Mike Palicz

D.C. City Council proposes massive soda tax that even Bernie Sanders opposes.

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019, 4:54 PM PERMALINK

A majority of the D.C. City Council wants to impose one of the highest taxes on sugary drinks in the country, a move that will raise the cost of soda and disproportionally hit low-income individuals.

The tax hike is the latest nanny-state effort from the D.C. City Council which intends to force consumers to purchase alternative beverages the city council deems more acceptable. “We need a little bit of stick in addition to the carrot,” said Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1), the bill’s author.

Soda taxes are so harmful, even Bernie Sanders opposes them.

During his 2016 presidential bid Bernie Sanders slammed Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of a soda tax. As reported by The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Sanders said:

“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low income and working people.”

Sanders went on to note that Clinton’s embrace of a soda tax violated her pledge to the American people not to support any tax increase on Americans making less than $250,000 per year.

"Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge," Sanders said.

How Regressive is a soda tax?

According to a 2018 report from the Tax Foundation, 47 percent of the tax collections from an excise tax based on fluid ounces would come from households with income under $50,000. Additionally, 78 percent of tax collections would come from households earning less than $100,000.

How large is the proposed soda tax?

A bill announced yesterday would levy a 1.5 cent-per-ounce sin tax on sweetened beverages with the stated goal of discouraging sugar use. For context, the tax hike would add a full dollar to the cost of a two-liter bottle and an extra $2.16 on a 12-pack of soda.

What drinks are impacted?

The tax applies to sugary drinks with any “natural common sweeteners,” meaning beverages such as Gatorade, sweetened iced coffee and orange juice with added sugar are also subject to the tax.

Photo Credit: Bernie Sanders

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New Carbon Tax Bill Threatens 300% IRS Fines

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 26th, 2019, 5:02 PM PERMALINK

Today, a group of four congressmen introduced a carbon tax bill that will impose a 300% IRS penalty for noncompliance.

The bill calls for a steep, automatically ratcheting tax increase on the American people which will increase household costs and the price of gas. The new tax could extract over $150 billion per year.

And consider yourself warned: The IRS will come knocking for a 300% penalty on "any person who fails to comply."

Yes, you read that correctly: Three hundred percent.

Let's go straight to the bill, so you can see for yourself. Section 9906 reads as follows:


"Any person who fails to comply with the requirements of section 9901, 9902, 9903, or 9904 shall be liable for payment to the Secretary, without demand, of a penalty in the amount equal to 3 times the applicable amount specified by those sections for the same tax year as the year in which the person failed to comply with such requirements."

An IRS Enrolled Agent interviewed for this article noted the unusually harsh -- perhaps unprecedented -- IRS penalty. “As an Enrolled Agent who has run his own tax prep firm for over a decade, I’ve never run into anything close to a 300 percent tax penalty. The biggest one I can think of is 50 percent, and most are far smaller than that," said Ryan L. Ellis.

The new carbon tax hike bill imposes a massive tax on American manufacturing and employers, encourages the creation of state carbon taxes, creates a long list of products to be carbon-taxed and gives the EPA chief unfettered power to add to that list.

The bill also creates a UN-style “National Climate Commission” which will be given the power to access data and documents from any federal government entity.

Taxpayer-funded federal employees will be detailed to the Commission while continuing to receive their salary. The Commission will arrange for travel expenses, have the ability to hire "experts and consultants" and even have postal franking privileges.

The commission will create a new federal bureaucracy seeking to create even more climate regulations.

In classic Washington-speak, the name of the bill is the MARKET CHOICE ACT. The bill sponsors are Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Francis Rooney (RINO-Fla.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)

See also:

Hillary Clinton Memo Shows Carbon Tax Devastating to Low Income Households

Center for American Progress Founder: "We have done extensive polling on a carbon tax. It all sucks.” 

