Samantha Capriotti

Unemployment Reaches Record Lows Thanks to GOP Tax Cuts

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Friday, December 6th, 2019, 5:10 PM PERMALINK

The U.S. has reached a 50-year low unemployment rate thanks to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Over the past two years, the Trump economy has continually outperformed predictions with no signs of stopping.

Since President Trump’s 2016 election, American businesses have created 7 million jobs – 5.1 million more than predicted by the Congressional Budget Office.  500,000 of these new jobs are within the manufacturing industry, a drastic improvement from the 20,000 manufacturing jobs lost the year before Trump’s election.  In November of 2019 alone, the economy added 266,000 jobs, far surpassing the expected 187,000.

The unemployment rate reached a 50-year low of 3.5 percent this September, accompanied by the highest employment in U.S. history at almost 160 million.  The number of discouraged workers decreased by 128,000 between November of 2018 and 2019.  

When President Trump was elected, only 14 states’ unemployment rates were below 4 percent.  However, 35 states’ unemployment rates fell below this threshold as of September 2019.  24 states either achieved or matched their record-low unemployment rate at some point under the Trump administration.

From 2017 to 2018, employment rose by over 2.4 million, benefitting all demographics. African American employment increased by 504,000, Asian by 384,000, women by 1.1 million, and teenagers by 52,000.  Since TCJA’s passage, unemployment rates for African Americans (5.9 percent in May 2018), Hispanic Americans (4.3 percent in February 2019), and Asian Americans (2.1 percent in June 2019) have all achieved their lowest rates in U.S. history.  Additionally, female unemployment reached its lowest rate in 71 years.

TCJA and the Trump administration have revitalized the economy with record low unemployment, steady job growth, and rising wages, all for the benefit of American workers.

Photo Credit: Flickr

2 Years In, American Workers Are Winning Thanks to GOP Tax Cuts

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, 3:57 PM PERMALINK

It has been 2 years since President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law and Americans continue to benefit from high wages and a strong job market.  Unemployment is down, confidence in the job market is up, and small businesses are thriving.  

Here are the numbers:

Since Trump took office in 2017, American businesses have created over 6.7 million jobs.  In April, the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low of 3.6 percent, and the rate has been at or below 4 percent for 20 consecutive months.  Currently, there are 157 million Americans in the workforce and the labor force participation rate is at 63.3 percent, a stark contrast to the 40-year lows seen under the Obama administration.  

Small businesses have continued to offer more jobs with higher wages thanks to the Republican TCJA and the Trump administration’s deregulation efforts.  The NFIB Small Business Optimism index, a measurement of the confidence small businesses have in the economy, recently increased to a historically solid reading of 102.4.

Americans are confident enough in the economy and the job market to leave their jobs and search for new career opportunities.  In September 2019, there were 5.8 million job separations, 3.5 million of which were voluntary.   After leaving their jobs, Americans have access to a record-high 7 million job openings.  The ratio of unemployed persons to job openings stands at a record-low 0.9 percent, meaning there are more openings than people looking for jobs. 

The TCJA is the product of a pro-growth administration and its successes will only be amplified over time.  As a result of the legislation, 90 percent of wage earners received a tax cut.   Americans are now able to control the way a larger portion of their income is spent, saved, or invested.  In 2018, GDP grew $179 billion more than expected, and this will compound over 10 years to more than $6 trillion in growth.  Additionally, the TCJA is predicted to create 1.2 million new jobs in total by 2027.  

The results are in: the Trump administration’s winning combination of tax cuts and regulatory relief have led to record low unemployment, record high job openings, and strong growth for small businesses.

While Democrats are committed to thwarting economic growth with proposed tax hikes and $30 trillion plans for a total government takeover of healthcare, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have delivered win after win for the American worker.

Photo Credit: The Epoch Times

Four Things You Need To Know About the RSC Healthcare Plan

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Posted by Tom Hebert, Samantha Capriotti on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

The Republican Study Committee recently released a framework to reform our nation’s healthcare system. The plan, entitled “A Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care,” provides a much-needed alternative to the radical government takeover of healthcare that the left is pushing. 

The left’s plan, which they disingenuously call “Medicare for All,” would kick 180 million Americans off of their private coverage overnight and require $32 trillion in new taxes over the next decade. Government-run healthcare would raise taxes on every American and lead to drastic reductions in the quality of healthcare. 

