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.

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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.


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.


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


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.

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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.

The EU Seeks to Destroy Business Competitiveness

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Posted by Anthony McAuliffe on Friday, December 9th, 2016, 5:05 PM PERMALINK

After its decision in August to force Ireland to collect over $14 billion in “unpaid” taxes from Apple, the EU continues its attack on international businesses throughout the continent. The European Commission has vowed to introduce the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), claiming it wants to create a “growth-friendly and fair corporate tax system.”

The problem with this proposal is that it will actually hurt growth in many countries that are part of the EU, which is an inherently unfair system. One of the countries that stands to lose the most from the CCCTB is Ireland, which is targeted primarily due to its low and competitive corporate tax rate of 12.5%.

Ireland’s pro-growth economy is funded in large part due to corporate tax revenue received from international businesses. Under the CCCTB, portions of that tax revenue would go to other countries, even if the business headquarters is stationed in Ireland. According to estimates from the Economic and Social Research Institute, this change in revenue could reduce Ireland’s projected economic growth from 3% to 1.5%. This would be a drastic hit to an economy that has been labeled as one of Europe’s most impressive pro-growth models.

Besides drastically hurting growth in countries like Ireland, the CCCTB is also an overreach of EU powers in regards to taxation. Even though each country will technically still be able to decide its own corporate tax rate, the amount of revenue that can be taxed under that rate will be limited. The EU is essentially seeking to manage taxation in an indirect way, which should be an issue of national sovereignty for each individual country. Furthermore, it seeks to impose its idea of what constitutes a “fair” amount of taxation, which again should be decided by individual countries.

Why should this matter? Lower corporate tax rates encourage competitiveness and investment in a country, bringing greater economic growth. Greater growth leads to more jobs, higher incomes, and overall more economic opportunity. Imposing regulations and higher tax rates will only stifle business competitiveness and reduce growth. The CCCTB is definitely not growth friendly.

Businesses outside of Apple are also being hurt by the EU’s decision to go after companies who seek competitive tax rates. Companies like Zara, a clothing retailer, are being targeted by the EU for “tax evasion” just like Apple. This is despite the fact that Zara works to ensure that its tax policies comply with international standards.

McDonald’s is also being targeted by the EU, but taking into account the issues with Apple, Zara, and others, is taking proactive measures to avoid strict and unfair EU regulations. The fast-food giant announced it will move its non-U.S. tax base to the UK, knowing that the country will soon leave the EU due to Brexit. Many other companies may see this example and begin moving their businesses to the UK as well under the threat of the EU’s CCCTB.

While the CCCTB may help the countries that have refused to engage in competitive and pro-growth business practices, those that have taken the step to do so will be hit hard. It is an unfair and anti-growth tax policy that will ultimately lead to lower levels of investment throughout EU member states. 

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The Concerned Conservative

The more Brussels attempts to destroy sovereignty of countries such as Ireland, the sooner the EU will fall apart. If I were an Irishman, I would tell the EU to go pound sand up its arse.

Toomey Targets Dodd-Frank with Reconciliation

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, December 9th, 2016, 3:22 PM PERMALINK

This week Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) called on the Senate to begin reforming the Dodd-Frank Act through a legislative procedure known as reconciliation. Senator Toomey’s call to rein in Dodd-Frank through reconciliation is a positive step toward protecting taxpayers, consumers, and U.S. businesses from the crushing and burdensome tangle of regulations that is Dodd-Frank.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Toomey stated:

“For too long now we’ve been putting up with a Dodd-Frank bill that is costing us a lot of economic growth and opportunity. I am hoping our Democratic colleagues will work with us so that we can begin to make the constructive changes that we need. But if not, I think we should use all tools available to get this job done.”

One of tools available that Senator Toomey suggested is a process known as reconciliation. By using the reconciliation process, lawmakers could make legislative changes to the Dodd-Frank Act with a simple majority in the Senate. Since Senate Republicans will occupy 52 seats in the Upper Chamber next year, this would allow them to make changes to the law and prevent Senate Democrats from filibustering those efforts.

Senator Toomey has also made it clear one of the first targets of reform will be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act. Created less than six years ago, the CFPB has developed into a regulatory monster issuing nearly 50 rules at a rate 3.5 times faster than any other government agency.

