ATR Releases Letter to Senate Judiciary on Klobuchar Antitrust Bill

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022, 3:00 PM PERMALINK

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will markup S. 2992, the "American Innovation and Choice Online Act," legislation sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that upends decades of antitrust precedent and gives unelected bureaucrats new authority to pick winners and losers. 

ATR President Grover Norquist released a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee outlining several concerns with the bill, pointing out that it will increase the burden of inflation on American families and do nothing to stop conservatives from being censored by Big Tech. 

Click here or below to read the letter in full: 

Dear Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee: 

I write to express concerns with S. 2992, the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” legislation sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that upends decades of antitrust precedent and gives unelected bureaucrats new power to pick economic winners and losers. If implemented, S.2992 will raise prices on families already struggling with inflation and break services Americans use every day. 

The original bill targeted companies with a market capitalization over $550 billion and 50 million monthly users. Sen. Klobuchar’s manager’s amendment broadens the criteria for a “covered platform” even further to include privately held companies with annual revenue of more than $30 billion, ensnaring companies in the grocery, agriculture, and professional services sectors.

Using market capitalization or annual revenue to dictate how a company should operate is a radical departure from how U.S. law is typically written. In a search of all current federal statutes, the phrase “market capitalization” comes up in only five, none of which is about determining how a business is run based on this paper valuation. 

S. 2992 shifts antitrust law away from the long-held consumer welfare standard, which protects consumers from harm, toward a European-style approach that protects individual competitors in a given market. This legislation bans companies over a government-determined size from selling or providing private-label products on their own platforms, a practice beneficial to consumers but negatively branded as “self-preferencing.” 

While antitrust crusaders may paint self-preferencing in a bad light, it is not a business practice endemic to the companies this legislation targets. Brick-and-mortar retailers often promote their own generic products next to brand-name goods via preferable shelf space or promotional devices like coupons, end-caps, and window displays. This common business practice benefits shoppers through lower prices and more choices. 

Banning self-preferencing would take away choice and access to generic products for American consumers, the vast majority of which are at a lower price point than name-brand goods. Families are already struggling with 7 percent inflation thanks to the reckless tax-and-spend policies of the Biden Administration. The last thing they need is reduced access to generic goods they are reaching for just to make ends meet. 

This legislation would also interfere with goods and services Americans use every day, a classic case of needless government intervention in the private sector. Amazon would no longer be able to sell AmazonBasics products or provide free two-day Prime shipping. Google would no longer be able to display YouTube links, restaurant reviews, or Maps directions when searched. Apple could no longer preinstall apps on their devices, making your new iPhone virtually useless out of the box. 

Conservatives should be wary of giving the Biden Administration any new antitrust authority, as this legislation does. If a company has been found to violate S.2992, it may be subject to a penalty of up to 15 percent of total revenues for a year. Depending on profit margins, this fine could easily be more than double the profit a given company makes in a year.

The left has not been shy about their plan to use antitrust law to push a progressive social agenda, and Sen. Klobuchar’s manager’s amendment shows that this legislation goes far beyond Big Tech. Sen. Klobuchar has repeatedly said that she wants to go after every industry “from cat food to caskets.” 

Ultimately, this bill does nothing to stop conservative censorship, will increase inflation concerns for American families, and gives the Biden Administration sweeping new power to reshape the economy in service of a progressive social agenda.

Onward, 

Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


ATR Op-Ed in American Banker: “Regulators must provide relief during transition from Libor”

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022, 1:53 PM PERMALINK

In an op-ed published in American Banker today, ATR Federal Affairs Manager Bryan Bashur highlights the importance of providing regulatory relief and flexibility for financial institutions as they transition away from using the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as a gauge for how much interest to charge on certain financial products. Trillions of dollars in contracts for mortgages, credit cards, bonds, student loans, futures, swaps, and options, will all feel the effects of this transition. As Bashur explains:

It is imperative that the United States government implement regulatory relief, emphasize flexibility and develop concrete guidelines for financial institutions so they can easily adapt to the changing interest rate landscape. As banks and other financial institutions rewrite contracts for mortgages, credit cards, bonds, student loans and financial derivatives to adjust to fluctuating interest rates, the federal government needs to ensure that the tax burden is limited and litigation is mitigated.

