Senate Should Pass Resolution Blocking Fiduciary Rule

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 4:05 PM PERMALINK


The U.S. Senate is expected to soon vote on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently released fiduciary rule. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) already passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234-183. Now, the Senate should follow suit in approving this resolution and blocking the rule that has been compared to Obamacare for your retirement savings.

Under the thousand page rule, expert investment advisors will have to prove they are acting in the “best interest” of their client. While this sounds reasonable, economists warn the standard is “a vague open-ended obligation with seemingly no bounds.”

As a result, the regulatory costs of complying with the rule will likely be immense for business. While large investment firms will have the economies of scale to continue, smaller advisors will not. The impact of increased compliance costs will disproportionately fall on low and middle income families who may lose their broker of choice or be priced out of the market entirely.

In turn, this will directly impact the ability of American families to utilize savings accounts. It is estimated that the rule will result in 7 million IRA holders being priced out of investment advice and between 300,000 and 400,000 fewer IRAs will be opened every year as a result of the rule. All told, this regulation could mean more than $80 billion in lost savings.

Although supporters of the rule claim it is necessary to ensure savers receive the best possible advice, the final product is so complex and burdensome that millions will inevitably be locked out from receiving the guidance they need. Through this regulation, the federal government is essentially moving to exert close control over the retirement saving decisions of Americans across the country.

Clearly, the fiduciary rule will make saving for retirement worse, not better. Senators should vote for this resolution and show their commitment to protecting the ability of millions of American families and savers to seek sound financial advice toward their retirement savings.

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IRS Chief Skips Own Impeachment Hearing

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 1:13 PM PERMALINK


IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will not appear at a Tuesday impeachment hearing examining allegations of his misconduct despite an invitation to testify from the House Judiciary Committee.

As reported by Politico, the IRS says the Commissioner Koskinen does not have time to “fully prepare” because he just returned from China. The agency claims that he was not given enough notice of the hearing, which was scheduled more than a week ago.

The hearing is the first step in examining findings from the House Oversight Committee, which last year called for Koskinen’s impeachment.

Following the revelations that the IRS had been applying improper, politically motivated scrutiny to tea party and conservative organizations, Koskinen was appointed head of the agency promising reform and transparency. Koskinen has failed:

  • Throughout the investigation into the targeting scandal, Koskinen’s IRS continually failed to provide important information or perform basic due diligence. Koskinen also made several misleading or incorrect statements while under oath testifying before Congress.

 

  • The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails. The only source they bothered to search – her hard-drive – was destroyed after a cursory search deemed information unrecoverable. In hindsight, documentation suggests that more could have been done to recover data.

 

  • The agency’s ineptness -- or corruption -- resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidentally” destroyed despite the existence of an agency-wide preservation order.

 

  • Koskinen then withheld from Congress both the preservation order and destruction of tapes during sworn testimony. He also failed to disclose details regarding Lois Lerner’s mysteriously destroyed hard drive during testimony.

 

The carelessness of the agency means that important information is no longer available to Congress and the American people because of the actions of the IRS, while countless misleading statements and dodges have caused investigations to drag on for years.

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MAS

I'd put the odds somewhere between slim to none...based on the previous performance of this bunch of RINOs.

Coffeequeen8

How likely is it that he will be convicted?


ATR Recognizes Georgia Pledge Signers Ahead of Tuesday’s Congressional Primary

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, 12:57 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform recognizes the Georgia incumbents and candidates who have taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a written commitment to their constituents and the American public to oppose tax hikes.

Incumbents

  •   Sen. Johnny Isakson
  •   Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01)
  •   Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)*
  •   Rep. Tom Prince (GA-06)
  •   Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08)
  •   Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09)
  •   Rep. Jody Hice (GA-10)
  •   Rep. Barry Loudermilk (GA-11)
  •   Rep. Rick Allen (GA-12)
  •   Rep. Tom Graves (GA-14)

Candidates

  •   Mike Crane (GA-03)
  •   Drew Ferguson (GA-03)
  •   Jim Pace (GA-03)
  •   Chip Flanegan (GA-03)
  •   Angela Hicks (GA-08)
  •   Paul Broun (GA-09)

*Rep. Westmoreland will be retiring at the end of his term

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ATR Urges West Virginia Lawmakers to Rein in Spending During Special Budget Session

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Posted by Paul Blair on Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, 3:35 PM PERMALINK


As the West Virginia legislature enters the second week of deliberations during the 2016 Special Session, Americans for Tax Reform is urging lawmakers to focus on spending restraint instead of tax increases to address the state's $270 million shortfall. Unfortunately, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) has limited the options of the legislature in his narrow call for session, and has proposed tax hikes as the ultimate solution to the state's overspending problem.

