Justin Sykes

Speaker Ryan’s Regulatory Reform Agenda is Pro Consumer and Pro Energy

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016, 11:37 AM PERMALINK

This week Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his regulatory reform agenda, which is the third installment of his “A Better Way” plan. The regulatory reform agenda released outlines a number of policy proposals aimed at reigning in a regulatory burden that has grown exponentially under Obama. While the proposed reforms would have widespread benefits for the economy as a whole, many would prove especially beneficial to energy consumers and the energy sector, both of which have seen costs skyrocket under the Obama regime.

Since taking office, the President has actively worked to expand executive agency control over the economy through increased regulations, specifically as it relates to the energy sector. Over the last eight years U.S. consumers and the economy have been subjected to an avalanche of energy regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan and Methane Rule, which increase the costs of energy. 

By growing the regulatory burden, the Obama Administration has increased the amount of time and resources U.S. businesses expend to comply with such regulations. The increased compliance burden trickles down to U.S. families and consumers in the form of higher monthly energy bills, reduced household income, and increased costs of consumer goods.

Speaker Ryan’s regulatory reform agenda looks to reverse this economically disastrous trend by proposing common sense reforms such as: providing for a regulatory budget; requiring regulators to take the cumulative impact of rules into account; and using reproducible and transparent data.

Speaker Ryan points out that Washington’s regulatory bureaucracy rarely knows the financial costs of the regulations it enacts, even with regard to major regulations. In order to fix this issue, Ryan proposes requiring Congress, when it passes new regulatory legislation, to prepare and report estimates of how much a regulation will cost. This would essentially impose a “regulatory budget” on the process, ensuring lawmakers take into account the associated costs of new rules.

In the same vein, the regulatory reform agenda notes that while regulations are enacted separately, often the cumulative effect of such regulations on the economy is overlooked. This issue only compounds as more and more regulations are added each year. For instance, in 2015 the federal government enacted 3,408 new regulations while repealing few. Ryan argues that such regulatory impacts should not be considered in isolation, but the burden on the economy should be considered as a whole when enacting new rules. 

It has also been a constant criticism that federal agencies are often not transparent or accountable in reproducing and making available the scientific data used to justify new regulations. As part of the reforms proposed, Congress would require federal agencies adhere to accepted principles of scientific practice during research, and make such data available to the citizens, industries, and organizations that would be impacted by proposed regulations.

Ryan’s regulatory reform agenda also outlines needed reforms such as reducing paperwork, requiring “meaningful” judicial review of rules, and adhering to statutory mandates, among a number of other positive reforms. 

The reforms outlined by Speaker Ryan would not only be a boon for U.S. competitiveness as a whole but also would be particularly beneficial to energy consumers and businesses, reducing compliance costs and in turn reducing the price of energy American families and businesses pay each month.

Unlike the existing regulatory climate under Obama, requiring regulators and lawmakers to work within a regulatory budget and take into account cumulative costs would protect businesses from a continuation of a suffocating compliance burden and ensure consumers are not subjected to even more increased energy costs. Additionally, making the regulatory process more transparent would allow for the interests of citizen stakeholders and businesses to have a voice in the process that has been muffled by federal bureaucracy for too long. 

 
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Overwhelming Majority in the House Votes to Oppose a Carbon Tax

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, June 13th, 2016, 10:20 AM PERMALINK

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to oppose a national carbon tax. Lawmakers in the House voted 237-163 to a pass a resolution offered by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), that expressed the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be “detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

The vote by the lower chamber found the support of 231 House Republicans, all voting to oppose a carbon tax. No Republicans voted to support a carbon tax, and six Democrats crossed the aisle also to oppose a carbon tax.

While the vote on Scalise’s resolution is largely symbolic, it marks a huge win for those in Congress that understand just how economically disastrous the impact of a carbon tax would be in the U.S. The 237 votes represent not just a vote against a carbon tax, but also a vote to protect American families and businesses. 

As Americans for Tax Reform has repeatedly pointed out, a U.S. carbon tax would have far reaching impacts on the entire economy. For instance, projections show a carbon tax would reduce U.S. GDP by over $140 billion and crush over 1 million jobs within a few decades. Energy prices would also see up to a 30 percent increase, impacting the nation’s most vulnerable populations as energy costs and the costs of consumer goods rise.

With the House’s vote last week, lawmakers in the lower chamber have committed to going on record to oppose any future proposals of a national carbon tax. Now, focus shifts to the Senate where Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has introduced a companion resolution to the one passed by the House, which would put members of the upper chamber on record opposing a carbon tax. 

