Grover Norquist Statement on Senate Letter Opposing Nationalization of 5G Networks

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, September 30th, 2020, 5:43 PM PERMALINK

WASHINGTON – The following can be attributed to Grover G. Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform 

Thanks to Senator Thune and 18 other Senators for writing to the President praising his steadfast free-market leadership in 5G and asking him to stay the course. We have already seen that government run broadband networks fail and end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars for inferior service. A military run 5G network would be no different - it would cost taxpayers billions after the private sector has already invested decades of research, their own billions, and has already deployed 5G service across much of the nation.

Read the full letter here

Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz


Video: Eight Times Biden Vowed to Eliminate the Trump Tax Cuts


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, 8:10 PM PERMALINK


On at least eight occasions, Joe Biden has vowed to fully repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Such repeal would impose a $2,000 annual tax increase on a median income family of four and a $1,300 tax increase on a median income single parent with one child. Biden is lying when he says he will not raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000.

Watch as Biden says he will "eliminate", "repeal", "get rid of", and "reverse" the Trump tax cuts:


Biden Was Against the Individual Mandate Before He Was For It

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Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, 7:55 PM PERMALINK

 

Joe Biden is vowing to re-impose the individual mandate tax on the American people. Joe Biden and Barack Obama imposed this middle class $695 - $2,085 tax as part of Obamacare: 75% of Americans hit with the tax made less than $50,000 in a year.

Trump zeroed out the tax, and now Biden wants to bring it back. It will hit at about five million households per year.

When running for Vice President in 2008, Biden was opposed to the individual mandate tax, but once safely in office, flipped and imposed the tax. Watch Biden in his own words, below:


Congress Should Reject Pelosi's Partisan "HEROES Act"

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, 2:56 PM PERMALINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats have re-released their partisan “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act." 

This legislation would use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to spend trillions of dollars on liberal priorities like bailing out state and local governments. It would do nothing to assist Americans that have lost their employer provided healthcare and would pave the way for an expansion of government healthcare. It would also suspend the cap on state and local taxes (SALT), a policy that does nothing to help the middle class.

Lawmakers should reject the HEROES Act and instead focus on more targeted solutions to help American families and businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.

$500 billion state and local government bailout

The HEROES Act contains $238 billion in bailouts to states, $179 billion in bailouts to local governments, and $19 billion in bailouts to tribal and territory governments.

Pelosi is pushing this funding through despite the fact that states have already received funding to offset Coronavirus-related costs, including money for hospitals in both relief packages.

Federal bailouts in times of crisis has historically led to expansions in state spending, creating a moral hazard and disincentvizing decision-makers from being prudent stewards of taxpayer resources. Following a $20 billion federal bailout for state budgets after a market downturn in 2003, state spending rose by 33 percent in the subsequent five years and state debts increased by 20 percent in the following four years.

Pelosi’s $500 billion blank check to fiscally irresponsible states is the wrong approach and would put taxpayers in fiscally responsible states on the hook for bad decisions in other states. 

Extends $600 Unemployment Program that Will Hinder Economic Recovery

Pelosi is also pushing to extend the $600 supplemental pandemic unemployment program. While American workers should be given assistance, this unemployment program subsidizes welfare over work.

The $600 per week benefit is in addition to existing unemployment insurance, which varies by state, but typically totals 50 percent of previous earnings up to a cap. The combination of these two programs mean that millions of Americans would receive more money from being on unemployment than they would from working. In fact, according to the Heritage Foundation, a job would have to pay more than $62,000 a year to exceed the pandemic unemployment insurance payments.

This is a significant disincentive for Americans to rejoin the workforce, and could lead to a shortage of applicants as five out of every six Americans on UI receive more than they otherwise would in their job, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

Because of this disincentive, the CBO has predicted that an extension of the $600 supplemental pandemic benefit will reduce economic output and lower employment. In total, the Heritage Foundation estimated that this disincentive to work could increase unemployment by 13.9 million, and reduce GDP by up to $1.49 trillion.

Paves the Way for Expansion of Government Healthcare

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused business closures and a rapid decline in commerce, resulting in millions of job losses. Out-of-work Americans have also lost their employer provided healthcare.

As a result, the number of Americans on government healthcare is beginning to increase. 

Lawmakers should step in and ensure that Americans can keep their private sector healthcare and are not forced onto government healthcare, an outcome that would move us closer toward the Left’s ultimate goal of socialist, single payer healthcare. 

