Olivia Grady

ATR Urges a Veto on Virginia PLA and Prevailing Wage Bills

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, April 10th, 2020, 8:45 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform released a letter urging Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) to veto legislation on project labor agreements (SB 182/HB 358) and prevailing wage requirements (SB 8/HB 833). This legislation would harm Virginia workers, taxpayers and businesses by increasing costs on public projects, reducing employment, and reducing the number of public projects. To read the letter, please click here or see below:

Dear Governor Northam:

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. ATR believes in a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today. The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized.

Americans for Tax Reform urges you to veto the legislation on Project Labor Agreements (SB 182/HB 358) and Prevailing Wage (SB 8/HB 833) requirements.

Currently, Virginia law allows all businesses to compete for taxpayer-funded public works construction contracts whether the contractors want to sign a project labor agreement (PLA) or not. SB 182/HB 358, however, would allow state and local governments to require project labor agreements on public projects. This requirement would hurt smaller nonunion contractors by forcing them to follow union rules and hire most or all union approved workers, instead of their own employees. Virginia taxpayers would also be harmed by this legislation because studies have shown that PLAs increase the cost of school construction by 12% to 20%. The higher the construction costs, the lower the number of projects a state can do and the fewer jobs for Virginia workers.

Like the PLA legislation, the legislation on prevailing wage requirements would also hurt Virginia workers, taxpayers and businesses. The high government-mandated wages, typically union wages, often don’t reflect current wages, and they increase construction costs dramatically on public projects. Studies have found that they increase construction costs by between 9.9% and 25%. These higher costs mean fewer public projects for Virginians and fewer jobs for Virginia workers. They also mean higher taxes for Virginia taxpayers. Finally, these high wages often prevent smaller nonunion contractors from bidding on government projects.

Simply put, Americans for Tax Reform urges you to veto the legislation because the bills would hurt Virginia workers, taxpayers and businesses.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist
President

Photo Credit: Mark Warner


ATR Urges a No Vote on H.J. Res. 76

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Thursday, February 13th, 2020, 6:58 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform released a letter urging Senators to vote against H.J. Res. 76.

To read the letter, click here or read below:

Dear Senators:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I urge you to vote against H.J. Res. 76, which would nullify a recent Department of Education rule.

On September 23, 2019, the Department of Education finalized its “Borrower Defense Institutional Accountability” rule. This rule is a great victory for American students, taxpayers, and schools, and it provides some much-needed common sense reforms.

The rule helps students by giving a clear standard for discharging student loans when a school has committed a misrepresentation. It also ensures that the Department uses facts, evidence, and due process to determine if a school has misrepresented itself. This helps students and schools. Further, in order to reach a decision more quickly, this rule ends the unlawful ban on arbitration. Finally, the rule helps students complete their education even if there is a school closure.

The rule also benefits American taxpayers by ensuring that the relief that the Department gives to a student is related to the financial harm that the student has suffered. As a result of these provisions, this rule saves American taxpayers $11.1 billion over ten years. This is in stark contrast to President Obama’s 2016 Department of Education rule that was projected to cost up to $40 billion over ten years.

Finally, the Department of Education did not consider this rule lightly. In fact, the Department spent over two years working on this rule. During this time, the Department held public hearings and responded to tens of thousands of public comments.

Because the Department of Education’s rule helps students and taxpayers and was carefully considered with public comment, Senators should vote against H.J. Res. 76.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist

President


ATR, CWF Join Amicus Brief Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Reisman v. AFUM

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020, 8:57 AM PERMALINK

On February 5th, the Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Professor Jonathan Reisman in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine. Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) were honored to join MHPC and ten other nonprofit organizations in support of the First Amendment rights of state government workers.

The rights of state government workers, like Professor Reisman, are currently being violated. Many of these workers are forced to accept “representation” by labor unions even though they are not members of these organizations, nor do they support them. These unions have control over the workers’ wages, hours and the terms and conditions of employment. The workers are not allowed to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment with their employer, nor can these workers choose other unions to represent them. This is known as exclusive representation. Exclusive representation or forcing workers to accept the speech of labor unions as their own is a violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and association. The Reisman case would restore the First Amendment freedoms of these workers by ending exclusive representation.

