Max Velthoven

ATR Urges California Legislators To Vote No On SB 270

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Posted by Max Velthoven on Monday, June 2nd, 2014, 11:22 AM PERMALINK

ATR opposed California SB 270, currently pending in the California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations. This ill-conceived plastic bag prohibition and paper ban tax would raise the cost of living in what is already one of the most expensive state in which to reside, reduce job opportunities, and comes at a time when California taxpayers and employers can least afford it. Aside from the negative economic impact it would have, a crusade against plastic bags and a hefty tax on paper bags is also a huge distraction from all of the serious challenges facing the state.

You can read ATR's full opposition letter here.

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Democrat States Hike Spending at Quadruple the Rate of GOP States

Posted by Patrick M. Gleason, Max Velthoven on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014, 9:17 AM PERMALINK

States under full Democrat control have increased total spending over 400 percent faster than states under full Republican control, according to a newly released analysis by Americans for Tax Reform.


Looking at the National Association of State Budget Officers’ most recent state expenditures report, ATR compared the growth in both General Fund and Total Expenditures from 2011 to 2013 in the 13 states where Democrats have unified control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, as well as the 24 states where the GOP has total control of state government. Key findings include:

- Significantly higher levels of growth in government spending in the 13 states where Democrats have unified control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, compared with the 24 states where the GOP has total control of state government.

- General Fund Expenditures went up 6.25 percent over 2011-2013 in GOP-run states, whereas in Democrat-controlled states General Fund Expenditures went up 9.95 percent. This 3.7 point difference means that Democrat states increased general fund spending 59 percent faster than GOP states since 2010.  

- Total Expenditures increased 1.11 percent from 2011-2013 in Republican-run states, whereas Total Expenditures in Democrat-controlled states shot up by 5.55 percent. This 4.44 percent difference means that Democrat-controlled states increased total spending over 400 percent faster than in Republican-run states.

-10 Republican states actually decreased their total expenditures from 2011 to 2013, whereas all Democrat states increased theirs.

This spending analysis follows the release of a recent ATR report on state tax changes since the 2010 election, which found that Democrat governors had enacted nearly 60 billion dollars in tax increases since 2011, while Republican governors have cut taxes by $38 billion during that same period.

It seems the term tax and spend liberal isn’t just a cliché. Based on the numbers, if Democrats run your state government, it means, on average, higher taxes and more spending than if Republicans are in charge of state government. 



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Tax Increases Enacted by Democrat Governors Since 2011

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Posted by Jorge Marin, Max Velthoven on Friday, May 9th, 2014, 11:30 AM PERMALINK

In a new report released today, Americans for Tax Reform has compiled all of the state tax increases enacted under Democrat governors since 2011. Key findings include the following:

  • Democrat governors have enacted over $58 billion in higher taxes since 2011.
  • This stands in stark contrast to Republican governors, who have signed over $38 billion in tax cuts into law since 2011.
  • By signing into law over $27 billion in higher taxes, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is the biggest tax hiker among Democratic governors.
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is the second biggest tax hiker among Democrat governors, having raised taxes on Maryland residents by over $3 billion since 2011, and more than $11 billion since 2008.

For the compilation of tax increases enacted by Democratic governors since 2011, click here.

At the end of 2013, Americans for Tax Reform released the list of state tax cuts signed into law by Republican governors following the 2010 wave election that gave the GOP total political control of 24 states, and Democrats total control of 13 states. Republican governors have signed over $36 billion in tax relief into law since 2011. Meanwhile, during that same time, Democrat governors have enacted over $58 billion in higher taxes.  

Below is a list of the tax increases signed into law by Democrat governors over the last three years. It should be noted that many, but not all, Democrat governors have raised taxes. In fact, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) recently went against the Democratic governor grain by signing a corporate tax cut into law this year.

However, in general, Democrat governors have been increasing taxes in their states, while Republican governors have been moving in the opposite direction. With some of the politicians on this list considering a White House run, this is a compilation worth saving.

This figure includes the 2012 tax increases championed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, but approved by voters. When counting only tax increases that were signed into law without voter approval, Democratic governors have enacted $40 billion in higher taxes since 2011.

Photo Credit: aresauburn™

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Obama has Proposed 442 Tax Hikes Since Taking Office

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Posted by Max Velthoven, John Kartch, Ryan Ellis on Monday, April 14th, 2014, 6:00 AM PERMALINK

Since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has formally proposed a total of 442 tax increases, according to an Americans for Tax Reform analysis of Obama administration budgets for fiscal years 2010 through 2015.

