Medicare Part D Already Works

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Friday, February 3rd, 2017, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

Medicare Part D is an example of the free market ensuring lower costs and greater access to care. Preventing government bureaucrats from interfering with private-sector negotiations allows pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmaceutical manufacturers, and pharmacies to negotiate lower drug prices and reduce overall healthcare costs amongst themselves.

Too often, government-created programs spend more than projected. But, Medicare Part D is an exception, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The CBO estimated in 2005 that Part D would cost $172 billion in 2015, but it has cost less than half that – just $75 billion.

The government shouldn’t mess with a program that isn’t broken, and doing so would do almost nothing to address runaway federal spending. Instead this proposal would decrease access to life-saving medicines and increase costs to the healthcare system over the long term.

In a letter to Representatives, ATR President Grover Norquist, together with CAGW President Tom Schatz and NTU President Pete Sepp urged Congress to not interfere with Medicare Part D. The letter can be found here or below.

 

February 2, 2017
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the more than 1.8 million members and supporters of our respective organizations, we urge you to oppose any attempts to change the successful and cost-saving process by which drug prices are negotiated for Medicare Part D.

When Congress created Part D, a non-interference clause was included to prevent the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the robust private-sector negotiations that occur among pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmaceutical manufacturers, and pharmacies.  PBMs use a variety of methods, such as acquiring price concessions from both brand-name and generic drug manufacturers, rebates, and networks of more affordable pharmacies to lower drug costs for beneficiaries.  PBMs also work with patients on drug adherence to keep them out of hospitals and doctors’ offices, which also helps to reduce healthcare costs.

These competitive, private-sector negotiations have been instrumental in making Medicare Part D an all-too-rare example of a government-created program whose expenditures have been significantly less than projected.  In 2005, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that Part D would cost taxpayers $172 billion in 2015; instead the cost was $75 billion.

Critics of the current process for determining drug prices claim that there either are no real negotiations or that the secretary should be given the authority to negotiate.  The first claim is patently false.  In regard to allowing the secretary to negotiate prices, CBO has stated that changing the non-interference clause would have a negligible impact on costs, unless HHS established a formulary, which would lead to a restrictive, limited list of medications eligible for reimbursement by Medicare.  In other words, there would be price controls on the drugs, and some medications that are now covered by the program would be cut off.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there were 41 million beneficiaries enrolled in the Medicare Part D program in 2015.  A July 2016 Healthcare Leadership Council survey found that 92 percent of seniors reported that their plan was convenient to use; 88 percent were satisfied with their prescription drug coverage; 86 percent said their plan works well and without hassle; 84 percent reported it was important to them to have a variety of plans to compare and choose from; and, 80 percent stated their plan was a good value.

Price controls never work as advertised and cause more problems than they solve.  Medicare Part D is working more effectively than originally anticipated and is helping to keep taxpayer costs under control. The government should not interfere with something that is not broken.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

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Utah Bill Aims to Cut Crime and Aid Taxpayers

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Posted by Sarah Caplin on Friday, February 3rd, 2017, 12:00 AM PERMALINK

This legislative session, Utah lawmakers will have the opportunity to reduce crime, cut taxpayer costs, and improve the success and sustainability of communities.

In June of 2016, state leadership from all three branches of Utah government gathered together to appoint a 19-member inter-branch working group to complete a data-driven assessment of the Utah juvenile justice system.

Despite high costs for placing youth in state custody, recidivism rates remain stubbornly high. Out-of-home placement for juveniles can cost taxpayers up to $127,750 per year for negligible results, compared to just $7,500 for community supervision. In fact, more than 50% are convicted of another crime within two years.

Studies conducted by the Utah Juvenile Justice Working Group show that the majority of referrals into the juvenile justice system are for misdemeanor offenses, and more than 80 percent of youth entering the court system for the first time present a low risk to reoffend.

