Chris Chaney

Obamacare forces layoffs at Obama-praised Cleveland Clinic


Posted by Chris Chaney on Thursday, September 26th, 2013, 10:25 AM PERMALINK

During the first presidential debate, President Obama cited the world renowned Cleveland Clinic as an example of what’s right with America’s healthcare system. The Cleveland Clinic “provide[s] great care cheaper than average,” and “do[es] some smart things,” Obama said. So how is the Clinic rewarded? By being forced to cut over 300 million dollars from its annual budget and lay off employees, thanks to Obamacare related costs. Talk about awkward.

As the Clinic prepares for Obamacare, it remains unknown how many of the 44,000 employees are at risk of losing their jobs. A Clinic official commented that, “We know we are going to be reimbursed less,” in reference to the Obamacare mandated expansion of Medicaid. This is a large source of the new costs imposed on the Clinic and other healthcare providers. Obamacare forces providers to treat more people for less money; this is a recipe for economic disaster.

The Cleveland Clinic’s innovative physician-based model pays physicians based on performance not services, so doctors have no financial incentive to order meaningless tests and procedures. Further, doctors only sign one year contracts to ensure they always provide top-notch service. These are the “smart things” Obama alluded to. These are the sorts of reforms that America needs, not 20 new or higher taxes, or limited access to watered-down insurance plans.

The American people understand how devastating this law will be to healthcare providers and employers like the Cleveland Clinic, that’s why several grassroots movements have emerged ready to fight against Obamacare. ATR urges all taxpayers to sign two petitions: one champions an effort led by Sen. David Vitter (R-La) to end the government healthcare subsidies to members of Congress and their staff; the other demands a full one year delay of Obamacare to allow more time for businesses and families to prepare for changes in America’s healthcare system.

Obama was right when he said that the Cleveland Clinic is an institution whose model should be emulated all across America. Sadly, the organization that represents the best of America’s healthcare system will suffer because of a law that represents the worst of Washington, DC. The employees of the Cleveland Clinic do not deserve to lose their jobs because of Obamacare. It’s time for real healthcare reform that rewards organizations like the Cleveland Clinic instead of punishing them. 

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Gun manufacturer to bring 473 jobs to gun, business friendly North Carolina


Posted by Chris Chaney on Friday, September 20th, 2013, 11:20 AM PERMALINK

Texas Gov. Rick Perry upset Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this week by running radio ads in his state pointing out how O’Malley has made Maryland one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. While Perry was in the area he also visited Beretta, a Maryland-based gun manufacturer.

Gov. Perry certainly has a strong case to make to Beretta that the Lone Star State is a much more fiscally hospitable place to locate or expand their operations. Should Beretta head for the Lone Star State, they wouldn’t be the first prominent gun manufacturer to flee their high-tax, heavily regulated home this year.

Connecticut based gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger and Co. recently finalized plans to build a new production facility in North Carolina, a move that will create nearly 500 new jobs in the Tar Heel State. Why North Carolina? Why not expand in Connecticut, where Ruger is headquartered? Comparing the tax and regulatory climates of the two states, it’s not hard to see why North Carolina was a more attractive location to expand production.

The 2013 edition of “Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom,” ranks North Carolina and Connecticut, 14th and 33rd, respectively, in terms of the regulatory burden imposed by the state. Further, the non-partisan Tax Foundation calculated Connecticut residents face a 12.3% state tax burden while North Carolina residents only face a 9.9% burden. Currently, Connecticut’s top personal income tax rate stands at 6.7%, with a top corporate rate of 9%. The Cost of Government Center calculated Connecticut to have the costliest state government in the country. The latest edition of their annual report notes that North Carolina taxpayers must work until July 11 before they have earned enough income to pay their share of the cost of government. In contrast, Connecticut taxpayers toil nearly a month longer before they earn enough income on August 9.

Earlier this year, Governor McCrory signed historic tax reform legislation that in two years will reduce North Carolina’s personal income tax from 7.75%, down to a flat 5.75%. This 25% percent reduction was the largest state income tax rate cut enacted in the U.S. this year. McCrory and the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature also cut the corporate income tax rate down to 5% from 6.9%. If revenue targets are met, the corporate rate will fall to 3% by 2017.