Among the most significant elements of the tax increases being considered is a tobacco tax hike, which would disproportionately harm low-income consumers and border communities. SB 1005 would increase the cigarette tax by 45 cents per pack, raise the wholesale tax on other tobacco products to 12 percent, and impose a new 7.5 cents per mL tax on the liquid contained in tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

ATR outlined our opposition to these proposals in a February letter to the legislature, which can be read here.

In urging the legislature to focus on spending restraint instead of tax hikes during the Special Budget Session, ATR president Grover Norquist and Americans for Prosperity - WV state director Jason Huffman (AFP) have jointly authored a letter explaining:

"Imposing tax hikes on residents will do little to make West Virginia more attractive to investment or stop residents from continually fleeing to other states." 

They explain further:

"West Virginia does not have a revenue problem; the state government has an overspending problem. At $12,910, per-capita government spending in West Virginia was the third highest in the nation in 2014. It should be noted that the two states with higher per-capita spending – Alaska and Wyoming – don’t impose income taxes and currently have among the lowest tax burdens among any states."

There are still significant elements of the budget that contain waste, cost overruns, and abuse that the legislature should work to eliminate.

"An estimated $100 million a year is wasted by bureaucrats on Medicaid because of improperly awarded managed care contracts obtained without competitive bidding.

Similar waste exists at the Division of Highways, where Deloitte identified 15 instances of waste that cost taxpayers $25-50 million a year in cost overruns because of the  inefficient use of resources."

ATR will closely monitor deliberations and continue to urge lawmakers to focus on spending restraint, budget transparency, and government reform instead of tax hikes in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to read the ATR-AFP coalition letter to lawmakers.

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TX Gov. Abbott on Prop1: “The Game Is Not Over”

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 4:26 PM PERMALINK


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is prepared to override Austin City Council’s decision to impose FBI fingerprint-based background checks on ridesharing drivers. In an interview with CNBC, Gov. Abbott said:

"The issue's not over…Republicans in the Texas Legislature have already raised proposals coming up in the next session to override the Austin vote."

The Austin City Council decided to shake down Uber and Lyft by imposing a raft of onerous regulations on the platforms and their driver partners. Since then, there has been a shortage of transportation options and Austinites have had to wait in long lines for taxis, not to mention the thousands of Austinites who lost their part time jobs.

 “I'd just say the game is not over. It's halftime, and we'll see what happens in the second half.”

The Texas state legislature and Gov. Abbott can override the Austin City Council by enacting a statewide framework that prevents cities and municipalities from regulating ridesharing.

 

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The Modest Proposal Blog

You can hardly call 17% turnout representative of the will of the people. The underlying regs are dumb and voters voted as much against Uber/Lyft tactics as they did for the regs. And now that people actually know what the regs mean, most are against them (even those who opposed Prop 1). The Council should fix this, not the state. But stupid begets stupid, and as bad as this would be, I'd say we've earned it with our total stupidity all around on this issue. Shame on
Austin

Rick Ford

"Drunk driving is back?" Drunk driving was never gone, sorry to say. The numbers don't even support the claims that these two private companies somehow singlehandedly solved our very serious drunk driving problem.

Chris Hastey

Governor Abbott needs to learn to respect the will of the voters - it was the local residents and citizens of Austin who voted on this, not City Council or the Mayor.
The Citizens of Austin made this decision and the Governor owes it to those citizens to respect the will of their vote instead of selling out to Uber/Lyft lobbyists.


Maryland Stands for Citizens with New Civil Asset Forfeiture Law

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 3:58 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform congratulates Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for passing sweeping provisions to end civil asset forfeiture yesterday. The bill, SB 161, was introduced by Senator Mike Hough (R-Frederick), among others, and marks a major victory for property rights advocates.

Maryland’s effort to end asset forfeiture comes as Congress continues to grapple with the issue. Yesterday, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) introduced the DUE PROCESS Act which adds protections for innocent property owners and ensuring that property owners can contest wrongful seizures. It requires the government to give property back to owners and makes it easier for them to be heard in court. By allowing property owners to an initial hearing, the DUE PROCESS Act gives owners an opportunity to physically retrieve their confiscated property early in the process if it was not lawfully seized. It also places a higher burden of proof on the federal government, further benefiting property owners.

Unfortunately, it does not address equitable sharing, a method by which local law enforcement can avoid state restrictions by using more lenient federal forfeiture rules.

Hogan’s actions highlight a clear problem facing Maryland. According to the Institute for Justice’s Policing for Profit report, Maryland’s civil asset forfeiture laws, “suffer from a troubling lack of transparency: Agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures.” Also, the burden of proof in Maryland it was the duty of the property owner to prove the innocence of his property rather than having the government prove the guilt of the accused.