The Reisman case began in 2018 when the Buckeye Institute filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the District of Maine. Jonathan Reisman, a professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Maine at Machias, argued that Maine’s law allowing a union to become the exclusive bargaining representative for public employees violates his First Amendment rights. The court unfortunately dismissed the action, citing the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Professor Reisman appealed to the First Circuit, and that court affirmed the district court’s decision. Professor Reisman has now filed a petition for certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Interestingly, Professor Reisman is not the only one challenging exclusive representation. This case is actually one of three cases where the Buckeye Institute is representing state employees who are seeking to end exclusive representation. Kathy Uradnik of Minnesota was the first to challenge exclusive representation after the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, and Jade Thompson of Ohio is also challenging exclusive representation. In the Uradnik case, the plaintiff is Kathy Uradnik, a professor of political science at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Her union, the Inter Faculty Organization, discriminated against nonunion faculty members by forbidding them from joining the Faculty Senate or serving on any faculty search, service or governance committee. This ban reduced their ability to obtain tenure and participate in their University.

Another plaintiff, Jade Thompson, a Spanish teacher in Ohio, also experienced similar discrimination. Her union, the Marietta Education Association, also excluded nonunion members from key committees. In addition, the union required that seniority determine who was fired during layoffs.   

These cases are the next step to protect the rights of workers after the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME decision. That case ensured that government workers are not forced to support unions that they have chosen not to join. These cases ensure that government workers are not represented by organizations that they do not support.

ATR and CWF strongly urge the Supreme Court to consider the Reisman case and restore the First Amendment rights of these workers.


Key Vote: ATR, CWF Urge a NO Vote on the PRO Act

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020, 11:49 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) urge members of the House of Representatives to vote against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474).

On September 16, 2019, ATR led a coalition letter against the PRO Act with signatures from more than 60 groups and activists. Today, that letter has even more signatures.

These signers oppose this legislation because of the harm this bill would cause to American workers.

If signed into law, some of the key provisions of the PRO Act would:

  1. Violate the privacy of workers by forcing employers to give unions the contact information (including home addresses, cell phone and landline numbers, and email addresses) of their workers without the consent of these workers.
  2. Effectively invalidate state Right-to-Work laws, forcing private sector workers to pay fees to unions to keep their jobs.
  3. Change union elections to allow union bosses to collect cards from workers to demonstrate support for the union, rather than holding a secret ballot election.
  4. Adopt California’s “ABC” test for independent contractors, significantly reducing the number of workers in the gig economy.
  5. Codify the expanded joint employer standard, severely harming franchises and their employees.
  6. Codify shortened representation election time frames, giving the unions a large advantage in these elections by shortening the time for debate over unionization.

In addition, the PRO Act would increase costs for employers, harming businesses and consumers. In fact, the American Action Forum just released its economic study of the PRO Act on January 21, 2020. The study details the costs of some of the bill’s main provisions. For example, the independent contractor provision could affect 8.5% of the GDP and cost between $3.5 billion and $12.1 billion annually. The joint employer provision would cost between $17.2 billion and $33.3 billion annually for the franchise business sector and affect 44% of private sector employees. Finally, the provision that restricts employers from replacing strikers permanently could cost employers an additional $1.9 billion every year.

Despite these large costs for workers and businesses, the top Democrat 2020 Presidential candidates are supporters of this legislation. Former Vice President Joe Biden states on his campaign website his support for the bill, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are co-sponsors of the Senate version of the PRO Act. Similarly, Pete Buttigieg also praises the PRO Act on his campaign website.

ATR and CWF, however, support American workers and the businesses that hire our workers, and we strongly oppose this legislation.


60+ Groups to Congress: Defend American Workers from Union Coercion and Oppose the PRO Act


Posted by Olivia Grady on Monday, September 16th, 2019, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Note: This letter has been updated to include additional signatures. Please click here for the updated letter.

Today, a coalition of more than 60 groups and activists, led by Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to Congress. The letter urged members of Congress to vote against the PRO Act because of the harm the Act would do to American workers.

