Chris Prandoni

ATR Supports S. 3512, The WAIVER Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 11:46 AM PERMALINK

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In response to the Obama Administration’s decision in enforce the Jones Act, legislation which makes it illegal for foreign ships to aid in the gulf cleanup, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to Congress urging Senators to support S. 3512, The WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response) Act.

ATR's full letter is below:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, and millions of taxpayers, business owners and energy consumers nationwide, I applaud your introduction of S. 3512, The WAIVER (Water Assistance from International Vessels for Emergency Response) Act, which suspends the Jones Act thus allowing foreign vessels to enter the Gulf of Mexico to aid in the cleanup of the oil spill.

The Jones Act was enacted in 1920 and prevents foreign maritime vessels from traveling between U.S. ports.  The WAIVER Act would temporarily suspend the Jones Act and allow ships from other countries to transport supplies crucial to relief efforts between U.S. ports. The Act will bypass red tape and allow for the immediate aid our cleanup crews need.  The Jones Act was temporarily lifted during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and once again must be lifted in the aftermath of this oil spill.

The WAIVER Act would allow skimmer vessels from foreign nations to enter the Gulf of Mexico.  These skimmers collect oil from the water and prevent it from reaching our beaches.  Currently, there are only twenty skimmers of the coast of Florida.  It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent the further destruction of the Gulf of Mexico.

There have been many instances so far in which foreign aid has been turned away by the Obama administration. Foreign allies such as Mexico and Norway have offered sophisticated maritime vessels to help in the cleanup but President Obama has denied their requests. These foreign skimmers are technologically advanced and designed specifically for this purpose.

I applaud you for your efforts to do more than politicize this issue by introducing legislation that will allow much needed aid into the Gulf.  

I am urging all Senators to support you by co-sponsoring S. 3512, The WAIVER Act.  If you have any questions about becoming a co-sponsor, contact Frank Walker in Senator Lemieux’s office at 202.224.3041 or ATR Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at or 202.785.0266.

Grover G. Norquist

cc:    All US Senators

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Democrats Latest Bailout Iteration

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 10:46 AM PERMALINK

While requests for billions from the federal government, and the nation’s taxpayers, have become agonizingly commonplace, Rep. Klein’s proposed bill H.R. 2555, the Homeowners' Defense Act, is notably reprehensible.

ATR’s letter to the Hill which urged Members to oppose H.R. 2555 explains the problem:

Florida’s private home insurance and reinsurance companies charged high premiums to cover the immense costs they would incur were a hurricane to hit the coast of Florida. Arguing that the premiums charged by private companies were unfair and discouraged development, state officials created a public homeowners insurance company, the Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) and a government controlled-reinsurer, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Both charged a fraction of realistic actuarial rates. Today, about 20 percent of Floridians purchase insurance through Citizens and almost all private insurers face a mandate to buy into the Cat Fund

Today, neither entity has enough money to cover its customer’s claims were a hurricane to hit the coast of Florida. The Cat Fund has $4.5 billion in hard assets to cover liabilities that could top $25 billion in a bad storm season.  In light of this problem, Representative Ron Klein of Florida introduced HR. 2555 which proposes the federal government, and by extension taxpayers nationwide, cover Citizens and Cat Fund liabilities in the event of a disaster.

Rep. Klein’s remedy for a problem that Florida’s state government created is…more government. How unimaginative. Instead of fixing Florida’s broken insurance system, HR 2555 only prolongs necessary reform by infusing the state with taxpayer’s dollars. This is neither equitable nor prudent.

Speaking about Rep. Klein’s legislation in a recent press release, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

“Rep. Klein wants force taxpayers in all 50 states to pay for his failed Florida plan thus saving the wealthy beachfront property owners in case of a natural disaster. The Democrats are continuing as the party of bailouts and this one ranks close to the top in terms of stupidity.”

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ATR Supports Snowe-Pryor Amendment (#3883), Opposes Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry (#4075)

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010, 9:15 AM PERMALINK

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Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports the full removal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from the Senate-passed S. 3217, Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. However, when choosing between the Snowe-Pryor #3883 Amendment and Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry #4075 Amendment – ATR supports Snowe-Pryor.

Senators Snowe (R-Maine) and Pryor (D-Ark.) have put forth in Amendment #3883 proposals that acknowledge small businesses pivotal role in America’s economic growth and the threats government regulation poses to entrepreneurs. Currently, small businesses pay 45 percent more than their larger business counterparts to comply with federal mandates.