The CFPB is currently not subject to the Congressional appropriations process, and “their funding makes them completely unaccountable to anyone other than themselves,” Senator Toomey said.

His fellow Republican colleagues in the Senate echoed the sentiments expressed by Toomey this week regarding Dodd-Frank reforms. Chairman of the Senate Baking Committee Richard Shelby (R-Alaska) stated Wednesday, “I’d like to repeal the whole thing, period.”

Dodd-Frank reforms are also receiving increased attention on the House side as well. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) this year introduced the Financial CHOICE Act to overhaul Dodd-Frank, an effort that will see a reenergized push in 2017 with Republicans controlling both the legislative and executive branches.  

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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Government Continues its Path of Wasteful Spending

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Posted by Marc Dupont on Friday, December 9th, 2016, 10:59 AM PERMALINK

As 2016 finally comes to a close, it’s time to review how the Federal government continues to squander taxpayer dollars on various initiatives and programs. Unfortunately for the average American, the list of government waste is long and packed with numerous examples of needless spending projects.  

Let’s look at one glaring example. 

As Senator James Lankford (R-OK) demonstrates in his annual report “Federal Fumbles,” the NEH, NEA, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services came together to spend an irresponsible $495,000 on an exhibit titled, “A Sense of Beauty: Medieval Art and the Five Senses” earlier this year. This showcase was planned to include “130 works of art focusing on the senses created from the 12th to 16th centuries”, as it sought to provide attendees with a unique sensory glimpse into the medieval era. 

Not only has this exhibit failed to open promptly (it was planned for fall of this year), there exists an entirely separate 85-day exhibition relating to the same topic that will feature before 2016 is over.

This is a perfect example of wasteful spending for a number of reasons.

To start, Congress has a huge overspending problem to focus on and taxpayer dollars should not be funding such a frivolous project that will have a minimal impact on their daily lives. Secondly, generating private donations to pay for it shouldn’t be a difficult feat to accomplish if there’s enough public interest. Lastly, even if this kind of spending could be justified, having three different agencies splashing taxpayer dollars on the exhibit would be extraordinarily wasteful; especially when one agency doing so would suffice.

Funding the arts may be an important element of the American tradition; but, when faced with an impending budgetary crisis that endangers the wellbeing of future Americans, funding an exhibit that highlights the smells of a historical period hundreds of years in the past should most certainly not be a priority of the Federal government. Although the cost of the program only totals to $495,000, this is just one of many different spending projects that will cumulatively seek to waste millions (or billions) of hard-working Americans’ tax dollars. 

President-Elect Donald Trump claimed on the campaign trail that he seeks to curtail the “…tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse” that is present within government. Given the ever-increasing list of wasteful government programs that are enacted each year, this is hopefully not an empty promise. 

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A 2-2 FCC is a Loss for the Trump Administration and Republicans

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, December 8th, 2016, 2:47 PM PERMALINK

Our previous article pointed out Wheeler's bad behavior and his likelihood of staying on the FCC, but the primary point is that a Rosenworcel re-nomination deadlocks the FCC and delays forward progress. 

Without Rosenworcel's re-nomination there is still hope for a 1-2 FCC.

Chairman Wheeler does not get to negotiate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over who will be on the FCC.  Playing into Wheeler's game where  he will step down "if it helps Rosenworcel get renominated" means Wheeler is still deciding the outcome. 

If commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is re-nominated and confirmed before president-elect Trump takes office the FCC will definitely sit at a 2-2 dead lock.  This split slows down the ability of the new Commission to pursue its deregulatory vision.

This is a real midnight move to control the Internet.  If Rosenworcel is re-nominated, the best Trump and the Republicans can hope for is a 2-2 FCC. The worst is a 3-2 democrat controlled FCC.

A Republican majority FCC is still possible sooner rather than later as long as Rosenworcel is not re-nominated.

If Rosenworcel returns to the Commission now, the next most likely scenario is that the new Republican nominated to the FCC will be held up until July when Commissioner MignonClyburn’s term ends.

If Republicans don’t nominate their new pick as a pair, it will be easy for the “clicktivist” left to turn the nomination into a circus.  The next nominee will be framed as the decider of the future of the Internet.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot let this go through.  This is no time to be negotiating with Harry Reid and Obama as they walk out the door.

No midnight nominations. 

President Trump should have both a Democrat and a Republican spot open for nominations when he takes office.

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