Senator Mark Green (R). Already, Volkswagen has expressed interest in expanding such operations to its Chattanooga branch.

While such legislation sounds futuristic, laws pertaining to AVs have been in place for roughly half a decade. In 2011, Nevada became the first state to authorize the operation of AVs. Since then, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington, D.C. have passed favorable AV legislation. Two states, Arizona and Massachusetts, have seen their respective Governors issue executive orders related to positive AV legislation.

If more states were to follow this lead, the automotive industry could see a boom in job creation and ability to operate in a free market while better serving consumers. More states should follow the example set by State Senator Green and Governor Snyder; it’s up to state legislators to keep the momentum rolling. The future is now, and elected officials should act accordingly to bring a potentially booming industry to their states and constituents.

Photo Credit: 
MyDiscoveryContent

Top Comments

katy

I saw where several states, I think Virginia is one of them, are spending $$ to put sensors in the roads for the AV's. I'm sorry, but how many people are going to own AV's anytime soon. meanwhile thousands of addicts destroy families, increase crime in our cities and towns, strain EMS resources, and die everyday. THis affects EVERYONE. Sounds like our government has it's priorities screwed up.

SierraBear

Certainly there should be no objections to the development and implementation of this technology. Just don't forget our freedom to choose not to opt for an AV for transportation.


Repealing Obamacare is A Giant Middle Class Tax Cut

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, December 12th, 2016, 11:47 AM PERMALINK


Congressional Republicans have vowed that one of their first acts next year will be to send legislation repealing Obamacare to the desk of President-elect Donald Trump.

Doing so will not only repeal a failed law that has resulted in skyrocketing premiums, cancelled healthcare plans, and billions in new, wasteful spending, it will also provide a giant tax cut to middle class Americans.

Obamacare imposed roughly one trillion in higher taxes over ten years, including many that directly hit middle class families. Repealing these taxes will provide much needed relief to the paychecks of families across the country.

Repealing Obamacare will also undo Barack Obama’s broken promise not to sign “any form of tax increase” on any American making less than $250,000.

Individual Mandate Non-Compliance Tax ($43.3 billion tax hike between 2016-2025) 

Anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services -- must pay an income surtax to the IRS. In 2014, close to 7.5 million households paid this tax. Most make less than $250,000. The Obama administration uses the Orwellian phrase “shared responsibility payment” to describe this tax.   

Starting this year, the tax was a minimum of $695 for individuals, while families of four had to pay a minimum of $2,085.

 

Households w/ 1 Adult

 

Households w/ 2 Adults

Households w/ 2 Adults & 2 children

 

2.5% AGI/$695

 

2.5% AGI/$1390

2.5% AGI/$2085

A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that repealing this tax would decrease spending by $311 billion over ten years.

Health Insurance Tax ($130 billion tax hike between 2016-2025)

In addition to mandating the purchase of health insurance through the individual mandate tax, Obamacare directly increases the cost of insurance through the health insurance tax. The tax is projected to cost taxpayers – including those in the middle class – $130 billion over the next decade. 

The total revenue this tax collects is set annually by Treasury and is then divided amongst insurers relative to the premiums collected from certain plans each year. While it is directly levied on the industry, the costs of the Obamacare health insurance tax are inevitably passed on to small businesses that provide healthcare to their employees, middle class families through higher premiums, seniors who purchase Medicare advantage coverage, and the poor who rely on Medicaid managed care.

According to the American Action Forum, the Obamacare health insurance tax will increase premiums by up to $5,000 over a decade and will directly impact 1.7 million small businesses, 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market and 23 million households covered through their jobs. The tax is also economically destructive – the National Federation for Independent Businesses estimates the tax could cost up to 286,000 in new jobs and cost small businesses $33 billion in lost sales by 2023.

Medicine Cabinet Tax on HSAs and FSAs ($6.7 billion tax hike between 2016-2025)

Since 2011 millions of Americans are no longer able to purchase over-the-counter medicines using pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts dollars. Examples include cold, cough, and flu medicine, menstrual cramp relief medication, allergy medicines, and dozens of other common medicine cabinet health items. This tax costs FSA and HSA users $6.7 billion over ten years.

Flexible Spending Account Tax ($32 billion tax hike between 2016-2025)

The 30 - 35 million Americans who use a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs face an Obamacare-imposed cap of $2,500. This tax will hit Americans $32 billion over the next ten years.