The Maryland reform joins 9 states who reformed their asset forfeiture laws, noted by the Center for Public Integrity. 11 more bills are currently pending in different 7 states.

It is clear that the concept of civil asset forfeiture is damaging to the property rights of all Americans. Not only does it allow law enforcement to seize property without a warrant, but it does not require that they prove why they took it or if criminal activity occurred. Legislators around the country are beginning to notice.

ATR applauds Maryland lawmakers and Hogan for championing the rights of innocent Marylanders. 

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Norquist: “Reforming the Justice System Actually Makes Us Tougher on Crime”

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 1:58 PM PERMALINK


On Wednesday, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon released an op-ed in the Washington Examiner discussing the past week’s developments on congressional criminal justice reform.

Several notable tough-on-crime organizations endorsed the Senate’s Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) this past week: The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs' Association, Concerned Veterans of America, and the National District Attorneys Association.

These endorsements come at a time when criminal justice reform is becoming more relevant in the Senate after months of negotiations with policymakers and stakeholders.

Furthermore, Norquist and Brandon stated,

“The problem with our current excessive sentences for lower-level offenders is simple: Rather than deter crime, they create more crime, according to the best research we have.

America is not opening the cell doors. More like giving judges and prosecutors a carrot to get the cooperation of lower-level offenders and be better prepared to go after the Pablo Escobars of the world…

The Senate's bill would implement recidivism-reduction programming similar to that established in numerous red states to make sure the people leaving prison stay out of prison. Prisoners are encouraged to participate by allowing them to earn time credits that they can use to spend a specific portion of their sentence in either home confinement or community supervision.

That means that after successfully reducing their likelihood of committing more crimes, inmates are then transferred to other forms of supervision where they will take up fewer public resources and have an easier time reintegrating as productive members of society.

These reforms put inmates to work. That isn't being soft on crime. America is getting ready to get even tougher on it.

Little wonder that the conservatives that first came up with these reforms in the states won election after election. So much so that they didn't stop at one round of reforms: Texas is still passing reforms after starting nearly 10 years ago, only now it's doing so with the lowest crime rates since 1968.

There are important conservative priorities being pursued in Congress, and justice reform is one of them. The naysayers are becoming ever fewer and more isolated.”

To read the entire editorial, click here

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Time for the Fourth Amendment to Join the 21st Century

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Thursday, May 19th, 2016, 4:56 PM PERMALINK


The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendment Act (S 356), authored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was brought before the Judiciary Committee by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley’s decision is an incredibly important one in defending the Constitution in a world with almost unlimited technological capacities that can undermine the privacy and freedoms of American citizens, and should be commended.

 

In the age of increasingly capable technology, it is important to make sure that our laws, and our constitutional rights, keep up with the evolving nature of the digital world. The Senate, as well as the House, with their Email Privacy Act (HR 699) have helped introduce effective pieces of legislation to ensure that the 4th Amendment Rights of American citizens are protected and national security interests are conserved.

 

The bill is an expansion of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which extended 4th Amendment protections to emails. In the 30 years, since ECPA was passed, many advances have been made that render it obsolete. Governmental authorities have used the language of the previous law to violate the privacy of today’s Americans, claiming that new, improved technology is technically not protected.

 

This naked example of overreach threatens the United States economy, and the ability of US companies to compete. In a world where much data is stored in “The Cloud,” the government is hoping to use the aforementioned loopholes in ECPA to access that information without confronting the owner of the data. This violates that citizen’s or business’s due process rights. It also has the effect of harming small businesses who do not have the financial resources to comply with the legal complexities that entails. It also deters investment in the United States by signaling that company data will not be protected, and risks losing US business and jobs to foreign competitors.

 

Cloud computing is growing into a huge industry and is projected to be worth about $241 billion by the year 2020. US businesses can save both time and money moving to the Cloud. Not only will continuously violating the rights of its citizens prompt European companies to exploit our weak record on privacy to draw business away from the US, it will decrease competition within the US, as many companies will fade away in the face of these regulations. Supporting ECPA reform in the Senate will send a strong message that the US supports its growing industries to the rest of the world.

 

Concerns about security interests can also be assuaged. Neither S 356, nor its House companion, amends any of the parameters of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA deals with issues of national security and terrorism investigations. The government’s ability to bring justice to these cases will not be altered in any way. Additionally, many domestic law enforcement officials have testified that these new reforms in S 356 will not hinder the abilities of local law enforcement at all.

