Biden's Press Secretary Makes False Claim about Gas Prices

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Posted by Jack Fencl on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 4:46 PM PERMALINK

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki falsely claimed on Monday that current gas prices under President Biden are at the same level now as they were in June of 2018.

In a Twitter exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Psaki wrote, “You forgot to mention that gas prices are the same now as they were in June 2018. Or that this time last year unemployment was 11.1% -- today it’s 5.8%.”

But in reality, the average price of a gallon of gas at this point of June of 2018 was $2.83—today, it is $3.07. This means consumers in June of 2021 are paying 24 cents more per gallon than they did three years ago, making Psaki’s claim that “gas prices are the same” laughably false. 

Psaki was obviously cherry-picking data by comparing current gas prices with those of 2018 rather than prices of June of 2019 - a better pre-pandemic baseline for comparison. Indeed, when one looks at the more appropriate comparison, the increase in gas prices is even starker. At this point in June of 2019, gas was selling for $2.65 a gallon, or $.42 less than today. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has conveniently compiled weekly gas prices going back to 1990. 

Additionally, Psaki’s treatment of unemployment data is extremely misleading. While in this case her numbers are at least accurate, she fails to mention that summer of 2020 was middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. A better comparison would be to June of 2019, as the economy had yet to suffer any pandemic-related effects. 

It appears that Psaki chose to obscure the comparison because it reflects poorly on the Biden administration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in June of 2019 was 3.6 percent, whereas it is currently 5.8 percent, a full 2.2 percentage points higher. 

 

Photo Credit: The White House

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Lawmakers Should Support Senator Rick Scott's Bill to Rein in Debt and Protect Against Tax Hikes

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Posted by Regina Kelley on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 4:01 PM PERMALINK

Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) recently introduced S.1990, the Federal Debt Emergency Control Act. This bill establishes important reforms to address out of control spending while protecting the American people from tax increases.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

In recent years, excessive federal spending has resulted in a substantial increase in budget deficits and federal debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects federal spending will reach 31.2 percent of GDP, or almost one-third of the entire economy. Federal debt will be 102 percent of GDP in 2021, or more than the entire annual economy. 

This bill will help address this problem by requiring the Office of Management and Budget to declare a “federal debt emergency” if spending exceeds 100 percent of the GDP. Once this emergency is declared, all unobligated funding of stimulus bills (such as the American Rescue Plan) will be terminated and sent back to the Treasury General Fund immediately to reduce the deficit.

All legislation that increases the deficit (as determined by the CBO) that adds net new spending or increases the federal deficit, must carry its own offsets. If it does not, the legislation would require at least two-thirds of all Senators to vote to further increase the federal debt before being able to consider the bill – a high threshold that will disincentivize proposals that aren’t fully self-financed. This provision would also require the Senate to take a roll call vote on increasing the federal debt each time an unfinanced spending bill comes to the floor which will increase  accountability on those who vote to raise our federal debt.  

This bill would also protect against tax hikes by preventing them from being used as offsets. This will ensure politicians cannot use force American families and businesses to pay for more reckless federal spending. It will also allow the passing of tax cuts without needing a two-thirds vote to pass. 

Democrats often push for job-killing, economy-hurting tax hikes instead of cutting spending. For instance, to fund his $6 trillion budget proposal, President Biden has proposed 30 different tax hikes, which would amount increase taxes by trillions of dollars. 

Sen. Scott’s legislation would also encourage lawmakers to consider bills that help reduce the deficit. Bills introduced during the emergency declaration that reduce the deficit by at least 5 percent over the budget window and that do not increase taxes or fees would be subject to expedited approval and would have to be voted on within 30 days of introduction. 

Senator Rick Scott has introduced the Federal Debt Emergency Control Act ahead of the expiration of federal debt limit suspension on July 31st. ATR urges lawmakers to co-sponsor and support this important piece of legislation that implements taxpayer protections and reins in ballooning deficits and federal debt. 

Photo Credit: Riccardo Savi


House Democrats Call On Pelosi To Delay Cicilline Antitrust Package Markup

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 3:30 PM PERMALINK

Eight House Democrats called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats to delay the markup of the antitrust package spearheaded by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). 

