Doug Kellogg

NYC Council Aims to Cap & Control Uber, Lyft to Cover for Govt Failures

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018, 5:56 PM PERMALINK

Wednesday, the New York City Council will vote on Intro 144-B, which would cap the number of ridesharing cars in the city, along with other regulations.

The legislation creates a “vehicle utilization standard”, which combines factors like distance traveled, time, and number of passengers, and “other factors as the commission deems appropriate”, to judge how much a ride-hail car is being used.

The measure requires companies turn over a great deal of data to the city to enable this.

Where the rubber meets the road: the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission will use this standard to regulate ridesharing cars, and it leaves their power open ended on what factors they can add.

Yes, it’s supposedly based on the outcome of the city’s study, but it would be quite the shocker if that analysis said government should do nothing at all.

The bill will give the city the ability to go beyond an overall cap on cars. It will empower bureaucrats to control how many cars are allowed by region, time, car type, and more.

The City Council will likely pass this expansive measure in the name of studying the impact of Uber, Lyft, and Via, especially when it comes to traffic congestion.

Never mind that this issue was already studied, at a taxpayer expense of $2 million.

When Mayor de Blasio was pushing for a cap in 2015. he commissioned an analysis from McKinsey & Co. Along with heavy redactions when made public, the report was not able to pin the blame for congestion on Uber and company.

A SUNY-Purchase professor points out in a New York Times op-ed: “From 2009 (before ride hailing) through 2015, the study finds that reductions in vehicular speeds began long before ride hailing hit the stage, and the pattern did not change after ride hailing.”

Recently, it may have been made worse by added tourist foot traffic, not to mention Times Square being practically walled off for crosstown traffic.

Most notably, state leaders, notably Governor Cuomo, along with city leadership, have failed to manage the MTA and subways responsibly.

New York City’s subway system has become so bad when it comes to reliability and speed that ridership has dropped even though population has grown. That is a government failure and recipe for disaster.

The MTA has managed to let this happen despite massive budgets rising over $16 billion annually for operating, and over $35 billion for capital projects.

The biggest pressure point for the council in pushing a cap on ride-hails is taxi companies, and medallion owners.

Yet, it is city government that implemented the policies that knee-capped cabs when it came time to compete.

For decades, the city had an unmoving cap on the number of cabs through the medallion system. Even before Uber, this was a raw deal for many cab drivers who were forced to pay exorbitant prices to get a medallion, or even to just borrow one from someone who hoarded them.

It was a government created cartel that led to taxi kingpins and exploitation of drivers.

Once ridesharing exploded in popularity, the taxi system was in no shape to compete in an actual market. Their only recourse is to compete through backroom City Hall wheeling and dealing.
Incredibly, ridesharing companies reportedly offered $100 million for a fund to bailout cab drivers who are struggling because of these government policy failures.

Uber and Lyft were ready to pay for a problem they did not create, but merely exposed. That wasn’t good enough for the Council Speaker though.

Also of no concern to the politicians gunning for a cap, minority community groups worried that outerboroughs will go back to being underserved and that minorities will struggle trying to find and hail taxis again.

A state attorney general candidate even threatened to sue over the cap if elected.

The entire reason ridesharing surpassed taxis in New York City was because they served a market in outerboroughs (Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx) that was largely ignored. Though to be fair, the cap on taxis made it next-to-impossible for them to effectively cover the entire city.

Now, after ridesharing fixed this problem, the Council will risk recreating it, and the offer to make up for this from Council Speaker Corey Johnson was to hire more bureaucrats to watch the issue.

Interesting final note: Wheelchair accessible vehicles are not covered by the cap. They can still get a for-hire vehicle (FHV) license like before.

This messy example of how to make consumers and taxpayers pay for decades of government mistakes should not be followed outside New York.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

NYC Pols Won't Stop Until They Crash Uber, Lyft

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Friday, July 27th, 2018, 5:38 PM PERMALINK

It has become abundantly clear that the New York City Council and Mayor de Blasio want to stop ridesharing. And they’re going to keep proposing different versions of a cap on Uber and Lyft cars until they get their way.

Now, City Council members are drafting new legislation that would be built around a cap, again. The measure is also said to include a minimum wage for drivers. The Mayor’s office and Taxi and Limousine Commission had been considering requiring a $17.22 per hour wage floor in recent weeks.