Pelosi’s HEROES act helps pave the way toward this expansion of government in several ways. First, the legislation creates a special enrollment period for Obamacare. Second, the bill fails to include any COBRA subsidy to help Americans keep their employer provided healthcare.

Combined, these two policies will push Americans away from employer provided care and toward expensive, one-size fits all government healthcare.

Rather than forcing Americans onto government healthcare, lawmakers should consider enacting COBRA subsidies to help Americans retain their employer provided care. While it is far from the ideal solution, it is a reasonable, targeted, and temporary policy proposal to help American families.

Employer provided care is extremely popular with the American people with 8 in 10 Americans saying they were satisfied with this care in recent polling. This healthcare provides Americans with vastly more affordable options, choice, and access when compared with government healthcare.

Moving forward, we should be looking to build upon the private healthcare system, not replace it with more government.

Suspends Cap on State and Local Taxes (SALT)

The HEROES act also suspends the cap on state and local taxes (SALT) for 2020.

Rolling back the SALT cap would do nothing to help fight the Coronavirus, nor would it do anything to help the middle class. Instead, it would expand ineffective tax policy that subsidizes high tax, big government states. 

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limited the deduction for state and local taxes (including property taxes and either sales taxes or income taxes) to $10,000. 

Democrats falsely claim this $10,000 cap raised taxes. They say the cap erodes fairness in the tax code leading to double taxation because individuals are now paying federal taxes on income that was already subject to state and local taxes.

This argument misses the mark. The fact is, the majority of Americans are seeing tax cuts. The TCJA reduced taxes for roughly 90 percent of Americans and for taxpayers at every income level through lower rates, the expanded standard deduction, and the doubling of the child tax credit.

The TCJA also raised the income tax thresholds that the Alternative Minimum tax kicked in, meaning that an estimated 4.5 million families are now able to claim $10,000 in SALT deductions, which was previously disallowed by the AMT.  

It is also important to note that the majority of Americans were not deducting state and local taxes before the cap and are therefore unaffected by the change to the deduction.

This policy should be rejected. Rather than repealing or rolling back the SALT cap, lawmakers should repeal the SALT deduction entirely as part of legislation that offers broad based tax reduction for American families. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


ATR Opposes Sami's Law -- H.R. 4686

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Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, 2:45 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform opposes H.R. 4686, Sami's Law.

The bill is a federal intrusion into ridesharing and comes with heavy-handed mandates and enforcement mechanisms from Washington, including fines of up to $20,000 per day and future plans to force states to impose vehicle inspection requirements.

The bill creates the equivalent of a national taxi commission to impose regulations on Americans who provide and use ridesharing services. In addition to a raft of regulations imposed on ridesharing, the bill creates a 15-member council in the Department of Transportation to “develop and present best practices or recommendations … regarding performance standards the Secretary may adopt regarding any successor technology-based system.”

The language does not create clear limits on what kinds of best practices or recommendations this council may propose. As Casey Given of Young Voices has stated: "In plain English, the council will be proposing regulations. As we know too well in Washington, an entity whose existence depends on regulating is going to regulate. While the council technically has a potential sunset date after 12 years (a generous amount of time already), the Secretary of Transportation can will it into permanent existence with the stroke of a pen."

Democrat administrations will stack the commission with heavy-handed central planners who will ensure states cannot compete with each other.  Ridesharing emerged in the first place because Americans were desperate to get out from under the oppressive, innovation-stifling taxi commissions which propped up incumbent industry players who provided terrible service at excessive cost. The "Sami's Law" bill will re-establish and recreate a taxi commission on a national scale. Not only will Democrats stack the commission with heavy-handed central planners, the bill also allows the commission to detail -- at taxpayer expense -- an unlimited quantity of bureaucrats from the Department of Transportation.

Democrats will use the commission to attack independent contractor drivers. As shown by their assault on independent contractors through California's AB5 and the congressional PRO Act, Democrats are eager to force drivers into becoming [union-dues paying] employees. They will use the commission -- under the guise of "safety" -- to regulate independent contractors out of existence.

Once the bill is in place, Democrats will move to cut off highway funds for states which do not impose a vehicle inspection regime. Democrats have already written down their next step: force states to impose a vehicle inspection regime. If states fail to comply, Washington will cut off 2.5% of their highway funds. This provision was clearly spelled out in the version of the bill put forth by Sen. Ben Cardin (D - Md.) If given the full levers of power, Democrats will make the move.

