The LEADS Act Will Ensure Your Right to Privacy

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, 3:36 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform, along with 8 organizations signed onto a letter in support of The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act.  The LEADS Act aims to protect the privacy of American citizens by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access emails and personal data stored abroad.  The LEADS act would reinforce the principles of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and apply them to information outside of our borders.   The private communications of American citizens are protected by the Constitution, no matter where one may choose to store them.  
 
The letter states

“The U.S. Government has relied on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to reach data of foreign citizens stored abroad so long as the company storing the data had a presence on U.S. soil. This practice creates distrust of American businesses and encourages foreign citizens, companies and countries to stop doing business with U.S. companies operating overseas. Eventually, this will harm U.S. companies and threaten America’s leadership in cloud computing technology.”

In February, This bipartisan legislation to protect privacy was introduced in both the Senate and the House.  Introduced by Senator Hatch (R-Utah) S. 512 and Representative Marino (R-Penn.) H.R. 1174, the LEADS Act protects the Fourth Amendment Rights of US citizens. 

Senator Hatch explains: “This is a pro-business, pro-innovation bill that will protect American privacy in the digital age and promote trust in U.S. technologies worldwide."

You can read the full letter here.   
 
You can read more on the LEADs Act here.  

 

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Melina Sampaio Manfrinatti

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Connecticut Legislators Propose Income Tax Hike

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, 12:58 PM PERMALINK


Last week, Connecticut legislators bucked Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), discarding his budget proposal in favor of a plan approved by the legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee that raises taxes by $1.8 billion over the next two years. Most of the plan’s new revenue comes from an income tax increase.

The budget approved by Democrat lawmakers, who control the state house and senate, raises the top marginal income tax rate from 6.7 to 6.99 percent for individuals earning over $500,000 annually and couples with income in excess of $1 million. Connecticut lawmakers characterize this as a tax increase on the rich, but they neglect to acknowledge the harm this will do to small businesses.

According to IRS data, this income tax increase would hit over 6,800 Connecticut small businesses that file their taxes under the individual income tax system. However, that figure only accounts for sole proprietors. Including the share of small businesses made up of S-Corps and partnerships, upwards of 8,000 small businesses file under the individual income tax system in Connecticut and would be adversely affected by the budget approved by Democratic state legislators last week. If approved, the hike called for by the legislature it would be the fourth state income tax increase since the levy was instituted in 1991. Gov. Malloy signed the last income tax hike into law in 2011.

The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee-approved budget also raises $730 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax base to include previously untaxed services, applies a surcharge to capital gains, and delays scheduled tax cuts. Gov. Malloy was quick to criticize the Democrat-approved budget, as well as the tax hike-free Republican alternative.

Gov. Malloy’s budget also raises taxes, but not as much as legislative Democrats are calling for. Over the next month legislative leadership will work with the Malloy administration to reach a budget agreement. Unfortunately for Connecticut taxpayers, though they already face the third highest state and local tax burden in the nation, politicians in Hartford appear likely to approve further tax hikes this summer. The question in Connecticut appears to be how much, not whether, taxes will go up this year. 

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Jerry Cobb

These fools that is all they know how to do is raise taxes....spend more foolishly. Provide no accountability. And run all businesses into the ground. Their reality is unlike the rest of us.


Louisiana Labor Committee Passes Paycheck Protection Bill

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Thursday, April 30th, 2015, 11:42 AM PERMALINK


A significant step toward greater worker freedom was taken today in the Louisiana legislature, where the House Labor Committee voted to approved House Bill 418, legislation that will end government withholding of union dues from public employee paychecks. 