The Small Business Fairness and Regulatory Transparency Amendment ensure the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will protect job creation and innovation in the following ways:

  • The CFPB will be required to publish a regulatory flexibility analysis as part of any rulemaking procedure and hold advisory small businesses review panels to ensure that small businesses’ voices are heard
  • The CFPB’s regulatory flexibility analysis will contain projections in the cost of credit for small businesses, a description of alternative regulatory measures which minimize any increase in the cost of credit for small businesses, and recommendations from small businesses representatives
  • Additionally, the regulatory flexibility analysis will include documentation of the steps CFPB has taken to minimize the additional cost of credit for small businesses

The Landrieu-Dodd-Kerry amendment does not require the CFPB to publish a regulatory flexibility analysis during the proposed rule stage, only when its rules are finalized. Unfortunately, by then, small business’ interests will already have been overlooked.  

It is for these reasons that ATR urges you to protect Main Street from government overreach and support the Snowe-Pryor Amendment #3883 – the Small Business Fairness and Regulatory Transparency Amendment.

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Obama's Union Politics Handcuff Him During Oil Spill

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 2:16 PM PERMALINK

President Obama has been under fire for the oil spill that occurred on his watch, some claims more legitimate than others. While people can debate endlessly about the proper tone Obama should be taking with BP and the American People, criticisms that span the broad range of human emotions: “he needs to get angry,” “he’s too paternal,” “I need a father figure,” there are some important points that get lost in the mix.

The first is that Obama, as he said, “cannot swim down there and plug the hole.” There is little reason to believe that further nationalizing the problem would expedite attempts to stop the leak. Firstly, BP has ever incentive to plug the hole; claims that they are kicking the can down the road are ridicules. The longer the oil spews the more BP’s stock and public’s opinion of the company plummets. Secondly, what would lead anyone to believe the government knows anything about drilling oil a mile under water.

If the government cannot stop the leak, the next best thing Obama can do is help clean it up. Here the Administration faltered. What if I told you that foreign ships, adept at cleaning up spilled oil, were offering to help in the US efforts off the Gulf, but the President wouldn’t let them. According to an early 20th century law, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the Jones Act), “all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S. owned and U.S. manned ships.”

This strangle law has worked against US interests before, most recently during Hurricane Katrina, which led Bush to temporarily waive the act. Obama’s refusal to waive the Jones Act has needlessly caused more oil to leak into the Gulf.

Stephen Horowitz offers his opinion about why Obama won’t budge from the Jones Act.

“Who is benefiting from this law's enforcement? One major beneficiary is organized labor. Ships that meet the requirements of the Jones Act are crewed by unionized labor and granting waivers to it would bring lower-wage labor into competition with those nice union jobs, potentially threatening them. One theory is that President Obama does not want to risk alienating the labor vote by waiving the Jones Act even for a short period of time. President Bush had no such concerns as labor wasn't going to vote for him anyway."  

Good to know that instead of actually helping the people of the Gulf Obama is using this tragedy to appease a frustrated interest group and advocate for an energy tax.

Wading through all the mud slung at Obama can be difficult. Adherence to the Jones Act is a criticism that sticks.

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Crucial Vote to Block the EPA's Power Grab Today

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 11:27 AM PERMALINK

Today, the Senate will vote on whether or not to concede lawmaking authority to the EPA. Coming to the floor is "Senate Joint Resolution 26," also called the Murkowski Resolution for its lead sponsor, which would block and overturn the EPA’s global warming regulations.

Unable to tax or sufficiently regulate greenhouse gases through traditional legislative means, Democrats have turned to the EPA to do their dirty work for them. Conceding this point, EPA Director Lisa Jackson writes about an EPA plan that sounds an awfully lot like cap-and-trade:

“I expect that EPA will phase-in permit requirements and regulation of greenhouse gases for large stationary sources beginning in calendar year 2011... In any event, EPA does not intend to subject the smallest sources to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse-gas emissions any sooner than 2016.”

Senator Murkowski’s resolution is nothing more than an attempt to stop the EPA’s power grab. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a longtime advocate for stringent carbon regulation, best explains SJ Res 26:

I have long maintained that the Congress - not the unelected EPA - must decide major economic and energy policy. EPA regulation will have an enormous impact on the economic security of West Virginia and our energy future.