In contrast to this radical proposal, the RSC healthcare plan makes numerous improvements to the U.S. healthcare system that will ensure competition, access, and quality for every American. 

Here are four things you need to know about the RSC’s healthcare plan. 

Expands Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts that gives patients choice and flexibility in paying for their health needs. HSAs are double-tax advantaged: the funds are not taxed when earned as income or as they accrue interest. HSAs are used in conjunction with low premium, high deductible health insurance plans and are used by over 25 million American families and individuals. 

The RSC plan expands HSAs by allowing individuals to use them to pay their healthcare premiums. The RSC plan also expands the accessibility and effectiveness of HSAs by eliminating the requirement that HSAs be tied to a high-deductible plan. The plan also increases the HSA maximum contribution limit and expands the scope of eligible health care expenditures. 

Importantly, the RSC plan allows working seniors and other Medicare recipients to contribute to an HSA. This will end the discrimination against working seniors who cannot be on Medicare if they choose to keep their HSA.

Expands Access to Innovative, Patient Centered Care

The RSC plan expands access to innovative care for American patients in several ways. 

The framework calls for expanding direct primary care — the facetime that patients share with doctors — without raising costs. The RSC plan will allow patients to use their HSAs to pay the $60 - $70 monthly fees that fund direct primary care.  

The proposal also contains reforms that allow individuals to increase their negotiation power and receive care through economies of scale. The plan promotes health sharing ministries, which allow members of nonprofits to pool their funds through monthly dues and to only fund programs for which they would need coverage. 

In addition to these reforms, the RSC codifies the Trump Administration’s expansion of short-term, limited duration plans into law. These plans are useful for consumers in between jobs or with temporary gaps in coverage. 

Strengthens Medicaid for Future Generations 

Medicaid is on an unsustainable path. Federal spending on the program has skyrocketed from $14 billion in 1980 to a projected $702 billion in 2029. Over the next decade, Medicaid expenditures on the Medicaid expansion population alone is projected to approach $938 billion. 

To streamline the program, the RSC healthcare plan calls for a moratorium on future Medicaid expansions and a phase out of the expansion’s enhanced FMAP rate. This ends the subsidization of able-bodied adults without dependents at the expense of the truly disadvantaged –– poor pregnant women, seniors, children, and the disabled. 

The RSC plan also replaces Medicaid’s open-ended entitlement structure with separate per capita grants to better serve Medicaid’s traditional beneficiaries. The plan allows for Medicaid to combine the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the Medicaid grant for children. A flex-grant would also allow states to subsidize the healthcare of low-income individuals, subject to work requirements. 

Protects Pre-Existing Conditions and Enhances Healthcare Portability

Healthcare portability — the ability of an individual to carry their healthcare protections with them — is a cornerstone of the RSC’s healthcare plan. Portability is essential to preventing breaks in coverage for individuals, where an individual could develop a condition that would serve as an impediment to getting reinsured. 

Most importantly, portability is a protection against individuals being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The RSC plan provides a legal framework to ensure that coverage protections are portable. 

The RSC plan ensures that individuals that move from the employer marketplace to the individual marketplace do not need to exhaust COBRA coverage before entering the market with portability protections. The RSC plan also ensures that individuals seeking coverage in the individual marketplace could not be refused a plan due to health status, medical condition, claims experience, receipt of healthcare, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability, or disability.

Photo Credit: Güldem Üstün

ATR Supports Rep. Hern's "Pro-Growth Budgeting Act"

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Posted by Alex Hendrie, Samantha Capriotti on Friday, November 1st, 2019, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

Congressman Kevin Hern (R-Okla) today introduced the “Pro-Growth Budgeting Act,” legislation that will require dynamic scoring of major-sized legislation.  Americans for Tax Reform urges all members of Congress to support Rep. Hern's bill. 

Dynamic scoring allows policymakers to forecast the effects of fiscal policy based on the predicted behavior of people and organizations. Dynamic scoring takes into account multiple estimates on a bill’s effect on employment, GDP, investment, labor supply, interest rates, and other major economic indicators.

This legislation requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to use dynamic scoring to assess the fiscal impacts of any major-sized legislation in addition to the 10-year static score that CBO already releases.

All legislation that affects revenue, spending, deficits, or debts above 0.25 percent of current projected U.S. GDP is subject to dynamic scoring under Rep. Hern's legislation. If a bill does not reach the 0.25 percent threshold, The House Budget Committee Chairman and Ranking Member can still request an analysis. 