The full letter can be found here or below:

September 16, 2019

Dear Member of Congress,

We are writing in opposition to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Bobby Scott introduced the PRO Act in the Senate (S. 1306) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2474) on May 2, 2019. 

We oppose the PRO Act because the legislation would harm workers and taxpayers by codifying many of the Obama-era rules and decisions that led to higher unemployment and a stagnant economy. Representatives who vote for this bill are simply helping labor union bosses, their campaign contributors, at the expense of American workers. 

For example, one of the Act’s harmful provisions would codify the National Labor Relations Board’s 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries decision. That decision expanded the definition of joint employer and increased liability for many businesses, especially franchises. In fact, the International Franchise Association has found that the expanded joint employer rule costs the franchise sector as much as $33.3 billion annually and has led to 376,000 lost job opportunities. Codifying this NLRB decision would effectively eliminate this business model, putting many employees and small businesses out of work. However, big labor would benefit from this provision because they could unionize these employees more easily.

This bill would also force all private sector workers to pay fees to labor unions, whether they wanted to support them or not. This would effectively invalidate all state Right-to-Work laws and would deny First Amendment rights to these workers. This provision hurts workers because right-to-work laws have benefited workers. From 2008 – 2018, for example, the percentage growth in the number of people employed in right-to-work states was 10.8%, while the percentage for those in forced-unionism states was much lower at 5%. Invalidating these laws would, therefore, hurt workers and employers, but would provide more dues to unions. 

Another business model that is severely threatened by this legislation is the gig economy. The PRO Act would codify California’s new “ABC” test to determine who is an independent contractor and who is an employee. This test makes it harder for employers to hire independent contractors, but makes it easier for unions to unionize workers. According to the Federal Reserve, about 3 in 10 Americans work in the gig economy, and these workers would be at risk for losing their jobs. 

One final example is the provision that would codify the Obama-era ambush elections rule. That rule shortened the time frame of an election to unionize workers and provided the contact information of workers without their consent to labor unions. This rule harmed workers by providing them with an inadequate amount of time to learn how unionization would affect them. In addition, unions would be able to violate the privacy of workers once they had their contact information. Once again, with a shortened time frame and the contact information of workers, labor bosses could more easily unionize these workers.

Because the legislation harms workers in order to help labor union bosses, we strongly urge Members of Congress to vote against the PRO Act.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist 
President, Americans for Tax Reform

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association 

Melodie Bowler
Associate Director, Alaska Policy Forum

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, ALEC Action

Tom Giovanetti
President, Americans for a Strong Economy

Rick Manning
President, Americans for Limited Government

Scot Mussi
President, Arizona Free Enterprise Club

John Palatiello
President, Business Coalition for Fair Competition

Garrett Ballengee
Executive Director, Cardinal Institute for WV Policy

Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Russell Brown
President, Center for Independent Employees
CEO, RWP Labor, LLC

Timothy Lee
Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom

Olivia Grady
Senior Fellow, Center for Worker Freedom

Catrin Wigfall
Policy Fellow, Center of the American Experiment (Minnesota)

Bob Luebke 
Director of Policy, Civitas Institute (North Carolina)

David McIntosh
President, Club for Growth

Russell Hollrah
Executive Director, Coalition to Promote Independent Entrepreneurs

Nathan Benefield
Vice President & COO, Commonwealth Foundation (Pennsylvania)

Trey Kovacs
Policy Analyst, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Matthew Kandrach
President, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE)

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

Grant Callen
President, Empower Mississippi

Peter J. Ferrara
Dunn Liberty Fellow in Economics, The King’s College
Senior Fellow, Heartland Institute
Senior Fellow, National Tax Limitation Foundation 

Brian Minnich
Executive Vice President, Freedom Foundation (California, Oregon, Washington)

Adam Brandon
President, FreedomWorks

Victor Riches
President and CEO, Goldwater Institute (Arizona)

