Patrick M. Gleason

Walter Dalton Claims McCrory Would Govern North Carolina Like Scott Walker


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Monday, September 17th, 2012, 12:51 PM PERMALINK

Walter Dalton, North Carolina’s current Lt. Governor and Democratic nominee to be the state’s next governor, has been stepping up his attacks on Republican nominee Pat McCrory lately. On the campaign trail in Raleigh last Thursday, Dalton sought to tie McCrory to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But a review of Walker’s record makes one wonder why Dalton finds this comparison to be a negative

Chief Executive magazine’s annual survey of CEOs on the best and worst states for business had Wisconsin making the biggest improvement of any state following Walker’s regulatory and labor law reforms in 2011, rising to 24th from 41st in 2010 and 43rd the year before that, one of the largest jumps in the survey's history. This year Wisconsin continued to improve, cracking the survey’s the top 20 for the first time ever. All but the most detached partisans will admit that Wisconsin has gone from one of the least friendly states to do business to one of the best in a relatively short period time thanks to Walker’s reforms, which also had the added benefit of preventing teacher layoffs and facilitating local tax relief.

But such surveys don't tell the whole story. While the Chief Executive magazine survey underscores Wisconsin's improvement under Walker, jobs numbers provide a better and more concrete understanding of his success. In fact, job creation is one area where Walter Dalton only wishes he could be compared to Scott Walker. By taking on the budgetary challenges facing his state and telling his constituents the truth, Walker has helped bring Wisconsin’s unemployment rate down from over nine percent when he took office to 7.3 percent today, one percentage point below the national average. Under the past four years of the Perdue-Dalton administration, North Carolina’s already high unemployment has only gone up, from nine percent when they assumed office in 2009 to 9.6 percent today. Walter Dalton may not like Walker’s policies, but he has to envy the results. It's clear that Walker's constituents are happy with the results, so much so that he is now the first governor in history to be elected twice in his first term.

Given this record, just the fact that Walter Dalton thinks a comparison to Scott Walker is an insult is quite telling. “If you elect my opponent, you will have Scott Walker in North Carolina for four years,” Dalton said last week. If properly educated on what Walker did in his state, many North Carolina voters will respond to Dalton’s allegation against McCrory with a “yes, please.”

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Ed Rendell Not the Best Surrogate for Obama


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Friday, September 7th, 2012, 11:07 AM PERMALINK

Former Pennsylvania governor and current MSNBC contributor Ed Rendell was down at the DNC in Charlotte this week. As usual, Rendell used his time in front of the cameras to attack Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Yet Ed Rendell should shy away from discussing economic and budgetary issues, because when it comes to such matters, it’s clear from Rendell’s record as governor that he is throwing stones from a glass house.

Rendell and company blame Obama’s horrible economic record on the fact that he was “left with a mess.” As it would happen, Ed Rendell left his state in a fiscal mess and his successor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had to step in and fix it. Corbett quietly went about eliminating the $4 billion deficit that Rendell stuck him with and did so without raising taxes and, unlike Obama, without whining about having to do the job that he applied for.

Spending and responsible budgeting are also topics that Rendell would be wise to leave alone. Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania from January 2003 to December 2010. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation found the following when analyzing state spending under Rendell:

“the state's total operating budget grew from $45 billion to $66 billion, while the General Fund Budget grew from $20 billion to $28 billion.  While inflation was under 20 percent, spending in Harrisburg increased by 47 percent.  This growth is unsustainable.”

In addition to imposing billions of dollars in higher taxes on a host of goods and services, Rendell also raised taxes on small business, hiking the personal income tax rate – the rate at which small businesses face taxation. However, Rendell is a fitting campaign spokesman in this respect, as President Obama is pushing for a federal tax hike on the majority of small business profits to kick in on January 1st, 2013.

Not surprisingly, Rendell’s tenure was not good for job seekers in Pennsylvania. In fact, if the topic of job creation ever comes up during one of Rendell’s appearances on MSNBC, he should really just take off his mic and leave the room. Under Rendell’s tenure, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate rose by more than 39 percent, leaving his successor with an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. In fact, on his way out the door Rendell sought to raise taxes on what was one of the few bright spots of the Pennsylvania economy at the time - natural gas production. Gov. Tom Corbett has since been able to help bring unemployment back below eight percent while reducing spending and keeping taxes low.

Mitt Romney, who Rendell will continue to attack on the airwaves over the next two months, saw unemployment drop in Massachusetts during his time as governor. These are just a few things to keep in mind next time you hear Ed Rendell preach about good governance or attack Mitt Romney.

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New Study Shows Bag Tax Harmful to D.C.'s Fiscal Environment


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012, 2:35 PM PERMALINK

This week the Beacon Hill Institute issued a new study commissioned by ATR showing the economic damage done by the D.C. bag tax two years after implementation. For a copy of the full report, click here.