 

Greater technological advances make it far easier for the government to infringe on our rights. The protection of our rights is not a partisan issue and the House displayed that in its rare, unanimous decision to pass this much-needed reform. In order to ensure that as technology advances, the Constitution does not fall by the wayside. It is time for the Senate to expand on Senator Grassley’s important measure to bring this before the Committee, and pass this legislation for all Americans.

 

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The Concerned Conservative

Our privacy laws predate the establishment of the Internet; no wonder we Americans are getting skrewed by unethical data mining.


Passage of PROMESA Will Prevent Taxpayer Bailout of Puerto Rico


Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, May 19th, 2016, 2:00 PM PERMALINK


Puerto Rico recently defaulted on $400 million in debt and will soon default on another $2 billion. The island is $72 billion in the red, and has no realistic way to pay this back following a decade long recession and years of mismanagement.

This fiscal crisis will only get worse, and while this may seem like Puerto Rico’s problem alone, the island is a territory of the United States. That means that Congress has an obligation under Article IV, Section 3 of the constitution to act. Even absent this constitutional duty, the island’s 3.5 million residents are all U.S. citizens who can (and will) move to other parts of the country if the island's economy is left to collapse.

The way to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is by passing the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). Yesterday, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced H.R. 5278, an updated version of the bill that ensures obligations under the Puerto Rican constitution are respected and makes certain that the oversight board has the authority necessary to enact comprehensive fiscal plans to address the years of mismanagement. Importantly, PROMESA addresses the fiscal crisis in a way that prevents a taxpayer bailout and does not retroactively grant the island super chapter 9 bankruptcy.

PROMESA creates an Oversight Board modeled off the success of the fiscal control board created for the District of Columbia in 1995. This independent board, of which a majority is appointed by Republican leaders in Congress, will make sure financial statements are produced, fiscal reforms are implemented, and budgets balanced to ensure Puerto Rico regains access to capital markets, and the island’s economy is stabilized for decades to come. 

PROMESA does not provide for a taxpayer-funded bailout. The legislation has ZERO budgetary impact. Even expenses associated with setting up and operating the Oversight Board are paid by Puerto Rico, not the federal government. If Congress fails to pass PROMESA they will be forced into a taxpayer funded bailout because the situation will become so unmanageable.

PROMESA does not grant Puerto Rico chapter 9 bankruptcy or “super-chapter 9.” The legislation does not amend federal bankruptcy law, and under this bill, it would not be possible for any state to claim this creates a precedent allowing a state to declare bankruptcy on their obligations.

Instead, PROMESA borrows several restructuring concepts from more than 100 years of bankruptcy precedent and law including an explicit “best interest of creditors” test that ensures private property rights are protected.

While this legislation addresses Puerto Rico’s immediate fiscal crisis in a responsible way, some have called for the need for pro-growth provisions to ensure strong, long-term economic growth. PROMESA contains some pro-growth provisions like minor minimum wage relief, more reforms in the future would be welcome to help encourage economic growth.

One impediment to economic growth is that Puerto Rico is treated as a foreign country for federal tax purposes. As a result, American companies face double taxation in Puerto Rico, yet foreign competitors operating in Puerto Rico do not. Allowing free flow of capital between Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. would spur investment, create more jobs, and increase wages for the territory. While the legislation does not directly address this, PROMESA does establish a Congressional growth task force that will recommend long-term, fiscal reforms.

The bottom line is that PROMESA addresses the Puerto Rico debt crisis in a responsible, pro-taxpayer way by avoiding a federal bailout, ensuring property rights are protected, and forcing San Juan to get its fiscal house back in order. Members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting this important legislation. 

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TKList

Let Puerto Rico file for bankruptcy and let Puerto Ricans live with the consequences of the decisions of the politicians that they elected over and over again.

Cancel_NPR

TKList ---- THAT is Exactly how it works in MY WORLD... You ( they ) don't get to fcku it up & then turn to someone else, hand them the paperwork, and tell THEM ( us ) to "fix" it...
SEND THE BILL TO PUERTO RICO'S MANAGING OFFICIALS WHO HAVE BEEN PRESIDING OVER THIS FCKU-UP...


ATR Congratulates Kentucky Primary Winners

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 2:36 PM PERMALINK


On behalf of Americans of Tax Reform, we would like to congratulate the following incumbents and candidates on their success in the Kentucky primary. Each has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to oppose higher taxes.

Incumbents

  •   Sen. Rand Paul
  •   Sen. Mitch McConnell*
  •   Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02)
  •   Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04)
  •   Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05)
  •   Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06)
     

Candidates

  • James Comer (KY-01)


*Sen. McConnell was not up for reelection last night but has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge 

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