J. Scott Moody
CEO, Granite Institute (New Hampshire)

Tim Chapman
Executive Director, Heritage Action for America

Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund

Fred Birnbaum
Vice President, Idaho Freedom Foundation and Idaho Freedom Action

Heather R. Higgins
CEO, Independent Women's Voice 

F. Vincent Vernuccio, J.D.
President, Institute for the American Worker

Chris Ingstad
President, Iowans for Tax Relief

Sal J. Nuzzo
Vice President of Policy, The James Madison Institute (Florida)

Brett Healy
President, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy (Wisconsin)

Becki Gray
Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation (North Carolina)

Dave Trabert
President, Kansas Policy Institute

Connor Boyack
President, Libertas Institute (Utah)

Michael J. Reitz
Executive Vice President, Mackinac Center for Public Policy (Michigan)

Matthew Gagnon
CEO, Maine Heritage Policy Center

Carl Copeland
Executive Director, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance

Jameson Taylor, Ph.D.
Vice President for Policy, Mississippi Center for Public Policy 

Robert Fellner
Policy Director, Nevada Policy Research Institute

Douglas Kellogg
Executive Director, Ohioans for Tax Reform

Daniel J Erspamer
CEO, The Pelican Institute for Public Policy (Louisiana)

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director, Property Rights Alliance

David Y. Denholm
President, Public Service Research Council 

Mike Stenhouse
CEO, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Paul J. Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico)

Bette Grande
CEO, Roughrider Policy Center ND

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Maureen Blum
Founder and Principal, Strategic Coalitions & Initiatives, LLC

Tim Andrews
Executive Director, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Lynn Taylor
President, Tertium Quids (Virginia)

Christian N. Braunlich
President, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (Virginia)

Carl Bearden
CEO, United for Missouri

Suzi Voyles
Georgia President for Eagle Forum
Georgia State Director for Maggie’s List

Rick Esenberg
President and General Counsel, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty

Worker Rights Alliance (Washington)

Heather Greenaway
Executive Director, Workforce Fairness Institute

Carol Platt Liebau
President, Yankee Institute for Public Policy (Connecticut)


ATR, CWF Urge a NO Vote on the Raise the Wage Act

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Monday, July 15th, 2019, 5:27 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) urge members of the House of Representatives to vote against the Raise the Wage Act.

The Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582) was introduced by Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) on January 16, 2019. The Act would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour after five years. It would also increase the minimum wage for tipped employees.

Representatives should vote against this bill because raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would kill jobs and hurt American workers.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reached the same conclusion in its July 8th report titled: “The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage.”

The report describes how increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would likely result in 3.7 million fewer jobs. As Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) has pointed out, 3.7 million jobs is the entire population of the state of Oklahoma.

In addition, the report mentions that a higher minimum wage would lead to higher prices for consumers and would reduce the nation’s output. Finally, the CBO estimates that a $15 per hour minimum wage would reduce total real family income by $9 billion in 2025.

The report suggests that increasing the minimum wage would lead employers to replace their low-wage workers with machines or higher-wage employees. Employers could also reduce their workers’ benefits to compensate for the higher wage, or they might hire more independent contractors.

The effects of this bill are in sharp contrast to the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and deregulatory actions by the Trump Administration. These actions have created more than 5.6 million new jobs since January 2017. In addition, for the past 16 months, the unemployment rate has been at or below 4%. Further, the unemployment rates for Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Americans with Disabilities, and Veterans have been at record lows. The unemployment rate for adult women is also very low.

In contrast, empirical evidence from the states and most studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage only hurts the lowest-wage earners.

Because the Raise the Wage Act will hurt the low-wage workers that tax reform and deregulation have helped, Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom strongly urge members of Congress to vote NO on the Raise the Wage Act.


KEY VOTE: ATR Urges a NO Vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019, 4:30 PM PERMALINK

House Representatives will likely vote soon on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7), which was introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on January 30, 2019.

Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom urge Representatives to vote NO on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Unfortunately, this bill would actually likely harm the women the Democrats are claiming to help. If signed into law, the legislation would likely lead to less flexible work schedules for women, fewer incentives for those who work hard and lower pay for all.

