Oregon Obamacare Co-op Becomes 15th to Collapse

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Monday, July 11th, 2016, 5:24 PM PERMALINK


Fifteen Obamacare co-ops have now failed. Oregon announced Friday that its second taxpayer funded Obamacare co-op would close its doors, leaving 40,000 to find new insurance. The co-op, known as “Oregon’s Health CO-OP now joins a list of 14 other Obamacare co-ops that have collapsed including Health Republic Insurance of Oregon which closed last year.  Failed co-ops have now cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion in funds that may never be recovered.

Co-ops were created as not-for-profit alternatives to traditional insurance companies created under Obamacare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financed co-ops with startup and solvency loans, totaling more than $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars. Co-ops were envisioned as innovative providers that could provide member-driven care without needing to worry about recording a profit. In practice, they have failed to become sustainable with many collapsing amid the failure of Obamacare exchanges.

Since September, 12 Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, with only 8 of the original 23 co-ops remaining.  Oregon’s Health co-op faced losses of $18.4 million last year and owed the federal government close to $1 million.  Co-op across the country have struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges, losing millions despite receiving multiple government subsidies.

The mass failure of co-ops should not be surprising. Larger insurance companies have also struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges with many announcing they will stop providing coverage.

The web of government subsidies have also failed to provide insurances the funds they were promised. One of these programs, Risk corridors recouped just 12.6 percent of the funds that insurers requested. The program, which was created to encourage insurers to take on higher risk individuals by transferring funds from insurers who made money to those that posted losses, was required to be budget neutral under law leaving Obamacare insurers with a significant shortfall.

Obamacare co-ops have also been plagued by inept management and unrealistic business models.

As a report by the Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock found, 17 of the 21 co-ops paid out gratuitous salaries to executives reaching as high as $587,000, which is more than four times as much as the $135,000 median health insurance executive salary. Worse still, many of these executives had little to no experience in the insurance industry and some of these excessive salaries were disguised in financial documents as “management fees”. Last year, 21 of 23 co-ops posted losses.

Given the trend of failing Obamacare co-ops, the collapse of Oregon’s second co-op will not be the last.

A list of all failed co-ops and their cost to taxpayers compiled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is found below:

CoOportunity Health - Iowa and Nebraska
Cost:
$145,312,100 

Louisiana Health Cooperative, Inc.

Cost: $65,790,660 

Nevada Health Cooperative 

Cost: $65,925,396

Health Republic Insurance of New York

Cost: $265,133,000

Kentucky Health Care Cooperative - Kentucky and West Virginia

Cost: $146,494,772 

Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Company - Tennessee

Cost: $73,306,700

Colorado HealthOp
Cost:
$72,335,129 

Health Republic Insurance of Oregon

Cost: $60,648,505  

Consumers' Choice Health Insurance Company - South Carolina
Cost:
$87,578,208 

Arches Mutual Insurance Company – Utah

Cost: $89,650,303

Meritus Health Partners – Arizona
Cost: $
93,313,233 

Consumers Mutual Insurance – Michigan

Cost: $71,534,300 

InHealth Mutual – Ohio

Cost: $129,225,604

HealthyCT – Connecticut

Cost: $127,980,768

Oregon Health’s CO-OP – Oregon

Cost: $56,656,900


TOTAL TAXPAYER DOLLARS: $1,550,885,578

Note: This total does not include Vermont’s CO-OP, which was denied an insurance license by the state, and was dissolved before enrolling a single person.  

 

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John Pastirchak

Good point. You're referring to the marketing model of the once dominant A&P Grocery chain which ultimately failed. DC fares no better today. Obamacare is crumbling.

Mac

Their idea of running a business is to take a slight loss on everything you sell and make it up on the volume.

John Pastirchak

Is anyone surprised? Failed co-ops are like eggs on the faces of Socialists who believed they could do the impossible by sheer ideological will. True, in 2010 they had the votes. Too bad they didn't have any brains.


Rep. Gosar’s IERA Amendment Will Block Increased EPA Overreach

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Monday, July 11th, 2016, 3:38 PM PERMALINK


This week, the United States House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5538, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, introduced by Representative Ken Calvert (R-Calif.). This legislation allocates 2017 federal funding for agencies such as the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Services, the Indian Health Service, and other related agencies.  