Sen. Blunt’s resolution S. Res. 472, has already garnered 25 co-sponsors since it was released last month. As was the case with Rep. Scalise’s resolution, Sen. Blunt’s expresses “the sense of the Senate that a carbon tax would be detrimental to U.S. families and businesses.”

Americans for Tax Reform urges members of the Senate to support Sen. Blunt’s resolution, and also applauds the 237 House members that voted to oppose a carbon tax in the House. Such measures lay the groundwork for protecting American families and businesses from possible efforts in the future to enact burdensome and economically disastrous carbon tax policies.   

 

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ATR Supports Sen. Blunt's Resolution Opposing a Carbon Tax

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 12:39 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Congress this week, urging support for Senator Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) resolution opposing a carbon tax. The resolution introduced by Senator Blunt expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States. 

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 9, 2016

Dear Senator Blunt:

Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports your leadership in the fight against any form of a carbon tax.

I urge all members of Congress to support and vote for your Senate Resolution, which puts Congress on the record in opposition to a carbon tax. 

A carbon tax would kill jobs in the United States, reduce economic growth, and set the stage for future tax hikes. Such a tax would drive up energy prices for American families and businesses, leading to an increase in the costs of consumer goods and reduced household income.

A carbon tax would be wholly regressive, falling hardest on low-income families who can least afford it. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office pointed out, “low-income households spend a larger share of their income on goods and services whose prices would increase the most” as a result of a carbon tax.

A study by the National Association of Manufacturers found a carbon tax would: have a negative effect on consumption, investment and jobs; increase the cost of coal, natural gas and petroleum products thus resulting in higher production costs and less spending on non-energy goods; and lead to lower real wage rates, lower labor productivity, and decrease workers’ incomes.

Americans for Tax Reform encourages all members of Congress to vote for your resolution opposing a carbon tax. 

Thank you Senator for your continued strong leadership in protecting Americans from a carbon tax today and forever.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

President 

Americans for Tax Reform

 

PDF link to letter

Photo credit: Bill Dickinson

 

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ATR Urges Lawmakers to Act on TSCA Reform

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016, 9:03 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today sent the following letter to Congress urging lawmakers to act quickly to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Since enactment of TSCA in 1976, industry innovations and product development have outpaced the Act's provisions leaving it outdated and untouched by lawmakers for almost 40 years. 

Reforming TSCA will provide a more cohesive national chemical regulatory program that gives businesses and states a new level of certainty with regards to interstate commerce. Reform will also increase consumer safety and confidence. 

May 24, 2016

Dear Members of Congress: 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I strongly urge you to act to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Reforming TSCA would not just be a boon to the economy as whole, but would also increase consumer confidence and safety, and give certainty to key American industries such as manufacturing.    

Since enactment of TSCA in 1976, industry innovations in product development and chemical safety have far outpaced the Act’s provisions leaving it outdated and untouched by lawmakers for almost 40 years.

This has given rise to criticism from industry, environmental, and consumer groups that all point to inefficiencies in the Act’s chemical evaluation process, as well as a patch work of state regulations that can stymie interstate commerce and increase compliance issues for businesses. Such issues have far reaching impacts on the economy and consumer confidence.   

Reforming TSCA would remedy compliance issues by providing for a more cohesive national chemical regulatory program that gives businesses and states a new level of certainty with regards to interstate commerce. TSCA reform would also increase consumer confidence and safety. 

Americans for Tax Reform encourages members of Congress to act swiftly to reform and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

​President

Americans for Tax Reform

PDF link to letter

Photo credit: Ryan Bowley

 

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Trump Takes a Stand Against a Carbon Tax

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, May 13th, 2016, 5:17 PM PERMALINK

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump today took to twitter to make it clear that under no circumstances would he support a carbon tax. Trump’s move to disavow a carbon tax comes as some clueless state and federal lawmakers and far left energy advocates have made the case for a carbon tax this year. 

Trump’s opposition to a carbon tax shows that he is well aware of just how economically disastrous such a tax would be for the country. The imposition of a carbon tax would not only impact the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, but also would drive up energy prices, inevitably leading to higher consumers costs and reduce the household income of millions of American families. 

For the U.S. economy as a whole, projections show a carbon tax would lead to a drop in U.S. GDP of at least $146 billion by the year 2030, impacting both investment and labor. It is projected that over a 3-year span after enactment, over 400,000 jobs would be lost, with losses reaching more than a million jobs by 2030. 

The impact of a carbon tax on energy costs would ripple throughout the economy, with energy prices estimated to see cost increases of 20 to 30 percent.