These are poisonous regulations. The cap would drive up prices and make it more difficult to get a ride as demand is left unmet. It would also hurt people in outer boroughs who have been neglected by taxis. By a 5-to-1 margin, respondents to a Pew Research Center poll from majority-minority areas agreed ride-sharing “serves neighborhoods taxis won’t visit.”

Now, with a new legislative fight unfolding, the NAACP and National Urban League have joined in criticizing the council's tack because it would limit the number of rides available to minority areas.

The extremely high minimum wage would clearly drive up costs for riders, and further could disincentivize drivers from picking up as many people as possible as they get paid either way.

Another core provision would require the major ride-hail companies to submit a business plan to the city showing a need for their services. You can’t make this stuff up. City Council Members who are upset precisely because of the growth of ridesharing, which clearly shows consumer need, want to make companies send them a plan.

How about the City Council send taxpayers a plan demonstrating the need for their services?

The measures also includes rules on how much time a car must have a passenger, and add wheelchair accessibility requirements. This is according to reporting from POLITICO New York and the New York Times.

To justify their aggressive regulatory schemes, the City Council Speaker, Mayor, and others continue to talk about traffic and mass transit.

Hilariously, some have even blamed Uber for declines in subway usage (that will cost the MTA over $300 million in revenue). It is the MTA’s own fault that ridership has declined.

City population and ridership were spiking in recent years. However, the MTA, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, continued to shift funds from long-term subway maintenance to flashy projects.

The result has been slower, less reliable subway service. The MTA is far more guilty of contributing to traffic problems than Uber. The unreliability of the subway and bus system has pushed New Yorkers to find other ways to get to work.

Now politicians would rather force people to walk while mass transit grinds to a halt.

Months ago a couple council members pushed the worst case scenario bill - which would have capped the number of cards, broken the city up into regions and made drivers stick to them, added exorbitant fees and short licensing renewal timelines.

That was clearly cover for a package that is nearly as bad.

The Times’ headline shouts, “New York Could Become First Major U.S. City to Cap Uber and Similar Vehicles.” A reminder of how influential this poor policy move could be around the country.

The stakes are high for anyone who cares about taxpayers, consumers, and markets across the country.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

In Florida Governor’s Race, Both Leading GOP Candidates Sign Pledge to Oppose Tax Hikes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Friday, July 27th, 2018, 11:43 AM PERMALINK

As Florida’s August 28th primary election approaches, both leading Republican candidates for Governor have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge stating that they will not raise taxes on Floridians if elected in November.

In signing The Pledge, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Rep. Ron DeSantis have made a written commitment to Florida voters that they will oppose and veto any tax hikes.

The Pledge is a project of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).

“I applaud Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam for making this important commitment to Florida taxpayers. Florida Republican primary voters can go to the polls confident that the winner of the Republican primary will be a candidate who has committed to protecting taxpayers,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

“Following passage of federal tax reform, the United States has become an even more attractive destination for investment. Avoiding tax increases will ensure Florida remains at the top of the list of attractive destinations in the U.S. for the expected influx of global capital. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the leading Republicans running for governor have made clear that they recognize the importance of keeping Florida a low tax state,” added Norquist.

Florida is one of nine states with no income tax. The Sunshine State’s friendly tax climate has been at the heart of an economic boom that has the state economy on-track to be worth $1 trillion in 2018. It has sparked population growth over 11 percent since 2010, which has brought in tens of billions of dollars from people and businesses fleeing higher tax states.

As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Florida is estimated to see over 12,000 new jobs created. Nationally, companies have repatriated $300 billion since the tax reform went into effect.

Americans for Tax Reform offers the Pledge to all candidates for state and federal office. In the 115th Congress, 46 U.S. Senators and 209 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are pledge signers. Pledge signers include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady are also pledge signers.

On the state level, this commitment is shared by 11 incumbent governors including Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Gov. Rick Scott (Fla.), and Gov. Paul LePage (M.E.), and nearly 1,000 state legislators across the country.

High-Tax States’ Lawsuit Over Federal Tax Reform Is a Frivolous Distraction

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, 5:42 PM PERMALINK

It turns out attorneys general in some big spending, high tax states would rather waste resources filing blatantly stupid lawsuits than stop their abuse of taxpayers.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut filed a lawsuit today over the cap on state and local tax deductions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

This is a transparent attempt to play politics with President Trump and distract from their own responsibility for their own high taxes. They’re suing over reform that is putting money in the pockets of the vast majority of their residents.