According to the Congressional Research Service, as of the end of 2020 Libor was referenced in over $220 trillion financial instruments denominated in U.S. dollars, including mortgages, student loans, bonds, derivatives and more. PwC estimates that Libor is tied to as much as $350 trillion “in bonds, loans, derivatives and securitizations worldwide.” The aggregate gross domestic product for all the economies in the world pales in comparison ($84.68 trillion in 2020) to the amount of financial products connected to Libor.

As LIBOR is phased out and new benchmark interest rates will be widely adopted, it is imperative that banks and other financial institutions are able to use reference rates that best suit their products and the customers they serve. As Bashur points out:

However, regulators should emphasize flexibility and allow financial institutions to use benchmark rates that best suit their customers. Benchmarks such as the American interbank offered rate (Ameribor) and the Bloomberg Short Term Bank Yield Index (BSBY) are credit-sensitive and “provide a more accurate reflection of lenders’ funding costs.”

Enabling lenders to choose among a host of different rates will lead to more innovative financial products and could increase capital disbursement to borrowers.

Some long-term financial contracts that use LIBOR do not include plans for how to adjust the terms when LIBOR is fully discontinued. However, Congress is working on legislation to provide a more concrete framework to ease the transition. Bashur states that:

Federal regulators also need to ensure that bonds or other contracts that extend beyond 2021 and do not include contingency plans for the Libor transition are able to avoid costly litigation, which would harm both lenders and borrowers.

Fortunately, Congress is working on a bill to provide a federal framework to allow these longer-term contracts to easily transition to new reference rates. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., introduced HR 4616, the Adjustable Interest Rate (Libor) Act of 2021, to provide a framework to ease financial institutions away from Libor for contracts that lack explicit language explaining how borrowers and lenders can transition their contract from Libor to a new reference rate. The federal framework would preempt any cumbersome patchwork of state laws that could inhibit a streamlined transition for financial contracts that cross state lines.

HR 4616 garnered strong bipartisan support and passed the House by a vote of 415-9. It is highly likely that the Senate will introduce a bipartisan bill identical or nearly identical to Rep. Sherman’s bill and pass it with little consternation.

One example of regulatory relief during the LIBOR transition is a rulemaking the IRS published that exempts financial contracts from capital gains tax if the terms of the contract are amended to reflect the change in benchmark interest rates. Bashur elaborates that:

The IRS concludes in the draft rule that the exemption from capital gains tax applies “to both the issuer and holder of a debt instrument and to each party to a nondebt contract.”

Accordingly, the final rulemaking would preserve the tax exemption and avoid the negative implications of imposing the burdensome capital gains tax on borrowers and lenders during the Libor transition. Application of a capital gains tax to mortgages and student loans in this scenario is unnecessary and erroneous.

Bashur urges Congress and federal regulators to continue the stream of regulatory relief “so that both lenders and borrowers can avoid costly litigation, burdensome taxation and illiquidity.”

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Photo Credit: "interest rate" by Mike Cohen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Further Hearings on Sohn’s FCC Nomination Are Required

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022, 9:13 AM PERMALINK

Senator Roger Wicker is correct to call for further hearings on Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission. There is still more information that needs to be discussed, such as the details of the Locast settlement and the conditions of recusal in FCC matters. 

Sohn spearheaded an FCC proceeding that would have enabled tech platforms to effectively steal and monetize television content without paying for usage rights. Just as a-la-cart television didn’t need direction from lawmakers. The set-top box regulations were clearly trounced by the market, as a myriad of streaming options for viewing content are currently available. However, this is just one instance where Sohn engaged in attempts to weaken intellectual property rights.  

Perhaps even more egregious, Sohn served on the board of Locast, a “non-profit” that was determined to be illegally retransmitting broadcasters’ content without their consent in violation of the Copyright Act. The case resulted in a permanent injunction that required Locast to pay $32 million in statutory damages. Sohn cannot be an impartial regulator of the broadcast industry after joining the Board of an organization that openly violated that industry’s copyrights.  

It is also interesting to note that her nomination was received in the Senate from the President that on the same day that the Locast settlement was announced, October 28, 2021. 

It has been reported that she is negotiating a recusal deal, but none of these details have been made public or shared with other senators on the committee. Further, we simply have to take Sohn’s word that she will recuse herself. These agreements have no force of law. It’s very problematic that someone who signed a $32 million settlement agreement with broadcasters now wants to regulate them. 

