Tony Smith

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs $400 Million in Tax Cuts into Law

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Posted by Tony Smith on Friday, April 15th, 2016, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law this week $400 million worth of one-time and recurring tax cuts. Of that $400 million, $290 million comes reducing the state property tax rate for schools by 5 percent, and $110 million involves extending tax holidays, such as the back-to-school tax break and permanently cutting sales taxes on manufacturing equipment. The back-to-school tax holiday will last three days from August 5-7, shorter than the originally proposed 10 days. In addition to these cuts, there are also smaller breaks including an exemption on food and drinks sold by veterans’ organization and phases out a sales tax on asphalt used by the government over a three-year period.

Initially Gov. Scott asked for $1 billion in tax cuts at the beginning of the year, but big spenders in the legislature, who insisted on expanding Medicaid and other spending programs opposed the proposal. Scott had also proposed $250 million in business-recruitment incentives.  Despite the legislature’s opposition to the larger but modest tax cut proposal, Gov. Scott remained ever the optimist, stating, “We are headed in the right direction.”

The Governor has quite the reputation for cutting taxes, and is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment he has kept, unlike his predecessor Charlie Crist.

In 2015 alone, the Governor signed a $429 million tax-cut package into law that included lower cell phone and cable taxes for Florida residents. That package, along with his most recent pro-growth plans, bring his total to more than $3 billion in tax cuts through his tenure as Governor of Florida. These massive pro-growth policies have led to the creation of one million jobs, cutting unemployment nearly in half and driving economic growth in the country’s fourth largest economy. 

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ATR Supports Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016

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Posted by Tony Smith on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016, 11:56 AM PERMALINK

On Monday April 4, the US Senate unanimously passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 87-0.

Theft of intellectual property costs US companies upwards of $300 billion each year, and that’s without taking into account what the loss of industrial trade secrets does to our national security. For these reasons, there has been broad public and private sector support for the Defend Trade Secrets Act, including from Americans for Tax Reform, which released a letter in support of S. 1890.

The following is a highlight from the letter:

“Trade secrets are important to all companies, and especially small and innovative companies because they do not have the budget to seek patent protection. S.1890 Defend Trade Secrets Act 2016 legislation enables American businesses to protect their trade secrets in federal court. Furthermore, the legislation equips businesses with the necessary tools to respond to trade secret theft, including the ability to retrieve stolen assets and seek injunctions against perpetrators.”

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 is a step in the right direction after years of loss of intellectual property to foreign entities and multinational corporations who, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said, "would rather not go through the trouble of developing products themselves; they'd rather just steal the fruits of others' creativity." Taking action to actually protect American companies from these threats is not only in the interest of US national security and private sector bottom lines, but in the spirit of the free market and competition as well.

This legislation strengthens legal protections for the commercial trade secrets of US companies. The bill, if signed into law, would create uniform standards on what constitutes commercial trade secret theft and give companies the right to sue in federal court over incidences of such theft.

The legislation, which also has support from the White House, now heads to the House, where Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) is spearheading the effort.  As of now, the House has not scheduled any hearings on its version of the bill. 

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8 of 11 Remaining Obamacare Co-ops on Verge of Collapse

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Posted by Tony Smith on Friday, February 26th, 2016, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

Of the 11 remaining health insurance co-ops created under Obamacare, eight of them could collapse in less than a year. Moreover, the 11 remaining are less than half of the original twenty-three that were established in 2012 to compete with for-profit, private insurance companies. This from Mandy Cohen, one of the top federal health officials in charge of overseeing the implementation of Obamacare. As COO of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cohen’s responsibilities not only cover the physical presence of Obamacare throughout the country but its disastrous virtual presence in the form of healthcare.gov.

In addition to the possible collapse of the healthcare co-ops, Cohen hinted that there was much more at stake than just the loss of insurance for consumers. From the Daily Caller:

            “About $1.4 billion of the $2.5 billion in Obamacare loan funding was lost when the 12 failed co-ops went under.

Cohen ominously hinted that many local hospitals, medical clinics and doctors may not be paid for services they delivered to co-op patients because federal law requires that the government be first in line among creditors.

“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” she said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors,” but who gets paid “is on a case-by-case basis” determined by the Justice Department.”

Facing a House oversight panel, Cohen refused to reveal further information on which co-ops were in danger of collapse, citing possible damage to the co-ops if consumers were informed their insurance providers may not be able to do their jobs and provide them with insurance in the near-future. For an administration so apparently concerned with protecting consumers from the dangerous and irresponsible corporations, it would seem that same standard of consumer protection does not apply when the government’s reputation is at risk.

Obamacare was supposed to ensure that every US citizen would have affordable healthcare without the threat of it being taken away from them. But as the old saying goes, “what the government gives it can take away”, and in this case, the American people face the loss of their insurance by the very administration who promised it to them.

The Obamacare program has been riddled with failure. From a website launch that would make only North Korea envious, to billions in possible fraudulent payments, and billions more wasted on failed exchanges that never got off the ground, Obamacare has been an abject failure that has cost taxpayers billions and created industry-crushing regulations that have hurt, rather than have helped, the health and welfare of the American people. And it would seem that with Mandy Cohen’s most recent testimony, the beginning of the end for another part of the Affordable Care Act’s infrastructure. 

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