Federal tax reform is saving 90 percent of wage earners money. In New York, for example, the average household will save over $1,000.

With the new cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT), some high tax areas will see higher income earners pay more. Obviously, the taxes they are paying more of are state or local burdens. Which (in a shocking twist) are controlled by state and local politicians who could move to cut taxes and reduce spending.

These unaffordable states often drive up local burdens with mandates as well.

Of course, that is why many of the leaders driving the lawsuit, like New York Governor Cuomo or Governor Dan Malloy in Connecticut, are upset. They don’t like the pressure to reduce, or not raise, taxes on their high earners.

They want taxpayers in other states, who can’t vote for them, to keep subsidizing their uber expensive policies. They want to keep spending on their allies through Hartford and Albany and Trenton.

The IRS has indicated the charitable contribution entity scheme New York and New Jersey tried is going to flop, now these state officials are desperate.

So when they whine about the SALT cap, and talk about how TCJA hurt their states, they are talking about government, not people.

Even in New Jersey which is estimated to have the most households paying more in taxes, only 10.2 percent will see any increase in what they owe, and the state could move to reduce their property tax burden if they wanted to help them, rather than trying to absurdly blame Washington.

The short of it: this lawsuit is a doomed waste of resources by states that refuse to take responsibility for their high tax burdens - and driven by Governors Cuomo, Malloy, and Murphy, as an excuse to tussle with President Trump.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

More from Americans for Tax Reform

NJ's Twisted Version of Deal or No Deal Ends With $1B-plus Tax-Hiking Budget

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Saturday, June 30th, 2018, 8:41 PM PERMALINK

Trenton’s twisted version of deal or no deal finally came to an end this past weekend, and New Jersey taxpayers lose big as expected with over $1 billion in tax hikes to fuel a big 8 percent year-to-year spending increase.

It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that this will make the state even more unwelcoming, and unaffordable. New Jersey already has the worst overall business tax climate, the 3rd-highest state and local tax burden, along with the highest average property tax bill.

The final agreement hinged on a new increase in the millionaire's tax that affects people making over $5 million, and an increase in the corporate business tax that is supposed to last four years and expire. Don't head over to Atlantic City to bet on the state letting that revenue go.

The hiked millionaire's tax is supposed to raise $280 million annually, and the business tax changes $800 million.

New Jerseyans will also pay more for sharing economy services. The tax on ridesharing (Uber & Lyft) ended up being higher than the initial proposal, coming it at 50-cents per-ride. These are taxes that will absolutely hit middle-class residents, and risk hurting drivers by limiting demand for rides. Vaping stores and customers will be pinched as well with a new $17 million tax on e-cigarettes.

New internet sales tax provisions were included as well to collect from out-of-state businesses in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair decision.

In the rush to pass budget bills over the weekend, and beat the June 30 end of the fiscal year deadline, lawmakers took some risks and may have made some sloppy mistakes.

Incredibly, this includes hitting health insurance companies with the new, higher business tax, which would drive up premiums for New Jersey residents.

Combined reporting for businesses was also included, which significantly changes how they report revenues for tax purposes. This could have unexpected repercussions, and was pushed through with an understanding that any issues would be fixed later, as Senate President Sweeney has promised a clean-up bill later in the year.

Governor Murphy and legislative leaders can brag about beating the budget deadline, but they did so with a big asterisk.

There is some good news. The Governor's huge taxes and fees on firearms seem to have bit the dust, the bag tax did not make it, and there was no sales tax hike.

Still, negotiations between Governor Murphy and Democratic leadership in the legislature simply amounted to two wolves arguing about which sheep to eat for dinner. In the end it means families and businesses who already face some of the worst taxes in the nation will be squeezed for more, and the state will go further down the path of being totally unaffordable.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

The Jersey Sheer: Lawmakers Float “Snooki Tax” to Fleece Vacationers As Part of Budget Negotiations

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018, 5:42 PM PERMALINK

At this rate, there won’t be a tax under the sun that New Jersey lawmakers fail to consider during budget negotiations. Now it’s a Snooki tax that is being thrown against the wall to see if it sticks.

A $250 million tax on shore rentals in New Jersey has been proposed by Senate President Sweeney as part of the latest legislative counter-offer to Governor Murphy. Another part of this latest pitch is a $110 million tax hike for realty transfer fees.