Further a recusal from ruling on broadcast licenses, retransmission or copyright relating to the parent companies of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, who filed suit against Locast, would severely limit her ability to do any of the primary work of the Commission. 

Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition letter opposing her nomination over legitimate concerns regarding her ability to be impartial, which include hyper-partisan attacks on Republicans, interest in revoking broadcast licenses over viewpoints, doomsday predictions for the internet without Title II regulations. 

Photo Credit: "Gigi Sohn" by Joel Sage is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Indiana Bill Would Raise the Cost of Nonalcoholic Beverages

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Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022, 4:45 PM PERMALINK

The Indiana House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development will be considering legislation that would impose a first in the nation price control on nonalcoholic beverages. House Bill 1109, if implemented, would prevent distributers of packaged nonalcoholic beverages with a weight volume of 8 ounces or more from offering seasonal promotions and other discounts to Indiana retailers unless they are extended to every store in the state. 

Despite the good intentions behind this bill, it would inflict a great deal of harm on the state economy. “Allowing the government to meddle into negotiations between private businesses in order to impose price controls would actually result in fewer discounts being available, driving prices up and leaving families across Indiana to face higher costs at a time when they can least afford it,” warned Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, in a letter to committee members. “Many of these households along state lines could decide to instead visit stores in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, or Ohio, hurting Indiana’s small businesses and their employees.”

To read the full letter, click here.

 

__

 

January 18, 2022

 

To: Members of the Indiana House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development

From: Americans for Tax Reform

 

Re: Oppose House Bill 1109

 

Dear Representative,

 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Indiana, I urge you to oppose House Bill 1109, legislation that would jeopardize the right to private contract in order to impose price controls on certain nonalcoholic beverages. If implemented, this bill would inflict a great deal of harm on small businesses and consumers across the Hoosier State.

Under the status quo, all Indiana retailers, from small convenience stores to large chain grocery stores, can negotiate their preferred contract terms with the nonalcoholic beverage industry. This flexibility allows retailers to benefit from seasonal promotions and other price discounts that can be passed onto consumers, ultimately making their stores more competitive than those in surrounding states.

This free-market approach is not unique to Indiana, but is the standard practice used by all retailers and the nonalcoholic beverage industry nationwide. Unfortunately, HB 1109 seeks to disadvantage Indiana retailers by making it illegal for distributers of packaged nonalcoholic beverages with a weight volume of 8 ounces or more to offer special pricing deals in Indiana unless they are extended to every store in the state.

Despite the good intentions behind this bill, it would actually result in a number of negative consequences for the local economy. Allowing the government to meddle into negotiations between private businesses in order to impose price controls would actually result in fewer discounts being available, driving prices up and leaving families across Indiana to face higher costs at a time when they can least afford it. Many of these households along state lines could decide to instead visit stores in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, or Ohio, hurting Indiana’s small businesses and their employees.

Adding insult to injury, HB 1109 would also drive new investment, jobs, and opportunities away from Indiana. Why would a CEO in any industry want to do business in a state that is known for undermining the right to private contract and has the unwelcome distinction of being the only state in the country to impose price controls on nonalcoholic beverages? There are plenty of other states with lower tax rates that are much less hostile to businesses.

ATR opposes HB 1109 and urges lawmakers to vote NO.

 

Sincerely,

 

Grover Norquist

President

Americans for Tax Reform

Photo Credit: "Capitol del Estado de Indiana, Indianápolis, Estados Unidos" by Diego Delso licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


Top Tier GOP Candidates Budd and McCrory Sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in N.C. Senate Race

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Posted by Adam L. Radman, Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022, 2:14 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) commends Rep. Ted Budd and Gov. Pat McCrory for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in their race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat. The Pledge is a written commitment to North Carolina taxpayers that they will oppose and vote against all income tax hikes. 

Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The idea of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing, so the promise is much harder to break. 

“North Carolina voters are looking for solutions that get Americans back to work and grow the economy. I commend Budd and McCrory for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and promising to hold the line on taxes,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “It’s the first step in jump-starting the economy.” 

There are currently 179 Pledge signers in the U.S. House and 44 Pledge signers in the U.S. Senate. 85% percent of all congressional Republicans have made the written commitment to oppose higher taxes. In contrast, ZERO congressional Democrats have made that promise.

