July 1, 2016
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Veronique de Rugy, Ph.D., is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a monthly columnist for the print edition of Reason. This article originally appeared in Reason on June 30, 2016
Cronyism is the ugly marriage between special interest groups and politicians, which results in an abuse of the government's power to grant special privileges to a few winners—for example, unfairly preventing competition or doling out subsidies and bailouts at the expense of taxpayers. Though cronyism is always outrageous, the way cronies go about achieving their goals is sometimes oddly funny. Case in point: the government's changing the definition of catfish to classify the fish as—wait for it—meat, not seafood.
June 22, 2016
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The power of federal agencies continues to expand every day with more and more regulations being passed and implemented. With regulations flowing out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one federal agency that hasn’t been spotlighted as much is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). But, don’t let their lack of publicity be misleading because the NLRB is currently waging a war against businesses. Now, the courts must decide on a costly regulation that could change the definition of the term “employee” forever. In August of 2015, by a vote of 3-2, the NLRB moved to hold the Houston-based waste management firm Browning-Ferris responsible for the treatment of contractors that were hired out of California through a staffing agency. The ruling declared Browning-Ferris should be considered a "joint employer" with Leadpoint Business Services, a Phoenix-based staffing agency. This decision ran contrary to decades-old precedent on what the traditional definition is for an employee. Many have warned that it could (and would) have implications for small and large businesses in the future.
June 14, 2016
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Washington, D.C.- Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit came out with their long-awaited decision regarding net neutrality. And, the news was bad for taxpayers and consumers as the District Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) power grab of the Internet known as Net Neutrality. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has long since warned against increased regulatory measures on the Internet noting that the Internet has thrived because government has, up until now, kept a light regulatory touch on the Internet. Quick reacting business and free market forces will keep the Internet thriving, not slow unresponsive government bureaucracies. A new regulatory regime for the Internet would stifle innovation and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in a newly created bureaucracy. In response to this decision, TPA President David Williams issued the following statement.
Click 'read more' below to see the full statement
June 6, 2016
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This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on May 17, 2016
One thing the government does better than any other institution is create problems where none exist. But, another thing the government also really excels at is making things worse for consumers. This is evident with new legislation that could harm consumers who want to buy contact lenses. The issue of contact lenses may not seem pressing, but with more than 40 million people in the United States who wear contact lenses, the implications could be massive.
June 1, 2016
Morgan Reed is the executive director for ACT | The App Association.» Read More
Last week, I testified before the House Small Business Committee at its hearing, “The Sharing Economy: A Taxing Experience for New Entrepreneurs.” The discussion focused on how labor laws and tax policy should evolve to better reflect the American workforce of today. As executive director of ACT | The App Association, I represent the interests of more than 5,000 app makers and connected device companies across the country. Our members leverage the connectivity of smart devices to create innovative solutions that make people’s lives better. Some of our members are part of the growing sharing economy, which is characterized by peer-to-peer exchanges of goods both digital and physical.
May 13, 2016
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As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues their war on the private sector, it is becoming more clear everyday that the agency only cares about promulgating rules instead working with the good faith actors in the business community to put forth solutions that balance the needs of our environment, as well as the sustained growth of the economy. Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been a vocal critic of the policies that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has enacted, noting that many of these policies will bring the same result: hindering growth in the energy sector. It is with that in mind that TPA joined Americans for Prosperity in a coalition of 60 organizations to send this letter House and Senate leaders urging them to take action to reform the EPA’s Ozone Standard, known as National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter
May 11, 2016
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Time and again we see some of the best ideas come from those who are willing to invest their own time and resources to create, improve, and perfect the next great product or trend. Vaping is a great example of that and one of the fastest growing industries today in the market. Whether it’s new customers or those who have been a traditional tobacco user who want to try something new, the number of those using vaping products continues to increase as more choices become available in the market. Unfortunately, government regulators may have just stopped the industry dead in their tracks.