The CBO would be required to disclose its data sources and transformations and the models it used to determine the dynamic score.  This provision increases transparency and ensures that lawmakers are receiving reliable, unbiased information.

Dynamic scoring gives policymakers a more detailed picture of the economic impacts of legislation. For example, when forecasting the economic impact of raising the marginal income tax rate, the static score would assume that the government would raise more revenue with no distortions. 

A dynamic score would rightly take into account that the tax would create a disincentive to work. 

Static scoring has impeded lawmakers from considering the full effects of legislation in the past. Ignoring real-world economic indicators led the CBO to estimate that the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 would only create $120 billion in revenue over six years.  Once implemented, the legislation generated $2.52 trillion in revenue, surpassing the CBO’s static estimate by $2.4 trillion.

Ignoring the real-world economic impacts of legislation can lead to bad policymaking because the full impact that legislation has on the U.S. economy is not considered.

Congressman Kevin Hern's proposal rightly corrects this by making dynamic scoring available so that lawmakers can consider the full macroeconomic impact of major legislation.

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5 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass USMCA

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

 The United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) is a commonsense update to the 25-year-old NAFTA, will benefit American workers and businesses, and is widely popular among stakeholders in all three nations. 

The agreement was finalized almost a year ago on November 30, 2018, yet Democrats continue to sit on their hands and have so far refused to put the agreement to a vote. This is despite Mexico already ratifying the agreement and Canada waiting for the U.S. Congress to act.

Rather than focusing on investigations and impeachment, Speaker Pelosi should bring the USMCA up for a vote.  

Here are five reasons why Congress should pass the USMCA:

1. The USMCA will grow the economy 

The trade agreement will increase wages, increase GDP by $68.2 billion, and create 176,000 jobs, according to the International Trade Commission’s report.  It will also increase U.S. exports to Canada by $19 billion, and to Mexico by $14 billion.  

These positive economic effects are identical to a 4% cut to the corporate income tax, as estimated by the Tax Foundation.  

The Trump administration has already achieved economic successes through international and domestic policies.  Thanks to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and more broadly, deregulatory efforts, wages are increasing 3.4 percent annually, poverty has declined 11.8 percent, and unemployment is at a 50-year low.  Since the 2016 election, the Trump administration has created 4 million jobs and the median household income is at the highest level in U.S. history.

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade deal last month that reduced or eliminated most tariffs between the U.S. and Japan.  In addition, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have achieved a Phase 1 trade agreement, which doubles China’s annual purchase of U.S. agriculture, improves intellectual property rights, and halts the planned 30 percent tariffs on Chinese imports.

The economy is moving in the right direction and the USMCA will further these successes by promoting trade with the U.S.’s largest trading partners.

2. There is broad support for USMCA

USMCA has broad support from Mexico, Canada, and U.S. stakeholders:

  • President Donald Trump has called it the “largest, most significant, modern, and balanced trade agreement in history,”
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a member of the centre-left Liberal Party of Canada, said it is “essential for businesses, families, jobs, entrepreneurs, and hardworking people in every corner of our country.” 
  • Mexico ratified the agreement almost unanimously with a 114-4 Senate vote.  Mexico even passed a labor law in April that strengthens independent unions to address concerns raised by U.S. Democrats – a key step for U.S. ratification. 
  • Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, a member of the left-wing National Regeneration Movement Party said, “We think it suits us, that it is beneficial for more foreign investment,” adding that the new trade accord would help create more well-paying jobs in Mexico.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Thomas Donohue said, “If we came up with a good strong vote on that (USMCA), it would give us a great step forward,” adding his belief that Congress had “enough votes to do it right now.”
  • The Washington Post said in an editorial that passing USMCA will “help stabilize the global economic outlook” and predicted if Pelosi would bring the agreement to the floor, it would pass both houses of Congress.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) labeled the agreement, “unambiguously a win for America. It would create new jobs, expand export markets, strengthen protections for workers, and generate billions of dollars in new prosperity,” in a co-authored Wall Street Journal op-ed.

3. USMCA helps farmers, manufacturers, American workers and business

USMCA aids small and medium-sized enterprises, grants broader market access for all three countries, and benefits agricultural producers and manufacturers.  

The agreement establishes the first small and medium-sized enterprises chapter in a U.S. Trade Agreement, which will increase transparency, accountability, and investment opportunities.  International trade supports nearly 39 million jobs (1/5 of U.S. jobs), 12 million of which rely on Canada and Mexico, according to a Business Roundtable study.  These numbers have doubled since NAFTA was signed.  