“During his time as governor, Pat McCrory signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and kept his commitment to North Carolinians. Not only that, but Gov. McCrory also enacted a multi-billion-dollar income tax cut that remains a national model for pro-growth tax reform,” Norquist said. “Congressman Budd, meanwhile, has maintained the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that he signed as a member of the U.S. House. In addition to keeping that commitment, he voted for the Tax, Cuts, and Jobs Act, the federal tax reform enacted in 2017 that provided a net tax cut to the vast majority of American households.”  

In President Biden’s first year, he championed a multi-trillion tax and spend bill, which includes the largest tax increase since 1968. These tax hikes would disproportionately hurt workers, retirees, consumers, and small businesses. Taxpayers should expect more of the same for the remainder of his presidency. 

“Voters have a right to know where candidates stand on taxes before heading to the voting booth,” added Norquist. “The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a simple litmus test that tells voters I’ll work to protect your wallet. I encourage all candidates for elected office to make this commitment today.”  

New candidates sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge regularly. For the most up-to-date information on this race or any other, please visit the ATR Pledge Database. 

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California: If at first you don't succeed, tax, tax again!

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022, 12:38 PM PERMALINK

Californian progressives are looking to implement the nation's first single-payer health care system. To pay for it, they want to double their state's tax burden, which is the third worst in the nation (beaten only by New York and New Jersey). 

California Assemblyman Ash Kalra has proposed an amendment to California's state constitution introducing several taxes to pay for this new system. According to the California Globe, "If enacted, it would impose an excise tax, payroll taxes, and a personal income tax to fund comprehensive, universal single-payer health care coverage, as well as a health care cost control system." According to the Tax Foundation, the amendment would "increase taxes by $12,250 per household, roughly doubling the state's already high tax collections."  

Among the taxes is a payroll tax on employers with over 50 employees. These tax hikes would stunt the growth of small businesses by providing a hard taxing wall that most would avoid. The law also imposes several surtaxes for personal income with a top rate of 2.5%. When combined with the current 13.3% top income tax rate and the 2.25 payroll tax, you are left with a combined maximum marginal rate of 18.05%, more than seven percentage points higher than the state with the next-highest rates (Hawaii, 11 percent) according to the Tax Foundation

Finally, the amendment enacts a 2.3% Gross Receipt Tax on businesses. Gross Receipt taxes charge on a company's gross sales, without deductions for a firm's business expenses. These tend to harm businesses with low-profit margins and are generally seen as inefficient and damaging to the economy. Only a few states use them instead of a corporate income tax. California takes this flawed taxing model and makes it even worse.  

Instead of imposing a GRT to replace the income tax, this new amendment imposes it on top of the income tax. As a result, California is burning the candle at both ends, leaving the businesses trapped in the middle. Not only that but California's 2.3% Gross Receipts Tax is "a rate more than three times that of the country's highest current pure GRT," according to the Tax Foundation

California progressives need a 2/3 supermajority in both houses to approve to pass this amendment. However, once the taxes have been approved, a simple majority can, and most likely will, raise them. However, before they can do that, they need to clear one last hurdle. For a constitutional amendment to become law, California requires the public to vote on it as a ballot measure. And the people of California are getting tired of high taxes.  

According to a report by the non-partisan California Policy Lab, "Entrances to California from other states have dropped 38% since March of last year, while the number of residents leaving to other states has increased 12%." Californians are tired of the state's overregulation and sky-high taxes and are leaving in higher and higher numbers. Do lawmakers think they will agree to raise taxes even more?  

If Californians approve this amendment, life for Californian taxpayers will become even more untenable. Californians taxes will be doubled while their healthcare is placed in the hands of the same ineffective bureaucrats who can barely run the state. But it doesn't have to be this way. The people have a choice. We hope they choose rightly. 

Photo Credit: “California Capitol in Downtown Sacramento, California” by Tszeiler1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022, 12:36 PM PERMALINK

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in Houston on January 17 in his bid for a third term this November. The Pledge, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, commits gubernatorial signers to oppose and veto any and all efforts to enact net tax hikes. 

Americans for Tax Reform offers the Pledge to all candidates for state and federal office. In signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Greg Abbott becomes the 15th incumbent governor who has made this important commitment to taxpayers. More than 1,000 state legislators across the country and 20 members of the Texas congressional delegation have also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

“I want to thank and congratulate Governor Greg Abbott for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Governor Abbott, in addition to adhering to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge during his two terms in office, has enacted significant tax relief that has made Texas an even more attractive place to live and do business. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Governor Abbott makes it clear that tax hikes will not be a concern in Texas if he’s elected to a third term.”