Carbon Tax Pushers Beware: Australia’s Carbon Tax Politicians Were Quickly Voted Out of Office





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Sanders and AOC lie about striking auto workers losing healthcare to push Medicare for All

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, September 20th, 2019, 9:49 PM PERMALINK

Never let a serious crisis go to waste was the left’s maxim throughout the Obama years. Now Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are dusting off the old playbook and using the autoworkers’ strike against General Motors to push Medicare for All. Unsurprisingly, they’re doing so by falsely claiming thousands of workers have been stripped of healthcare by a greedy and nefarious corporation.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union called a nationwide strike Monday after union leadership failed to reach an agreement with General Motors during contract negotiations. Almost 50,000 workers are now on strike. The following day, in accordance with the contract terms agreed upon by UAW leadership, GM revealed that it would cease healthcare coverage for striking workers.

Following the announcement, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez seized the opportunity to rail against GM and push for government-run healthcare. “This is straight barbarism,” the representative tweeted. “Yet another reason we insist on #MedicareforAll: so your healthcare won't be held hostage to negotiate lower wages."

Not to be outdone by his fellow socialist, Sen. Sanders weighed in by calling GM’s decision “cruel, outrageous” and the “type of corporate greed that the American people are sick and tired of.” At a campaign event that same day, Sanders criticized General Motors while plugging his signature healthcare policy. "Under Medicare for All, every American -- whether you're working, whether you're not working, when you are going from one job to another job -- it's there with you," said Sanders.

Of course, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez fail to mention that UAW union leadership rejected GM’s publicly disclosed proposal which offered the union $7 billion in new investment at existing plants, would spare the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant from closure and create 5,400 more jobs. Workers would receive annual wage increases over the next four years, an $8,000 signing bonus per worker and an increased profit-sharing formula. Before talks broke down, GM had even agreed to maintain low healthcare premiums at 3% - a walk-back of the company’s earlier attempt to reportedly raise premiums to 15%.

Putting these facts aside, as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are wont to do, did some 50,000 workers really lose healthcare coverage as the two Democrats claim? Of course not.

In reality, GM’s decision to stop providing healthcare benefits to striking workers should come as a surprise to no one, least of all UAW’s members. During a strike, workers' healthcare benefits shift to being funded by the union’s strike fund. This is a primary reason workers pay union dues in the first place. In fact, UAW leadership has spent the summer educating its members on this point in preparation for a strike. A Frequently Asked Questions section on UAW’s website even details the benefits workers are provided from the union’s strike fund including medical coverage and prescription drugs. For workers enrolled in COBRA coverage, benefits are even made retroactive to the beginning of the strike.

Despite autoworkers maintaining medical benefits throughout the strike, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez still spread the lie that GM is holding the healthcare of its workers hostage in order to push Medicare for All. All considered, UAW members have a fairly generous arrangement for employees refusing to work. Individuals working non-union jobs in the private sector would be shocked to receive healthcare benefits from their employer while declining to show up for work.

The great irony here is that the government-run healthcare plans that Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez tout as solutions for striking workers would actually take away the very benefit packages UAW members are striking to improve and eliminate their health insurance plans from the marketplace entirely. Any gains achieved by the autoworkers to their medical benefits would be forfeited under a Sanders presidency.

But why let the facts get in the way? Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have a crisis on their hands, and they can’t let it go to waste.

Photo Credit: Bernie Sanders

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Romney flip-flops, sides with California over Trump on auto waiver

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 19th, 2019, 8:46 PM PERMALINK

Mitt Romney is now criticizing President Trump for actions he claimed he would have carried out as president, had his own campaigns not failed.

Today, in a complete reversal of his previous stance on auto fuel efficiency standards, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) publicly criticized President Trump’s decision to revoke California’s waiver allowing the state to set separate greenhouse-gas standards for cars, calling Trump’s action a “big mistake.”

According to Politico, Romney went on to advocate for increasing the Obama-era mandate that would require auto manufacturers to produce cars averaging nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025, stating “we should encourage more strict fuel economy standards, not weaken them."

Romney’s harsh remarks of President Trump come as a shock given his past statements, including those given as a presidential candidate in both 2008 and 2012, were strongly critical of fuel economy standards and California’s ability to operate beyond federal requirements.

Romney on the Campaign Trail in 2008 says CAFE Standards drop an “anvil on Michigan”

According to reports after a Presidential Primary debate in 2008, Romney “talked up his roots in the auto industry and criticized fuel economy standards, saying the 35 miles-per-gallon target by 2020 passed by Congress in December ‘dropped yet another anvil on Michigan.’"