The private sector has already developed ridesharing safety features. Ridesharing services have voluntarily and proactively developed a variety of safety features for riders and drivers.

Compliance costs will raise prices for consumers. Ridesharing is already thoroughly regulated by state and local governments. Washington should not be piling on unnecessary federal regulations, the cost of which will be borne by consumers in the form of higher prices as they go about their daily lives.


 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Photos By Clark


5 Reasons To Reject Prescription Drug Importation Rule

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

The Trump administration announced its final rule allowing the importation of prescription medicines from Canada. This rule will allow states and other non-federal government entities to submit plans for drug importation programs to the Food and Drug Administration.

While advocates claim that prescription drug importation is safe and would lower drug costs, nothing could be further from the truth. Importing Canadian medicine would open the American drug supply chain up to counterfeit, unsafe, unvetted medicine – including pills laced with deadly chemicals.

Here are five facts that importation advocates don’t want you to know about how foreign drugs would impact the U.S. drug supply chain. 

 1. Canada does not have the scale to successfully import drugs to the U.S. in any meaningful way. 

Canada is one-tenth of the U.S. with a population of 37.5 million and an economy of $1.7 trillion. By comparison, the U.S. has a population of 327 million and an economy of $20.5 trillion. 

Canada represents just 2 percent of the world’s pharmaceutical consumption while the U.S. makes up almost 45 percent.

In fact, this proposal may destabilize the Canadian supply chain, a concern raised publicly by Canadian officials. If 40 percent of Canada’s existing prescriptions are diverted into America, Canadian supply would run out in just 118 days – or 16 weeks.

Ultimately, the Canadian government is responsible for ensuring its citizens have access to medicine before other countries. In this scenario, Canadian officials would naturally be incentivized to reduce the supply of imported drugs to keep their prices low and avoid shortages. 

2. Many innovative medicines that are available to U.S. consumers could not be imported because they are not available in the Canadian market. 

Of the 290 new medical substances that were launched across the world between 2011 and 2018, the U.S. had access to 90 percent of these cures, far exceeding other markets. Canada has access to just 44 percent of cures, but it is far from an outlier. The United Kingdom had 60 percent of medicines, Japan had 50 percent, and Ireland had just 40 percent.

3. It is unclear whether there will be any savings from importation.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has previously estimated that importing drugs from Canada would have a “negligible reduction in drug spending.”

Many high cost drugs are excluded from the importation plan, further undercutting the potential to deliver savings. According to the American Action Forum, 42 of the top 50 Medicare Part B drugs by total spend and 31 of the top 50 Medicare Part D drugs by total spend would not be eligible for importation under the proposed plan. Furthermore, the program requires extensive regulatory review before products can hit the market, as noted by HHS: 

“Eligible prescription drugs would have to be relabeled with the required U.S. labeling prior to importation and undergo testing for authenticity, degradation, and to ensure that the drugs meet established specifications and standards. Notably, these programs would also have to demonstrate significant cost reductions to the American consumer.”

Finally, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib noted the futility of a previous importation scheme, saying: “That scheme would have added so much cost to the imported drugs; they wouldn’t be much cheaper than drugs sold inside our closed American system.”

4. There are also long-standing concerns that importation will flood the U.S. market with unsafe, unvetted drugs. 

Every single FDA Commissioner and HHS Secretary over the past two decades have raised concerns about importation and declined to vouch for its safety. 

Current HHS Secretary Alex Azar is no exception –– in 2018, he called the proposal a “gimmick” and described it as “open borders for unsafe drugs in search of savings that can’t be safely achieved.” 

Current FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has also stated: “Consumers and physicians purchasing medicines cannot be assured the products they are receiving are legitimate, safe or effective if they are obtained from outside of the FDA-regulated pharmaceutical supply chain.” 

Additionally, four former FDA commissioners from the Obama and Bush Administrations wrote a letter to members of Congress expressing numerous problems with importation, chief among them that importation “...could lead to a host of unintended consequences and undesirable effects, including serious harm stemming from the use of adulterated, substandard, or counterfeit drugs” 

There also is no way for the FDA to properly verify that imported drugs are safe. Canada allows drugs to be imported from anywhere – including third world countries – into Canada and then into the United States, raising serious doubts about the safety of these drugs.

