Mike Palicz

House Democrats Plan New Traffic Tax

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, December 13th, 2018, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

Democrats have an idea to make bumper-to-bumper traffic worse; tax drivers more when they’re sitting in traffic.

Incoming House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is planning to propose a new tax that would penalize drivers by taxing them at a higher rate when they experience traffic. 

The traffic tax would be part of a new pilot program for a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) tax which would replace the federal gas tax and instead charge motorists based on a per-mile fee.

In order for a VMT system to work, GPS systems would be installed in vehicles which would track vehicle movement and measure miles traveled in order to calculate the tax. Rep. DeFazio would then use the guise of replacing the gas tax with a VMT tax to charge differential rates based on highway congestion.

"The only fair way to do VMT is with congestion pricing. You shouldn't charge a farmer who has to travel 20 miles to the feed store the same per-mile fee as someone who jumps on 205 in Portland and causes a backup," DeFazio said.

To be clear, DeFazio isn’t talking about creating new toll lanes or raising toll prices to reduce highway congestion. He is instead talking about installing a tracking system in your car that would monitor your vehicle’s movement and location at every moment, transmit this information to federal agencies, and then tax you based upon how busy traffic is when you’re driving.

Such a form of congestion pricing is a deeply regressive form of taxation that would be exponentially more detrimental to the working poor who spend a higher percentage of their income commuting to work. DeFazio’s traffic tax would also disproportionally tax suburban and rural drivers who use highways more frequently and commute further to work than individuals in urban areas.

Apart from the inherent unfairness of the tax and obvious privacy concerns of having the federal government collect information on every driver’s whereabouts, the point of taxation would be deeply unpopular with voters.

Imagine the frustration you’d experience when you’re late for work because road construction is causing traffic delays while at that same moment knowing the government is charging you more money for the pleasure.  

Photo Credit: Martin Kleppe

New WOTUS Rule Ends Obama-Era Overreach

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018, 11:43 AM PERMALINK

President Trump has delivered on his commitment to end a major federal overreach of the Obama Administration.

This afternoon, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its new proposed rule to define “waters of the United States”, a move by the administration to end the Obama EPA’s effort to expand the federal government’s control over local land use decisions.

Obama’s 2015 rule extended the application of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to authorize unelected bureaucrats to regulate effectively any standing body of water and the lands next to it. Obama’s rule had nothing to do with clean water and everything to do grabbing power for the federal government to hold over farmers and private businesses.

The newly proposed definition is designed to end years of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends, giving much needed clarity to property owners. Under this new definition, landowners will be able to understand whether a project on their land requires federal permitting without having to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees and years in court.

“My goal for this is so that any property owner can stand on his or her property and be able to tell for themselves whether or not they have a federal waterway on their property without having to hire a lawyer or an outside consultant,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds this move by the Trump Administration. Today’s proposal puts power back in the hands of elected officials while allowing taxpayers and business owners to spend less time and money deciding if they need federal approval to run their own land.

Photo Credit: Matthew Peoples

Trump Dismantles Obama's Unlawful Energy Regulations

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018, 2:39 PM PERMALINK

Today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dealt a major blow to the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s radical climate agenda.

The Trump EPA began the process of replacing Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) by proposing their own regulatory framework, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Plan. The CPP was the administrative state at its worst. In its creation, the Obama EPA used a groundless reading of the Clean Air Act to coerce states to adopt sweeping plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, doing so by threatening the flow of federal highway funds to states. This clear abuse even led Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, President Obama’s legal mentor, to argue that the CPP “is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority.”

The legal standing of Obama’s CPP was so unsound that the Supreme Court blocked its implementation in early 2016 and has since never gone into effect.

Aside from its unlawfulness and clear governmental overreach, the CPP was an economic nightmare. The CPP was projected to cause a 12 to 17 percent increase in electricity prices and would’ve decreased household spending power between $64 and $79 billion, with annual compliance costs projected to reach up to $73 billion. The economic impact on businesses and families would’ve been crippling.

Thankfully, the Trump administration has been dedicated to repealing CPP. On October 2017, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the EPA’s intent to begin scaling back the CPP by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Now, after the laboriously sifting through the 270,000 public comments received, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rolled out EPA’s ACE Plan to replace the CPP.

The ACE Plan focuses on giving states more authority over regulating emissions and lengthens to timeframe states have to submit emission reducing plans from nine months to three years, allowing for appropriate flexibility. The proposal also defines the best system of emissions reduction for greenhouse gases as improving heat-rate efficiency at individual power plants. This approach is designed to make it easier for power plants to upgrade equipment. According to the EPA’s estimate, replacing the CPP with the ACE rule will net $3.4 billion in benefits, including $400 million annually, and could save up to $6.4 billion in compliance costs.

The announcement of the ACE Plan marks a significant roll-back of President Obama’s climate agenda and a major check on the Obama Administration’s overreach. Paired with Trump’s withdrawal of the Paris climate agreement and correction to the CAFE Standards, the ACE Plan is a continuation of much needed reform to the Obama climate agenda that shackled the American economy for eight years.  

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

ATR Applauds the Trump Administration's Plan to Correct Obama's CAFE Power Grab

Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018, 4:34 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform applauds the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their newly proposed rule that would freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels. The proposal retracts the Obama administration’s decision to allow California to impose their own regulations on automobile emissions, which effectively ensured national standards are tied to California’s environmental agenda.