This number will only increase with ratification of USMCA.

The increased market opportunities for Americans will also increase agriculture exports by more than $314 million.  Through USMCA negotiations, Canada agreed to open market access to American farmers who wish to sell dairy, poultry, and eggs in Canada.  In return, Canada will have access to American dairy and peanut products.  A combination of poor weather conditions and the trade war with China has damaged the agricultural industry.  The industry would benefit from stabilization of international markets, especially the U.S.’s two biggest trading partners that buy close to 2/3 of U.S. agricultural exports.  

Already, the Trump Administration has created over 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the 2016 election, and manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest rate in over 30 years.  The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released a supportive statement in which they say, “By securing the relationship with our North American allies, we are also better positioned to demonstrate a strong and united front against China’s unfair trade practices and end the harm they inflict on manufacturers in America.” 

4. USMCA modernizes and updates a 25-year-old agreement

When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was agreed to in 1994, the world was a dramatically different place. For one, the internet was in its infancy. Additionally, trade within North America was greatly hindered by high tariffs and investment barriers.

Billions of dollars are traded over the internet daily, yet NAFTA does not contain any relevant provisions. USMCA establishes numerous provisions on e-commerce, cross-border data flows, encryption and IP protection that are needed in today’s digital economy.

Before NAFTA, Mexico placed an average of 250 percent more tariffs on U.S. exports than the U.S. did on Mexican imports.  Ratifying NAFTA eliminated tariffs on more than one-half of Mexico's exports to the U.S. and more than one-third of U.S. exports to Mexico.   Facilitating free trade benefits all three states’ economies, but NAFTA does not address current trade problems.

USMCA will maintain and improve the border free trade that NAFTA began, while also establishing provisions necessary for 21st century trade.

The fact is, the global economy has changed. U.S. trade policies need to reflect that.

5. USMCA is crucial for swing states

Not only is the USMCA good for the economy and popular amongst a wide array of stakeholders, it is also a political winner.

31 of the districts Trump won in 2016 now have Democrats in the House, meaning reaching these constituents is important both for the future of the House and for the 2020 presidential election.

Looking towards the upcoming election, swing states are largely invested in international trade.  In 2018, the fourteen swing states alone were responsible for 150.7 billion dollars in exports to Canada and Mexico.  This includes Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, all 2012 Obama victories turned Trump victories in 2016.

For example, Michigan traded 36.1 billion worth of exports to Canada and Mexico in 2018.  More than 117,400 Michigan jobs rely on this trade.  In Ohio, more than 102,700 jobs rely on this trade and its 2018 Canada and Mexico exports totaled 27.9 billion. Pennsylvania traded 15 billion worth of exports, and 42,900 jobs in the state rely on trade with Mexico and Canada.

More than 2 million American manufacturing jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico.  A win for these hardworking Americans could be the moving factor in 2020.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Trump’s U.S.-Japan Trade Deal Is a Win for American Workers and Businesses

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Thursday, September 26th, 2019, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

President Trump continues to fulfill a key campaign promise – to negotiate new trade deals and update existing ones to the benefit of American workers and businesses.  Earlier this week, President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a two-part trade agreement between the United States and Japan that will lower barriers to trade and reduce tariffs, increase U.S. exports to Japan, grow the agricultural sector, and promote jobs. 

As a result of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, over 90 percent of U.S. products (worth $14.1 billion) will be tariff free or will receive preferential tariff access. This will promote numerous U.S. exports including beef and pork, wheat, sweet corn, almonds, cheeses, and wine.

The U.S. will reduce or eliminate tariffs for $40 million worth of agricultural imports including plants, flowers, green tea, and soy sauce, and will also reduce tariffs on industrial goods.

The agreement also establishes digital product protections.  The protections prevent discriminatory tax measures and tariffs on digital products and data transfers.  Additionally, it safeguards the privacy and encryption of data so that protections meet the criteria laid out in the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has continually been praised for its modern and comprehensive IP protections.      

The U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement is a great step towards Trump’s promise of free trade that benefits Americans across the country.   

Congress should next pass the USMCA to strengthen North American trade.  Doing so would raise U.S. real GDP by $68.2 billion and create approximately 176,000 American jobs, according to a report released by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The U.S. and Japan have made clear that their agreement is not the end of negotiations, but a strong and successful first step for both countries.  They will continue negotiations to further improve their economic relationship.