The CEO of Sturm, Ruger and Co. made it very clear that North Carolina faced stiff competition from other states, but North Carolina’s new business friendly climate couldn’t be ignored, providing another example of how low-tax states with hospitable regulatory climates are fostering economic expansion, while high tax states like California, New York and Illinois continue to drive employers away. In fact, the average unemployment rate amongst the five states with the worst business tax climate is 7.5, while the five states that score the best on the Tax Foundation's index have a far lower average unemployment rate of 5.9%.

It’s a simple formula: low taxes and fewer regulations attract businesses and spur job growth. North Carolina legislators understand this and this understanding is a big reason why Ruger is creating 473 new jobs in North Carolina and not in New England.

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Access Shock: Another Obamacare Fail


Posted by Chris Chaney on Monday, September 16th, 2013, 9:15 AM PERMALINK

The hits just keep coming. With 20 new or higher taxes and a slew of big government mandates, Obamacare was destined to fail from the get go. But as government bureaucrats hastily implement the healthcare takeover, unintended consequences—like 1,000 forced layoffs—abound. Layoffs, stifled innovation, and higher premiums and taxes have become part and parcel of any Obamacare discussion. However, as the Washington Examiner points out access shock has become the latest Obamacare fail.

The center point of Obamacare was that the all Americans would have access to affordable healthcare, and through subsidized insurance exchanges have access to several different plans and providers from which to choose. This claim is increasingly looking more and more like hollow political rhetoric. The Washington Examiner notes that in New Hampshire there is only one insurer offering coverage on New Hampshire’s exchange. Further, the plans available on the exchange have a limited provider network.

The CEO of Concord Hospital, which opted out of the exchange, explained that the reimbursement rates proposed and offered by the insurance provider would be lower than the costs incurred by the hospital for providing patients with medical care. As many other insurance providers across the country begin offering limited provider networks—supposedly to keep premiums down—a logistical nightmare will arise.

The millions of newly insured individuals participating on the exchanges will all be competing for the time and resources of a narrow, limited network. Resources will grow scarce and making appointments with the DMV will be easier than making appoints with one’s doctor.  It’s supply and demand 101. Even when Obamacare goes against every tenet of free market capitalism, the market fights back.  Funny how that works.

Obama’s liberal crusade to legislate affordable access to healthcare has gone down in flames. Small businesses have been hurt and families of special needs children will face increased healthcare costs thanks to tax hikes. Access shock is just the latest of a host of unintended—yet predictable—consequences of Obamacare.

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ATR Supports Paycheck Protection in Louisiana


Posted by Chris Chaney on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013, 5:10 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist sent a letter to Louisiana legislators today in support of House Bill 552, legislation introduced by Rep. Alan Seabaugh that would protect workers from involuntary paycheck deductions and give public employees the freedom to choose whether or not they would like to contribute to a union and fund union political activities.

In the letter, ATR points out that similar paycheck protection laws have demonstrated that union members are often forced to fund political activities that they would reject if given the choice.

“If unions are providing a service to workers, then they will have no problem making the case for why workers should join and 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 552 saw union spending on political campaigns and activities fall by an average by 50% after such laws were enacted. In Washington state, the Washington Education Association saw the number of members donating to the political activity fund drop from 82% to 11% following the implementation of Washington’s paycheck protection law in 1992. This reveals that often the goals of the union leadership do not reflect the priorities of the workers. HB 552 would ensure that every Louisiana worker has the freedom to choose whether or not to support a union’s 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.”

Louisiana’s House Labor & Industrial Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Rep. Seabaugh’s paycheck protection bill this Wednesday. This bill would ensure freedom of association in Louisiana and would get the government out of the business of collecting union political dues, which is an unjustifiable and indefensible use of scarce state resources. ATR will be following this issue closely and will be educating Louisiana taxpayers as to how their representatives in Baton Rouge vote on this important matter.

To read the letter in its entirety, see below:

7 May 2013

Dear Members of the House Labor & Industrial Relations Committee,

I write in strong support of House Bill 552, legislation pending before the committee that would both strengthen worker freedom and get Louisiana state government out of the business of acting as the bagman for public employee unions and their political activities. By removing the state’s authority to withhold union fees and dues from a public employee’s paycheck, HB 552 will stop an indefensible use of state resources and will give Louisiana public employees the freedom to decide whether or not they would like to join a union and fund political activities.

