James Morrone Jr

Sens. Flake, Lee, Lankford and Sessions Voice Opposition to “Green Pork” in FAA Bill

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016, 12:23 PM PERMALINK

In a recent letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY-R), four senators this week voiced their opposition to extending expiring renewable energy provisions as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. Senators Jeff Flake (AZ-R), Mike Lee (UT-R), James Lankford (OK-R), and Jeff Sessions (AL-R), took exception to current attempts by some in the Senate to attach tax credits for green energy to such an important and needed bill. 

In December, Congress approved the extension of green energy tax credits that have a price tag of $600 billion. The senators all agree that the desired impact of the tax credits will not line up to the left’s energy ideology.  They explain:

“This latest effort to hastily extend market-distorting tax policies is imprudent. Congress not only lacks critical information necessary to determine whether these credits are effective, but the information it does have suggests that some programs lack proper oversight.”

The addition of these tax credits to the FAA reauthorization bill is just another example of “green pork” being given to renewable energy special interests. These senators have nobly voiced their concern about the government further wasting money on unreliable energy sources that do not even make up a tenth of total energy production

Americans for Tax Reform applauds their efforts to oppose attaching green energy tax credits to the FAA Reauthorization package.

 

Photo credit: ElliottP

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Coalition of 34 Organizations Oppose Renewables Extenders in FAA Bill

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Thursday, April 7th, 2016, 12:05 PM PERMALINK

In a recent letter to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), 34 organizations, including Americans for Tax Reform, voiced their opposition to extending expiring renewable energy provisions as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. Aside from the clear difference of the intended purpose of the legislation, Congress has already passed an extension of related renewable provisions in 2015 for wind and solar.

If the current renewable provisions now being debated are allowed to expire at the end of this year as scheduled, the nation could save $1.4 billion and prevent politically favored renewable energy producers from receiving dual tax credits. 

The government effort to promote renewable energy through subsidies, loans, mandates, and other tax handouts has failed to live up to what their proponents promise. According to the Energy Information Agency, only 7 percent of energy produced comes from renewable sources, such as wind, geothermal heat pumps, solar, and biomass. Americans deserve to have access to affordable and reliable energy sources without the federal government falsely propping them up with taxpayer funds. 

 

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CBO Projects U.S. Sugar Program will Costs Taxpayers $138 Million

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 2:49 PM PERMALINK

The protectionist U.S. Sugar Program is a relic of a different time, but yet continues to cost the American taxpayer millions. The program began by setting quotas on sugar imports from around the world, in order to protect struggling farmers during the Great Depression. As global trade improved, cheaper sugar was denied entry to the American marketplace, allowing the price of sugar to rise. Today, the U.S. Sugar Program has evolved into a web of protectionist policies including import quotas, price supports, and non-recourse loans, costing Americans both jobs and millions of dollars. 

Recently, the CBO has issued a report highlighting the costs of the sugar program for the next ten years. Shockingly enough, the continued protectionist policies of the program are going to cost taxpayers at least $138 million over the next ten years. This in addition to the $3 billion in consumer costs, because of the increased price of domestic sugar, meaning that sugar farmers in the U.S. are subsidized with an estimated $700,000 per farm. This policy continues to shift an unaffordable burden on onto the backs of American taxpayers. 

Besides costing taxpayers millions every year, the program has the tendency to kill well-paying jobs. A great example of this was seen in the departure of the LifeSavers Company because of sugar costs. The company relocated to Canada because of cheaper costs of sugar and access to foreign markets, taking with them over 600 jobs. 

The American taxpayer is clearly footing the bill for the U.S. Sugar Program, a bill that is unaffordable and unfair. American sugar policy is in dire need of reforms that would allow the free market to work and drive prices down. Given the projected costs to taxpayers and consumers, it is time for lawmakers to reexamine what the Sugar Program is really achieving.

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The Grover Norquist Show: Real Energy and Subsidized Energy – The Difference that Costs Taxpayers

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 2:12 PM PERMALINK

In the 56th episode of the Grover Norquist show, ATR president Grover Norquist discusses the differences between “Real Energy and Subsidized Energy”, real energy being the production of reliable and affordable energy like oil, natural gas, and coal, whilst subsidized energy is made viable only through special interests handouts that cost taxpayers without creating sizable or reliable energy supplies. 

Norquist is joined by Americans for Prosperity Federal Affairs Director Chrissy Harbin in discussing the crony capitalism and the latest attempts to extend renewable energy provisions in the FAA reauthorization bill.  As they state in the show, “Overwhelmingly when you look at where these subsidies go…they’re going to politically connected large companies.  This would be on top of the additional subsidies that were extended.”  The cost of the renewable provisions passed in December will cost upwards of $20 billion

Allowing lawmakers to extend even more renewable handouts to special interests in the FAA reauthorization bill will only further place an unaffordable burden on the American taxpayer and distort the market.