Romney is now calling for “more strict fuel economy standards” than Obama’s 55 miles per gallon requirement.

Romney backs stripping California’s waiver in 2008 press release

"When Michigan makes the same cars and trucks regardless of whether they are bound for California, Vermont or (even) Massachusetts, it makes more sense to have one set of federal rules to address CO2 emissions from vehicles rather than a patchwork of different state regulations."

While campaigning for President In 2012 Romney calls CAFE standards “disadvantageous” and says “we need to get the government out of these companies’ hair.”

“The government put in place CAFE requirements that were disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers. We need to get the government out of these companies’ hair and let them go to work to become competitive — not only in the U.S. but globally. The world is changing in the auto industry and we’ve got to get these companies on a global footing as opposed to kowtowing to Washington.” 

Romney and Campaign called CAFE Standards "extreme" and cause consumers to "pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology."

In June of 2012, Romney called told The Detroit News that he'd seek "a better way of encouraging fuel economy" than the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. A campaign spokesperson reiterated Romney's opposition, saying that CAFE will force consumers to "pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want."


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In major win for consumers, Trump revokes California’s waiver on auto emissions standards

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019, 4:47 PM PERMALINK

This morning President Trump announced that his administration will revoke California’s waiver that permits the state to set its own fuel economy regulations separate from national standards. This action from the president brings the U.S. closer to a single, unified fuel economy standard.

“The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER,” The President stated on twitter. “Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”

Issued under President Obama, the California waiver forces auto manufacturers to build more expensive cars in compliance with California’s regulations. Under the waiver, auto manufacturers can comply with federal standards yet still barred from marketplace in California.

However, no other state is permitted a waiver from federal rules, meaning if another state would like to set less stringent fuel economy rules compared to federal requirements, it does not have that option. As auto manufacturers can’t economically build two separate vehicle fleets, the waiver effectively allows California to dictate national requirements for vehicles in 49 other states.  

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement:

"Today’s decision by President Trump is a major win for consumers and the US economy. Letting California dictate emission standards for the 49 other states is a proven disaster for jobs, vehicle safety and affordability. 

No one living in Ohio, Michigan or Florida voted for California’s nanny state politicians. Gavin Newsom’s bureaucrats have no business telling them what car they can or can’t drive. That decisions rightly belongs to consumers. Americans for Tax Reform applauds President Trump for revoking California’s waiver and freeing consumers from Californian bureaucrats."

Revoking California's waiver is step one of the administration’s anticipated reform to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, with step two expected to be finalized later this year.

The administration’s proposed rule to freeze CAFE standards at 2020 levels is projected to save American consumers nearly $2,500 on the price of a new vehicle, putting more Americans behind the wheel of newer and safer cars. If finalized, the Department Transportation projects the rule would lead to a reduction of up to 1,000 lives lost annually in fatal vehicle crashes.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Trump repeals Obama's Waters of the U.S. regulation

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, 6:02 PM PERMALINK

President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule today repealing the Obama Administration's 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an overreaching federal regulation which defined what natural features are considered federal waters. The new rule is projected to deliver $1.3 billion in regulatory savings and is in line with President Trump’s Executive Order directing the EPA to review and possibly replace the Obama administration’s definition.

The previous administration’s regulation went beyond the intended purpose of the law and amounted to a power grab designed to place control in the hands of the government over private landowners and developers.

Under the Obama rule, regulation expanded to include ephemeral features in its definition of federal water, meaning land that only temporarily held water could be regulated as federal water if the water eventually flowed into a navigable water. Expanding the scope of the definition gave the federal government greater control in permitting in certain activities such as land development.

Today’s action restores the regulatory text prior to the Obama administration’s 2015 rule and sets the table for the Trump EPA to issue a second, still forthcoming, rule intended to provide states greater flexibility and local control.

“Today’s action is “Step 1” of our response to the president’s executive order. Step 1 repeals the 2015 rule and recodifies the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that existed previously. It also sets the stage for “Step 2” – our new proposed “waters of the United States” definition,” EPA Administrator Wheeler explained in an op-ed released today.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for taking a crucial first step towards revising the Obama Administration’s overreaching definition of federal waters. ATR also encourages the administration to finalize its Step 2 rule and provide landowners greater certainty regarding what is, and what is not, a federal water.