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Gov. Nikki Haley Stands Up In Defense of South Carolina Taxpayers


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Friday, August 17th, 2012, 1:01 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform applauds South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for her fiscally prudent decision to have government employees share in the sacrifice and pay a slightly higher premium for their taxpayer-funded health insurance.

Like Paul Ryan, Gov. Haley is confronting facts and telling the public the truth. The cost of health insurance for South Carolina government employees has spiked by over $11 million in just the last year and Palmetto State taxpayers are on the hook for rising costs.

As Gov. Haley noted in the Charleston Post-Courier this week, “in a tough economy and with so much uncertainty coming out of Washington about our health care system, businesses across South Carolina have seen rising health care costs. And those businesses are faced, just like our government is, with two options to tackle those increases: 1) pay for the costs entirely on their own, or 2) share the increase with their employees."

In light of this reality, the State Budget and Control Board, at the request of Gov. Haley, voted last week to have state government employees, who have already been awarded a raise this year, contribute slightly more to cover the rising cost of their health insurance.

The same media outlets that have no problem with the trillions in higher federal taxes proposed by President Obama are crying foul over Gov. Haley’s modest and necessary action. Here it’s important to keep in mind that Gov. Haley’s move to increase government employee contributions would amount to less than $8 per month on average per employee.

More importantly, Gov. Haley’s move will save the hard-working taxpayers of South Carolina around $5.8 million per year. ATR applauds Governor Haley for this fiscally responsible decision and for her principled defense of South Carolina taxpayers. While the Obama administration is ignoring mathematical realities and refusing to tell voters the truth, Gov. Haley once again shows that Republican governors are stepping up to provide leadership on fiscal and budgetary matters. 

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Nationwide Coalition Urges EPA Against Unprecedented Action


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Friday, July 20th, 2012, 6:25 AM PERMALINK

This morning a coalition of non-partisan organizations from across the country sent a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson regarding a pending decision by the EPA that has signifcant economic implications. 

The EPA is currently considering whether to deny permits to develop what would be Pebble Mine in Alaska prior to the submission of a permit application. If the EPA were to take this unprecedented action, it would not simply kill jobs at a time when the economy desperately needs more jobs, it would be a major blow to states' rights and regulatory certainty. This nationwide coalition, of which Americans for Tax Reform is a member, expressed grave concern in today's letter to Jackson: 

"As this mineral exploration is occurring on state lands available for mining, our concerns are amplified even more. We agree with the Alaska Attorney General who believes that the EPA should drop this ill-advised approach that violates states’ rights.

The U.S. needs copper and we especially need jobs that come from resource development projects that propose significant investments, more than $6 billion in the case of Pebble. Such investment would have far reaching positive economic benefits not just for Alaska, but also for those American companies and workers who would build and supply a potential new strategic minerals mine.

Premature judgment and action by the EPA is cause for great concern, not just in Alaska, but across the country. Interested stakeholders should be able to gather information about the potential impacts of a mining plan, the potential economic effects, and the true risks of mining development near their communities once an actual plan has been proposed."

The signatories also warned agains the chilling impact such action would have on future projects: 

"As is the case with the EPA’s overreach in attempting to veto water permits for West Virginia’s Spruce Mine (appropriately rejected by the courts), vetoing a fill permit for a potential copper mine before a plan has been filed is another ill-advised power grab by the agency. This agency action would have a dramatic chilling effect on investment in America and show that many third world countries have more regulatory certainty than the U.S."

To read the letter in its entirety, click here

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Coalition of Groups Draws Attention to Anti-Free Enterprise Legislation in North Carolina


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 12:54 PM PERMALINK

A coalition of free market and conservative organizations sent a joint letter to North Carolina legislators this morning, calling attention to the increased costs and reduced access to dental care that would result from passage of SB 655/HB 698, protectionist legislation that is currently pending in the House.

ATR is proud to join the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Taxpayers Union, in speaking out regarding the adverse economic consequences that would result from passage of SB 655/HB 698. While lawmakers continue to meet to try to find some sort of agreement, it is ATR's position that the best outcome for North Carolinians would be for this bill to be simply rejected. Americans for Tax Reform is urging legislators to vote "NO" on this misguided piece of legislation.

For a copy of the coalition letter that was sent to members of the North Carolina House this morning, click here.

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Walter Dalton Looks to Wack Small Businesses


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 5:05 PM PERMALINK

Small businesses. They are responsible for over 60 percent of job creation. They are like puppies. Everyone loves them. Even liberals who demonize business have to pretend to like small businesses. Yet in North Carolina, one of the top battleground states of the 2012 election, Democrats have put up a gubernatorial candidate whose policies would sock it to small businesses.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic nominee for governor, has announced his support for out-going Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed sales tax hike. What the Dalton campaign is hoping voters don’t hear about, and the media ignores, is the disproportionate harm that sale tax increases have on small businesses.