In addition, the United States has already prohibited gender discrimination by employers for many years. President John Kennedy, for example, signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law on June 10, 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is also the law.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would also require businesses to show that pay discrepancies between workers who are purportedly doing the same job are based on “bona fide job-related factors” that are “consistent with business necessity.” Congresswoman DeLauro introduced this bill to resolve a gender wage gap that Congress has tried solving before.

However, according to analysis by the Heritage Foundation, any gender gap in wages can largely be attributed to factors like choice of occupation or forgoing higher pay in exchange for a flexible schedule or more generous benefit packages.

While additional laws prohibiting discrimination will probably not help women, President Donald Trump and the Republicans’ policies of tax reform and deregulation have helped women.

In addition to allowing women to keep more of their hard-earned money, tax reform and deregulation has led to an economic boom that has helped all Americans, particularly women.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in February, the jobless rate for adult women was 3.4%. In September, female unemployment reached its lowest rate in 65 years at 3.3%. In addition, wages for women age 25 – 34 grew at 5.4% YOY in 2018’s fourth quarter, and 62.7% of job growth in 2018 came from women.

Greater economic freedom and tax cuts clearly help women far more than government mandates. Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom, therefore, urge House Representatives to vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act.


1A Auto v. Sullivan: Protecting Free Speech and Ending the Union Loophole

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, December 7th, 2018, 9:29 AM PERMALINK

On December 5, 2018, the Goldwater Institute and the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case 1A Auto v. Sullivan.

The case challenges a Massachusetts law that forbids for-profit businesses from donating to political candidates and committees. The law, however, allows unions and nonprofits to contribute.

1A Auto began on February 24, 2015, when two Massachusetts corporations sued the Director of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Michael Sullivan, for First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause violations. The Massachusetts Superior Court unfortunately rejected the corporations’ arguments, and the case was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which affirmed the lower court’s decision on September 6, 2018.

The lower courts held that FEC v. Beaumont, a case where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning corporations, unions, and other organizations from making direct political contributions, required it to reject the corporations’ claims. However, the decision noted that more recent campaign finance cases have reached different conclusions from Beaumont. The court also said that the campaign contribution limit was not subject to strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause because it passed intermediate First Amendment scrutiny.

In their petition to the Supreme Court, the corporations make three arguments. Their first argument is that Beaumont should be overruled because it conflicts with newer decisions and does not protect First Amendment rights. Recent decisions have found that campaign-finance restrictions are only allowed to prevent quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of corruption. Under Beaumont, these restrictions were allowed for several broader reasons, including preventing corporations from exerting substantial influence over the political process. In addition, the corporations argue that the Court should overrule Beaumont because the lower courts continue to use it for their decisions since it has not been overruled by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has, however, acknowledged that the case conflicts with other more recent decisions. Finally, Beaumont is discriminatory, allowing campaign contribution bans on some groups, but not on others.

The second argument is that the Court should decide the case so that all donors receive rigorous scrutiny under the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause. Lower courts currently do not have guidance on how to decide cases with discriminatory contribution limits. As a result, some courts have forced plaintiffs with Equal Protection Clause violation claims to prove that the government purposefully discriminated against them. Instead, the government should have to prove the need for differences in campaign finance limits. Guidance from the Supreme Court is, therefore, clearly needed to protect First Amendment rights and ensure equal protection.

The final argument of the corporations is that the Supreme Court should still overrule the lower court’s decision because it conflicts with Supreme Court decisions even if Beaumont isn’t overruled. For example, the Supreme Court has always allowed contributions to corporate PACs before. The Massachusetts law , however, forbids these types of contributions. In addition, allowing businesses to contribute to PACs greater protects their First Amendment rights than just allowing corporations to make independent expenditures. An independent expenditure simply does not allow a corporation to support a candidate in the same way that contributing to a PAC does. For these reasons, the corporations are asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Massachusetts’ campaign finance law.

Interestingly, six states currently have campaign finance limitations on businesses, while they do not have the same limitations on nonprofits, unions and other associations. In close races, these discriminatory laws make a difference. It’s time to close this union loophole. 