So, Democrats have turned to making vacation at the beach more expensive, and hiking taxes on property owners who already pay the highest average property tax bill. You can add these to the long list of tax increases the Governor and legislature have already come up with.

Rather than contain spending and make the state more affordable, Trenton is debating which combination of taxes to slam residents with. Some ideas are worse than others, but the bottom-line cost is in the billions of dollars for taxpayers.

The Governor and legislature are now negotiating over a huge number of tax hikes:

  • An $850 million-a-year corporate tax hike that would give New Jersey the highest corporate tax rate in the nation, and punish businesses who are already investing more in the state because of federal tax reform.
  • Murphy’s $581 million, massive sales tax increase, and $765 million millionaire’s tax hike that hits many people making less than $1 million.
  • New taxes on ride-sharing services like Uber, and home-sharing companies like Airbnb, which only drive up costs for middle-class New Jerseyans who rely on them.
  • Taxes on vaping that range from Murphy’s reckless scheme that could crush the industry in New Jersey, to an improved, but still burdensome 10-cent-per-milliliter tax proposed by the legislature.
  • A new money-grabbing fee on shopping bags, which hurts low-income residents who can least afford such a burden.
  • An internet sales tax.
  • Massive new fees and taxes on firearms.

The numbers may change from counter-proposal to counter-proposal.

Jersey residents deserve better. That’s why ATR is highlighting these massive tax hikes and urging lawmakers to stop the madness. To push back against Governor Murphy’s anti-Second Amendment firearm taxes, visit ATR’s petition at

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

More from Americans for Tax Reform

D.C. Is Site of Next Battle in Left’s Bizarre War on Workers Who Earn Tips

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Monday, June 18th, 2018, 12:00 AM PERMALINK

On Tuesday, June 19, Washington D.C. residents will vote on Initiative 77 which would end the tipping system as we know it - costing wait staff and bartenders income, and killing jobs and businesses.

Known as the tipped wage, wage tip credit, or sub-minimum wage, this system allows service workers to be paid less than the minimum wage while they earn tips. These workers often earn far more than the minimum wage. But they are at least guaranteed to earn the regular minimum wage if their income falls short after tips.

So why push a drastic 200 percent increase in the wage? Why destroy a system that has worked for ages?

The campaign against the system is built on demagoguery, and ignorance. It’s driven by the absurdly-named Restaurant Opportunities Center, and it has spread not through merit, but political power and deceiving spin. It benefits unions, and destroys a restaurant industry they don’t like.

As the Employment Policies Institute’s Michael Saltsman writes in the Wall Street Journal: “The group views the elimination of the tipped wage in Washington and elsewhere as a first step “in getting to no tips.” As Diana Ramirez, director of ROC-DC, explained, “You can’t do payroll deductions”—that is, unions can’t dip into cash pay to collect dues.”

Attacking the tip credit is so radical that many Democrat politicians oppose it. In the District of Columbia, that includes Mayor Bowser and most of the City Council.

However, ending the tipped wage is part of the Democratic Party platform. Governor Cuomo in New York has pushed the state labor department to consider ending the tip credit, and Senator Bernie Sanders backs a popular bill in Congress that would drastically boost the wage.

The party, and these politicians, have chosen the unions’ political apparatus over protecting American workers.

Servers hate the prospect of the tip system being ruined.

In the District of Columbia, servers have participated in the Save Our Tips campaign. In Upstate New York, one restaurant worker started a Facebook campaign that organically grew to 20,000 people. At hearings across the state, servers showed up en masse to protest ending the credit.

In Maine, where the tip credit was done away with, uproar from restaurant servers caused the state legislature to reverse their decision in less than a year.

The Maine situation also proved concerns over wages going down were very true. Servers lost money in reality. Businesses will also close as they struggle to afford the additional labor costs heaped on them.

Tuesday, D.C. voters will decide the fate of the latest battle over tips, but the war will continue across the country.

Photo Credit: zoetnet

ATR Statement on Anti-Airbnb Bill Introduced in City Council

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Friday, June 8th, 2018, 10:34 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform State Projects Director Doug Kellogg offered the following statement on Intro 981 in New York City Council. The measure would force Airbnb to disclose potentially all user and listing information to city agencies:

“The hotel industry gives city politicians a lot of money, and pulls strings at City Hall, so the council is close to destroying a new industry that has created hundreds of millions of dollars in value for residents and neighborhoods.