“Texas has long been recognized as a relatively low-tax state, one that boasts no income tax. Under Governor Abbott’s leadership, not only has Texas remained a national leader in keeping taxes low, it has also become a model for spending restraint,” Norquist added. “Under Governor Abbott, the rise in state spending has been held below the rate of population growth and inflation. What’s more, Governor Abbott has begun addressing profligacy at the local level with the enactment of a reform that makes it so annual local government revenue growth in excess of 3% now requires voter approval.”

With his election last November, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) became the nation’s 14th governor to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, tying the historic record for gubernatorial Pledge signers that was set after the 2012 election. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge yesterday, not only did Governor Abbott make it clear tax hikes are off the table in Texas so long as he is in office, he set a new record for the number of sitting governors who are Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a public, written commitment by elected officials or candidates to the taxpayers of his or her state or district. The Pledge is a commitment to oppose and veto or vote against any net tax increase. All candidates for federal and state office have been offered the Pledge each election cycle since 1986.


Lawmakers Should Support the Inflation Prevention Act

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Monday, January 17th, 2022, 1:40 PM PERMALINK

In order to protect the American people from inflationary spending, U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) recently introduced the Inflation Prevention Act (IPA). This bill would make it out of order to consider new legislation estimated to increase inflation if year-over-year inflation rate is above 4.5 percent. This restriction could only be waived with a three-fifths majority of lawmakers.

This legislation is four pages long, outlining the policy clearly: 

SEC. 2. POINT OF ORDER AGAINST SPENDING THAT WILL INCREASE INFLATION UNTIL INFLATION IS NOT GREATER THAN 4.5 PERCENT.  

(a) POINT OF ORDER.—  

(1) IN GENERAL.—In the Senate, it shall not be in order to consider a provision in a bill, joint resolution, motion, amendment, amendment between the Houses, or conference report that provides new budget authority and that is estimated to result in an increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless the annualized rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers most recently published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not more than 4.5 percent. 

Cosponsors of this legislation include Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.). 

This bill is especially necessary now as inflation surges and Democrats repeatedly attempt to pass trillions in new government spending. 

The harm of rampant inflation is blatantly obvious to most Americans outside of Washington. The average U.S. household spent $3,500 more in 2021 due to inflation, according to a Penn Wharton University of Pennsylvania Budget Model analysis.  

Low-income households were disproportionately harmed, as those households spent about 7 percent more while higher-income households spent about 6 percent more. For example, between November 2020 and November 2021, the bottom 20 percent spent $309 more on food, $761 more on energy, $476 more on shelter, $390 on other commodities, and $224 on other services. 

Most recently, the consumer price index, or “inflation,” increased by 7 percent on an annualized basis, a 40-year high. In January 2021, before Joe Biden took over the presidency, annual inflation was at a stable 1.4 percent.  

Not only is inflation harming consumers by increasing household costs, but it could also have long lasting economic damage. Inflation is eroding purchasing power, especially given that wages are decreasing. Real average hourly earnings dropped by 2.4 percent on an annualized basis. 

According to a new Gallup poll, 71 percent of low-income households have reported experiencing financial hardship due to rising prices. Of the 71 percent, 28 percent of low-income households say they have experienced “severe hardship” due to rising prices, and 42 percent say they have experienced “moderate hardship.”   

88 percent of voters say they are concerned about increased inflation, according to a recent Harvard CAPS and Harris poll. When asked what causes inflation, the top three answers were "Massive government spending," "Significant amounts of money being injected in the economy by the Federal Reserve," and "Uncontrollable government deficits."     

Even so, President Biden and Congressional Democrats still seek to pass trillions in new spending, with the full awareness that this kind of spending would be inflationary. 

If lawmakers refuse to take inflation seriously in desperate times, there must be guardrails in place to protect the American people. Lawmakers should support Sens. Scott and Thune’s Inflation Prevention Act (IPA).

Photo Credit: "US Senator of South Carolina Tim Scott at Citizens United Freedom Summit Greenville South Carolina May 2015" by Michael Vadon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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The Anti-Vaping Crusade Backfires: Smoking Rates INCREASE For the First Time in Decades

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Posted by Garrett Smith on Friday, January 14th, 2022, 10:49 AM PERMALINK

 

From seed oils to the food pyramid, health officials have a reputation for missing the mark when it comes to informing public wellbeing. One thing they have prided themselves on however is the success in curbing smoking rates, with cigarette sales steadily declining for more than thirty years. Until now.