Even so, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement marks another win for the Trump Administration’s goal to grow the U.S. economy, raise wages and create new jobs, and ensure American workers and businesses can compete.


Photo Credit: Flickr - Gage Skidmore

ATR Supports Trump Administration's Schedule B Reform

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Monday, September 16th, 2019, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule to streamline the nonprofit filing process and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information.  Under this proposal, many nonprofits including 501(c)(4)s, 501(c)(5)s, and 501(c)(6)s would no longer be required to submit a Schedule B form to the IRS.

The IRS has no need for the donor information and can enforce tax laws without it.  On top of having no use for it, the IRS has inappropriately used the information. In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it. 

Further, according to a 2016 study by the Government Accountability Office, the IRS has disproportionately targeted organizations based on religious, educational, and political views, specifically Tea Party groups.

Today, tax exempt organizations must disclose the name, address, and amount donated for each donation above $5,000. Schedule B forms are submitted to the IRS, redacted of names and addresses, and then the redacted version is made public. Under the proposed rule, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations,” only 501(c)(3)s and 527s would still have to file the Form 990, Schedule B, but all non-profits would need to present the information upon IRS request.

The information that is public will not change under the proposed rule, though money and time will be saved on both sides by eliminating this tedious process.  In fact, The Institute for Free Speech estimates that nonprofits would save about  $63 million if Schedule B were repealed. 

Critics have falsely stated that the rule will allow for illegal foreign transactions.  However, there are already measures in place to track these transactions, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will admit to funneling illegal money on the form.  Even if the IRS did suspect laws were being broken, it has no authority to share the information it collects with the FCC and the DOJ, the two agencies with the ability to enforce campaign finance laws.

The proposed rule would hold the IRS more accountable and protect free speech of donors and those working for non-profits.  American citizens have the right to associate with and donate to organizations freely and privately.  If a Schedule B is leaked, the IRS can and has faced legal consequences.  In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it. 

The proposed rule, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations” will be open for comments until December 9.  ATR urges support for Schedule B reform to eliminate the unnecessary time and effort of the process, while protecting privacy and free speech.

Photo Credit: Flickr - Martin Haesemeyer

House Democrats Fail to Release a Budget

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Monday, April 8th, 2019, 12:35 PM PERMALINK

House Democrats are already shirking their responsibilities and have failed to release a Fiscal Year 2020 budget. 

Instead of releasing a budget, Democrats plan to vote on legislation which does nothing but increase spending. The House has indicated that the bill was brought to the House on April 2nd and will be considered this week. ATR urges members of Congress to vote against this impractical proposal. The legislation, H.R. 2021, the Investing for the People Act, increases defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps by $350 billion within the next two years. 

The Investing for the People Act increases non-discretionary defense spending to $646 billion and defense spending to $680 billion by Fiscal Year 2021. Within the first year alone, this is a 5.7 percent increase for non-defense discretionary spending and a 2.6 percent increase for defense spending, yet Democrats have no plan to pay for this increased spending. 

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to make decisions over federal spending and one of the main ways lawmakers do this is by releasing and voting on a budget that outlines priorities and sets a vision for future years. 

Instead of doing so, Democrats are evidently more concerned about pushing through unrealistic proposals that explode the deficit and dramatically expand the size of government, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.  In fact, the Green New Deal is projected to cost between $51 and $93 trillion and Medicare for all is estimated to cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years. These proposals will inevitably require major tax hikes to implement.   

In contrast, Senate Republicans released a Fiscal Year 2020 Budget on March 22nd. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, released his Chairman’s Mark Senate Budget Resolution which calls for deficit reduction, dynamic scoring, reduced spending, and permanent enforcement of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  

The Republican proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal will lower non-interest mandatory spending by $551 billion and the deficit by $538 billion.  It establishes guidelines so that by 2024 the deficit will constitute 2.9 percent of GDP, 0.6 percent lower than the historical average.  The resolution offers the improvement of existing, and creation of new, restrictions Congress could use to oversee the budget.  It also creates a surgical point of order to target avoidance of appropriations processes and records.  

In addition, this Senate Republican budget builds on the success of tax reform by making key provisions permanent. 

Already, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has grown the economy.  GDP grew by 3.1 percent between Q4 of 2018 and Q4 of 2019 and over 5.1 million new jobs have been created since 2017.  Nominal wages have grown 3.4 percent in the past year, and the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low in September.    