That’s the shameful reality behind this invasive bill. The facts are simply not on their side. Despite big spending, the hotel industry’s anti-Airbnb campaign can’t come up with an honest argument, only cooked stats, and misinformation.

This is government by and for narrow special interests. City government has been co-opted to destroy a competitor and that should scare every New Yorker.”

Bill Introduced to Kill Airbnb in NYC, Allows City to Demand Any Information on Hosts

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Thursday, June 7th, 2018, 5:28 PM PERMALINK

Today, New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera, along with 35 co-sponsors, introduced legislation that would crush Airbnb and the over $500 million worth of economic activity the platform has helped bring to New York.

The bill, Intro 981, is not simply overregulation. It’s not just going to add costs and inconvenience, it is an attempt to kill Airbnb and home-sharing outright. This is governing in bad faith.

Despite news getting out about the measure weeks ago, the full reality of what is in this proposal is more horrific than expected.

The bill would force Airbnb to send the city’s Office of Special Enforcement information on users and listings. That means the address of the unit, the name and address of the host, every transaction (whether direct or indirect payment), individualized information for every listing for a unit, and whether the whole unit or part is being used.

Oh, and it also says the Mayor can order that this information be provided to any agency, and that the agency can also get any other information they want by rule.

So this bill opens the door to all city agencies getting any information on an Airbnb user that they want. There are 35 Council Members who endorse this invasive power grab.

The Office of Special Enforcement has already been over-aggressive in enforcing existing laws, forcing law-abiding hosts to pay big legal fees to fight off summonses.

Now city authorities will have more power to go after hosts.

The massive new fines in the bill range from $5,000 to $25,000 for any inability on the part of Airbnb to provide information owed to the city. Again, information that includes anything the agency decides it wants. These costs could ramp up very quickly.

The state’s ban on rentals under 30-days was already a shameless move to outlaw Airbnb’s business model, hosts are already at risk of massive fines. The state passed the sentence, now the city is carrying out the execution.

It’s all being pushed through based on weak arguments, cooked-up stats, and outright lies - done to serve hotels that pull strings at City Hall, and contributed $100,000 to in city elections.

This is government by flunkies for the special interests. City government has been coopted to destroy a competitor and that should scare every New Yorker.

Photo Credit: HBarrison, Flickr

Oops: Report That Attacked Airbnb Wildly Overstated Numbers

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Doug Kellogg on Thursday, May 10th, 2018, 11:57 PM PERMALINK

If there is one public official that is supposed to be good with numbers, it would be the comptroller.

So there really is no excuse for New York City’s Comptroller, Scott Stringer, to issue a widely-covered report on homesharing sites (primarily Airbnb) that completely misrepresents data intended to show their impact on rent prices.

The report purports to show that Airbnb drove up rent prices by $616 million in 2016, among other findings. Which seems unlikely on its face given homesharing touches a small fraction of the housing supply.

The report claimed up to 13,500 units are removed from the rental market because of Airbnb. Even the high point of that estimate is just 0.6 percent of the rental housing supply in New York City.

The report also focuses on popular neighborhoods, specifically those that have gained popularity more recently. Clearly there are larger trends driving up rent in these neighborhoods.

Most shocking is the revelation that the Comptroller’s findings made a hash of the underlying data from AirDNA. The site countered the Comptroller report, indicating that instead of 10% of homes being taken off the rental market, it’s more like 0.2% (via CNET’s Dara Kerr):

““At no point did the comptroller contact AirDNA to ask for guidance or our professional expertise on how to read the data, leading to several crucial errors in his interpretation of the numbers,” Abigail Long, the spokeswoman, said in a statement.”

So, the Comptroller was off by a factor of 50. Just a bit outside… But instead of owning up to potential errors, his office attacked AirDNA’s motivations. Meanwhile, the hotel interests behind the ShareBetter campaign to destroy Airbnb contribute significantly to city politicians.

Yet, they still struggle to find real evidence of any problem with homesharing, while they completely ignore benefits like the economic activity being sparked in outer boroughs.

Airbnb is next-to-outlawed in New York City, with rentals under 30 days banned and violators subject to massive fines.

The city even has a crack squad of investigators who can hand summonses even to law-abiding hosts that then cost them thousands in legal fees to fight.

The Comptroller has released plenty of good reports in the past on a variety of topics, but in this case he's doubled down on an outrageous error that serves narrow special interests, not the public interest.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

More from Americans for Tax Reform