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has offered an Amendment (#7) to H.R. 5538 that would prohibit the use of funds to carry out the draft EPA-USGA Technical Report entitled, “Protecting Aquatic Life from Effects of Hydrologic Alteration.” Agency guidance under the report would expand the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and increase federal control over waters currently under the jurisdiction of the states.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has sought to enact a number of overreaching and extraneous regulations on individuals and businesses that have cost billions of dollars. For instance, under Obama the EPA has put forth the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which would allow the agency to regulate private property anywhere that water can conceivably flow. It is estimated the WOTUS rule would cost American property owners and small businesses hundreds of millions annually in compliance and related costs.

Now, the EPA is again looking to expand it’s authority as part of agency guidance under the EPA-USGA Technical Report. If EPA authority were expanded pursuant to the Report, the agency could require an individual private water owner or local municipality to obtain a federal permit anytime they alter the amount of water available in rivers or other water systems.

American citizens cannot afford more economic hurdles and the commandeering of state powers over precious water supplies from an overzealous, unaccountable federal government.  States, local governments, and private water rights holders should not be subjected to such costly and burdensome federal overreach.

Americans for Tax Reform encourages all members of Congress to support Rep. Gosar’s Amendment #7 to H.R. 5538, which would prohibit funds for the EPA-USGS Technical Report, which aims to expand the scope of federal control over waters currently under the jurisdiction of states. 

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Thune Encourages More Oversight of Executive Bureaucracies

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Friday, July 8th, 2016, 1:50 PM PERMALINK


Senator John Thune highlighted yesterday vast leadership failures at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and shed light on how bureaucratic institutions like the FCC have hijacked the separation of powers doctrine that has guided this nation.

Thune powerfully condemned the systemic misuse of an organization that was meant, in his words, “to be places of expertise” to inform policy-making. However, the FCC has not embodied this key role for quite some time. Thune continued:

In recent years, the FCC has behaved less as an independent commission accountable to Congress, and more as a de facto arm of the executive branch, wholly subservient to the President. At the same time, the FCC has become more partisan than ever before, and an institution that has seized greater regulatory power while simultaneously shutting down bipartisan dialogue and compromise.”

In a time where the regulatory arm of the Executive Branch would make any one of our founders cringe, it is vital to sustaining our liberty that we recognize the reality of our situation as Senator Thune has done.

Thune’s words also ring true in a time where brave representatives in our legislature are trying to reclaim the promise that our founders handed down to us that our government would not have the power to act so unilaterally as to restrict our most basic freedoms.

The Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) reels in the power that federal agencies and unelected bureaucrats have to dictate the policy that governs each American.

Introduced by Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), as well as Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), SOPRA ends judicial deference to a 1984 court decision that requires courts to accept the executive branch’s interpretation of any law passed by Congress that may be vague in any way.

The FCC and the Obama administration have been allowed to run rampant, because of this irresponsible decision. Thune, along with these representatives are trying to solidify the truth that each branch of government is on equal footing.

Thune’s words go a long way in exposing the tacit acceptance of government overreach in this country. This precedent must not be allowed to continue.

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Obama OK’s Plan to Increase Eagle Deaths at Wind Farms

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Posted by Bradley Wyatt on Friday, July 8th, 2016, 11:30 AM PERMALINK


In May the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), with approval from the Obama Administration, proposed changes to federal rules that allow wind-energy companies to continue killing one of the great American symbols – bald eagles.

Within this rule, wind farms would be granted permits to kill up to 4,200 bald eagles per year, which is nearly four times the current limit. The proposed changes would also extend the time period for such permits from 5 to 30 years, six times what the law currently allows for wind farms.

According to the FWS, there are about 143,000 bald eagles and 40,000 golden eagles in the U.S. Under the proposed changes, wind farms could be allowed to kill up to 126,000 bald eagles during the life of the permit. This would be on top of reports that show 573,000 birds (88,000 of which are “raptors” such as eagles) and 888,000 bats are being killed each year by wind turbines, more than 30 percent higher than federal government estimates. While the estimate could change, wind farms are known for catching birds in their rotors.

One of the more troubling aspects is estimated deaths are likely low given a lack of reporting data. “We don’t really know how many birds are being killed now by wind turbines because the wind industry doesn’t have to report the data,” says Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy. Currently such data is considered a “trade secret.” This is especially concerning given that wind capacity has increased 20 percent in recent years, and is projected to triple if Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CCP) moves forward.

According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, one of the biggest offenders is the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) in California. At APWRA, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines each year. In total, the nearly 6,000 lethal turbines spread out across 50,000 acres in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties kill 4,700 birds annually.

FWS Director Dan Ashe said the new proposal will "provide a path forward" for maintaining eagle populations while also spurring development of new energy sources, which is a huge part of Obama's energy plan. Robert Bryce, Senior Fellow at The Manhattan Institute, noted that, “By exempting the wind industry from prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, the federal government is providing another indirect subsidy to the sector.” The wind industry already receives hefty handouts from the government in the form of investment tax credits. 