A survey that was the first national measure of retailers’ sales tax compliance costs was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2004. The report found that retailers with less than $1,000,000 in annual sales were burdened with sales tax compliance costs in excess of 13 percent of sales tax collected. Meanwhile, the big guys – retailers with income between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 – had average compliance costs of less than six percent. The really big boys, retailers with more than $10,000,000 in sales, had compliance costs that were less than three percent on average.

That’s the problem with raising the sales tax. It most adversely impacts the little guys, both consumers and employers. Why then, with an unemployment rate well above the national average, is Walter Dalton seeking to disproportionately harm and reduce the job-creating capacity of employers who provide the lion’s share of jobs in the Tar Heel State.

That’s a good question and one that would be great for a moderator to ask in the first gubernatorial debate. 

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FTC Calls North Carolina Bill Anticompetitive


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 1:25 PM PERMALINK

House budget negotiations have been the main focus thus far in the second full week of the North Carolina legislature’s short session and one thing is clear - that, despite the best efforts of Gov. Bev Perdue and Walter Dalton, the final product will not include a tax or fee increase. While this is good news for taxpayers in the Old North State, there is still some problematic legislation pending with SB 655/HB 698 remaining under consideration.

in response to a request from Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-10) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently weighed in on the matter. In a letter sent to Rep. LaRoque of May 25th, FTC staff outlined its conclusion regarding SB 655/HB 698:

“We are concerned that the Bill may deny consumers of dental services the benefits of competition spurred by the efficiencies…including the potential for lower prices, improved access to care, and greater choice. Underserved communities, such as the 78 of 100 counties in North Carolina that are listed as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, may be particularly affected...Therefore, we urge you to consider whether the Bill’s restrictions and grants of regulatory power…are necessary to protect consumers. If not, the North Carolina legislature should reject the Bill.”

The FTC staff comment also explains the redundancy of many provisions in the bill:

"Given that the Board already oversees health and safety issues as part of the licensure regime that governs all dentists in the state...it does not appear that the Bill would enhance the Board's ability to ensure patient safety.”

ATR agrees with the FTC’s assessment of this misguided piece of legislation, which echoes similar critiques made by others, such as the John Locke Foundation. As ATR has already noted, SB 655/HB 698 is a protectionist, anti-free enterprise piece of legislation that seeks to use the power of the state to eliminate competition in the dental industry. Passage of this legislation would result in reduced access to care and increased costs for North Carolinians. With health care costs set rise as a result of the federal tax changes and other policy reforms scheduled to take effect at the end of the year, it would behoove NC legislators to avoid adding insult to injury with policies that raise the cost of dental care.

North Carolinians already contend with increased costs as a result of limited access to dental care. The state currently ranks 47th in the nation in terms of dentists per capita. ATR urges members of the NC House to avoid exacerbating this problem by rejecting SB 655/HB 698.

For a copy of the ATR’s letter on this matter, click here

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ATR Urges North Carolina Legislators to Reject Anti-Free Enterprise Protectionism


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Monday, May 21st, 2012, 4:09 PM PERMALINK

North Carolina is one of the top battleground states for the 2012 election. Ads are already flooding the airwaves from Cape Hatteras to Cashiers and, with the DNC being held in Charlotte, the state is expected to become a political fever pitch over the next few months.

A major topic during the campaign season will be the policies that President Obama has signed into law, such as the 20 tax increases in ObamaCare alone, that will drive up the cost of health care. Indeed, Republicans who hope to pick up three congressional seats in the Tar Heel State will make this a major theme of their campaigns. Yet, in order for North Carolina Republicans to avoid muddling their message and contradicting themselves, Republican state legislators would do well to reject Senate Bill 655, legislation currently pending in the General Assembly that would drive up the cost of dental care for North Carolinians.

Yesterday, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to all members of the North Carolina House, urging them to reject SB 655, legislation that uses the power of government to stifle competition and drive up consumer costs:

 

21 May 2012

Dear legislators,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I write today urging you to reject Senate Bill 655. If passed, this bill would add onerous new regulations restricting the ability of dentists in North Carolina to engage in free enterprise and administer their practices more efficiently. Simply put, this bill is an attempt to use the power of the government to eliminate competition. The effects of SB 655 will harm consumers and taxpayers in the state by limiting access to care, restricting competition, increasing costs, destroying jobs and discouraging investment. 