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Sen. Mitt Romney states he’s “looking at” introducing a $2 trillion carbon tax.

Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, August 20th, 2019, 7:22 PM PERMALINK

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said in a speech on Monday that he is “looking at” and “considering” a massive new carbon tax of “roughly $50 per ton,” an energy tax that would hike taxes by roughly $200 billion in year one and at least $2 trillion in a 10 year window. While Senator Romney stopped short of outright endorsing a carbon tax, his warmness towards the idea should be a cause for alarm to taxpayers.

For context of how radical a $50 per ton carbon tax would be, voters in the deep-blue state of Washington handily rejected a carbon that began at $15 per ton in a 2018 ballot initiative. Perhaps Romney thinks voters just want to be taxed at even higher rates.

In his speech, Romney outlined that this proposal would use 90% of the revenue to issue rebate checks to individuals “affected by the fact that they’re paying more in taxes.” The other 10% would be used to aid individuals in “coal country” and help them “get back on their feet” from the tax’s impact. I'm sure coal country will be relieved to hear a politician promising to pick them up after he kicks them down.

The proposal described by Romney closely mirrors the carbon tax “dividend” legislation introduced earlier this year by Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Francis Rooney (R-FL). The Deutch-Rooney plan uses the carbon tax revenue to issue rebate checks back to individuals as an attempted offset for rising energy prices faced by consumers.

So let’s take a look at the details of the carbon tax “dividend” plan Romney is considering:

Contains anti-family provisions with children receiving only half of a credit and 18 year olds not counted as adults.

Taken directly from the legislative text:

“(B) PRO-RATA SHARE. —A carbon dividend payment is one pro-rata share for each adult, and half a pro-rata share for each child under 19 years old, of amounts available for the month in the Carbon Dividend Trust Fund.”

Do families spend less money on gas driving their kids to school or practice? Does it cost less money to heat and cool your home if you have more bedrooms? It’s inexplicable why the bill’s sponsors decided families only receive half of a credit per child.

Would cause significant damage to GDP growth.

According to a March report from the Congressional Research Service, a carbon tax and dividend plan set at $50 per metric ton (the same as described by Sen. Romney) would “yield GDP losses each year, ranging from 0.3% to 0.4%.” The report goes on to state that “if one were to add up the annual GDP losses (for example, over a 10-year period) from the lump-sum scenario compared to the baseline scenario, the resulting sum would be much larger.

Retirees will pay more taxes on their social security benefits

report published by the pro-carbon tax Citizens' Climate Lobby acknowledges the following:

"Over the income-related phase-in range for the taxation of social security benefits, each additional $1.00 of non-social security income causes an additional $0.50 or $0.85 of social security benefits to become taxable. In most situations, the ordinary income tax rate in the phase-in range is 10 percent; however, at some income levels, the rate is 12 percent. Thus, $1.00 of non-social security income -- including income from the Dividend -- will be taxed at effective marginal rates of 15 percent, 18 percent, or 22.2 percent."

It even imposes income tax on the carbon tax "dividend." 

The rebate checks the government would send back to individuals will count as taxable income. Americans would be forced to pay taxes on apology checks sent by the government for raising taxes in the first place. At tax time, Americans would have to deal with carbon tax paperwork for each member of their family. Here it is straight from the bill’s text:

 “(D) FEE TREATMENT OF PAYMENTS. -- Amounts paid under this subsection shall be includible in gross income.

A tax on a tax, which will likely increase the complexity of your annual tax filing. Here's an idea -- how about not taking the money from taxpayers in the first place?

Greases the skids for a European-style Value Added Tax, a cash cow for big government by erecting a complex carbon tax border adjustment scheme.

It should be noted again that Sen. Romney did stop short of endorsing a carbon tax. However, his self-stated openness to a multi-trillion dollar tax hike is certainly concerning. Americans for Tax Reform urges Sen. Romney to reconsider his apparent interest in carbon taxes and join the 90 conservative and free-market organizations who oppose ANY form of a carbon tax.