Norquist: “Earmarks are the Currency of Corruption”

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, 11:59 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist stressed the importance of keeping earmarks out of politics in a Washington Examiner article, “Grover Norquist: For 8 years, the GOP held the line against earmarks. Now corrupt Democrats might bring them back."

Norquist also signed a coalition letter led by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste to House Republicans urging them to keep the House Republicans rules ban on earmarks.

Americans for Tax Reform has long supported the 2011 earmarks ban because it reduces corruption in the federal government.

Earmarks are taxpayer-funded favors that members of Congress bargain over in exchange for their votes on a bill. These projects are often not helpful to the country or their constituents, and the cost to taxpayers is high.

The most famous example of an earmark is the “bridge to nowhere.” The bridge to nowhere project began in 2005 when some members of Congress from Alaska requested funding to build the Gravina Island Bridge in exchange for their votes. The bridge was going to connect the town of Ketchikan with a population under 9,000 to the Island of Gravina, an island with an airport and a population of 50. Despite the few number of residents and the availability of a ferry, taxpayers were going to fund the bridge for $320 million.  

While Congress put an end to this bridge project in 2015, other pork projects have been approved.

Citizens Against Government Waste lists the worst pork projects from 1991 to 2018 in its “Pork Hall of Shame.” Some examples include grasshopper research in 1999 for $7.3 million, combating Goth culture in 2002 for $273,000, and wool research in 2010 for $4.1 million.

In fact, in 1999, 40% of the spending in the military construction appropriations bill that year was earmarks.

Earmarks have also led to the downfall of members of Congress, such as Pennsylvania Representative Chaka Fattah. CBS Philly reported that grant money from NASA had repaid part of an “illegal $1 million loan from a wealthy friend to prop up his [Fattah’s] failed 2007 campaign for Philadelphia mayor.”

Some members of Congress today though argue that earmarks are the only way to accomplish anything in this political climate and that transparency will eliminate the corruption. However, these arguments have been made before, and the corruption has continued. Also, even with transparency, the wasteful spending continues.

Americans for Tax Reform, therefore, urges members of Congress to refrain from restoring earmarks.


ATR Supports the Organ Donation Clarification Act

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Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018, 12:07 PM PERMALINK

Grover Norquist released a letter today to the U.S. House of Representatives urging members to co-sponsor H.R. 6448, the Organ Donation Clarification Act. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) are the lead sponsors of the bill. Americans for Tax Reform supports this legislation because it would help patients by reducing the organ shortage and U.S. taxpayers by reducing medical costs.

Please click here for a PDF of the letter or find it below:

October 10, 2018

Dear Member of Congress,

I am writing in support of H.R. 6448, the Organ Donation Clarification Act.

This bill would reduce the organ shortage and save lives. Today, there are too few living organ donors, and the number of organs that can be recovered from deceased individuals is low. In fact, in 2017 alone, about 20 people died each day waiting for an organ, usually a kidney.

One of the reasons for the low number of living organ donors is the law. The law today forbids the selling of organs, but it also forbids donors from receiving reimbursements for their donation expenses.

The Organ Donation Clarification Act would allow for certain costs to be reimbursed. These costs include the costs associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, and storage of a human organ; travel, lodging, food during travel and other logistical expenses; lost wages; medical expenses; legal costs; and term life insurance policy.

Donors today have to go through a difficult procedure and recovery. They also have to pay for all of the costs associated with the donation. Allowing for reimbursement of some of their expenses will encourage more people to donate.

This legislation would also save taxpayer money. While patients wait for a kidney transplant, for example, they are usually on dialysis. Dialysis typically requires several treatments per week that last several hours, and patients are left feeling weak. Ninety percent of these patients, therefore, do not have jobs.

The cost of dialysis, however, is very high. In fact, about seven percent of the Medicare budget is spent on the End State Renal Disease Program because dialysis costs Medicare over $87,000 per patient per year. A kidney transplant though saves an average of over $700,000 in medical costs over ten years, and experts believe meeting the demand of kidney transplants would save over $12 billion per year in medical costs.

Because this legislation helps patients and taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform urges all Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Organ Donation Clarification Act.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist
President

 


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