Congressional Democrats have failed to release a budget, while Republicans have released one that sets standards for the next five years.  Simply spend more will not solve an ever-deepening deficit, stop unnecessary spending, or benefit American tax payers.  

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2020 Candidates on the Death Tax

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

For decades, Democrats have been lockstep in their support for the government’s right to tax a dead individual’s estate. Several 2020 Democrat presidential candidates have already proposed increases in the death tax limit, and the campaign is only getting started.   

Under current tax law, the death tax is 40 percent. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed nearly doubling the tax to 77 percent in his new Estate Tax Plan, returning the death tax to levels unseen since the 1970s.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Senator Sanders is not alone in his monomaniacal desire to raise taxes, as other 2020 Democrats have proposed similar increases. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) is advocating for a progressive death tax system, with the highest rate allowing the government to confiscate 75 percent of a dead individual’s estate.  Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is proposing a death tax rate of 65 percent, raising the death tax back to 2009 levels.     

On top of the increased death tax, Warren has proposed a wealth tax and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of New York has suggested a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million.

By stark contrast, Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), and Representative Jason Smith (R-Mo.), are working hard to repeal death tax. In fact, Republicans, have proposed a bill to permanently and completely repeal the death tax, called the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019.  

Repeal of the death tax is good tax policy. The unseemly death tax is levied on assets that have been taxed previously through income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, or the corporate income tax.  Taking an additional 40 percent when an individual dies is double taxation. 

The death tax disproportionately affects lower income land owners and increases incentives to hide assets.  The wealthy can evade the tax through loopholes and armies of lawyers and accountants.  Small, family run businesses, farmers, and ranchers cannot afford to seek out such loopholes, and are hit much harder than the powerful and well-connected. 

Finally, public polling consistently shows that large majorities of the American people support death tax repeal. It is unsurprising but unfortunate that 2020 Democrats are actively subverting the will of the American people by advocating for massive death tax hikes.

For the sake of good policy and their future electoral prospects back in their home states, 2020 Democrats should work with President Trump and Congressional Republicans to kill the death tax once and for all.

Photo Credit: Flickr - GotCredit

New Report Estimates Economic Damage from Tariffs

Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Friday, February 15th, 2019, 11:48 AM PERMALINK

President Trump has taken important steps to improve trade deals with foreign nations that allow American workers and businesses to compete. Although he is right to take action to solve these issues, raising tariffs and setting quotas places a burden on Americans. Protectionist policies are hurting the economy, causing job loss and negating the gains from recent tax reforms, according to a report released by Trade Partnership Worldwide.

New U.S. tariffs, in combination with China’s failure to respect intellectual property rights and rule of law, have trigged a trade war between the two nations.  As of November 2018, tariffs affected $255 billion worth of imports, while foreign tariffs affected $124 billion of American exports.  In response, China has threatened to increase their tariffs, potentially impacting an additional $290 billion in exports.

The administration's Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs have been similarly harmful to global trade and have opened the door to retaliatory tariffs.  Mexico, Canada, Turkey, the EU, and Russia have responded with increased tariffs, causing a decrease of American exports by 36.7 percent.   

According to the study, the threatened tariffs, which include Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum,  25 percent tariffs on China, and tariffs on automobiles could result in annual GDP loss of 1.04 percent, costing a family of four $2,389 per year, and costing the U.S. 2.2 million jobs. 

This trade action is clearly harming American businesses - Harley Davidson announced they will be relocating some of their production overseas, claiming the only way they can sustain sales is avoiding EU tariffs. This is not an isolated case – trade barriers lead to increased cost to the producer and consumer, which means less buyers, and in turn, layoffs. 

Free trade is vital for America’s economy and employment.  International trade directly impacts more than 20 percent of all jobs in America, totaling close to 41 million.  Historically, tariffs have failed America, prolonging the Great Depression and declining trade.  Since World War II, the United States has decreased trade barriers with bipartisan support and success.  This has paid enormous dividends domestically and abroad.  The United States must continue this trend. 

Tariffs’ negative effects, such as unemployment and declined trade and spending, far outweigh the temporary benefits.  While President Trump is right to fight for American jobs and businesses, these protectionist policies risk undercutting all the good his administration has achieved for the economy thus far.  America should lower its tariffs, and abandon any plans to implement more, to protect U.S. workers and the economy.