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Lawmakers Should Oppose the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act

Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, July 24th, 2019, 3:52 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform encourages lawmakers to oppose H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act.

Congress should instead focus on enacting meaningful reform that addresses multiemployer pension plan funding, secures solvency of the PBGC and minimizes the burden placed upon taxpayers.

As ATR has previously noted, the multiemployer pension plan (MPP) crisis will require Congressional action to prevent somewhere between 1 million and 10 million plan beneficiaries from losing the majority of their pension benefits. With an unfunded liability over $600 billion, MPPs are set to begin failing at significant levels in the next 6 years and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) is scheduled to reach insolvency by 2025. Congress has a narrow window to address this crisis and the longer lawmakers wait to reform MPPs, the larger the problem becomes.

Unfortunately, H.R. 397 fails to enact meaningful reform to the funding rules governing MPPs and enables a failing system to continue the same practices which brought us to the present crisis.

H.R. 397 would simply provide 30-year loans and new financial assistance in the form of grants to financially troubled multiemployer pension plans with few protections for taxpayers. H.R. 397 fails to secure workers’ benefits in the long-run and would only necessitate further government intervention in the future.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), H.R. 397 would cost taxpayers over $67 billion over the next decade. However, this number is likely to be significantly higher as the CBO score only accounts for a 10-year window rather than the 30-year repayment timeframe outlined in the legislation.

While promises were made to participants in multiemployer plans, they were made by private labor unions, not the government and certainly not taxpayers. Given the lack of guardrails surrounding these loans combined with the history of failed pension plans, there are few reasons to believe these loans would ever be paid back, making H.R. 397 an effective taxpayer bail out for MPPs.

ATR encourages lawmakers to vote “NO” on H.R. 397 and instead enact meaningful reform aimed at addressing the long-term stability of MPPs.  A list of possible reforms can be found in ATR’s letter to the Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pension Solvency from last Congress.

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ATR Joins Free Market Coalition Supporting Trump’s CAFE Reform

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, July 12th, 2019, 12:23 PM PERMALINK

A coalition of 30 free market organizations sent a letter to President Trump yesterday voicing full support for his administration’s proposed rule to reform the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate.

The coalition was comprised of leading conservative and free market think tanks and organizations including Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks and the American Energy Alliance along with a host of state-based think tanks from across the country.

In the letter, the signing organizations urged the President to revoke the waiver granted to the state of California under President Obama which allowed California to effectively dictate national standards at the expense of car buyers.

 Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, issued the following statement:

“California bureaucrats should not decide what kind of cars and trucks Americans are allowed to drive. That decision rightly belongs to consumers, not regulators. Californians may have to live under the thumb of California politicians and bureaucrats but no one in Iowa or Michigan voted for California’s nanny state rules.

Allowing the government of California to dictate national standards for the rest of the country has led to higher vehicle prices for consumers while forcing them to subsidize vehicles preferred by California’s regulators. ATR urges President Trump to maintain his stance on reforming the federal fuel mandate and to revoke the special waiver granted to California under the Obama administration.”

The full content of the letter and list of signatories can be read here.

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Tom Steyer, Billionaire Carbon Tax Activist, Enters 2020 Presidential Race

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019, 1:06 PM PERMALINK

Democratic megadonor and radical environmental activist Tom Steyer on Tuesday officially entered the crowded field for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Steyer is best know for launching the political organization NextGen America, which has raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on progressive issues throughout the country. His political activism has ranged from funding carbon tax campaigns and renewable energy mandates to his “Need to Impeach” initiative which has poured millions into a lobbying effort aimed at convincing lawmakers to impeach President Trump.

In the 2018 elections, Steyer fronted a $15.2 million failed effort to establish a carbon tax in Washington State and spent nearly $18 million trying to pass a renewable energy mandate in Arizona, a campaign which also ended in defeat. Both of these efforts would have raised household energy prices for consumers while disproportionately impacting poor Americans who spend a greater share of their income on energy than wealthier Americans.

Steyer has also praised Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution, calling it “extremely successful” and said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez deserves “enormous credit” for introducing the Green New Deal.

In his announcement, Steyer pledged to focus his campaign on climate change and to spend at least $100 million on his campaign.

Photo Credit: Marc Nozell

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