Paycheck protection laws like the one HB 552 would enact in Louisiana are currently on the books in some fashion in eight other states. Passage of HB 552 would make Louisiana the second southern state to protect workers’ paychecks and this reform would do much to make Louisiana more attractive to workers and employers contemplating a move or expansion to the Pelican State.

HB 552 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 552 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 join and 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 552 saw union spending on political campaigns and activities fall by an average by 50% after such laws were enacted. In Washington state, the Washington Education Association saw the number of members donating to the political activity fund drop from 82% to 11% following the implementation of Washington’s paycheck protection law in 1992. This reveals that often the goals of the union leadership do not reflect the priorities of the workers. HB 552 would ensure that every Louisiana worker has the freedom to choose whether or not to support a union’s 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.

Furthermore, HB 552 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 552 is a good bill that will expand economic freedom in Louisiana. Paycheck protection laws protect workers’ rights and taxpayer dollars; as such, I strongly urge you to support HB 552.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

 

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Pennsylvania House GOP Votes to Privatize Liquor Sales


Posted by Chris Chaney on Monday, March 25th, 2013, 10:35 AM PERMALINK

Late last week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved HB 790, landmark legislation that would privatize the liquor distribution industry in Pennsylvania, by a vote of 105-90. Nearly every Republican voted in favor, while Democrats stood unanimously opposed to the bill, which would get Pennsylvania state government out of the business of selling liquor. This long-overdue legislation would end the decades old government monopoly on the wholesale distribution of liquor and operation of liquor stores across the Keystone State.

HB 790, which has the support of Gov. Tom Corbett now heads to the Senate, where a tough slog for the bill is expected. After one year of this bill becoming law, the Pennsylvania government would be required to divest itself from the wholesale liquor business and private individuals and small business owners across Pennsylvania would finally have the opportunity to purchase liquor licenses, 1,000 of which will be available in the first year, and launch private liquor distribution stores.

As of last fiscal year, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had ten million dollars more in liabilities than assets. HB 790 would end this unnecessary and indefensible drain on state resources.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds the Pennsylvania House Republicans for standing up for taxpayers and voting in favor of economic and personal liberty by approving HB 790. ATR is encouraging Pennsylvania State Senators to support this measure and will be educating Pennsylvanians as to how their representatives in Harrisburg vote on this commonsense reform.

For more information on liquor privatization from the Commonwealth Foundation, click here.    

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In Chicago & Louisiana Unions Put Themselves Ahead of Students


Posted by Chris Chaney on Friday, September 21st, 2012, 10:54 AM PERMALINK

The recently concluded teachers’ union strike in Chicago has been getting a lot of headlines over the past two weeks and understandably so. Chicago teachers were refusing to show up to work because they thought a 16 percent pay raise and summers off to was a raw deal, even though most private sector workers in the Windy City, who make 32 percent less than Chicago teachers on average, could only dream of such an offer. But Chicago isn’t the only place where union bosses are putting their personal interests ahead of students and their duty to educate them. Though it has not received as much attention as the Chicago strike, an equally important education reform battle is taking place in Louisiana, where the teachers’ union there is waging a legal fight to keep kids trapped in failing schools.

Earlier this year, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the second largest voucher program in the country. As ATR pointed out in a column for Politico, the education reform that Jindal signed into law this year is “one of the most significant school choice bills in U.S. history. It allows 380,000 students from low- and middle-income households across Louisiana to escape substandard schools.” 

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has fought Jindal’s reforms every step of the way and continues to do so even though they have become law. The union has since pressed ahead and filed a lawsuit arguing that the voucher program is unconstitutional. The union filed a petition and asked for an injunction to prevent the voucher program expansion from going into place until the legal dispute was resolved. Fortunately for Louisiana students trying to escape failing schools, that request was denied.

Union bosses responded by resorting to intimidation. The law firm retained by the union sent a letter on July 25 to all the schools agreeing to participate in the voucher program. The letter announced a two day time frame for the schools to rescind their decision to accept funding from the program. Union leaders are now threatening to sue each school who continues to participate in the program. This is an unprecedented level of bullying, even for union standards.

Again, the union seems only concerned with protecting their own interests, with no regard for students. The fact is that thousands of kids across Louisiana will have better and brighter futures because of Jindal’s education reforms. The actions of the Chicago teachers’ union over the past two weeks were deplorable, but their counterparts in Louisiana have found a way to one up them in terms of detestability and selfishness.   

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