Drug importation could even create a cottage industry for drug traffickers looking to lace counterfeit medicine with deadly compounds. The Drug Enforcement Agency has testified that the black market for counterfeit prescription drugs is “...considerable in size, which significantly increases the risk that fentanyl or fentanyl derivative-laced counterfeit pills will cause more overdoses across the nation as they are more readily produced by drug trafficking organizations.” 

5. Importation should not be conflated with free and fair trade. 

Free trade means a level playing field where prices are set by the market with no tariffs, barriers, or price controls. Drug importation is the exact opposite because foreign countries commonly utilize a range of arbitrary and market-distorting policies to determine the cost of medicines. These approaches are clear price controls and importation adopts them.

While proposals to lower drug costs deserve consideration, it is unclear the extent to which this proposal will reduce costs given the number of drugs excluded from the proposal and the extensive regulatory review process. 

Importation should be not considered a free trade proposal – rather, it should be viewed as a proposal to import market distorting price controls into the U.S.

Photo Credit: Stock Catalog - Flickr


A Number Of Tax & Fee-Related Measures On The November Ballot In Colorado

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Posted by Matt Owens on Monday, September 28th, 2020, 2:32 PM PERMALINK

As the general election draws closer there are two major ballot measures coming up this November that will affect the personal finances of most Colorado residents. One is Proposition 116, which would reduce Colorado’s flat income tax from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent.

Prop. 116, if approved in November, will allow individuals, families, and thousands of small businesses across Colorado keep more of their hard-earned income, at a time when it is most needed for many. Opponents of this tax cut, which include leading Colorado Democrats, argue that the income this measure would allow taxpayers to keep would be better spent by state government.

Another 2020 ballot measure that will affect Colorado taxpayers is Proposition 117, which would subject future fee increases to the same voter approval that tax hikes are subjected to in accordance with the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Under TABOR in Colorado, an increase in taxes must be approved by voters through a ballot measure. Colorado politicians have long used fee increases as a way to circumvent TABOR in an effort to grow the size of government.

 In 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that business fees were not considered taxes and therefor outside the purview of TABOR. Proposition 117 looks to close this loophole by requiring voter approval on any fee increase that raise more than $100 million in revenue during the first 5 years.

Propositions 116 and 117 are not the only tax and fee-related ballot measure that Colorado voters will decide upon this fall. There are also measures on the Colorado ballot to raise residential property taxes by repealing the Gallagher Amendment, along with a measure that seeks to impose a massive tax hike on tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping products. The outcome of all these measures will provide an up-to-date indicator on views on taxes in a consequential purple state trending blue.

Photo Credit: Einar Einarsson Kvaran

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Congress Should Pass The "Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act"

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, September 28th, 2020, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) have introduced S. 4708/H.R.8038, the “Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act” (PPRRA), legislation that would provide a pathway toward identifying and repealing regulations that have hindered the ability of the country to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

ATR supports this legislation and urges its swift passage. A coalition of ten conservative groups and activists led by FreedomWorks released a letter in support of the PPRRA, which you can view here

This legislation would establish a temporary bipartisan Congressional review commission that would analyze regulations to determine their efficacy. The Commission’s main focus will be on regulations that could impact our nation’s COVID-19 recovery or hinder our response to future pandemics, with special emphasis on those that create unnecessary paperwork or create red tape for smaller entities. 

The Commission can determine if a regulation should be amended, streamlined, or repealed entirely. Commission recommendations would then be given expedited review by both chambers of Congress. 

Similar commissions have been effective in taming bureaucratic bloat in the past. For example, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commissions have reined in redundant spending by closing certain post-Cold War Department of Defense military installations.  

The PPRRA resembles the “Regulatory Improvement Act,” legislation with broad bipartisan support that has been introduced in Congress every year since 2013. The RIA would establish a similar independent commission to comb through the Code of Federal Regulations to identify duplicative, unnecessary regulations that hamper economic activity. The Commission would then present its recommendations to Congress for a simple up or down vote. 

In the early days of the pandemic, excessive regulation on all levels of government hindered our nation’s COVID-19 response. Onerous certificate-of-need regulations led to a shortage of ICU beds at the state level, and FDA regulations initially restricted states from developing COVID-19 testing. 

Instead of consolidating more power in the federal government’s hands, President Trump and his administration have made regulatory relief a central part of the Coronavirus response. State and local governments have followed suit, leading to the waiver or suspension of nearly 850 rules and regulations nationwide. 