The great irony is Obama has made environmental protection an important issue during his presidency, however Obama advocates for new energy sources, including wind turbines, which in return kill thousands of birds annually, including eagles. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States. Details within this report note that 35 percent of energy will be powered wind energy by 2050.

The theme that emerges from Obama’s tenure is that he is always willing to subject the country to endless negative externalities, such as skyrocketing energy costs from his CPP, so long as his “green” legacy is preserved. The Administration is now going to consider public comments on the thirty-year permits for wind farms and issue a final ruling on the issue by the end of the year.

 

Photo Credit: Jordan Confino

 

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Marshall Rosenthal

This is the outrage that this lame duck does for his wind power cronies. Kill off all the eagles for the next thirty years! Disgusting!

Greg Alvarez

Changes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's eagle conservation rule are significantly misrepresented in this article. Direct from USFWS Director Dan Ashe:

"Contrary to published reports, proposed changes
to our Eagle Conservation and Management Program do not give wind
energy companies — or any other industry, organization or individual —
license to kill thousands of eagles each year without consequence. The
notion that we intend to permit the killing of more than 4,000 bald
eagles is wrong. Period. That number appears in our proposal only as a
scientific reference point that signals the “tipping point” at which our
biologists tell us overall eagle populations would be at risk.

In reality, our conservation proposal will reduce harm to bald and
golden eagles at a national and local scale. We’ve set very
conservative limits on eagle mortality (from all sources, not
just wind) to ensure healthy, sustainable populations. We require
mitigation for any golden eagle deaths that exceed those levels — in
addition to the conservation measures we impose in exchange for permits.

The truth is, thousands of eagles die every year for a variety of reasons — most from natural causes. The vast majority of human-caused deaths result from intentional poisoning and shooting — federal crimes that we aggressively investigate and prosecute. Most other eagle deaths are caused by collisions - with cars, buildings, power lines and other structures. Wind energy facilities represent a fraction of these deaths, and the media’s singular focus on wind turbines is a gross distortion of the truth.

Nearly all of these eagle deaths are not permitted, and many are unreported. That’s the real problem for our biologists."

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...


Obama Admin Lawyers Threatened IRS Employee Testifying About Illegal Obamacare Payments

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, July 7th, 2016, 2:14 PM PERMALINK


Lawyers for the Obama Treasury Department threatened an IRS employee before his testimony to Congressional investigators over the administration’s illegal funding of Obamacare “Cost Sharing Reduction” (CSR) payments. The employee, IRS Chief Risk Officer David Fisher, was threatened with an “overly broad, inapplicable regulation.”

As the report notes on page 145 Mr. Fisher wanted to testify without government lawyers because of concerns that they did not represent his interests:

“One witness, however, did not want agency counsel to accompany him…. Mr. Fisher told Committee staff that he did not believe that Treasury counsel represented his interests and did not wish for them to attend the interview. Mr. Fisher also stated that he had already spoken to Treasury counsel and told them he did not want representatives from that office to attend his interview.”

In a letter to Mr. Fisher, government lawyers explicitly state that the IRS “forbids its employees and former employees from speaking to Congress without explicit permission from the IRS.” The letter references “Touhy regulations” as justification for this prohibition, however these regulations typically do not apply to Congressional information requests, a fact that was not made clear in the letter provided to Mr. Fisher.

As the report notes, this put Mr. Fisher in an untenable situation:

“Congress requested information from him, and he was willing to provide it, but Treasury threatened him with an overly broad, inapplicable regulation.”

Mr. Fisher was eventually subpoenaed by investigators so he could speak freely about both the program and the reasons for the administration’s unprecedented obstruction. As the report notes, his testimony provided key information over the illegal CSR payments:

“The answers he gave in provided more insight into the Administration’s decision-making processes than those of any other individual the committees interviewed with agency counsel present. His answers also shed light onto why the Administration has restricted the testimony of every other witness—going so far as to not letting witnesses answer questions about the names of individuals involved in the decision-making process—and why the Administration has failed to comply with the committees’ document subpoenas.”

The administration went to extreme lengths to hide the truth throughout the entire investigation. Since the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched its investigation, multiple agencies have refused to provide information, selectively applied the law, and even pressured one witness not to testify. As the report notes:

“The Administration successfully limited the testimony of most of their current and former employees by sending Administration counsels to attend the interviews. These counsels instructed witnesses not to provide full and complete answers to the Committees’ questions.”