I intend to vote for Senator Murkowski's Resolution of Disapproval because I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia's economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA.

To echo Senator Rockefeller, allowing the EPA to set economic policy for the country – powers never delegated to the agency – is a clear subversion of the democratic process. Constituents elect senators to represent their interests, whereas, the EPA is a far removed board accountable to no one. So while some on the left are willing to use any means necessary to enact preferred policy, more responsible legislators will see the problems in this shrewd logic.

Click here to watch the floor debate and Sen. Murkowski’s opening statement on CSPAN2.

The following offices need to hear from you only if you live in the state the Senators represent. Tell them to vote "YES" on Murkowski SJ Resolution 26.

Sen. Baucus (Montana) - (202) 224-2651
Sen. Bayh (Indiana) - (202) 224-5623
Sen. Begich (Alaska) - (202) 224-3004
Sen. Byrd (West Virginia) - (202) 224-3954
Sen. Conrad (North Dakota) - (202) 224-2043
Sen. Dorgan (North Dakota) - (202) 224-2551
Sen. Johnson (South Dakota) - (202) 224-5842
Sen. McCaskill (Missouri) - (202) 224-6154
Sen. Pryor (Arkansas) - (202) 224-2353
Sen. Specter (Pennsylvania) - (202)224-4254
Sen. Tester (Montana) - (202) 224-2644

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ATR WILL RATE Against "No" Vote on Murkowski EPA Resolution

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:33 AM PERMALINK

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Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) announced they will rate against a vote opposing Sen. Murkowski’s EPA Resolution of Disapproval, SJ 26, in their annual Congressional Scorecard.

This administrations attempt to subvert Congress, and the will of the American people, by enacting back-door carbon regulations is reprehensible.

The EPA should not act as chief regulator of America’s economy, it was never intended to.

Acting as a safeguard for the American people, Senator Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval would ensure that the EPA could not overhaul America’s energy industry, and subsequently the American economy.

With the American economy still sluggish and unemployment hovering around 10 percent, any carbon regulation would be disastrous.

ATR urges all members to support this resolution as the EPA should not become the largest regulator of the US economy.

A vote opposing this resolution will be scored in our annual Congressional scorecard. Voting “no” on SJ 26 will negatively affect contention for the Hero of the Taxpayer Award.

For more information, contact Federal Affairs Manager Brian Johnson at

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Fact Checking President Obama's Fuel Efficiency Standards Speech

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010, 4:42 PM PERMALINK

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Recently, President Obama gathered union leaders, Members of Congress, and business owners in the Rose Garden for a forum on vehicle fuel efficiency standards (FES). However, many of the Presidents claims do not hold up to closer scrutiny and explain why the country and industry has not embraced his fuel efficiency plans.

Myth: “The typical driver will save roughly $3,000 over the life of the vehicle.”

FACT: Mandating higher miles per gallon (mpg) will raise the sticker price for vehicles as car makers need to install newer, more expensive technology. The price tag for a “compact car will go up $1,800 to $2,000. The price of a mid-sized car is likely to increase $4,500 to $6,000... Outfitting a full-sized pickup with a diesel, rather than a gasoline-powered V-8, and other new equipment could cost $9,000,” says Sandra Stojkovski, president of See More Systems consulting firm.

Myth: “This is going to bring down the costs for transporting -- for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike.”

FACT: In order for FES to reduce transporting costs, the money saved from increased fuel efficiency would have to offset the inflated vehicle sticker price necessary to comply with new FES. If this were true, federal law would be wholly unnecessary as trucking companies would make the switch to more profitable trucks on their own.

Myth: “And that’s why, when we fashioned the Recovery Act to get our economy moving again, we emphasized clean energy... It’s estimated that through these investments, we’ll create or save more than 700,000 jobs.”

FACT: Quite the opposite. Governments that tilt the markets by mandating green energy actually stunt job growth by reducing overall economic productivity. European countries whose governments subsidized renewable forms of energy found this out the hard way. It is estimated that for every government mandated “green-energy job” created, 2.2 jobs in the private sector were prevented from being created.  

Myth: “Auto companies will have the clear incentive to develop more efficient vehicles.”

FACT: It is no longer an incentive if it is mandated. Furthermore, car makers are worried that new mandates will force them to create vehicles people don’t want, “We’ll have to force a lot of hybrids, which people may or may not pay for,” said Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM. Evidence of this problem can be seen in specific car markets where consumers are yet to embrace hybrid vehicles. “Performance hybrids and mild hybrids haven’t gained any traction in the market,” said Jake Fisher, senior automotive engineer at Consumer Reports.