If this bill is approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jindal, public employees in Louisiana will no longer be forced to fund union political activities against their will. Prior to the hearing, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to committee members encouraging them to support this much-needed reform: 

 

To: Members of the Louisiana House Labor & Industrial Relations Committee,​

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Louisiana, I write in strong support of House Bill 418, legislation introduced by Rep. Stuart Bishop that would both increase worker freedom and get Louisiana government out of the business of acting as the money bagman for government employee unions and their political activities. By ending state withholding of union fees and dues from government employee paychecks, HB 418 will stop an indefensible use of state resources and give Louisiana public employees the freedom to decide whether or not they would like to join a union and fund its political activities.

HB 418 recognizes the right of workers to organize, but ensures that workers have freedom of association and are not forced to join and fund a union against their will. If passed, HB 418 will end the use of state resources to collect union dues via paycheck withholding. With passage of this important reform, no employee will be forced to see his or her money used to support a political cause he or she does not believe in.

If unions are providing a service to workers, then they will have no problem making the case for why workers should pay dues. However, research indicates that without proper safeguards, many workers are forced to give up hard earned wages against their will. A study by the Heritage Foundation found that states that passed paycheck protection laws like HB 418 saw union spending on political campaigns and activities fall by an average by 50% after such laws were enacted. This reveals that often the goals of the union leadership do not reflect the priorities of the workers. HB 418 would ensure that every Louisiana worker has the freedom to choose whether or not to support union political activities. When given a choice, it seems that many workers decide to not contribute to political activities that they were previously forced to fund against their will.

HB 418 saves taxpayer dollars by taking the government out of the dues collection business. No more administrative or financial resources will be used by state government to funnel money to unions that, in turn, often use that very money to work against the interests of Louisiana taxpayers. If the unions want the money, they will have to ask for it themselves.

In both principle and practice, HB 418 is a good reform that will expand economic freedom in Louisiana. Paycheck protection laws protect worker rights and taxpayer dollars; as such, I strongly urge you to support HB 418.  

Sincerely, 

Grover G. Norquist, President

Americans for Tax Reform

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Photo credit: Antrell Williams

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Senate Finance Committee Set to Approve Legislation to Improve 529 College Savings Plans

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, 4:04 PM PERMALINK


The Senate Finance Committee today considered legislation to improve 529 college savings plans. ATR applauds the work of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to improve this important savings plan and help middle class families invest in their children's college education. Earlier this year, President Obama attempted to hike taxes on this commonly used plan, but was forced to drop the proposal after backlash from middle class families.

529 savings plans help middle class families invest in their children’s futures. These plans allow parents to invest after-tax earnings into a plan that collects interest, and can later be spent tax-free on their children’s college education. As of 2014, an average of $21,000 has been invested in nearly 12 million accounts.

The common-sense legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee updates 529 plans to include new technology such as computers and reduces the complexity of setting up and using a 529 plan. The House of Representatives already passed similar legislation by a 401-20 margin in February.

However, as ATR has previously reported, President Obama’s 2015 Budget proposed taxing 529 savings plans despite his prior public support for 529 plans. After public backlash from middle class families, the President reluctantly backtracked on this proposal and removed it from his budget proposal.

Below is the timeline of President Obama’s hypocrisy on 529 savings plans.

  • August 3, 2006: As U.S. Senator, votes to make 529s permanent.
  • 2006: Praises 529s in his book, The Audacity of Hope.
  • 2007: Makes a $240,000 contribution to his own 529 accounts.
  • Sept. 9, 2009: White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families issues a detailed report on 529s. Top conclusion from the report:

"529 plans are an attractive and convenient means of saving for college.”

The report makes several recommendations on how to further promote 529s.

  • Sept. 9, 2009: Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Geithner, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan share a stage at a Middle Class Task Force event at Syracuse University. Geithner strongly touts 529 plans:

"As the Vice President has said, we are also working to implement, expand or improve a wide array of other government programs that encourage education savings and increase college enrollment. Today I want to highlight one program in particular, Section 529 savings plans.

These plans can be an immensely effective way for Americans to save for college. They are generally administered by the states, and they allow people to put aside money for college and enjoy investment earnings that are free of federal taxes and, in some cases, receive state tax benefits, as well. When state tax benefits are included, a typical middle class family can accumulate 25 percent more in 529 accounts than they can in a typical taxable savings account."