Reps. Suzan DelBene, Scott Peters, Sharice Davids, Ann McLane Kuster, Chrissy Houlahan, Kathy Manning, Bradley Schneider, and Stacey Plaskett signed the letter. 

Given that the Cicilline package would have wide-ranging impacts across the U.S. economy if implemented, the signatories call for full legislative hearings on each bill:  

That is why we believe it is important that the Committee delay the markup and hold full legislative hearings on these proposals to ensure they are thoroughly examined and provide Members with the ability to fully utilize their policy expertise to ensure we craft sound legislation with the broadest coalition of support. Members should be given the opportunity to engage in substantive drafting, debate, amendments, and consideration of this legislation to ensure it truly represents the best interests of the American people. 

Click here to read the full letter. 

Here’s some context – on June 11th, the House antitrust subcommittee released five bills that represent the most sweeping rewrite of antitrust law in a century. Instead of holding full hearings on each of the bills, the package is being rushed to a full Committee markup this week with little input from rank-and-file members. 

The bills seek to regulate “covered platforms,” defined as companies with over 50 million monthly users and $600b in market capitalization or net sales. 

If implemented, these bills would significantly restrict targeted companies from engaging in routine business conduct. One bill bans targeted companies from acquiring smaller companies, choking off a key pathway to success for startups. Another bill would allow the government to structurally separate targeted companies that operate a line of business that an unelected bureaucrat deems to be a “conflict of interest.” Another bill effectively bans targeted companies from promoting private label goods to shoppers, which makes as much sense as banning grocery stores from selling generic cereal. 

Taken together, this package would impact the goods and services Americans use every day. Apple would no longer be able to operate the App Store or pre-install apps like Facetime and iMessage on new devices. Amazon could no longer offer free Prime shipping or AmazonBasics products. Google could no longer display Youtube links or Google Maps directions when searched. The list goes on. 

The drafters seem to be confused about the full scope of the package’s impact. Cicilline himself admitted that he doesn’t even know if Microsoft would be a covered platform, and that the ultimate decision would rest in the hands of Biden bureaucrats to decide which companies to target with antitrust action.

Even Democrats agree that this process has been rushed from top to bottom. The House Judiciary Committee should delay the markup of the Cicilline antitrust package and hold full hearings on each of the bills. 

See also: 

25+ Conservative Groups and Activists Urge Congress to Reject Democrat Antitrust Power Grab

Republicans Should Reject Cicilline Mega-Regulation Antitrust Package

Photo Credit: AFGE


Dem Inequality Committee Is Nothing But a Platform for the Progressive Tax Hike Wishlist

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 3:30 PM PERMALINK

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the Democrat lawmakers that will serve on the new “Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth.” The committee will be led by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and will feature progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). 

This Committee is nothing but a progressive vanity project designed to cheerlead for far-left policies like tax hikes and wasteful spending. It is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars and will have no legislative authority.

Contrary to progressive claims, the tax code is already steeply progressive, rich people pay a significantly higher share of total tax revenue, and the policies progressives consider “giveaways” to the rich, and therefore would like to eliminate, have actually resulted in faster wage growth for low-income Americans than any other group.  

Progressives falsely claim that “the rich” pay less than low- and middle-income families. In reality, the tax code is already steeply progressive, as shown in a recent report from the Joint Committee on Taxation. 

Taxpayers making $1 million and up pay an average federal tax rate of 31.5% while the bottom half of income earners ($63,179 or less) pay an average federal tax rate of 6.3%. That’s nearly five times as much in taxes as a percentage of income.  

According to JCT: 

  • Taxpayers with income of $1 million or more pay an average federal tax rate of 31.5% and an average federal income tax rate of 26.3%. 
  • Taxpayers with income of $50,000 and 75,000 pay an average federal tax rate of 13.6% and an average federal income tax rate of 2.4%. 
  • Taxpayers with income of $30,000 to $40,000 pay an average federal tax rate of 7.2% and an average federal income tax rate of NEGATIVE 3.3%. In other words, they receive money back from the federal government due to refundable tax credits. 
  • The bottom half of income earners pay an average rate (of all federal taxes) of 6.3%, while the top 0.01 percent pay 32.9%.  