To listen to the podcast, click here or watch below:

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Another Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Company Goes Bankrupt

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Thursday, March 31st, 2016, 9:56 AM PERMALINK

Another subsidy-backed green energy company, this time the Spanish company Abengoa, has filed for bankruptcy within the United States.  But before doing so, squandered over $2 billion in federal funds.  The company mistakenly gambled on a government-backed artificial “green energy boom” they hoped would spurn new growth and opportunity for the company.

The Obama Administration, ever pushing their green energy ideology, tampered with the market by dolling out $2.7 billion worth of federal subsidies to Abengoa, which of course was taxpayer funded.  According to the Daily Caller,

          “The pro-labor union group Good Jobs First reported last year Abengoa has ‘received $605 million in grants and allocated tax credits; $464 million came from Section 1603 and most of the rest from Energy Department research grants.’ That’s on top of the $2.7 billion the company got in DOE loans.”

The company amassed $17 billion in debt hoping for the green energy boom that never happened, leading to this eventual bankruptcy.

Sadly, this is just one of many attempts of the Obama Administration’s interference with the free market leading to the loss of taxpayer money.  The name Solyndra should ring a bell.  After substantial pressure from the administration, the DOE expedited loan the process for the company to taxpayer-backed handouts.  The company took over $530 million in loans from the government in 2009.  Only two years after, they laid off 1,100 employees and filed for bankruptcy

A similar failed attempt to force “green energy” into the market can be seen by the fiasco of Smith Electric Vehicles.  Before the company filed for bankruptcy, they secured almost $30 million in taxpayer-backed subsidies.  Smith Electric reported that they only created 70.4 jobs instead of the 220 jobs projected by the White House.  The DOE wasted an average of $414,000 per new job created.

The list of examples of wasteful sweetheart deals the President has used to force his agenda is not a short one to say the least. In addition to Abengoa, Solyndra, and Smith Electric, the DOE also handed out $529 million in loans to Fisker Automotive, which in 2014 filed for bankruptcy. Clearly these failed taxpayer funded gambles are not isolated incidents.

The Obama Administration just doesn’t learn from their mistakes. Forcing the market to further the Administration’s ideology by propping up politically connected businesses is clearly a faulty effort, and more often than not comes at the expense of taxpayers.

          

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A New Startup May hold the Key to Avoiding IRS Incompetency

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016, 11:54 AM PERMALINK

The IRS has been one of the more dysfunctional federal agencies in recent years.  One of the few consistencies at the agency has been their long hold times for callers.  Fortunately, thanks to a new start-up company, there may be a solution to combat IRS incompetency. 

EnQ has created a system that will allow customers to avoid lengthy hold times while maintaining their spot in the IRS system.  Generation Opportunity were able to describe the affordability of the system,

“The fees are dependent on how much time the robots are able to save for each customer. Typically though, the fees range from $1 to $7. For some, this amount is well worth the freedom of not having to be glued to your phone waiting on a representative.”

Instead of calling and being forced to wait, the company can bypass the hold queue by calling up the customer service centers themselves and picking out spots in the queue.  No, there are not a bunch of people being paid to be on hold.  Instead, they have software that will hold the spot in line for a subscriber.  When this customer calls, they enter their personal information and bypass the lengthy wait times.  

Since it is tax season, many Americans will be turning to the IRS for help.  Unfortunately for them, the IRS has not been very efficient or effective in answering calls.  According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS has fielded only 6.3 million calls out of a total of 40.5 million attempted calls, a total of 15.6 percent.  

Last tax season wasn’t much better in comparison.  According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, during the thick of tax season of 2015, only 37 percent of calls made to IRS reached customer service representatives.  With an average wait time of 23 minutes, and “courtesy disconnects” that would end the call when no representatives were able to take the call, only added to a caller’s frustration

To make matter worse, the IRS abolished the option to leave a voicemail requesting an in-person meeting.  They now force taxpayers to send an email requesting such appointments, placing a burden upon the elderly, disabled, and those without email access. 

The American tax system is too complex and the IRS too busy targeting conservative groups to give people answers.  This creates a problem for the hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  Fortunately, the free market has and continues to fill the void created by government ineptitude.   

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McConnell Urges Governors to "Wait and See" on Carbon Rule

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016, 3:49 PM PERMALINK

In the continuing effort to challenge the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), or as commonly referred the “Carbon Rule,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent out a letter this week to the country’s Governors reiterating his previous advice that states should not comply until legal resolution.

McConnell explains the rare event of the Supreme Court issuing a stay on the plan, “says a lot about the unusual and unprecedented nature of the CPP.” He advises states to “wait” for the decision of the courts before they begin to comply with the Carbon Rule’s provisions.    