  • Sept. 9, 2009: Official White House statement praises 529s:

"A 529 plan, offered by states, provides a convenient, tax-preferred way for families to save for college, and works much like ROTH IRAs, wherein contributions are made with after-tax income, returns accumulate tax free and distributions can be for qualified educational expenses without taxes."

  • July 23, 2010: President Obama sits for a lengthy interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was asked, “can you feel the pain directly that other Americans are feeling?” Obama answers by citing his 529s as an example of how he can identify with the middle class:

"Well, part of it has, that part that is devoted to Malia and Sasha's college fund was in a 529, you know, that had been set up when I was still a state senator. And, obviously, that goes up and down with the stock market and so it's lost value like everybody else."

  • Jan. 17, 2015: On a Saturday evening, the White House shares with reporters an outline of President Obama’s tax plan. The ten-page, single-spaced document describes 529s as “upside-down.”
  • Jan. 23, 2015: White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman, in an interview with BloombergBusinessweek, deems 529s “ineffective” and “tilted towards the upper end."
  • Jan. 23, 2015: White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismisses a reporter question on 529s:

"My guess is those who are saying that are critics of the president. And that’s fine. The—I think the facts about the president’s proposal speak for themselves."

  • Jan. 27, 2015: Anonymous Obama administration official announces that the White House is abandoning its plans to tax 529s.

 

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Thank Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio for Promising No Tax Hikes as President

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, 2:30 PM PERMALINK


Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio recently became the first Presidential candidates to sign the taxpayer protection pledge to the American people. These candidates have pledged to “oppose and veto any and all tax increase” as President.

Their decision to "oppose and veto ANY and ALL tax increases" puts pressure on all the other candidates that enter into the race to make the same written commitment. Paul, Cruz, and Rubio understand government should be reformed, so it takes and spends less of our hard-earned money.  

Each candidate should be applauded for fighting for taxpayers and against bigger, more intrusive government. Let’s show our appreciation by sending Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio individual Thank You Cards for their strong commitment to the American people:

  

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All Formally Declared GOP Presidential Candidates Have Signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, 2:00 PM PERMALINK


All three of the formally declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have signed a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes" if elected President.

Sens. Paul, Cruz, and Rubio have also signed and kept the Pledge as members of the U.S. Senate. Rubio signed and kept the Pledge as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and as state House Speaker.

"Elected officials face a choice: Reform government to cost less, or raise taxes instead of reforming government,” said Grover Norquist president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio have made it clear that they stand with taxpayers now and in the future.” said Norquist.

With the exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, prospective GOP presidential candidates have signed the Pledge in their current or former capacity. As incumbent governors, Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.) have signed and kept the Pledge. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry signed and kept the Pledge.

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Huntsman dropped out of the race on Jan. 15, 2012 after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary.

ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. This includes all members of the House and Senate GOP leadership as well as the chairmen of the tax writing committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.

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Rickster Rickster

NO politician should be beholden to any group or person such as this. I for one am sick and tired of this pandering to loud mouthed backstabbing blackmailers like Norquist and his ilk. this kind of stunt along with the ones the religious right pull are un-American in the extreme.


Senator Marco Rubio Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People

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Posted by ATR on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, 6:00 AM PERMALINK


Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a candidate for the presidency of the United States, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people. 

The pledge is a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Senator Rubio signed and kept the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He is a Pledge signer in his current capacity as a U.S. Senator and has kept his promise to Floridians.

ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

“Senator Rubio is a longtime leader in the taxpayer movement. He signed and kept the Pledge as a Florida state House representative and as a United States Senator. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people, Senator Rubio continues to protect American taxpayers against higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senator Rubio understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money, and will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past."

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ShawnNJ

Spoken like true America-hating Liberal scum.