The Trump administration’s proposal corrects the Obama-era regulation which abandoned the formal rule making process in a midnight regulatory push meant to solidify unreasonable fuel-efficiency standards on cars and light-duty trucks. The Obama administration even failed to consult the Office of Management and Budget as is required. Trump’s EPA and DOT have rightly halted such abuses and are moving forward with a public comment period. The proposal’s end goal is establishing a single national CAFE standard that improves vehicle safety and reduces costs on consumers.

Washington bureaucrats shouldn’t have the power to decide what kind of car Americans can drive. By limiting the types of automobiles on the market, Obama’s CAFE standards significantly raise prices by forcing automakers to manufacture expensive automobiles that consumers do not want to purchase.

A study conducted by the Heritage Foundation concluded that the Obama CAFE standards are adding at least $3,800 to the average cost of a new car. In their current form, the fuel-efficiency standards simply leave too many Americans priced out from owning the vehicle they want. Consumers will benefit greatly from the Trump administration’s proposal. According to the EPA’s press release, the new proposal’s plan to freeze standards at 2020 levels will save $2,340  to the average cost of owning a new car.

ATR strongly supports the Trump administration’s correction of the fuel economy standards and applauds this effort to protect consumers from one of the most overreaching regulations of the Obama administration.

Photo Credit: salman2

New Gas Tax Hike in Shuster's HTF Plan

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018, 3:59 PM PERMALINK

Americans should not have to pay more at the pump because Washington can’t curb its spending addiction. At a time when Americans are just beginning to see the benefits of tax cuts, some members in Congress are eager to pry open taxpayer wallets to pay for their misuse of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

The U.S. could see its first federal gas tax hike since 1993 under Representative Bill Shuster’s (R-PA) new plan to fund the HTF. Shuster’s plan would raise the cost of gas for Americans by introducing a 15-cent gasoline tax increase, raising the current gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 33.4 cents per gallon, indexed to inflation.

As ATR President Grover Norquist pointed out in a letter to Congress this year, rather than increasing gas taxes on consumers, Congress should focus its attention on using existing revenue more appropriately.

“A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more than 50 percent of the HTF spending went to non-road-related projects, while 15 percent of federal gas tax revenue is diverted to the Mass Transit Account…”

Shuster’s plan would also raise the tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents and introduce a volunteer pilot program that would tax drivers on a per-mile traveled basis as a replacement to taxes on gasoline or diesel. This pilot program would serve as a test trial for replacing the gas tax in 2028 with a Vehicle Miles Traveled program.

The draft proposal also introduces a host of new taxes, including;

  • Electric Vehicle Battery Excise Tax - 10% tax on the wholesale price of electric batteries used to propel motor vehicles.
  • Diesel Tax on Passenger Trains - 4.3 cents per gallon tax on diesel used by passenger trains eligible for funding under certain federal public transportation programs.
  • Bicycle Tire Tax - 10% tax on the wholesale price of bike tires.
  • Floor Stocks Taxes - Imposes a floor stocks tax on certain fuels under limited circumstances.

You can view the full discussion draft of the plan here.


Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Photo

KEY VOTE: ATR Urges "YES" Vote on Scalise-Mckinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, July 18th, 2018, 1:06 PM PERMALINK

H.Con.Res. 119, introduced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. David McKinley, sends a clear message to American Taxpayers that a Republican led Congress will continue to put America first in its energy policy and strongly oppose any attempt to implement the disastrous carbon tax.

ATR urges a YES vote on H.Con.Res. 119

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on H.Con.Res. 119 - Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy. All Republican members of Congress should vote YES on this important resolution expressing opposition to a carbon tax. This same resolution passed in 2016 without a single Republican vote against it. This resolution deserves strong affirmation again in 2018.

“The carbon tax is a plan designed to harm American manufacturers, raise prices for every single American consumer, and prop up uncompetitive expensive sources of energy like solar and wind,” said Paul Blair, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform. “Killing a carbon tax dead in its tracks isn’t only good policy, it’s a basic IQ test for modern day conservatives.”

As the 2018 midterm elections approach, American voters deserve to know where their elected Representatives stand on an energy tax that would raise the cost of getting to work, heating their homes and nearly all consumer goods they purchase.

By voting YES on H.Con.Res. 119 Republican members of Congress have an opportunity to draw a contrast between the Republican agenda and the radical left’s attempt to increase taxes and the cost of energy for all American consumers.   

Photo Credit: Craig Fildes

A New Infrastructure Plan that Doesn’t Raise the Gas Tax

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018, 10:09 AM PERMALINK

In June, U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced a new bill aimed at funding infrastructure projects in America’s poorest communities without raising any taxes. The plan, which funds infrastructure investment by selling off distressed government assets, could provide a pathway forward for a larger infrastructure package that would cost taxpayers nothing.

This bill represents an alternative approach to inefficient infrastructure schemes that raise revenue by increasing taxation, most of which involve raising the harmful gas tax. Instead of a tax hike on Americans paying at the pump, the GAIIN Act manages to stay out of taxpayers’ pockets while actually diminishing government waste and debt.

This legislation, called the Generating American Infrastructure and Income Now (GAIIN) Act, is designed to require the Department of Agriculture to sell off an estimated $50 billion worth of wasteful government assets. Half of the proceeds will be used to reduce the national debt and half will be used to fund infrastructure spending in poor communities. If successful, the plan could serve as a blueprint for further infrastructure funding as federal agencies currently hold a combined estimate of $2 trillion in debt and lease assets across all agencies.

In his press release, Rep. Kelly asserted that there is precedent to such an approach and that the GAIIN Act is modeled off of President Ronald Reagan’s method to raise funds in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986. The GAIIN Act is expected to be heard in committee in the near future and is supported by President Trump.

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