May 9, 2016
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This op-ed orignally appeared in Inside Sources on May 3, 2016
The court battle over the Environmental Protection Agency’s “breathtaking expansion” of its powers with the Clean Power Plan also means a renewed spotlight on the Obama administration’s tax and environmental policies and the chilling effect they will have on American jobs and growth. The CPP, the administration’s “signature” climate change policy that regulates power plant carbon emissions, has been challenged by West Virginia and dozens of other states. Although she subsequently disavowed her own statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton best articulated the aim of that policy when she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Forced to comment on the Clinton assessment, EPA chief Gina McCarthy declined to repudiate it, asserting awkwardly, “It’s certainly not good for anybody to be out of work in an economy. … I do not agree that anyone in the United States of America should go without a job.” It’s a statement marinated in irony, considering McCarthy and the Obama administration advocate continuously for tax and environmental policies that will crush American energy industry jobs, inflate the already swollen ranks of the unemployed, and raise energy costs for the entire nation.
May 5, 2016
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Alexander Hendrie is the Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform, this post originally appeared on ATR.org
Last month, the Obama Department of Labor released the final version of the fiduciary rule, a regulation spanning more than a thousand pages that will curtail the ability of financial advisors to give advice to IRA and 401(k) holders. Supporters of the rule claim it is necessary to ensure savers receive the best possible advice, however the final product is so complex and burdensome that millions will inevitably be locked out from receiving the guidance they need. Through this regulation, the federal government is essentially moving to exert close control over the retirement saving decisions of Americans across the country. In response to this encroachment, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block this new rule, led by Congressmen Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
April 22, 2016
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The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is moving forward with their latest regulatory proposal, known as AllVid, and the criticism is piling up. AllVid would work by requiring traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices. Chairman Wheeler is choosing sides again, playing favorites and picking winners and losers in what should be an all of the above approach to moving beyond the set-top box structure of how cable entertainment is delivered. Regardless of the authority the Chairman is claiming by way of Section 629 of the Communications Act, stakeholders representing a wide-range of industries continue to present key arguments as to why this is the wrong approach as well as pledge to work with the agency on a better proposal that would ensure that free and fair competition remains the standard. TPA this morning, in a joint-filing with a broad coalition submitted these comments to the FCC on the AllVid proposal. The comments call attention to the key issues that many have with Wheeler’s approach including privacy, consumer choice, market competition, and process. Comments can still be filed today by visiting the FCC’s website here.
April 1, 2016
Just weeks ago the House released a pair of budget proposals that put forth a path toward a balanced budget. Though each proposal was not perfect, particularly on Pentagon spending reform, the important work of getting a budget done is only helped by what the House Budget Committee and Republican Study Committee brought to the table. One way to make Congressional budgeting more effective for taxpayers is to implement a regulatory budget to address the costs of federal regulations. The impact of regulations on jobs and the economy has never been more apparent, and Congress can play a role in mitigating that impact or at least shedding more light on it. That’s why the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) joined a coalition effort led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) signing this letter urging Congress to move forward with a regulatory budget.
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February 17, 2016
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its current Chairman Tom Wheeler aren’t very good at many things, but one thing Wheeler’s FCC excels at is expanding the regulatory reach of the agency. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) remains constantly engaged in the fight against the Wheeler-Obama “net neutrality” Internet regulations, and the increasing number of municipal (i.e. taxpayer-funded) broadband systems in cities across the country. The FCC is once again trying to expand its regulatory reach; this time it is Chairman Wheeler’s recent proposal for rulemaking on unlocking set-top boxes for cable television. The future of set-top boxes has been an oft-discussed telecommunications topic for years. Set-top boxes are how many cable customers receive their content from local cable companies such as Verzion, Comcast, Time Warner etc. As technology advances and consumers feel the squeeze of increasing hardware costs, many individuals are looking for a better way to have their services delivered. Section 629 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices, lays out the impetuous for what the FCC has been trying to accomplish with set-top boxes. Previously, the agency (taxpayers) poured more than $1 billion into the failed CableCARD program, and now they want to resurrect a proposal, known as “AllVid,” that has been repeatedly fought every step of the way, and for good reason.
February 14, 2016
On Friday, members of the Virginia House of Delegates debated and cast their first vote on repealing an archaic law knows as the Certificate of Public Need (COPN). These laws require hospitals and other healthcare providers to acquire approval from state regulators to add or expand healthcare services, ranging from adding MRI machines or additional beds to performing new surgeries. The intention of this law, which stems from a 1970’s federal mandate, was to control costs and increase access to care. However, it’s accomplished quite the opposite by stifling competition, making healthcare less accessible and more expensive for consumers and taxpayers. As noted in a previous blog, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) these laws, COPN laws create barriers to entry and expansion, limit consumer choice and stifle innovation.