The rich also pay both a higher share of federal income taxes and a higher share of taxes as a percentage of their income. The top 1 percent earned 21 percent of all income, but paid 40 percent of all income taxes, as noted by research from the Heritage Foundation. Further, the top 10 percent earned 48 percent of all income, but paid 71 percent of all income taxes.

Progressives wrongly claim that the 2017 GOP tax cuts was a “giveaway to the rich.” However, this is not borne out in the data as middle-income Americans saw significant gains following passage of this law. For instance:

  • Following the passage of tax cuts, the bottom 25 percent of wage earners experienced wage growth faster than the top 25 percent of wage earners, according to the Atlanta Fed. Black and Hispanic Americans saw their median income hit record levels, while the poverty rate declined to 10.5 percent, the lowest rate in decades.  
  • Key demographics experienced the growth, including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women, with each group seeing their unemployment rates drop to all-time lows and wage growth increasing by record levels. 
  • The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in 2019, a 50-year low. In the same year, median household income increased by $4,440 or 6.8 percent, the largest one-year wage growth in history. This wage growth dwarfed the wage growth experienced under the entire eight years of Barack Obama's presidency, which was just 5 percent. 
  • Under this economy, there were more job openings than job seekers for 24 consecutive months. In March 2018, the ratio of unemployed persons to job openings dropped to 0.9. It remained at this low level until the pandemic hit America. 

 

The new “inequality” committee is nothing but an excuse for Democrats to push for higher taxes, more spending, and more burdensome regulations. Instead of highlighting policies that have resulted in significant gains for low- and middle-income Americans, this new committee is just a vanity project for the radical left.

Photo Credit: NRK Beta


Major Smuggling Bust in Massachusetts Shows Consequences of Flavor Bans

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 1:21 PM PERMALINK

In 2019, Massachusetts considered a complete ban on flavored tobacco and vaping products, a policy that is opposed by civil rights advocates, like the ACLU, as well as law enforcement organizations. Banning flavors, these groups predicted, would lead to an increase in illicit smuggling and prioritize criminalization over public health. Ignoring these concerns, Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts legislature plunged ahead with their proposal and the flavor ban was enacted on June 1, 2020. 

This past week, a state and federal joint investigation proved these concerns to be legitimate. On Tuesday June 16, a man from New Hampshire, 42-year-old Samuel Habib, was arrested and charged with illicit trafficking of marijuana, tobacco, and flavored vaping products. According to a press release from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, “The charges are the result of a year-long investigation into a major multi-level organization” that was bringing untaxed tobacco, marijuana, and vaping products into Massachusetts and distributing them to retail outlets.  

While executing search warrants, authorities seized approximately 750 pounds of marijuana, 250 cases of illegal vaping products, and 200 cases of THC-infused products. Additionally, more than $540,000 in cash, four cargo vans, and a luxury SUV were found and are now in police custody. 

It is concerning that the press release from Healey mentions the majority of the seized vaping products were counterfeit. Unlike the products sold by vape shops and other reputable outlets, counterfeit goods can contain particularly harmful chemicals that are not subject to any regulation or quality check. While severe lung illness has not been tied to any nicotine-containing vapes, certain illicit THC vapes have been identified as containing Vitamin E Acetate, which causes EVALI (E-Cigarette and Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury). Without a flavor ban, there would be no incentive for consumers to purchase black-market vapes. It is highly likely that Habib’s trafficking operation would not have existed if Massachusetts was not prohibiting flavors in vapes and tobacco products. 

Geoffrey Snyder, the Commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Revenue, said “The work of the (Illegal Tobacco) Task Force helps to protect honest taxpayers and to recoup revenue for the Commonwealth”. The revenue Snyder is glad to have recouped, roughly $540,000, is just a fraction of the revenue that has been lost since the flavor ban was implemented. Estimates show that Massachusetts is losing more than $10 million a month in excise tax revenue to New Hampshire and Rhode Island, both of which allow the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products. The best method of recouping revenue for Massachusetts would be ending the failed prohibition on flavors, not using precious resources to enforce a policy that lacks any supporting evidence that the prohibition improves public health.  

In fact, data is emerging that illustrates flavor bans are incredibly harmful for the health of adults and youth. In New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut, cigarette sales increased after the flavor ban was enacted in a year where they were expected to decrease by 2%. In San Francisco, youth smoking rates more than doubled after a flavor ban was implemented. 

