Last week’s announcement by President Obama that he would reject the Keystone XL Pipeline was not surprising, but nonetheless, it was a disappointing decision because of the economic and energy security benefits that will be lost. The most troubling aspect of the decision is the reasoning behind the rejection. At a press conference, President Obama cited environmental concerns and an upcoming climate conference in Paris as major factors in his reasoning, despite findings that the pipeline would not significantly harm the environment. Lost jobs and the economic growth that Keystone could have brought to the U.S. will be the most significant repercussions of the decision. It’s estimated that more than 42,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs would have been created through Keystone. With an economy still reeling from the recession, those jobs are much needed by Americans who continue to struggle to find work. It is also worth noting that $2.2 billion that would have been put into the pockets of those workers will be lost. In addition to bringing jobs and wages, the project would have also contributed $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
This article originally apeared in The Daily Caller on October 27, 2015
It was announced on Monday night that congressional leaders and the White House have agreed to a two-year budget deal that lifts the budget caps by $80 billion. In addition to lifting the budget caps, the debt ceiling will be suspended until 2017. That’s not a compromise, that’s capitulation. The budget caps were put in place in 2011 because the country was faced with a debt-ceiling crisis. Sound familiar? The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which set the caps and ultimately led to sequestration, was Congress and the president admitting they couldn’t be trusted to be fiscally responsible. The spending caps set forth by the BCA and implemented through sequestration are the first nominal (real) cuts in spending that the federal government has seen in decades. The latest budget deal busts the caps by $80 billion; $50 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017. The increase would be equally divided between defense and non-defense discretionary spending, neither of which need more money.
This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on September 22, 2015
As if Solyndra’s monumental failure was not enough of a blow to taxpayers, a new report from the Department of Energy inspector general four years in the making finds the infamous solar company deliberately deceived Energy to secure millions of dollars from the federal government (read: taxpayers). What’s more, it appears the Obama administration was at the helm of the scandal. There’s no surprise that the administration refuses to see the truth about solar power considering that the vice president pledged an additional $102 million grant program for companies, universities and research laboratories to further expand solar power use. It is clear that the administration is ignoring all warning signs and doing whatever it can to shovel more tax money to an unproven and financially risky power source. Solyndra quickly became synonymous with wasteful spending and government absurdity after it received $535 million from taxpayers then went bankrupt. And, when news broke in 2011 that Solyndra was laying off 1,100 employees, just two years after receiving the loan guarantees, much of the American public was outraged.
Showing herself to be a shrewd politician but a terrible judge of economic and energy policy, Democratic presidential candidate (and former Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton came out in opposition to the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline this week. The move comes after years of dodging and silence on an issue that is critical to the nation’s economic outlook and overall energy strategy. The fact that Sec. Clinton waited this long, and then did so right during an historic U.S. visit by Pope Francis, shows that she’s well aware this decision is not only unpopular with much of the public, but that it is also bad policy. The proposed construction of the pipeline provides the capacity to move more than 700,000 barrels of oil each day. The increased production would provide thousands of jobs and help lower energy costs for working families nationwide.
Yesterday, folks from around the country enjoyed the Labor Day holiday by relaxing with their families at the end of long weekend. But while many people had the day off Monday, many businesses were still processing a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that could have a lasting negative impact on millions of jobs. On Thursday, August 27, the NLRB voted along party lines to expanded the liabilities of employers as “joint-employers” and changed decades of labor policy that will impact how many companies have do business and will likely lead to harmful consequences for many workers. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, “Previously, the NLRB had a direct-control standard, meaning that a company was a joint employer only if it actually gave orders to the workers or controlled their working conditions. Now, a company may be a joint employer even if it merely reserves the right to influence working conditions.” The case involved Houston-based waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries and whether or not they were responsible for contract staffing they utilized for a facility in California. The NLRB ruled that Browning-Ferris was responsible for the contract employees, and in doing so set forth a precedent going forward that will cause many businesses to rethink how they operate with regards to contract staffing and franchises. The 3-2 ruling is bad news for small businesses and franchisees.