ATR has kept a running list of this deregulation, which you can view here

As our economy recovers from the immense damage the Coronavirus pandemic has caused, it is vitally important that burdensome red tape does not stand in the way of job creation or small business growth. Additionally, needless regulation should not stand in the way of our nation’s ability to respond to future pandemics or outbreaks. 

If implemented, the PPRRA will help advance future regulatory reform by providing a pathway to repeal regulations that were never needed in the first place. Congress should pass the PPRRA and President Trump should sign it into law. 

Photo Credit: Mark Fischer


IRS Data: Families Saw Significant Tax Cut from Trump Expansion of Child Tax Credit

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Friday, September 25th, 2020, 1:30 PM PERMALINK

American families have seen significant tax reduction due to the Trump-Republican expansion of the child tax credit as noted in IRS 2018 Statistics of Income (SOI) data. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) increased the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per dependent under 17. The phase out thresholds were increased from $75,000 to $200,000 for single filers and $110,000 to $400,000 for joint filers. The TCJA also created a $500 tax credit for non-child dependents.

These reforms resulted in significant tax reductions for American families between 2017 and 2018:

  • In 2017, 22 million households earning $200,000 or less took the child tax credit. These households received an average tax credit of $1,213.
     
  • In 2018, 36 million households earning $200,000 or less took the child and other dependent tax credit. These households received an average credit of $2,002.
     
  • In 2017, 16.6 million households earning between $25,000 and $100,000 took the child tax credit. These households received an average tax credit of $1,271.
     
  • In 2018, 23.3 million households earning between $25,000 and $100,000 took the child and other dependent tax credit. These households received an average tax credit of $1,912.
     

As ATR previously noted, middle class American families saw the biggest tax cut from the TCJA. 

Americans with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 saw their tax liability drop by an average of 13 percent, twice as much as Americans with income above $1 million, who saw their tax liability drop by an average of 5.8 percent.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


The Hidden Costs of Fines and Fees

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Posted by Matt Owens on Friday, September 25th, 2020, 1:30 PM PERMALINK

Often times local governments like to get “creative” about raising revenue. One of the most pernicious avenues for this is fines and fees relating to the criminal justice system.

Local governments may view fines and fees as an easy way to make money that doesn’t require raising tax rates. They also may use this tactic to avoid caps on local tax increases, to keep growing government. The reality is that using fines and fees as a revenue source is far less consistent and effective than politicians might hope.

A recent analysis found, “Most (local governments) fail to collect 20 to 30 percent of the fines and fees that they assess” … “One New Mexico county pays $1.17 to collect every dollar it brings in.” What looks like any easy cash grab at first, might not pan out that way. Even though most governments are taking in money overall, it is inefficient.

“Hundreds of municipalities rely on them for more than 20 percent of their general fund revenues.” This turns fines and fees into taxes, and turns police officers into tax collectors. It creates a strange incentive system where in order to cover their budget for the year, government must impose a large number of fines. Meanwhile, actual crime rates are trending down. It begs the question, is the purpose of our system justice or revenue? Are punishments being applied to offenders because we believe them to be appropriate or because we want to raise funds? 

Some say the quota shake down is real, Officer Adhyl Polanco told NPR, "The culture is, you're not working unless you are writing summonses or arresting people.”

The true cost of fines and fees gets worse when you consider that many states allow courts to suspend peoples’ driver’s licenses as a punishment for owing court debt.

This practice means people who have not committed an offense related to safe driving can lose their ability to get to and from work because they owe fines and cannot afford to pay them. This creates a vicious scenario where someone has to risk committing another, often worse offense, driving without a license, or risk losing their job. Not working only makes it harder for someone to afford their court debt.

Some states are pursuing solutions to these challenges. A number of states have ended the practice of suspending one’s driver’s license as a punishment for owed court debt. While other states have limited how reliant local budgets can be on fines and fees, as ATR President Grover Norquist writes in the Chicago Tribune:

Missouri passed legislation limiting fines, fees and court costs to a total of $300 and preventing cities from jailing people simply because they couldn't pay. Missouri also passed legislation lowering the cap on the percentage of a city’s budget that could come from fines and fees from 30% to 20%.”

Much more progress needs to be made. The justice system should place public safety and justice first, not what is profitable.

 

Photo Credit: Needpix.com

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