The resulting increase in energy costs would be wholly regressive, impacting the nation’s most vulnerable. Low to middle income families, who spend a larger portion of their income on energy, would be disproportionately impacted as more and more of their household budget is consumed by rising energy costs.

These same families would be doubly impacted by a carbon tax due to the fact that resulting increases in the costs of energy would also drive up the price of consumer goods, further depleting the disposable income of millions of Americans.

Clearly Trump has done his homework on the carbon tax, and realizes it would be a huuuuuge mistake and terrible deal for the American people.

 

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ATR Supports The Ozone Standards Implemnetation Act of 2016

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, May 9th, 2016, 11:17 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today expressed support for the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4775, S. 2882), which would allow states to pursue cost-effective and practical implementation of EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.

The origins of EPA ozone regulations can be traced back to the original standards for criteria pollutants in 1971, which included ground-level ozone. These regulations have been regularly revised in the years since, the most recent occurring in 2008. However, due to bureaucratic delay characteristic of EPA regulators, the implementing regulations specified for 2008 were not published until March of 2015. The March 2015 regulations lowered the compliance level of ozone to 75 parts per billion (ppb).  

As states began implementation of the 75 ppb standards, the EPA again revised the regulations in October 2015, imposing additional new planning and compliance obligations on states. By the EPA’s own estimate, the October 2015 standards, which lowered compliance to 70 ppb, would cost $1.4 billion annually, while providing little environmental benefit.   

The EPA’s lack of efficiency and reliability on ozone standard implementation has put states in the position of having to possibly implement two costly ozone standards at the same time. Such inefficiency has left states burdened with confusing and costly implementation scenarios that could prove devastating for state economies.       

In contrast, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 would provide states more time and flexibility to implement the standards on an efficient and realistic timeline. The Act would also address related implementation issues facing states under the NAAQS program, such as reforming the rulemaking process by extending the review period for pollutants from every 5 to 10 years.

Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports the Ozone Standards Implementation Act (H.R. 4775, S. 2882), and encourages members of Congress to support and vote for this much needed legislation.  

 

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ATR Supports Rep. Roe's and Sen. Isakson's Resolutions Blocking DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016, 1:29 PM PERMALINK

This week Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), joined by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently released “fiduciary” rule. A similar resolution was also introduced this week in the Senate by Sen. Johnny Isakson, (R-Ga.).   

The DOL’s fiduciary rule, finalized April 6th of this year, would limit the ability of IRA advisors to talk with potential investors or to recommend specific investment advice. This in turn will increase compliance costs, inevitably pushing some users out of the world of IRAs and discourage others from using them.

Speaking this week on the rule, Rep. Roe stated:

“It’s crucial Americans have access to the retirement advice they need…Unfortunately, the administration’s misguided rule does just the opposite. The new regulatory scheme will hinder access to retirement advice for low-and-middle-income families and make it harder for small businesses to help their employees plan for retirement.”

It is estimated the fiduciary rule could disqualify up to 7 million IRA holders from investment advice, and potentially reduce the number of IRAs opened annually by between 300,000 and 400,000.

Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop, with the full force of the law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a substantially similar rule without congressional authorization.  

Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers to support both of these important resolutions in order to protect low-and-middle income families, small businesses, and employees from increased retirement savings costs and reduced access resulting from the DOL’s fiduciary rule.

 

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Senate FAA Bill Leaves Much to Be Desired on Reforms

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, April 18th, 2016, 3:25 PM PERMALINK

The Senate this week will consider legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2017. While lawmakers were correct to leave renewable energy extenders out of the Senate version of the FAA bill, the two-year reauthorization still leaves much to be desired in the way of reform.

The FAA bill currently before the Senate maintains taxes on airline passengers as well as inefficiently administered federal funding for airports. The bill authorizes over $33 billion in funding for FAA functions during 2016 and 2017.  

As part of this authorization, Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants would see a 12 percent increase from $3.35 billion in 2016 to $3.75 billion in 2017. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects this will increase AIP outlays by $3.4 billion through 2026, subject to yearly appropriations. As Americans for Tax Reform has repeatedly pointed out, airport funding has hit historic levels in recent years and such spending is unjustified.

The Senate FAA bill also avoids reforming regulatory burdens, and instead increases the federal governments reach into the aviation industry. For instance, the bill contains a new “baggage refund mandate” that CBO projects will cost airlines $10 million annually, the cost of which will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of higher fees. 

The bill also is riddled with a number of regulatory mandates that not only drive up the costs for the aviation industry, but will inevitably increase the costs for traveling consumers. 