Based on these findings, the Utah Juvenile Justice Working Group, with technical assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts and The Crime and Justice Institute at CRJ, proposed various policy recommendations. These recommendations include preventing deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system for lower level youth; protecting public safety by focusing system resources on violent offenders; and sustaining improved outcomes through reinvestment and increased accountability.

House bill 239, introduced by Rep. V. Lowry Snow (R-UT), implements legislation based on these recommendations. The ‘Juvenile Justice Amendments’ bill aims to increase public safety, effectively hold juvenile offenders accountable, and improve juvenile justice system resources for youth who pose the greatest risk to public safety.

Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser (R-UT) supports the policy within the bill by stating “We are confident that with this evidence-based process Utah will adopt policies that improve outcomes for our youth, families, communities, and ultimately achieve a stronger public safety return on investment.”

If legislation within HB 239 is enacted, the changes are estimated to save $58 million in averted costs from Juvenile Justice Services and the Division of Child and Family Services over 5 years. The new laws will also reduce the population of youth in out-of-home placements by 49 percent by 2022. These savings would then be reinvested to help courts keep juveniles with their families while holding them accountable.

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Oklahoma Looks at $1.9 billion in Savings Through Smarter Justice

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017, 5:09 PM PERMALINK

Oklahoma is aiming to be one of the most aggressive prison reformers after introducing an anticipated report by the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force today.

The report comes after the bi-partisan task force, put together by Republican Governor Mary Fallin, combed through the states courts and prisons to determine how best to reduce crime with limited resources. Their recommendations are ambitious: aiming to avert $1.9 billion in prison costs over 10 years.

They would achieve this by reducing the projected prison population increase by over 9,000 beds.

Oklahoma’s prison population is estimated to increase 25% through 2016 if no actions are taken, from 28,000 prison beds to 36,000. The worst part? The Sooner State’s prisons are filled with nonviolent offenders. Only 25% of admissions into the prison system are for violent offenses. This means that scarce resources are being spent to warehouse nonviolent offenders while the state deals with an unsustainable budget deficit.

There are already reforms being implemented. Last year the state’s voters approved state questions 780 and 781 by high margins. The proposals de-felonize simple drug possession while reinvesting the subsequent savings in rehabilitation programs.

Gov. Fallin stressed the need for major reform given the state’s fiscal situation in a press release earlier today

Oklahoma is in a crisis as our current prison population greatly exceeds capacity, and we have the second-highest imprisonment rate in the country, with the highest rate for women. Without change, our prison population will increase by 25 percent, and will require three more prisons to be built or contracted.

Oklahoma is dealing with a $870 million budget hole. Actions must be taken to reign in wasteful spending: crime policies that make it more likely for an offender to commit more crimes must be changed.

The Report recommends multiple policies pioneered in other red states like Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Utah among others. The report proposes adjusting drug sentences to focus on violent and serious drug traffickers, expanding access to cheaper alternatives to incarceration, expanding parole supervision, and better support for victims of crimes.

ATR, along with four other center-right organizations, sent Gov. Fallin a letter expressing our support for smarter justice practices. As we stated before,

We applaud your Executive Order establishing and charging the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force to examine the research, data, and best practices in criminal justice and to recommend policies that improve public safety and hold those who have committed crime accountable while safely reducing the prison population.

We encourage leaders in the state capitol to take up the proposed reforms as soon as possible. Oklahoma can continue to be a leader on justice reform, this report proves it.

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Every Modern Country in the World Has Border Adjustability Except America

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

America’s archaic, overly complex tax code makes it difficult – if not impossible – for U.S. businesses to compete with foreign competitors. We need revenue neutral, pro-growth tax reform to address this problem and reverse the trends of insufficient growth, too few jobs, and stagnant wages.

One reason for the American competitiveness problem is that the US is the only modern country without a border adjustment mechanism. Countries “border adjust” by applying equal, offsetting taxes on imports and tax breaks on exports. This allows countries to tax based on where the product is consumed, but the lack of a US border adjustment system results in a significant competitive disadvantage for American businesses.