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Maine Sens. Collins and Snowe Side with Democrat Takeover of Banks

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, 9:12 AM PERMALINK

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Senator Dodd’s contentious financial regulation legislation passed the Senate last week, 59-39 after getting essential votes from Maine Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Republican Senators Scott Brown (R-Mass) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Snowe and Collins to vote for the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, ensuring its passage.

This was bad legislation from the start that was only made marginally less bad through the painful amendment process in the Senate. Making the failed risky lending policies permanent that led to the collapse of Fannie and Freddie are never ideas people with ‘R’s’ behind their name should support. There were enough reasons to oppose this bill that any conservative should have had no problem voting no. Apparently, Senators Snowe and Collins thought differently,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

Senator Dodd’s Restoring American Financial Stability Act did not address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s precarious lending practices, two of the key factors behind the current economic crisis, while it codified bailouts for financial institutions. Additionally, the Democratic legislation expands the size and scope of government creating additional bureaucracies and further empowering regulators who failed to prevent or see the financial crisis two years ago.

The real consequence of this will be to further delay our recovery by raising the cost of financial transactions and constricting the flow of capital throughout the American economy.  Financial institutions, the heart of any economy, will need to comply with additional regulations. This will raise the cost per transaction, thereby, reducing the number that can take place. With near double digit unemployment, this legislation is the last thing we need.” Norquist added.

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Good Employment News, Sort of

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 3:33 PM PERMALINK

Although the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, it was largely due to people re-entering the workforce in an attempt to find work (people that are unemployed for a long period of time and stop looking for work are not included in unemployment calculations), employers created 231,000 private sector jobs. Similarly encouraging, hours and wages increased.

James Sherk of Heritage explains the increase in the unemployment rate:

“The rate of job creation is not high enough to keep up with these potential workers. The increase of the unemployment rate from 9.7 to 9.9 percent is simply due to the rapid growth of the labor force and the slower rate of job creation. The unemployment rate could continue to climb if the new entrants to the labor market continue at such a brisk pace. The labor force participation rate is still well below the pre-recession level, which indicates that hundreds of thousands of workers have not yet started searching for work.”

It is the private sectors inability to create jobs that has led to such high levels of unemployment, not job loss. The below chart from Heritage compares the 2001 recession to make this point:

So, now that the problem has been identified, job creation, what should the government due to foster job growth? The government could make it easier to higher employees by reducing mandatory benefits and payroll taxes. Employers would be much more likely to hire employees if there were fewer strings attached. Secondly, the government should reassure businesses that they will not levy additional taxes or regulations. Many businesses fearful of the health care reform’s implications or the Democrat pushed energy tax are acting prudently and not hiring. The low job creation numbers are largely due to the uncertainty surrounding Congress.

Sherk’s more specific remedies:

Congress should promote more rapid job growth in this recovery. America cannot afford a repeat of the European experience. In the 1970s, Europe had relatively low levels of unemployment. Unemployment increased sharply in the early 1980s and has remained persistently high through the present day. This is in large part because of the expensive social-democratic welfare states that European nations created. These highly regulated welfare states discouraged entrepreneurship and wealth creation-and thus the incentive to create new businesses and jobs. Ten percent unemployment has become normal in Europe.

Congress should not allow 10 percent unemployment to become normal in America. Congress should jettison Keynesian ideology and instead promote job creation by encouraging entrepreneurship and new investment. Congress can do this through a combination of explicit actions and by eliminating specific, Washington-based threats to the economy. Such a no-cost stimulus would create jobs without adding to the deficit by:

  • Freezing all proposed tax hikes and costly regulations at least until unemployment falls below 7 percent;
  • Freezing spending and rescinding unspent stimulus funds;
  • Reforming regulations to reduce unnecessary business costs, such as repealing Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act;
  • Reforming the tort system to lower costs and uncertainty facing businesses;
  • Removing barriers to domestic energy production in Alaska and in Colorado oil shale;
  • Repealing the job-killing Davis –Bacon Act;
  • Passing pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama; and
  • Reducing taxes on companies’ foreign earnings if they bring those earnings home.

Implement these changes and watch unemployment numbers drop. Until then, we watch as our economy wrestles with Congress’ burdens.

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