As it stands, North Carolina faces a shortage of dentists, ranking just 47th nationally in dentists per capita, based on data from the American Dental Association (ADA) and US Census Bureau. The result is less access to needed care and higher costs. Dentists in North Carolina earn 25 percent more than the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This costs North Carolina consumers over $250 million more in additional costs every year, with the effects being the same as that of a hidden tax: increased costs and less disposable income for the citizens of North Carolina. SB 655 would exacerbate these current problems.

Given the rising costs of health care across the United States and the resulting burden on employers and taxpayers, states should look to promote more efficient models of delivering healthcare. SB 655 would prohibit dental practices from contracting with Dental Service Organizations (DSOs), which allow dentists to focus exclusively on providing care, resulting in both high quality care and lower costs for patients.

DSOs do not own dental practices, and the Dental Board already has the regulatory authority required to ensure that all dentists deliver high quality care to their patients, irrespective of how they choose to contract for administrative services. This is a broadly accepted model utilized by many other medical professions, including emergency room physicians, oncologists, anesthesiologists and hospitalists. In a recent statement, the ADA wrote: “States should implement administrative reforms to cut red tape that impedes dentists from delivering care and patients from receiving it.” SB 655 flies in the face of this advice.

As the John Locke Foundation noted in its analysis of SB 655, North Carolina lawmakers “should be looking at ways to expand dental care in North Carolina, not restrict it. If a management company is interested in assuming purchasing, billing and administrative duties and a dentist wants to spend more time on patient care, they ought to be allowed to work out whatever arrangement works best for them.” ATR agrees whole-heartedly with this astute assessment.

While many in the dental industry support SB 655, many other dentists, consumers, taxpayers, employers, and investors in North Carolina would be harmed by this legislation. Rather than consider legislation that stifles competition and drives up consumer costs, North Carolina lawmakers should instead be looking for ways to make the state more economically competitive.  As such, I urge you to oppose SB 655. If you have any questions, please contact ATR’s Patrick Gleason at (202) 785-0266 or pgleason@atr.org.   

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

[PDF version]


 

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DC City Council Pushes for Higher Taxes on Consumers


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 3:12 PM PERMALINK

Despite the fact that economists across the political spectrum concede that economic expansion is a more advantageous approach to raising revenue than raising tax rates, some members of the DC City Council are pushing forward with a job-killing tax hike even though Mayor Gray has provided a sensible alternative that would loosen restrictions pertaining to when businesses can stay open and stores can sell alcohol. Instead, Councilman Jim Graham wants to put the screws to the District’s small businesses by hiking the city’s liquor tax. The results of such a hike would be disastrous for employers, consumers, and jobseekers alike.   

Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out the folly of hiking liquor taxes numerous times in the past. In neighboring Maryland, Democrat lawmakers hiked the state’s liquor tax by 50-percent just over a year ago. Despite the rhetoric from proponents of that tax hike, the Maryland Tourism Council pointed out that in July of 2011, the actual revenue generated by Maryland’s alcohol tax increase fell short of projections.

Don’t just take ATR’s word for it. In today’s Washington Times, Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute highlighted the problems that a liquor tax increase would pose for low income workers just trying to make ends meet:

“The tax actually will be assessed on wholesalers in one large sum. The prices that wholesalers charge bars, stores and restaurants subsequently will jump. This initial increase in expenses will hurt the smallest bars and restaurants, which will try to recoup the losses by increasing the costs of their food and drinks.

This means two things: First, people who aren’t even drinking alcohol likely will end up paying for the increase. Second, wait staff and bartenders likely will see their tips shrink. Most customers calculate tips by rounding up - the “keep the change” method. If the cost of a drink increases by 6 cents, customers aren’t likely to alter their tipping math. Thus, the tax is coming almost directly out of the tips on which many service workers depend.”

Councilman Graham cites a need to reduce alcohol consumption as a reason for his tax hike.  Graham doesn’t seem to understand that there is a contradiction in his move to make the District’s budget more reliant on alcohol tax revenue, while also claiming he intends to cut down on alcohol consumption. The same contradictory claims were made when Washington, DC hiked its cigarette tax in 2009. In that instance, revenue not only fell short of projections, tobacco tax revenues came in below pre-hike levels. This was in large part the result of consumers deciding to purchase cigarettes outside the city – most likely in Virginia, where this onerous lifestyle tax is considerably lower.

ATR is encouraging DC residents to contact Councilman Graham and let him know that a tax hike on liquor is the wrong medicine for what ails the District’s budget: overspending. District taxpayers can contact Councilman Graham at (202) 724-8181 or by email at jim@grahamwone.com. Additionally, Graham can be tweeted at @JimGrahamWard1. 

Also, regarding the proposal to permit the sale of liquor on Sunday, the Washington City Paper has listed some reasons as to why the nonsensical prohibition on Sunday sales needs to end.

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