Normally, when a product leaves one country, the border adjustment mechanism adjusts rates downward which is then offset when it enters the new country which border adjusts rates upwards. Neither country is imposing a tariff here. Rather they are taxing based on where the product is consumed.

Because the US does not have a border adjustment, American businesses that export overseas face a penalty relative to transactions between two countries with border adjustable systems – there is no border adjustment downward when the product is exported to offset the upward border adjustment when the product is imported.  Similarly, foreign businesses importing into the U.S. receive a tax break compared to transactions between two other developed nations, because they do not have a border adjustment up when sending products into the U.S.

This problem is not limited to a few of America's trading partners. The U.S. is the only nation without border adjustment among the 35-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the five country BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The U.S. system is so antiquated that the only countries with a border adjustment are nations like North Korea, South Sudan, Iraq, Myanmar, and Western Sahara. 

[See the Full Map of Countries with and Without Border Adjustment Here]

While the border adjustment in the House GOP “Better Way” blueprint may sound like a tariff or a Value-Added tax, in reality it is neither. It is part of a modern, internationally competitive cash-flow business tax that replaces the cumbersome corporate income tax used today.

If lawmakers want American businesses to be able to compete, they must fix this outdated, uncompetitive system. They can do this by passing tax reform along the lines of the House blueprint.

OECD/BRICS Countries with Border Adjustment

OECD/BRICS Countries without Border Adjustment

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India 
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom

 

 

  • United States

 



 

 

 

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Support for Modernization of the Copyright Office

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Posted by Celeste Arenas on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017, 5:39 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty submitted comments supporting the House Judiciary Committee's effort to bring the Copyright Office into the 21st Century.

The expresses general support for the Judiciary Committee’s policy statement that called for separating the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress, remaining part of the Legislative Branch and a Register nominated by the President and appointed with Congressional consent.

Digital Liberty stands with the House Judiciary Committee to support this vital reform that will improve the legal processes behind the US Copyright industry.

The implementation of the above reforms will give the Copyright Office a legal framework to catch up with the digital economy.

Copyright industries in the United States outpace overall economic growth by 70% and employ 5.5 million people, yet copyright registration can take 12 – 18 months causing hundreds of thousands of pending requests and delayed digital growth.

With an outdated legal structure, the Electronic Office Registration System (eCO) has done little to improve the efficiency of registration requests. As a separate entity with a nominated and confirmed Register, the Copyright Office is under greater discretion to manage its budget, update its IT structure and transition to automated digital records and registration.

Digital Liberty stands with the House Judiciary Committee to support this vital reform that will improve the legal processes behind the US Copyright industry.

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ATR Supports the "Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017" (H.R. 732)

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017, 5:23 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform this week released a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to support H.R. 732, the "Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017." H.R. 732, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, would ensure money recovered by the government as part of Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreements is returned to the American people.

Currently, whenever the DOJ settles a lawsuit with a corporation or individual, DOJ officials can require defendants to "donate" money to activist groups as part of the terms of the settlement. These groups are typically working towards the same ideological goals as the Executive Branch, and are engaged in activities such as voter registration, community organizing, and donating money to similar ideological groups. 

In 2016 similar legislation was passed out of the House with both Democrat and Republican support, but failed to pass the Senate.

With a new Congress, House and Senate lawmakers should again look to pass this common sense legislation that will hold the Executive Branch accountable for its practices and ensure money recovered by the government is returned to the American people.

 

The language of the letter is below and can also be found here:

February 1, 2017

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Members of the Judiciary Committee:

I write in support of H.R. 732, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017, legislation that would prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) officials from crafting settlement agreements that require donations to activists groups that are favored by the Administration. All members of Congress should support this important legislation. 

As it currently stands, when the DOJ settles a lawsuit Department officials can require defendants to donate money to certain activist groups as part of the terms of the settlement. Not only are these funds not going to deserving victims but more often than not are awarded to activist groups that hold the same ideological views as the Executive.