Smoking, especially among minors and young adults, seems to be making a comeback in the general public for the first time in decades. The causes of this rise have puzzled researchers, some saying perhaps the pandemic is to blame. After all, smoking is a typical coping mechanism for people struggling with isolation, sadness, and stress - all emotions many have felt while being forced to quarantine indoors. However, this claim is contradicted by data coming out of New Zealand claiming that smoking rates on the archipelago have declined after loosening regulation on electronic cigarettes.

The New York Times partially attributes smoking’s rise from the ashes to fashion. Kat Frey, a Brooklyn copywriter the Times spoke to, calls it part of a  “sexy and ethereal 1980’s revival” with a “contemporarily atypical” aesthetic in contrast to vaping which is seen to some as a juvenile activity.

But undoubtedly the blame in large part rests upon the shoulders of those same health officials. Their puritanical fervor towards the complete cessation of nicotine use in its totality shifted the focus from cigarettes to reduced-harm smokeless tobacco alternatives. In recent years, advertisers and policymakers embarked on a zealous war on reduced-harm smokeless tobacco products and vaping, despite the fact that electronic cigarettes have been proven to be a 95% less harmful alternative. One person interviewed by the Times claimed she "switched back to cigarettes because I thought it would be healthier than Juuling," a testament to the widespread misinformation against electronic cigarettes.

The shift in focus is the result of a dogmatic, paranoid anti-nicotine mindset which pervades public health spheres that are ignorant of the facts. Nicotine alone has a risk profile identical to caffeine, and can even yield positive effects on persons with mental health and eating disorders as most of the danger from smoking comes from the inhalation of toxic carcinogens and cancer-causing chemicals. Endless propaganda against smokeless products has created a stigma against these products while encouraging legislation which makes access to life-saving cigarette alternatives increasingly difficult to acquire. For example, in San Francisco, youth smoking actually increased by 6.2% following a ban on flavored vape products and Minnesota’s 95% tax on e-cigarettes created more than 32,0000 new cigarette smokers. Meanwhile places with lax restrictions on vaping like New Zealand have seen record declines in smoking rates.

So perhaps it is time for the health lobby to reassess their priorities and acknowledge their recent failures in tobacco policy. In their fight against all nicotine products, they have begun to pursue regressive policies which conflict with their stated goals.

Photo Credit: "Lighting a Cigarette" by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli

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Biden to Use Taxpayer Funds to Deploy “Clean Energy Corps”

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, January 13th, 2022, 6:19 PM PERMALINK

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced on Thursday that President Biden's Department of Energy will use taxpayer dollars from the recently enacted infrastructure law to hire 1,000 new government employees tasked with the vague mission of leading a “clean energy revolution.”

In a video released Thursday, Granholm dubbed the new program the “Clean Energy Corps” and revealed that the corps will be funded from the $62 billion appropriated to the department by the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure law. The addition of 1,000 new bureaucrats to the Department of Energy (DOE) would represent the largest staffing expansion at the department since its creation in 1977.

Modeled off the “Civilian Climate Corps” which aimed to boost young adults’ outdoor recreation

According to reporting from The Hill, the new DOE program is modeled off President Biden and congressional Democrats’ proposed “Civilian Climate Corps (CCC)” -  a make-work program for progressive climate activists to promote “environmental justice.”

In September, President Biden described the CCC as a government program designed to help “young adults find work installing solar panels, planting trees, digging irrigation ditches and boosting outdoor recreation.” The CCC itself is currently stalled as part of the Democrats’ reckless trillion tax and spend package.

Government competing with private business for workers

As Main Street struggles to find workers during a labor shortage, Democrats now plan to recruit and add 1,000 activists to the government payroll, increasing government competition with the private sector for workers. The newly launched application portal for the program stresses that the department is seeking applicants “right out of college” and that experience in clean energy isn’t required so long as individuals are “committed to public service and with a mission of supercharging the clean energy revolution.”   

The so-called "Clean Energy Corps" is a clear effort from the Biden Administration to ram through some version of Democrats's failed effort to create a Civilian Climate Corps, which Congress has thus far rejected.

Taxpayers should not be on the hook for providing progressive climate activists with a government job.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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