A new mandate contained in the bill requires new flight data recorders for commercial aircraft that will have little to no impact on consumer safety but will cost and estimated $700 million. There is also a new regulation mandating limits on flight attendant working hours and rest periods as well as a required study on airline seats. Again regulations that will have little impact on safety but increase costs for consumers. 

The growing drone industry also receives increased regulations under the bill, as one section requires all models of unmanned air systems (UAS) flown in the U.S. airspace receive FAA approval, thereby limiting recreational drone use. Additionally, recreational drone enthusiasts with drones weighing more than 4.4 pounds would have to pass a federal test on aeronautical knowledge.

It is clear that Senate lawmakers took into account taxpayers and the traveling public when they rejected efforts to extend renewable tax credits as part of the FAA bill. However, the bill still does little in the way of reforming federal spending and regulations, both of which increase costs for the traveling public and American taxpayers.

 

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Clinton Vows to Put Coal Miners “Out of Business”

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, April 15th, 2016, 11:46 AM PERMALINK

At a recent Town Hall in Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proudly stated that she was the only candidate with a policy to bring renewable energy “into coal country, because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Such a statement not only evidences Clinton’s reckless indifference to the plight of thousands of hard-working Americans, but more importantly highlights the fact that Clinton is all to willing to capitalize on far left, populist talking points at the expense of low-and-middle income families. 

Tragically, Clinton’s pledge to put “a lot of coal miners…out of business” is already coming to fruition with her support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, or more commonly referred the “Carbon Rule.” Hillary’s support for the Carbon Rule shows that a Clinton Whitehouse would simply be a continuation of Obama’s war on affordable energy and the American economy.

Under Obama’s Carbon Rule, a projected 45,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electric generating capacity will be forced to retire. To put that in perspective, 45,000 MW is more than the entire electricity supply of New England. So when Clinton boast of putting coal miners out of business, her support for the Carbon Rule is already doing so, as thousands of coal country jobs are already being destroyed.

Yet the impact of Clinton’s support for the Carbon Rule, and her pledge to further destroy the already fledgling coal industry once in office, doesn’t just end with coal jobs. As more and more electricity generation is forced to shift away from affordable and reliable sources, the cost of that shift is passed onto consumers in the form of higher rates. 

For instance, the Carbon Rule is projected to cause a 12 to 17 percent average increase in electricity prices. An estimated 44 states will see double-digit rate increases, with 17 states facing price increases of over 20 percent. While Clinton claims that her support for the Carbon Rule and related policy stems from her desire to protect the nation’s most vulnerable, the exact opposite is true.

Hillary’s support for, and future plans to increase economically disastrous energy policy, will only reduce the disposable income of low-to-middle income families as more and more of their budget goes towards increased energy costs. Taken together, increased energy costs and thousands of layoffs under Clinton would be an economic disaster.

Make no mistake, when Hillary Clinton claims that her policies will destroy good paying jobs for thousands of hard-working Americans, she means it. 

 

Photo credit: Marc Nozell


ATR Urges Opposition to Renewables Extension in FAA Reauthorization

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 10:10 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges lawmakers to oppose efforts by some in the Senate to try and attach extensions for expiring renewable energy provisions to legislation that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Efforts to extend the expiring renewable provisions are not germane to FAA reauthorization, and would also continue special interests handouts that distort the market and consistently fail to deliver the job and economic growth their proponents promise.

In December of 2016 Congress considered the issue of expiring tax provisions, eventually signing into law a $680 billion package that allowed some provisions to be made permanent and allowed over two dozen to expire. Congress also extended special tax treatment to renewable energy in the omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the tax extender package, which included extensions for the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the solar investment tax credit (ITC). 

Given the special interest handouts renewables received last December, which will cost upwards of $20 billion over the next decade, the current push for further extensions is wholly unjustified. The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions now under consideration, which include those for wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities, and combined heat power (CHP) properties, were left out of the December discussions and should not be extended as part of the FAA reauthorization.

Despite the arguments from proponents of such renewable energy handouts, such preferential treatment repeatedly fails to produce neither sustainable job creation nor real economic growth. The role of government should not be to use loans, subsidies, and mandates to prop up politically connected industries at the expense of the free-market and taxpayers.

Such market distorting policies come at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers who are left with higher energy costs, while also being deprived of affordable and reliable energy sources. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, which is why Americans for Tax Reform opposes the ongoing efforts to attach renewable extenders to FAA reauthorization, and encourages lawmakers in Congress to do the same. 


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