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silver fox

....let me ad that i am a drag performer in Greenwich Village but my friends and i will never vote for Killary. We'd LOVE to have cosmos with her but ELECT her? oh please....

silver fox

traitors, liars, criminals, cheaters, theives......the democratic party will destroy America before it relinquishes power.

Steve Rossi

thank you silver fox. please discuss this with your friends and let them see for themselves whats better for them and America. God bless you.


House Looks to Stop $500 Million Taxpayer Funded Transfer Overseas

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, July 7th, 2016, 10:08 AM PERMALINK


The House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs approved a State Department spending bill this week that would prohibit the use of funds for the U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF). Such prohibition would stop $500 million in taxpayer dollars from being sent overseas as part of President Obama’s unilateral commitment to fund the GCF. 

As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris last year, the GCF fund was created with the goal of transferring funds from wealthy nations to developing nations to further the commits under the agreement. As part of the GCF, President Obama committed to helping raise $100 billion annually in funding, without the consent of Congress, and pledged $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to the GCF.

The first installment of President Obama’s self-serving, ideological commitment came in March when $500 million was handed out to the GCF. Obama has since requested an additional $500 million as part of the second payment for 2017. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would allow for the $500 million requested transfer to the GCF. 

Thankfully, lawmakers on the House side realize the perverse nature of President Obama’s commitment to send millions, and eventually billions, in taxpayer’s hard earned dollars overseas at a time when such funds are desperately needed at home. For FY 2016 U.S. public debt totals $22 trillion, and while $3 billion is a relative drop in the bucket, there is no reason those funds should not be used domestically for the benefit of U.S. taxpayers.

 

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fedupMan

But what will our cowed rino's actually DO other than speak words. Can't wait for Trump to take over and crack skulls of lot of govt ppl.

migtex1234

Bet old rino Ryan, will not notice.


Report Uncovers Stonewalling of Illegal Obamacare Payments

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, July 7th, 2016, 9:53 AM PERMALINK


The Obama administration has been illegally funding Obamacare “Cost Sharing Reduction” (CSR) payments for years over the objections of IRS officials, according to a report released today by the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Since Congress launched its investigation, multiple agencies have refused to provide information, selectively applied the law, and even pressured one witness not to testify.

Key findings:

-The administration initially submitted a CSR appropriations request for Fiscal Year 2014, but later withdrew it and began making payments illegally. As the report notes, Obamacare created CSR payments, but they have never been appropriated for. The Constitution explicitly makes clear that the power of the purse lies with Congress and the Executive cannot spend taxpayer money without Congressional approval.

-CSR payments were created as one way to artificially hide the true costs of Obamacare through a web of government spending programs. CSR payments would be given to an insurance company based on the income of an enrollee and the plan they purchased. Assuming certain criteria were met, the insurance company would receive federal dollars as an incentive to keep co-payments, deductibles, and other out of pocket costs low.

-After officials from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withdrew the CSR appropriations request, the administration begun illegally shifting funds from a separate appropriation. The administration has refused to provide the legal memorandum that led to this decision even in the face of Congressional subpoenas.

-IRS officials expressed concern that this method of funding CSR payments was illegal so were briefed on the memorandum. As the report notes in an interview with one IRS official at the meeting, they were not permitted to take notes or keep a copy of the memo:

“We were given a memo to read. We were instructed we were not to take notes and we would not be keeping the memo, we’d be giving it back at the end of the meeting.”

-Following this meeting, IRS officials continued to have concerns that the CSR payments violated federal law and raised concerns with IRS Chief John Koskinen. As the report notes, these concerns were heard, but ignored:

“The IRS officials’ concerns that this course of action violated appropriations law were noted, but not addressed or ameliorated by OMB’s legal memorandum.”

-Shortly thereafter, DoJ and Treasury officials officially approved the decision to use an unrelated appropriation to make CSR payments.

Since Congress launched its investigation, multiple Obama government agencies have undertaken a concerted effort to hide the truth by refusing to provide, or unlawfully redacting documents, refusing to answer questions or allow witnesses to testify, and selectively applying the law. In at least one case, the Obama administration pressured a witness into not revealing information, and in another case the administration prevented a witness from answering questions.