Before Obamacare, the accounts were unlimited under federal law, though employers were allowed to set a cap. Now, parents looking to sock away extra money to pay for braces find themselves quickly hitting this new cap, meaning they have to pony up some or all of the cost with after-tax dollars. Needless to say, this tax especially impacts middle class families.

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap is particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  Families with special needs children often use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at special needs schools can run thousands of dollars per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax increase limits the options available to these families.

Chronic Care Tax ($35.7 billion tax hike between 2016-2025)

This income tax increase directly targets middle class Americans with high medical bills. The tax hits 10 million households every year. Before Obamacare, Americans facing high medical expenses were allowed an income tax deduction to the extent that those expenses exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). Obamacare now imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Therefore, Obamacare not only makes it more difficult to claim this deduction, it widens the net of taxable income. This income tax increase will cost Americans $40 billion over the next ten years.

According to the IRS, approximately 10 million families took advantage of this tax deduction each year before Obamacare. Almost all were middle class: The average taxpayer claiming this deduction earned just over $53,000 annually in 2010. ATR estimates that the average income tax increase for the average family claiming this tax benefit is about $200 - $400 per year.

“Cadillac Tax” -- Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans ($87.3 million tax hike between 2016-2025)

In 2020, a new 40 percent excise tax on employer provided health insurance plans is scheduled to kick in, on plans exceeding $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Cadillac tax will hit 26 percent of employer provided plans and 42 percent of employer provided plans by 2028. Over time, this will decrease care and increase costs for millions of American families across the country. 

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike ($100 million tax hike between 2016-2025)

This provision increases the tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Ten Percent Excise Tax on Indoor Tanning ($800 million tax hike between 2016-2025) 

The Obamacare 10 percent tanning tax has wiped out an estimated 10,000 tanning salons, many owned by women. This $800 million Obamacare tax increase was the first to go into effect (July 2010). This petty, burdensome, nanny-state tax affects both the business owner and the end user. Industry estimates show that 30 million Americans visit an indoor tanning facility in a given year, and over 50 percent of salon owners are women. There is no exception granted for those making less than $250,000 meaning it is yet another tax that violates Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of tax on Americans making less than this amount.

Top Comments

Reuven Mizraha

"The Obama administration uses the Orwellian phrase “shared responsibility payment” to describe this tax. Starting this year, the tax was a minimum of $695 for individuals, while families of four had to pay a minimum of $2,085."

The more I learn about the ACA, the more I despise the commies that wrote it up and voted for it.

treedirt10000 .

I can't wait to watch my hard earned dollars support me and not someone else again.

barbara

And so many groups were exempt from the penalty it was disgusting.


Top 5 EPA Reforms That Scott Pruitt Will Likely Push

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Posted by Johnathan Sargent on Monday, December 12th, 2016, 10:41 AM PERMALINK


Last week President-elect Donald Trump tapped Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Trump’s announcement he praised Pruitt as an “expert in Constitutional law” and stated that he “brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy.” As Pruitt has demonstrated during his tenure as Attorney General, he will work to “ensure American taxpayers and business are no long subject to abusive EPA overreach and unconstitutional regulatory diktats”.

Under the Obama administration, the EPA has become a political weapon used to block economic investment and job creation. Since 2009 the EPA has introduced nearly 4,000 new rules that have hurt the livelihoods of millions of Americans and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Mr. Pruitt understands the negative effects of the EPA’s overreach and the benefits of the free market and limited government.

Here are the 5 EPA reforms that could occur under Pruitt’s leadership:

  1. Clean Power Plan. The rule mandates a 32 percent cut in the energy sector’s carbon emissions by 2030. As Attorney General, Pruitt has fought the Clean Power Plan at every stage, including in the draft stage before the rule was finalized last year. He has criticized the EPA for “ignoring the authority granted by Congress to states to regulate power plant emissions at their source”. This rule will undoubtedly be the top regulation for Pruitt to repeal as head of the EPA.

 

  1. Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS). The WOTUS rule drastically expands the EPA’s jurisdiction, making small waterways like wetlands and ponds subject to federal rules and permitting processes. Pruitt took charge along with 17 other states to block the implementation of this rule. He has called the rule a “devastating blow to private property rights and is an unlawful power grab by the EPA over virtually all bodies of water in the United States”.