It has not yet been disclosed if Habib’s operation has any connection to organized crime, but Healey’s description of it as a “major multi-level organization” indicates that the scope of the investigation is larger than just Habib. Most tobacco smuggling is operated by multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicates that also engage in human trafficking, money laundering, and have been shown to use their profits to fund terrorism. As a result, the U.S. State Department has explicitly labeled tobacco smuggling as “a threat to national security”. 

It is undoubtedly good that the flow of Habib’s counterfeit vapes, and illicit marijuana products has been stopped by law enforcement. It is worth considering, however, if the law that created the market for his trafficking is worthy of enforcement. Evidence, from increased cigarette use to lost tax revenue, heavily suggests that flavor bans do more harm than good. While it would cause some slight bruising to the egos of Massachusetts politicians, notably the main proponent of the bill, Governor Baker, a full repeal of this disastrous policy would be in the best interests of public health in the Commonwealth. 

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson

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Lawmakers Should Support the Estate Tax Rate Reduction Act

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

The Death Tax is fundamentally unfair, hurts job creation and economic growth, and is devastating to family owned businesses and farms across the country. This tax should be repealed.

But failing that, the tax should be incrementally reduced toward the goal of repeal. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced S. 1627/H.R. 3178, legislation that would do just that. This bipartisan proposal, the “Estate Tax Rate Reduction Act,” reduces the Death Tax rate from 40 percent to 20 percent. It has been introduced in the House by Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in the Senate.

 ATR urges lawmakers to support and co-sponsor these bills.  

The Death Tax is fundamentally unfair and its bad tax policy. It is levied on assets that have been taxed previously through income taxes, capital gains taxes, and the corporate income tax.  

It disproportionately impacts family-owned businesses like farmers and ranchers especially that tend to be asset rich but cash poor. On the other hand, the wealthy often evade the tax. While the mega-wealthy and family farms technically face the same death tax, small business owners cannot afford to hire a small army of lawyers and accountants to exempt large portions of their estates from the tax. As always, complex laws are rife with loopholes that the rich can exploit at the expense of the less fortunate. 

Many countries recognize that a high Death Tax is bad tax policy. Currently, the United States has the 4th highest estate and inheritance tax among developed countries, just behind France. 

Reducing the Death Tax would stimulate job creation and grow the economy. Numerous studies have analyzed the impact of repealing the Death Tax. While this bill wouldn’t repeal the tax, these studies inevitably provide insight regarding what would happen if we moved toward a full repeal.  

For instance, a 2017 study by the Tax Foundation found that the US could create over 150,000 jobs by rolling back the estate tax. 

Similarly, a 2012 study by the Joint Economic Committee found that the death tax has destroyed over $1.1 trillion of capital in the US economy, which results in fewer jobs and lower wages. Much of this economic damage hits small businesses, which are the core of America’s economy and have been disproportionately harmed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The economic growth created by repealing the Death Tax would produce $221 billion in federal revenue because of increased wages and more jobs. 

Family-owned businesses across the country employ 59 percent of the workforce. Family-owned businesses also generate 54 percent of the U.S. GDP. This legislation would allow these businesses to employ even more workers and continue to be significant contributors to America’s economic growth. 

The Death Tax is extremely unpopular. Numerous studies have found that majority of Americans oppose the Death Tax and support its repeal. For instance, a report by NPR found that 76 percent of Americans support full, permanent repeal of the Death Tax.   

Cutting the Death Tax in half would spur economic growth, create jobs, and increase wages. It would mitigate the negative impacts of the tax’s double taxation and help family-owned businesses across the country. 

If lawmakers are serious about spurring job and economic growth and protecting family-owned businesses, they should support S. 1627 and H.R. 3178, the Estate Tax Reduction Act.

To see ATR's letter in favor of this legislation, click here. 

Photo Credit: Tara Siuk


IRS Fails to Document Contractor Laptops, Putting Private Taxpayer Data at Risk

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Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2021, 7:40 AM PERMALINK

In one year, TIGTA estimates that the IRS had failed to document the return of 84.2 percent, or more than 1,000 computers due to be returned by contract employees

Treasury Inspector General investigations of the IRS have long documented the agency's careless approach to sensitive taxpayer data.