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January 29, 2016
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy
Entering the final year of the Obama Administration, there are many priorities the President has and one of the biggest is a lasting legacy when it comes to environmental policy. The biggest component of that legacy domestically is the ill-conceived Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is not only an attack on traditional fossil fuels; it’s a de facto giveaway (or redistribution) to the renewable energy industry. Setting massive targets for carbon reduction and forcing states to comply with the new rule will only ensure that green energy schemes like solar and wind will reap the benefits of new and existing incentives designed to artificially prop-up those failed technologies. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been sounding the alarm on the plan for nearly two years now, as have many others. Just last week, TPA joined a coalition led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) submitting comments (click here for the PDF version) to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the dangers of the CPP.
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January 11, 2016
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President Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address (SOTU) to the nation on January 12th. The annual tradition of addressing a joint-session of Congress along with millions of Americans is often used to set the stage for the coming year and the battles with the legislative branch that the President assumes will be on the agenda. However, this year will be different for a several reasons and it is important for taxpayers and those watching the speech to understand why this speech (more so than others) will be weighted more on style and less on substance.
January 7, 2016
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Just before the holidays, three Republican Members of the Virginia House of Delegates introduced multiple pieces of legislation that would repeal Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN). In place since the early 1970’s, COPN is an old top down healthcare regulation that stifles innovation. The law was created to ensure access to care and curb rising healthcare costs. But, if a healthcare provider or hospital in Virginia wants to add beds or equipment or even offer a new service such as an MRI machine, they must first go through a lengthy application process seeking approval from state regulators. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), COPN laws create barriers to entry and expansion, limit consumer choice and stifle innovation.
January 5, 2016
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The passage of tax extenders, as part of the Omnibus spending bill in December, was a mixed bag of victories and defeats for taxpayers. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) called for separate votes on the tax extenders because some made economic and fiscal sense, while others, like wind and solar subsidies, were merely corporate welfare handouts. One victory in the Omnibus was the inclusion of H.R. 1104, the “Fair Treatment for All Donations Act," aka the "Gift Tax." H.R. 1104, which unanimously passed the House earlier this year, prevents the targeting of nonprofits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by clarifying IRS law that any gift over $14,000 to a non profit classified as a 501 (c) (4), 501 (c) (5), or 501 (c) (6) would not be subject to the gift tax. Passing H.R. 1104 provides certainty to groups and individuals that they will not be subject to partisan attacks from the IRS using a potential tax increase as a threat. This will also limit future attempts to influence the political process. Groups from all sides of the ideological spectrum should welcome this accomplishment, and TPA is grateful for everybody’s work on this issue. There are many people to thank but it is important to start with those who played the biggest role in making this victory happen.
January 4, 2016
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This article ran in The Daily Caller on December 16, 2015
More than 112 mergers and acquisitions have been announced in 2015, totaling more than $4.6 trillion in value. That makes this year the most active in history. But regulators in Washington have a dysfunctional disposition when it comes to mergers and acquisitions these days – the combination of anti-merger attitude and corporate cronyism. At present, the federal government is suing to block a deal between Office Depot and Staples, while a number of other deals have fallen through namely, General Electric-Electrolux, Bumble Bee-Chicken of the Sea, Pepco-Exelon, and Sysco-U.S. Foods, to just name a few. While some proposed mergers may seem anti-consumer and anti-competitive, the federal government should not take an activist role in the process.
December 31, 2015
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The time to say goodbye to 2015 has arrived as the New Year is upon us. From losing weight to reading more, it’s that time of year when millions of Americans make their resolutions for the coming year. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) put together a list of our own resolutions for Washington.
December 30, 2015
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This article appeared in Townhall.com on December 9, 2015
In a 2014 video by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson argued that, “The founders created a magnificent document, our Constitution, that never intended” for the federal government to encroach on states’ rights. It’s a good message from a usually reliable conservative. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to square with Wilson’s October letter to colleagues asking his fellow attorneys general to support federal legislation mandating how states regulate gaming within their borders; a message that is irreconcilable with his insistence that Washington respect states’ rights. The measure in question is the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act” (RAWA), which would allow politicians in Washington, DC to decide state gaming policy.