 

  1. Fracking Rule. This rule sets standards for well casing, transparency and wastewater storage for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” on federal land. Pruitt has long challenged the EPA’s failed attempts to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination. He has stated that the hydraulic fracturing process is largely responsible for the boom in oil and gas production in the United States and that it is leading us towards greater energy independence.

 

  1. Ethanol Mandate. This rule requires renewable fuel to be blended into motor-vehicle fuels and fuels for non-road, locomotive, and marine engines in increasing amounts each year. As Attorney General, he filed a “friend of the court” brief in a lawsuit over the ethanol fuel mandate. In that filing, the Attorney General noted increased-ethanol fuel posed a risk to the fuel systems of many of the vehicles on the road today and could even void certain auto manufacturer’s warranties.

 

  1. Keystone Pipeline. By denying Keystone President Obama also snubbed his nose at the potential for job creation and economic development the KXL would provide to the U.S. As head of the EPA, Pruitt could be a powerful advocate for the Keystone pipeline. When discussing the effect of the pipeline, Pruitt has stated that Oklahoma’s economy has “already been boosted by the creation of good-paying jobs, and the project will continue to create jobs throughout the rest of the country.”

 

When Scott Pruitt becomes the next Administrator of the EPA, Americans will have a powerful advocate within the executive branch. Pruitt will work tirelessly to dismantle the regulatory regime created by the Obama administration in the energy sector and put an end to overreach by the EPA.

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Top Comments

Erocker

Looks like Pruitt has got the ethanol mandate right from an environmental point of view. Currently no environmental group is for the corn ethanol mandate, even AL Gore said it is a bad idea. Greenpeace is also against it. The Libaritarian party and the green party are against it. Only people in favor of the corn ethanol mandate are those making money off this scam, or those successfully propagandized by the current EPA or corn ethanol lobby.

Algernon Felgercarb

Instead of the Keystone Pipeline, build a new oil refinery close to the border. We need more refineries anyway.


Price Budget Reforms Are A Solution To Washington Dysfunction, Not an End to Medicare and Social Security

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, December 12th, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK


House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) recently unveiled a detailed proposal designed to fix the broken federal budget process. This discussion draft outlines a number of reforms that aim to reassert Congressional authority over the federal budget, establish enforceable benchmarks to rein in the deficit, and implement process reforms that reverse the bias toward unaccountable spending.

Bizarrely, the proposal has been criticized by some on the Left based on the idea that the Price plan will directly, and immediately lead to trillions of dollars of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

This is wrong. Nowhere does the Price Budget reform plan propose – or even mention – trillion in cuts to these programs.

Instead, the proposal is a much needed attempt to fix the problems of the 1974 Budget Act.

Rather than pushing these deceptive, unfounded criticisms, opponents of the Price plan should focus their efforts toward proposing their own reforms.  Ignoring the need to reform the 1974 Budget Act is an explicit endorsement of the political dysfunction, gridlock, and irresponsible spending that has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades.

The current budget system is unquestionably rigged toward unaccountable, reckless spending. It is far too easy for members of either party to play politics and derail the process of “regular order.” When this occurs, complex policy making inevitably devolves to a series of last-minute, backroom deals, and votes on thousand page bills that few – if any have read.

This is not a new trend, but has occurred consistently since the 74 Budget Act was made into law. Over the past 40 years, there have been 176 Continuing Resolutions because Congress failed to complete the budget and appropriations process.  In this time, all 12 appropriations bills have been completed just four times. Within the last 20 years, all 12 bills have been completed just once. Congress has even failed to pass a budget resolution – itself often a symbolic act  8 times in the past 15 years. With these dismal numbers, it is unsurprising that Congress is so unpopular. Clearly, major change is needed.

One criticism of the Price plan concludes that it is a way to “shield unpopular choices from voters.” In reality, the opposite is true.  Demonizing any attempt to reform the budget system by pushing deceptive lies only makes it harder for lawmakers to fix our unsustainable and growing spending problem. The longer this dysfunctional system remains the norm, the longer lawmakers will be able to shield their unpopular choices from voters.

Photo Credit: 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/n3tel/

Top Comments

EX-CONservative

The Price plan will cut the ranks of those with health insurance over time, but not immediately. 72 million people use Medicaid, 54 million use Medicare, and 13 million have signed up for Obamacare. Medicaid block grants would force cuts to services over time, Medicare premium support would slowly cut the number of people using the program since the subsidies don't increase with Medical inflation, and Obamacare would just be eliminated.


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