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Cartoon Friday
Posted By:  - 02/18/11


Nate Beeler of the Examiner seems to have channeled our entitlement reform panel.

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Reflections on CPAC
Posted By:  - 02/12/11

Today is the third and final day of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives and libertarians in the nation. After three days of staffing a well-visited booth, meeting with dedicated activists, and listening to dynamic speakers, I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation, but also to what the future holds for the conservative movement.

This year’s CPAC had the highest number of attendees (11,000) in the history of the conference. CPAC speakers ranged from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee Chair, to Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a potential presidential candidate who gave, in my view, an outstanding keynote address, which you can read here. Also, CPAC 2011 featured a number of new participating organizations that focus on both activism and policy related to social, economic, and political issues at the federal, state, and local levels.

While attending CPAC, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of discussions about important tax and fiscal policy issues facing the United States. NTUF hosted a discussion about entitlement reform that featured experts such as Rep. Devin Nunes, Maya MacGuineas, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Steven Moore, and Dan Mitchell. The bottom line of their presentation was that we need to start tackling the problem of runaway entitlement spending before it’s too late.

But budget reform should not be restricted to social programs. CPAC also featured a panel on how the nation can reduce defense spending to a more manageable level without jeopardizing readiness. As a former military aide to a fiscally conservative Member of Congress, I was pleased to hear all of the views presented and the many ideas for maintaining an affordable defense posture. The passion the attendees displayed at the panels, and in conversations with me at the NTU table, was striking.  It bodes well for conservatives if these activists carry their views home and remain outspoken and active in the political process.

For the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk in the media about differences in the conservative movement over certain policies and suggestions that these differences spell certain doom the conservative movement.  After three days of observing conservatives of all stripes from across the country, I can unequivocally say that reports of destructive differences among conservatives are greatly exaggerated. In fact, I would argue that the conservative movement has never been stronger and ready to bring real solutions to the many serious problems facing the nation.

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The States Can't Afford ObamaCare
Posted By:  - 02/04/11

Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) features an interesting op-ed by George Melloan, a former columnist and deputy editor of the editorial page. In it, Melloan argues that one of the economic realities behind the lawsuit by 26 states against the Obama administration’s health care “reform” law is that the states simply cannot afford it.

 

Melloan explains: “Thanks to the recession and their own spending excesses, nearly all states are suffering budget shortfalls, some to the point where there is no clear idea where the money will come from to meet pension and bond obligations, let alone operating expenses. The prospect of adding a further huge burden down the line, even with Washington kicking in over half the cost, is appalling.”

 

“The 26 states party to the Florida suit were saying, in essence: enough! Washington can borrow from the Chinese or call on the Federal Reserve to buy its bonds. But states' only recourse in a budgetary bind is further painful cuts in services.”

 

For his part, Judge Vinson, the Florida judge who ruled Obamacare is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ power, did not agree with the economic argument that costs should be a consideration. Instead, Vinson sided with the government lawyers who argued that since states are free to withdraw from Medicaid if they so choose, nobody is forcing them to do anything.

 

But as Melloan points out, “Judge Vinson's ruling [notwithstanding], there is considerable practical merit in the states' position. For one thing, federal taxes levied on the incomes of citizens in states that withdrew would simply go to support Medicaid elsewhere. These citizens would not only get nothing in return for their taxes—they would also be stuck with the cost of alternative ways to provide health care for the poor.”

 

Given the states’ fiscal positions in the year ahead and the dire choices they face, the argument that Obamacare – and other federal mandates – cost too much could take more precedence in the months ahead. Moreover, more states could also challenge other onerous federal mandates as more costly examples of federal overreach.