According to House Judiciary Committee findings, roughly half-a-billion dollars has been diverted away from victims and directed to activist groups in just the last 20 months. Such “slush fund” payments occur outside of the Congressional appropriations and oversight process. 

H.R. 732 would prohibit abusive DOJ slush fund payments to activist groups and ensure money recovered in settlements is returned to the American people where it belongs. This bill ensures settlement money goes directly to victims or alternatively to the Treasury where elected officials determine how it is spent.

I urge the Judiciary Committee and all members of Congress to support H.R. 732, the Stop the Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.

Sincerely,                               

Grover G. Norquist                                                    

President                                                                     
Americans for Tax Reform

 

Photo credit: Phil Roeder   

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ATR Urges Congress to Repeal SEC Resource Extraction Rule (Sec. 1504)

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017, 1:55 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform this week released a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Congressional lawmakers to use the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) rule relating to resource extraction pursuant to section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act - commonly referred to as the Resource Extraction Rule. 

While the SEC's stated mission is to "protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation", the Resource Extraction Rule accomplishes none of these goals. Instead, the SEC rule's required disclosure of proprietary information and resulting compliance burden actually harms, not helps, investors and impedes capital formation.  

The content of the letter to Congress is below and can also be found here

January 31, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) I write to express ATR’s strong support for using the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rule relating to resource extraction pursuant to section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

While increased transparency is a laudable goal, the SEC rule falls short of achieving this goal in a sensible and productive manner. Instead, the SEC’s Resource Extraction Rule under section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act has created an excessive compliance burden that puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally, and actually harms rather than protects investors.

The SEC rule adds to an already unreasonable compliance burden on U.S. companies. The SEC’s own estimates found that the ongoing compliance costs of the resource extraction rule would between $173 million and $385 million annually.

Additionally, by requiring U.S. companies to publicly disclose proprietary information under the rule, the SEC is giving America’s international competitors an enormous advantage in the global market. Such unnecessary and self-inflicted regulatory wounds only serve to reduce American prosperity by harming U.S. competitiveness and consumers in the long run.  

The SEC’s stated mission is to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” However the required disclosure of proprietary information and resulting compliance burden from the Resource Extraction Rule serves only to harm investors and shareholders and impede capital formation. 

I urge you and your colleagues in Congress to use the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the SEC’s Resource Extraction Rule.

Sincerely,                               

Grover G. Norquist                                                    

President                                                                    
Americans for Tax Reform

 

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U.S. Should Pursue Bilateral Trade Agreement with United Kingdom

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

A bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and United Kingdom would be extremely beneficial. Not only do the U.S. and U.K. have a strong commitment to one another that would be strengthened by this agreement, a trade deal would produce immense economic benefits.

President Donald Trump has expressed concerns with the current state of trade but has also committed to passing strong bilateral free trade agreements that benefit American workers and families. A U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement should be the first step in achieving the trade goals of the new administration.  Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Congressman Mark Walker (R-AL) have introduced a resolution, H.Res.60, that would pressure the Trump admiration to pursue a bilateral free trade agreement. President Trump should have no hesitation in supporting this resolution as he has expressed the prospect of such an agreement as favorable, considering it a “top priority” of the United States.

While free trade has come under scrutiny in recent years, conceptually it produces immense economic benefits.  Free trade agreements allow the elimination and reduction of tariffs—or taxes on trade—as well as other discriminatory measures such as trade quotas.  

Fewer barriers on American exports means less money taken by foreign governments out of the pockets of workers and business owners seeking to trade overseas. Fewer barriers on imports into the U.S. results in more competition and access to a greater range of products at lower prices for consumers across the country, guaranteeing a higher standard of living for Americans. 

The U.S. economy is heavily reliant on trade, so it is imperative that we have sound bilateral agreements with our major trading partners. Trade-related jobs account for more than one-quarter of ALL jobs in almost every state and a total of 41 million jobs across the country are tied to trade. These jobs pay on average 15-20 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.