Hey Hillary just called and asked that you keep hiding her computer server. She doesn't want Americans to see payoffs she recieved for selling America down the river.

truth

Thankfully no republicans will ever be elected as President due to hardline or crazy views. R.i.p republican party


Hawaii Bans Smoking For Young Adults, Lets Kids Continue to Have Sex

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, April 27th, 2015, 4:15 PM PERMALINK


Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to increase the legal smoking age to 21. In a move that indicates this has absolutely nothing to do with public health, the bill passed by the legislature on Friday also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco-free electronic cigarettes.

While some localities, like New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, if Gov. David Ige signs this law, Hawaii will become the first state to impose a statewide ban on young adult access to legal cigarettes. The law would go into effect January 1, 2016.

An example of an absurd claim regarding cigarette advertising came from Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill. “While the industry is not allowed to directly market to children, it is still developing packaging and advertising products in ways that appeal to children.”

No offense to the producers of Marlboro, but these are among the most boring and unappealing packaging designs imaginable:

Regarding e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently weighing a new set of deeming regulations regarding advertising and sales. Hawaii should defer to the FDA for guidance on this regulatory framework. 

At least one opponent of the legislation, Democratic Sen. Gil Riviere had some common sense insight: “You can sign contracts, you can get married, you can go to war and lose an arm or lose an eye… you come back and you’re 20 years old and you can’t have a s cigarette.”

The logic behind legislation saying “cigarettes are disgusting and should be banned” might as well apply to all adults, Riviere’s thinking goes (sarcastically).

The Nanny State is out of control.

Think about this. Beyond being able to serve in the military - putting your life at risk in many cases in the course of war for your country, in Hawaii, the legal age of consent is 16. There is a “close in age exception” that allows kids, yes children, who are 14 years old to also legally have sex with anyone who is less than 5 years older than they are. Hawaii has clearly concluded that middle schoolers have enough maturity and cognitive development to consent to sex with high school graduates, but not enough to think about the impact of cigarette use. 

Think what you will about age of consent laws but compare the double standard for permitting two different personal choices, both of which may have significant life-long consequences.

Hawaii’s rationale seems to be that what you do in your own bedroom is your call, unless it includes the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. In the latter cases, the government must save you from yourself. 

Give me a break.

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Daniel Ramirez

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Bill Godshall

Paul wrote:

"Regarding e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently weighing a new set of deeming regulations regarding advertising and sales. Hawaii should defer to the FDA for guidance on this regulatory framework."

Except the FDA's proposed deeming regulation bans the sale of >99.9% of all vapor products to adults, while the FSPTCA prohibits the FDA from banning sales of cigarettes to anyone 18 years or older (including most 12th graders and many 11th graders).

Unfortunately for honesty and for public health, Obama's DHHS, many of its funding recipients and many Big Pharma financed tobacco control groups (e.g. CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA, AAP, etc.) have deceitfully and repeatedly duped the news media into believing the purpose of FDA's e-cigarette proposal is to "protect children and public health".

In sharp contrast, at least Wayne Wheeler and Harry Anslinger honestly stated that the similarly draconian proposals they aggressively lobbied for nearly a century ago would ban the sale of alcohol and marijuana in the US.

If/when the FDA issues the Final Rule for its proposed Deeming Regulation, e-cigarette prohibition day in America will occur 24 months later (unless the FDA caves in other e-cigarette prohibitionists who urged the agency to reduce the proposed 24 month prohibition date to 12 months or to take effective the day FDA issues the Final Rule).

Regardless, FDA's draconian proposal for e-cigarettes should not be called a regulation, but rather e-cigarette prohibition.

Bill Godshall
Executive Director
Smokefree Pennsylvania
1926 Monongahela Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
412-351-5880
BillGodshall@verizon.net

Chris

Incredible article.