As the report notes:

  • The Department of the Treasury improperly withheld and redacted documents without any valid legal basis to do so.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services improperly withheld documents without any valid legal basis to do so.
  • The Office of Management and Budget improperly withheld documents without any valid legal basis to do so.
  • The Department of the Treasury failed to search for records responsive to the committees’ subpoenas.
  • Treasury used regulations and Testimony Authorizations to prohibit current and former IRS employees from providing testimony to Congress about the source of funding for the CSR program.
  • Treasury officials selectively enforced the law by allowing witnesses to answer certain questions prohibited by the authorizations without objection
  • HHS counsel prevented witnesses from answering substantive questions regarding the CSR, citing the need to protect “internal deliberations” and “confidentiality interests”
  • Witnesses were instructed not to reveal the names of White House and DoJ officials involved in decisions regarding the cost sharing reduction program.
  • The Department of the Treasury pressured at least one witness into following the restrictions set forth in his Testimony Authorization after the witness questioned Treasury’s ability to limit his testimony.
  • OMB prevented a witness from answering factual questions regarding the dates or times of a meeting or conversation, refusing to invoke a legal privilege to justify withholding the information from Congress.

 

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PeterM

“We were given a memo to read. We were instructed we were not to take notes and we would not be keeping the memo, we’d be giving it back at the end of the meeting.”

Can you believe this garbage?!!!

Where are we??? North Korea???!!!

This is an absolute outrage. Where in the HELL is the feckless/worthless GOP on this?

Scared under their bed.

Time for Trump. Locked and loaded - with both barrels.

Rob

If the DOJ and FBI won't even prosecute Hillary, which is a slam dunk case of criminal treason, it sure won't go after Obama's gigantic insurance fraud. Obama has done more to lower the standards of the U.S. than I thought even possible. We're essentially a lawless banana republic, and 43% say they still support Hillary. Wow how we've fallen.

GHZSD

My experience, those supporting Hillary are more likely to listen to rap and hate America


ATR Supports Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, July 7th, 2016, 2:00 AM PERMALINK


Congressman Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) recently introduced H.Con.Res.140, a resolution calling for the Fiscal State of the Nation. This commonsense resolution requires the Comptroller General of the United States to present a financial report of the United States before a Joint Session of Congress. ATR supports this important resolution and urges all Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support H.Con.Res. 140.

Financial statements for the United States are already compiled, but are typically buried in 300 page reports. As a result, important information regarding the federal government’s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, and sustainability of programs are often ignored or missed by Members of Congress, the media, and the public.

The country is $19 trillion in debt and the long-term sustainability of important federal programs remains uncertain. At the same time, billions in taxpayer dollars are wasted on unnecessary or inefficient programs. By requiring an annual update on the long-term financial health of the country, your resolution helps ensure our nation’s finances remain at the forefront of public discussion.

This important financial information is already available but is all too often missed or ignored. ATR urges all Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support this important resolution.

 

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The Grover Norquist Show: Breaking Down the House Republican Tax Reform Plan

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 4:29 PM PERMALINK


In Episode 59 of The Grover Norquist Show, ATR’s Alex Hendrie joins Grover to discuss Speaker Paul Ryan and Chairman Kevin Brady’s new tax reform proposal unveiled last week. The plan will consolidate the tax brackets from seven to three, cut rates for all Americans, lower the corporate and small business tax rates, and abolish the death tax.

The House GOP’s plan will unleash growth and stimulate the economy, unlike Hillary Clinton’s plan that will raise taxes and further burden American businesses and families. Listen to the podcast below.

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ATR Submits Comment Opposing Treasury's Proposed Section 385 Regulations

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi, Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 3:27 PM PERMALINK


ATR President Grover Norquist today submitted a comment in opposition of Treasury’s proposed section 385 debt equity regulations. While these regulations were proposed as a way to halt business inversions, this is clearly not the case as they affect businesses regardless of whether they are inverting.

Instead, these regulations will only make it harder for American businesses to compete. They are unnecessary, will make it harder for our businesses to compete with foreign competitors, will reduce investment in the U.S., and will open the door for the IRS to further abuse its powers.

Debt and equity have been treated differently under the tax code for decades and businesses have structured themselves based on these rules. Altering these rules without adequate expert input as this administration proposes will immediately impact a wide range of common, internal business transactions such as the ability to redistribute cash among subsidiaries to make new investments.

In turn, this will result in extensive compliance and regulatory burdens affecting businesses across all industries. These regulations may result in less money invested in the U.S. economy, slow our already stagnant economic growth, and further encumber job growth. Additionally, the information disclosure requirements created to enforce this rule empower the already dysfunctional IRS to collect an excessive level of new information.

As written, section 385 regulations are an indiscriminate weapon that the federal government can use to restrict and undermine the legitimate business transactions of American companies operating at home and abroad, and foreign companies operating in the U.S.

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