The United Kingdom has historically been a major stakeholder and investor in the United States and has also served as a major market for U.S. goods. Following the UK’s “Brexit” vote, there has been much uncertainty as to whether the United Kingdom and the United States can retain the strong economic and cultural ties they share. 

Passing Representative Dent and Representative Walker’s U.S.-U.K. trade deal would be a step towards strengthening these meaningful ties by starting the conversation for a bilateral trade agreement. Such a conversation would provide much-needed certainty and stability in the global economy and foster a smooth transition for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union. 

It is crucial that the Trump administration take action on this resolution and start the discussion for a U.S.-U.K. bilateral trade agreement.

 

 

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ATR Supports Renaming Gravelly Point Park To Nancy Reagan Memorial Park

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Monday, January 30th, 2017, 6:17 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, Americans for Tax Reform detailed its support of H.R. 553 to rename Gravelly Point Park as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. The renaming of the park serves as a tribute to First Lady Nancy Reagan and the legacy she left behind. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga). Read the full letter below. 

January 23rd, 2017 

 

The Honorable Rob Bishop

Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources

United States House of Representatives

123 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Bishop,

I write in support of H.R. 553, legislation to redesignate Gravelly Point Park as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park.

As you know, I founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project in 1997 which is committed to preserving the legacy of the 40th President of the United States throughout the nation and abroad, by encouraging the naming of buildings, roads, landmarks, and schools after the late President. There are currently 151 domestic dedications in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries.

Reagan’s leadership left a resounding impact on the lives of citizens here at home and individuals worldwide.  His policies led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment.  Abroad, his disdain for communism moved him to set in place policies that would see the Soviet Union fall. 

First Lady Nancy Reagan’s life was also one dedicated to service and charity. Known for her passion for fighting alcohol and drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan has touched many lives and will continue to do so. She founded “Just Say No”, a drug and alcohol prevention campaign for youth that is still used in many school programs today. Through this passion, Nancy Reagan has left a legacy of her own.

This bill allows for Gravelly Point Park to be renamed as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park as a tribute to the First Lady. As an extension of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, ATR supports this legislation to commemorate Nancy Reagan.

All members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this legislation.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 


 
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ATR Urges Repeal of Stream Protection Rule Under Congressional Review Act

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, January 30th, 2017, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform this week released a letter for House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Congressional lawmakers to use the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's (OSM) Stream Protection Rule. 

The letter expresses the concern that the OSM's Stream Protection Rule is an egregious and unlawful example of federal regulatory overreach that infringes on the authority of state regulatory bodies, is wholly unnecessary, and will impact the livelihoods of millions of Americans. 

The letter can be viewed below or here

January 30, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) I write to express ATR’s strong support for using the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSM) Stream Protection Rule.

The OSM’s Stream Protection Rule is an egregious and unlawful example of federal regulatory overreach that infringes on the authority of state regulatory bodies, is wholly unnecessary, and will impact the livelihood of millions of Americans.      

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act instructs that States are to be the primary regulators of coal mining. In drafting the Stream Protection Rule, OSM failed to comply with these instructions, instead moving forward without real or meaningful involvement from the public or the relevant state agencies that are tasked with regulating 97 percent of the coal mines in the U.S.

The Department of Interior’s own reports show that essentially all coal mines have no off-site impacts, that lands are being restored successfully, and mines are being operated safely and in accordance with existing state and federal regulations. The Stream Protection Rule is simply a regulation in search of a problem.    

It is also the case the OSM rule will have far reaching impacts on the American economy. The rule threatens one-third of the nation’s coal mining work force and would remove half or more of total U.S. coal reserves from future production. The rule would also drive up electricity costs for American consumers and could reduce state and federal tax revenue by over $6 billion annually.

I urge you and your colleagues in Congress to use the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the OSM’s Stream Protection Rule.

Sincerely,                               

Grover G. Norquist                                                    

President                                                                    
Americans for Tax Reform

 

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