The letter points out that states should not repeat the same mistakes of past controversial regulations, stating:

“The administration was evidently hoping that states would be so far down the road in developing their compliance plans that they would be committed to those plans before the legal issues surrounding the CPP could be resolved.  It is the same strategy this administration followed with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) regulation. While the Supreme Court ultimately struck down the MATS regulation, the damage had already been done.”

In his letter, McConnell also cites the amicus brief he and 200 other lawmakers filed in representation of the states to ensure that the courts strike down this ideological crusade. 

McConnell points out that the EPA and the Obama administration clearly ignored the statutory limitations in the Clean Air Act, imposing unfair burdens onto state economies while producing little to no environmental improvements, and that the EPA had assumed Congressional powers that were not delegated to them.

Currently, there are 28 states challenging the Carbon Rule’s legality in court. These states have chosen not to harm their citizens nor their economies for the sake of the President’s legacy. If enacted the Carbon Rule is not only going to strip away key industries such as manufacturing, but will kill affordable energy and well-paying jobs, harming America as a whole as well as within the states.  

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U.S. Senate Must Act on Death Tax Repeal

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Thursday, March 17th, 2016, 2:42 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax reform this week signed a coalition letter involving 111 groups urging repeal of the Death Tax.  The House of Representatives passed the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, under the leadership of Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Now, the Senate must act by passing it as well. The Death Tax creates an unnecessary strain upon families, and hampers economic growth across the nation. It must be repealed.

Repealing the Death Tax is a step forward in ensuring that hard working Americans are not suffering due to heavy handed government ideologies.  In addition, there will be significant benefits to both the economy and to American worker once the tax is repealed. 

According to a recent Tax Foundation Study, the U.S. could create 139,000 new jobs by repealing the Death Tax.  In addition, a 2012 study by the Joint Economic Committee found that the Death Tax has eliminated $1.1 trillion of capital within the economy, meaning less business and job opportunities. 

The existence of this tax creates no tangible benefits, only tangible losses.  Another Tax Foundation study found that repealing the Death Tax would lead to a $3.3 billion increase in federal revenue, instead of the small portion it provides currently. 

ATR urges the Senate to take up the Death Tax Repeal Act and repeal this unfair tax.  It is morally wrong to impose a tax once Americans are deceased.  

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EPA Waves the Black Flag on Amateur Motorsports

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Thursday, March 17th, 2016, 11:51 AM PERMALINK

The EPA is back at their old tricks of using subversive methods in order to push their ideological agenda onto the backs of hard-working Americans.  The EPA has proposed a new rule that would make it illegal to convert a car’s emissions systems that differ from the original stock.  The EPA and their mantra of unchecked and overreaching authority have decided to propose this rule, in clear defiance of exemptions within the very law they base their authority on.  Dale Earnhardt must be rolling in his grave. 

The proposed rule will give the EPA new expansive authority to regulate and oversee vehicles used only in competition, racecars.  The rule states, “Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles or engines.”

For any red-blooded American, it’s obvious that an amateur driver isn’t able to afford cars driven in the Daytona 500, so they convert their own to start their career.  Clearly the desk bound EPA bureaucrats in Washington are less in tune.  This massive EPA overstep will only dent the dreams of the amateur racer, not the amount of pollutants in the air.

Racing has been in the blood of Americans for over 75 years, with historic victories at the Indianapolis Speedway, the mecca of racing.  From the famed racers like the war hero Eddie Rickenbacker and Mario Andretti, to the origins of NASCAR during Prohibition, have been huge creators of both well-paying jobs, tremendous revenue for states and localities, and a great source of entertainment. 

In the United States alone, there are over 1,300 motorsport tracks that are used for both professionals and amateur.  This regulation will cause great harm not only to amateur drivers at the start of their careers, but will also hurt the manufacturers and customizers of racing parts as well as those who work ancillary professions like concessions, advertisements, and other activities found at the racetrack.

As per usual, the EPA continues their ideological crusade against hard-working Americans, they must have thought it would be fun to target one of their traditions.  The EPA should hit the brakes on this rule, and put their agenda in reverse. 

 

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ATR Urges Lawmakers to Support Rep. Scalise's Resolution Opposing a Carbon Tax

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Posted by James Morrone Jr on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016, 2:07 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform encourages all members of Congress to support House Concurrent Resolution 89, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Concurrent Resolution 89 puts Congress on the record in opposition to a carbon tax, and expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax will be detrimental to American families and businesses.

A carbon tax would kill American jobs, halt economic growth, and lay the foundation for further tax increases on the American people. In a recent letter of support for Rep. Scalise’s Resolution, ATR President Grover Norquist explained how harmful a carbon tax would be:

“A carbon tax is a VAT or Value Added Tax on training wheels. Any carbon tax would inevitably be spread out over wider and wider parts of the economy until we had a European Value Added Tax.”

ATR strongly encourages members of Congress to stand firm in their opposition to a carbon tax and to support Rep. Scalise’s Concurrent Resolution 89.  

 

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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