A 2016 TIGTA investigation found the IRS put sensitive taxpayer data at risk by failing to ensure laptop computers issued to contractors were actually returned.

For example, more than 7,900 contractor employees stopped working for the IRS in 2014. As the report notes, many of these employees handled sensitive taxpayer data and had access to IRS networks:

Many of these contractor employees were in positions in which they were issued laptop computers, which may allow them access to IRS networks and sensitive taxpayer data. Laptop computers and other equipment must be recovered from separating contractor employees prior to the effective date of separation to prevent the loss of the equipment and sensitive data.

TIGTA estimates that the IRS had failed to document the return of 84.2 percent, or more than 1,000 computers due to be returned by contract employees:

Based on our review of a stratified random sample of contractor employee separations for FY 2014, we estimate that the IRS does not have contract administration documentation to account for the return of laptop computers for 1,078 (84.2 percent) of the 1,280 contractor employees with computer systems and facilities access who separated in FY 2014.

TIGTA again noted:

We reviewed a statistically valid stratified sample of contract administration documentation for 40 of 1,280 contractor employees with computer systems and facilities access who separated from the IRS during FY 2014. Complete contract administration documentation was provided for only seven of the 40 contractor employees. For the remaining 33 contractor employees, the IRS did not provide complete contract administration documentation to sufficiently account for the return of laptop computers.

Furthermore, a 2016 Government Accountability Office report found the IRS had a “significant deficiency” over its ability to ensure taxpayer financial discourse is not exposed.

Physical security controls designed to protect sensitive IT housed in restricted areas were not properly implemented, the agency continued to use unsupported software to manage taxpayer data, and personal data was not properly encrypted.

Following a data breach that exposed the personal information of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers in 2015, TIGTA revealed that the IRS has been warned at least seven times by watchdog groups that it needed to strengthen its protections of taxpayer information.

For example:

  • In a 2014 report, TIGTA warned that if stronger protections are not implemented, “taxpayers could be exposed to the loss of privacy and to financial loss and damages resulting from identity theft or other financial crimes.”  
  • 2013 report found that the IRS had failed to fully implement eight recommendations that would increase security over taxpayer data despite telling TIGTA they had been implemented.
  • 2011 report found that taxpayer data was vulnerable to hackers and stronger security measures were needed
  • In 2010, TIGTA found that the agency had inadequate safeguards to protect taxpayer information from contract workers.


The Biden administration now wants to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, enough to fill Nationals Park twice and enough to fill the Roman Colosseum 1.74 times.

Biden also wants to give the agency new powers to automatically snoop on every personal and business bank account and Venmo account in the country.

What could go wrong?

 


DC's Flavor Ban Would Harm Public Health, Criminal Justice, Businesses, & District Economy

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Thursday, June 17th, 2021, 2:15 PM PERMALINK

Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) wrote to members of the Council of the District of Columbia, urging them to oppose B24-002, “The Flavored Tobacco Product Prohibition Amendment of 2021” which would introduce a prohibition on flavored cigarettes as well as reduced risk tobacco alternatives. No public hearings have been held on B24-002.  

ATR Director of Consumer Issues Tim Andrews stated: “Policy must be driven by science and evidence, not by ideology. The evidence clearly demonstrates that if enacted, this bill would have a disastrous impact on public health, lead to an increase in smoking rates particularly among high schoolers, cause conflict between minorities and law enforcement with potentially tragic consequences, harm businesses, and reduce District Council Revenue by significantly more than the $3 million annually claimed.” 

Andrews continued: “Reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes are proven 95% safer than deadly combustible cigarettes, between two and four times more effective than any other form of nicotine replacement therapy, are endorsed by over 50 of the world’s leading medical authorities, and according to Georgetown University Medical Centre have the capacity to save 6.6 million American lives. Studies have repeatedly shown that flavored e-cigarettes are critical to helping adult smokers make the switch to vaping but have no impact on youth initiation. It is beyond belief that DC Council is considering a science-denial bill that will lead to more people smoking and dying as a result." 