This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on August 24, 2015
When President Obama was selling the government health care takeover to Congress and the American people, he repeatedly promised that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, would keep health insurance companies “honest” and held “accountable” for providing affordable, quality health care to Americans. Over the past five and a half years the country has experienced the unraveling of this unworkable law as millions of Americans continue to struggle with higher health care premiums, increased out-of-pocket costs, less choice and greater health uncertainty. Americans are paying more for out-of-pocket for health care now than they did in the past decade. Most still remember the president’s famous words, “if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.” But for many, that’s turned out to be another unfulfilled Obamacare promise. Now, insurance companies are preparing to gouge consumers with massive premium increases. Estimates for 2016 show that insurance companies around the country are seeking premium rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under Obamacare turned out to be sicker than expected.
Last year, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) featured a series of posts during the congressional summer recess called “Summer Reading.” The weekly posts focused on specific issues that House and Senate should work on after returning from their summer break. This year TPA is bringing back Summer Reading and the first installment of 2015 centers on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the energy initiative announced on Monday by the White House. CCP is the latest in a series of harmful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory measures that will bring economic harm to taxpayers, states and working families. According to the Obama Administration, the $8.4 billion plan is aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants by implementing a new regulatory rule using section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The new rule would force states to adopt their own plan in order to meet certain carbon reduction requirements.
A verision of this article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on July 15, 2015
Despite a frustrating ruling from the Supreme Court that kept the state and federal subsidies intact for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), there are still opportunities to chip away at some of the law’s more damaging provisions, including many of the taxes that were put in place to help offset some of the financial costs of Obamacare. Many of those taxes – which aren’t generating the promised revenue – shouldn’t have been created in the first place, and are now wreaking havoc on the economy. Even though a full repeal of Obamacare may not be realistic, Congress does have the ability to remove components of Obamacare that have bipartisan opposition. One such component is the tanning tax. Currently, there is legislation in the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) to repeal the tanning tax, H.R.2698, the “Tanning Tax Repeal Act of 2015.” The bill is a simple one-page piece of legislation that eliminates the tanning tax on indoor tanning salons. The bipartisan bill has 30 cosponsors, including Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). The 10 percent tax on indoor tanning is the perfect example of a tax not generating the revenue promised. In 2010, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) projected that the new tax would generate $1 billion between 2010-2014. The IRS reports that the tax only produced $86.3 million in fiscal year (FY) 2011, $91.5 million in FY 2012, and $92 million in both FY 2013 and FY 2014 – a total of only $362 million. With a difference of $600 million, those numbers are far from what was expected.
The Coming Green Bubble: New Report Exposes Parallels Between Big Solar Financing Schemes and Housing Meltdown
Washington, D.C.—This week the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a brand new report about the heavily-subsidized solar industry titled, From Washington to Wall Street: How Government Policies are Skewing Solar Investments (click here). TPA concludes that Big Solar’s heavy reliance on risky financing schemes, combined with government handouts, is creating conditions that could generate a “bubble” in the solar market just as Washington policy produced the housing and financial collapse. This report is another one in the series analyzing the impact of government solar subsidies and preferential treatment on taxpayers and consumers. The new report also contains a link (click here) that details the generous solar subsidies by state.
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The Coming Green Bubble: New Report Exposes Parallels Between Big Solar Financing Schemes and Housing Meltdown
Washington, D.C.—The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a brand new report about the heavily-subsidized solar industry titled, From Washington to Wall Street: How Government Policies are Skewing Solar Investments (click here). TPA concludes that Big Solar’s heavy reliance on risky financing schemes, combined with government handouts, is creating conditions that could generate a “bubble” in the solar market just as Washington policy produced the housing and financial collapse. This report is another one in the series analyzing the impact of government solar subsidies and preferential treatment on taxpayers and consumers. The new report also contains a link (click here) that details the generous solar subsidies by state.