The 442 total proposed tax increases does not include the 20 tax increases Obama signed into law as part of Obamacare.

“History tells us what Obama was able to do. This list reminds us of what Obama wanted to do,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The number of proposed tax increases per year is as follows:

-79 tax increases for FY 2010

-52 tax increases for FY 2011

-47 tax increases for FY 2012

-34 tax increases for FY 2013

-137 tax increases for FY 2014

-93 tax increases for FY 2015

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Obama budget with the lowest number of proposed tax increases was released during an election year: In February 2012, Obama released his FY 2013 budget, with “only” 34 proposed tax increases. Once safely re-elected, Obama came back with a vengeance, proposing 137 tax increases, a personal record high for the 44th President.

In addition to the 442 tax increases in his annual budget proposals, the 20 signed into law as part of Obamacare, and the massive tobacco tax hike signed into law on the sixteenth day of his presidency, Obama has made it clear he is open to other broad-based tax increases.

During an interview with Men’s Health in 2009, when asked about the idea of national tax on soda and sugary drinks, the President said, "I actually think it's an idea that we should be exploring."

During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood in 2010, Obama said a European-style Value-Added-Tax was something that would be novel for the United States.”

Obama’s statement was consistent with a pattern of remarks made by Obama White House officials refusing to rule out a VAT.

“Presidents are judged by history based on what they did in power. But presidents can only enact laws when the Congress agrees,” said Norquist. "Thus a record forged by such compromise tells you what a president -- limited by congress -- did rather than what he wanted to do.”

The full list of proposed Obama tax increases can be found here. 

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Alabama Holds All Cards When It Comes To Needless Taxes

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Posted by Max Velthoven on Friday, March 21st, 2014, 1:59 PM PERMALINK

Want to build your own House of Cards? Alabama may not be the first place you want to go. Ever since 1935 Alabama levies a $0.10 tax on decks of playing cards. Section 40-12-144 Code of Alabama reads:

‘’… which sells or stores or uses packages of playing cards containing not more than 54 cards to the deck or package shall pay to the State of Alabama for state purposes only a license or privilege tax of $0.10 per package or deck, such tax to be evidenced by revenue stamps, and the stamps in all cases to be affixed to the individual package.’’ 

Not more than 54 cards, mind you. UNO-games, with 108 cards per deck, remain untaxed.  The revenue of this tax has only been around $ 100,000 for the last reported 5 years, not including the $2 annual license fee each retailer has to pay for the privilege of selling playing cards. ATR thinks this a perfect example of a ridiculous tax and urges Alabaman legislators to fold this hand. What is next, a tax on dice and draidels?

Photo credit: Daniel Watergarden

Louisiana prepares for major judicial overhaul

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Posted by Max Velthoven on Friday, March 14th, 2014, 9:57 AM PERMALINK

Below is a column in Forbes today by ATR’s Patrick Gleason discussing how Governor Bobby Jindal & Louisiana legislators are set to make the Pelican State more conducive to economic growth and job creation:

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has signed into law some of the most innovative and pro-growth reforms the nation has seen in recent years – such as providing parents with school choice through the country’s second largest education voucher program, criminal justice reforms that save taxpayer dollars by emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration for non-violent offenders, and pension reform that increased the solvency of the state employee retirement system. The Pelican State’s legislature convened its 2014 session this week, and while lawmakers can’t take up tax issues this year (Louisiana has a unique system in which fiscal issues can only be taken up in odd number years), Gov. Jindal & state legislators are tackling tort reform, with a package of bills pending that will, if passed, make the state more economically competitive and serve as a boon to businesses and taxpayers.

Louisiana has long had a bad reputation as a top destination for trial lawyers to venue-shop for dubious class action lawsuits, and fertile ground for bogus legacy claims that have hindered the state’s crucial oil & gas industry. This is not without real consequences. It has been estimated that excessive litigation costs Louisiana families more than $9,000 per year. The American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) ranks Louisiana as the nation’s second worse judicial hellhole, behind only California.

This year, a series of bills have been introduced to address the problems plaguing the state’s legal system. In particular, legislation has been introduced that would lower the monetary threshold at which defendants are eligible for a jury trial, crack down on legacy lawsuit abuse targeting oil and natural gas producers, mitigate asbestos litigation fraud & abuse, and discourage lawsuit abuse by requiring those who file frivolous suits to cover the defendants’ legal costs.

To read the piece in its entirety, click here.

Photo credit: Matt' Johnson

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