Andrews also commented on how B24-002 extends flavor prohibition to conventional tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, something strongly opposed by groups such as the ACLU and civil rights leaders like Rev Al Sharpton. “Banning menthol cigarettes will also significantly increase the policing of minority communities and lead to a rise in negative interactions between law enforcement and minorities, as was seen earlier this week in Ocean City.”   

Andrews concluded, “DC has the experience of other states to learn from. The evidence is incontrovertible: When San Francisco imposed a flavor ban in 2018, the only impact was that youth smoking doubled. When Massachusetts banned menthols, the only result was sales moved interstate or to the black market, with no decrease in the smoking rate, but a loss to the state of $72 million in just the first 7 months. DC Councilors must put science above ideology and reject this truly dangerous bill.” 

The full letter can be read here.

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan

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25+ Conservative Groups and Activists Urge Congress to Reject Democrat Antitrust Power Grab

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Thursday, June 17th, 2021, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

A coalition of 26 conservative groups and grassroots activists at both the state and federal level released a letter today urging Congress to reject the Democrat antitrust power-grab spearheaded by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and organized by far-left Members like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). 

The coalition's message is clear – Democrat lawmakers are attempting to harness legitimate conservative anger at Big Tech to give unelected Biden bureaucrats sweeping new power to regulate the economy. Democrats are dealing in bad faith, and this Trojan horse package does absolutely nothing to address conservative concerns with Big Tech. If implemented, these bills increase the likelihood of political abuse. 

Republicans need to hold firm against this clear attempt by Democrats to weaponize antitrust law for their own political gain. 

You can view the full letter here or below. 

Dear Member of Congress: 

We urge you to reject the package of European-style over-regulation in the antitrust bills spearheaded by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and co-sponsored by Members from the far left like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). 

These bills are a deceitful attempt by Democrat lawmakers to exploit legitimate conservative anger over Big Tech in order to give the Biden administration sweeping new power to regulate the economy. But make no mistake about it – Democrats are dealing in bad faith, and this Trojan horse package does absolutely nothing to address conservative concerns with Big Tech censorship – and could increase those concerns. 

If implemented, bureaucrats in the Biden administration would wield vast new powers at the expense of American business and households. This heavy-handed approach should offer no comfort for those worried that the platforms are biased against them, as it actually increases the likelihood of political abuse. 

Republicans and free-market Democrats should hold firm and vote No. 

One bill would give bureaucrats power to determine if “covered” platforms with over fifty million users and a market cap of $600 billion might operate businesses that present a “conflict of interest.” If so, “any person” who fails to sell off these alleged conflicts of interest within two years of the bill’s enactment faces steep civil penalties of up to 30 percent of revenue in a given year.

At the same time, another bill effectively bans covered platforms from selling or providing private-label goods that consumers value in their marketplaces, which makes about as much sense as banning grocery stores from selling generic cereal. 

Another bill outlaws new acquisitions for covered platforms, a key driver of economic growth and innovation. The legislation inverts the burden of proof in certain antitrust cases that would presume that American companies are guilty of anticompetitive conduct until proven innocent. This would massively stack the deck in favor of government enforcers and litigious trial lawyers looking to score a quick buck by gaming the legal system. U.S. economic growth would be dealt a crippling blow just as we emerge from the pandemic.

Another bill would force covered platforms to share their data with competitors via a government-mandated “interface” – giving government agents and malicious hackers the ability to access sensitive consumer information all in one place. The final bill will give more resources to the Federal Trade Commission at a time when the agency, controlled by liberal activists like Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter and newly-installed Chair Lina Khan, seems likely to use rulemaking authority to effectively create new antitrust law. Once this power is claimed, they plan to deploy it in service of their social agenda

As a whole, this European antitrust approach would deliver Europe’s low levels of innovation and deprive Americans of choice and access to convenient services and products that we use each and every day. Apple would no longer be able to operate the App Store or Apple Music. Google would not be able to display YouTube links or Google Maps directions when searched. Amazon would lose the ability to offer free Prime shipping or AmazonBasics products. 

And that’s just the beginning. 

Meanwhile, these bills do absolutely nothing to address conservative concerns with Big Tech. This package is just a test run for Democrats to regulate entire sectors of the economy, and there is no reason to believe they will stop with technology companies. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been crystal clear that she believes antitrust law is a tool for unelected bureaucrats to “rejuvenate capitalism.” 