PGspeaks

This is ridiculous. I think the "old folks" (note, they are my age) in the legislature look at college-aged adults, military-aged adults, young-married-aged adults and think they look like just babies. But, they should stop and ponder what THEY were doing at this age and realize how truly preposterous it is to make an otherwise legal activity illegal for them. In the generation that passed this law, many were likely parents at this age, for Pete's sake! People of this age fought and died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. People of this age, most importantly, VOTE!


Michigan Voters Faced With $2 Billion Tax Hike on May 5 Ballot

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Posted by Will Upton on Friday, April 24th, 2015, 2:58 PM PERMALINK


In a few weeks Michigan voters will go to the polls to decide the fate of Proposal 1 – a $2 billion tax increase referred to the ballot by the state legislature. While most polls show this massive tax increase trailing, crony-spending interests are making a last ditch attempt to increase support for Proposal 1.

The ballot measure would amend the Michigan Constitution, increasing the sales and use tax rate to 7 percent. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also notes:

These changes are “tie-barred” with eight legislative bills that will go into effect if voters approve of Proposal 1. These laws would hike the sales and use tax to 7 percent, create a new wholesale fuel tax of 41.7 cents per gallon and earmark this revenue for roads, increase the state’s earned income tax credit, boost spending on one public school program and create new rules pertaining to road construction projects for the Michigan Department of Transportation. 

A study on the impact Proposal 1 would have on taxpayers has revealed that the sales and use tax increase would amount to a $1.4 billion tax increase and the new, higher fuel tax would amount to a $463 million tax increase (also outpacing the rate of inflation).

James Hohman from the Mackinac Center has produced an excellent study detailing the flaws of Proposal 1, including serious concerns with how Michigan’s road funding works. Hohman notes:

Road construction in Michigan is primarily paid for with revenues from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. Since these taxes are paid by people driving vehicles on public roads, they function as a user fee.

Taxes motorists pay do not meet the strict definition of user fees, however. Vehicle registration taxes for passenger vehicles, for example, are based on their value rather than their estimated wear on the roads. Further, hybrid and electric cars tend to be heavier and thus cause more wear on the roads, but owners of these vehicles buy less fuel and pay less in fuel taxes. People purchasing fuel for use in lawnmowers, snowmobiles or other recreational vehicles also pay for road maintenance.

Despite these divergences, the bulk of taxed fuel in Michigan is purchased for use by vehicles operating on government-funded roads.* But these taxes also can be appropriated for other purposes, which reduces their functioning as user fees. For instance, 10 percent of fuel taxes go to transit operations.

Americans for Tax Reform urges Michigan voters to oppose Proposal 1 and tell the Michigan legislature to find cost effective and pro-growth ways to fund the state’s transportation needs without lining the pockets of crony-spending interests.

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bozolives

You all get things right about as often as a stopped clock. But in this one instance you are correct.


Senator Ted Cruz Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American People

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Posted by ATR on Friday, April 24th, 2015, 11:59 AM PERMALINK


Today, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a candidate for the presidency of the United States, signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people. 

The pledge is a written commitment to the American people to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

ATR has shared the Pledge with all candidates for federal office since 1986. In the 114th Congress, 49 U.S. Senators and 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. On the state level, 13 incumbent governors and approximately 1,000 incumbent state legislators have signed the Pledge.

In 2012, all candidates for the Republican nomination for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, with the lone exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Senator Cruz signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a Senate candidate in the 2012 cycle and has kept his pledge to the people of Texas.

“By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people, Senator Cruz continues to protect American taxpayers against higher taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Senator Cruz understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money, and will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past."

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ShawnNJ

If you have any intelligence, you should know that nothing can get done or undone without Boehner and McConnell.

These two are the problem. I know where Ted Cruz stands on the issue. Walker is a different story.

Cathy

It's more like he knows the truth but is being paid to distort it. It's funny to see this tea party charlatan pointing a finger at Ted Cruz, the cleanest guy in the race. We have much more to fear from the rino candidates!

ShawnNJ

He doesn't want to learn the truth.

http://www.ontheissues.org/int...


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