A vote for this package is a vote to give bureaucrats even more power to pick economic winners and losers. This is neither a conservative nor free-market approach, and would stifle the robust competition that guarantees the best products and lowest prices for every American. 

Republicans need to hold the line and vote no against weaponizing antitrust law for Democrat political gains.  

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association

Marty Connors
Alabama Center Right Coalition

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity

Kevin Waterman
Chair, Annapolis Center Right Coalition Meeting (Maryland)

Iain Murray
Vice President for Strategy, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Ashley Baker
Director of Public Policy, Committee for Justice

Chuck Muth
President, Citizen Outreach (Nevada)

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

Heather R. Higgins
CEO, Independent Women’s Voice

Dave Trabert
Chief Executive Officer, Kansas Policy Institute

Rodolfo Milani
Chairman, Miami Freedom Forum (Florida)

Brian McClung
Chair, Minnesota Center Right Coalition

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

William O’Brien
Former Speaker, NH House of Representatives
Co-chair, New Hampshire Center Right Coalition

Doug Kellogg
Executive Director, Ohioans for Tax Reform

Tom Hebert
Executive Director, Open Competition Center

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director, Property Rights Alliance

Wayne Brough
Director of Technology & Innovation, R Street Institute

Mike Stenhouse
CEO, Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity

Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Kerri (Houston) Toloczko
Meeting Chair, SWFL Center-Right Coalition
Senior Policy Fellow, Institute for Liberty 

Patrick Hedger
Vice President of Policy, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Ralph Benko
Chairman, The Capitalist League

Rusty Cannon
President, Utah Taxpayers Association

Photo Credit: Brookings Institution


Nevada Rams Tax Hike & Anti-Property Rights Bills Through Over Holiday Weekend

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Posted by John Neher on Wednesday, June 16th, 2021, 1:41 PM PERMALINK

Tax hikes are not popular. So what to do if you are a state legislator trying to shove through costly tax increases? For Nevada legislators, the answer was to avoid public scrutiny with a total lack of transparency, shoving bills through with little review over Memorial Day weekend.

The state’s legislative session ended with unnecessary mining tax increases, along with a bill that would permit local governments to collect lodging taxes from short-term rental businesses like Airbnb.

A few Republicans in the Democrat-controlled Nevada Legislature went along with inflicting new taxes on gold and silver mining operations by passing Assembly Bill 495. Democrats needed a two-thirds majority to push these levies, per the Nevada constitution. Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno, voted with the Democratic majority, moving the bill on to the Senate.

Silver and gold mines that report gross revenue of $20 million to $150 million will be charged 0.75% excise tax, while a 1.1% tax will be charged on mines that report any higher. The plan is expected to cost $88 million a year in new tax burdens, with the revenue marked for education. Gov. Steve Sisolak called the tax hike “one of the most significant steps our state could take on our road to recovery.” Yet, most advocates in the state say that almost $1 billion is needed to adequately address public school funding, which indicates more tax hikes may be coming. These tax hikes are completely unnecessary even from a big spending perspective. Nevada came out of the pandemic flush with billions in federal bailout cash. For context, Nevada’s entire budget is $4.5 billion. So a tax increase to yield $88 million in just a year seems like an unnecessary initiative by Democrats in the Mining State.

Another bad bill that passed will impose damaging restrictions on short-term rental properties. Assembly Bill 363 will apply to the most populous counties and cities in Nevada and will add restrictions to how short-term rentals operate.

As ATR wrote in a letter to legislators:

“AB 363 is the opposite of free market policy, it instead places onerous rules on short-term rentals that make a mockery of property rights, and make it difficult for many to operate.

“In particular, rules requiring a 500 ft. minimum distance between units, and rules requiring a 2500 ft. distance from existing hotels, would clearly force many hosts to stop offering their properties. This would have a harsh effect on these hosts’ income, and take away options for travelers, ultimately this would also hurt tourism activity in the state.” 

Higher taxes, and absurd regulations that ignore property rights, not the way for Nevada to close out their bi-annual session. Families and businesses are watching the state go in the wrong direction by increasing burdens and following the lead of states like California, rather than sticking with the pro-taxpayer policies that have helped the state grow.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Everson DVM, Flickr

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