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Panel on Entitlement Reform, SOTU Analysis Covered in Latest Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 02/02/11

Tab Insert

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation released the latest information on the President’s State of the Union speech this morning. Covered on CNBC, US News & World Report, and Investors Business Daily, the study authored by Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady also appeared at the top of the Drudge Report. A part of the Foundation’s SOTU coverage, Brady examined the speech line-by-line to give taxpayers a cost of the President’s proposed agenda. Here are a few highlights:

  • 2011 SOTU Net Spending: $21.349 billion per year
  • 2010 SOTU Net Spending: $70.46 billion per year
  • Number of Spending Proposals: 15 (5 boost spending, 3 cut spending, 7 unknown spending impact)
  • Largest Spending Increase Item: “Investment” in transportation infrastructure ($50 billion)
  • Largest Spending Cut Item: Two-year extension of last year’s proposed three-year discretionary spending freeze (-$15 billion)
  • Highest NTUF Recorded SOTU Net Spending: President Clinton’s 1999 speech ($305 billion)
  • Lowest NTUF Recorded SOTU Net Spending: President Bush’s 2006 speech ($1 billion)

NTUF also announced the panelists who will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week in Washington DC:

  • The Honorable Devin Nunes of the House of Representatives
  • Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum
  • Dan Mitchell, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
  • Steve Moore, Wall Street Journal

The Taxpayer’s Tab included four newly scored bills in the 112th Congress:

  • HR 403, Homes for Heroes Act of 2011
  • HR 38, a bill to rescind funds appropriated to the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund under the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
  • HR 27, Lumbee Recognition Act
  • HR 90, a bill to provide for federal research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities to enable the development of farms tha are net producers of both frood and energy, and for other purposes.
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Florida Judge Rejects Obamacare
Posted By:  - 01/31/11

Good news! A federal judge in Florida has ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional. More specifically, he declared the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, but voiding that particular penalty would consequently void the entire law.

Here is an excerpt from Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling, courtesy of Reuters:

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.

Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution."

Judge Vinson’s ruling is even broader than the Virginia ruling last month because it declares the entire law invalid, not merely the individual mandate.

This is a huge victory and we look forward to watching the law go all the way to the Supreme Court, where it will almost certainly be brought for final consideration. In the meantime, rest assured we will do all we can to address the issue within the legislative branch. As you may recall, the House of Representatives voted to repeal Obamacare two weeks ago. We hear additional repeal efforts in the Senate are in the works as well.  

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Tune into NTU's State of the Union Coverage tonight
Posted By:  - 01/25/11

Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, the National Taxpayers Union's crack government affairs and policy analysis teams will provide special online coverage of the President’s State of the Union Address, and we want you to be there and be a part of the discussion. We will be breaking down the President's proposals and what they will mean for taxpayers. Details on how you can join the conversation are below.

  • If you have a Twitter account, use the hash tags #NTUSOTU and #SOTU to link to our discussions and analyses. Hash tags are like keywords for Twitter. Just use them in each of your messages to link to the ongoing dialogue. Remember to also follow @NTU and @NTUF for all the latest commentary!
  • You can also log onto NTU’s Facebook page, where we will constantly update our newsfeed with links, comments, and memorable quotes. Be sure to join our page by clicking "Like"!
  • Even if you don’t have a Twitter of Facebook account, you can still share your thoughts and opinions by going to our special chat room. Join the chat here.
  • NTU will also be updating our blog, Government Bytes, as the night progresses. You can comment on each post as well! Just click on the “Post a Comment” link and speak your mind.

We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!

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One Step Closer to Repeal
Posted By:  - 01/21/11

This past Wednesday, House conservatives followed through with their promise to repeal Obamacare. The vote – 245-189 – marks a major first step in overturning the mammoth, $2.5 trillion health care law.

Here is an excerpt from the Vote Alert we distributed to House offices in advance of Wednesday’s vote:

"From its inception to final passage, NTU has vehemently opposed the health care law because of its enormous tax hikes, inclusion of an 'individual mandate,' and mounds of restrictive regulations. This onerous law is NOT real reform, but rather a political ploy to deceive taxpayers and to expand the federal government in a way that is both unprecedented and unsustainable. Our nation deserves better.

Last year, the 111th Congress chose to ignore the wishes of the American people and implement a package that has done little to lower costs or improve the quality of health care. Furthermore, reports surfaced last fall that claimed the law could raise premiums as much as 20 percent, while 2,000+ pages of hidden taxes and fees have made transparency nearly impossible. It is imperative that Congress start over and enact reforms that put health care choices in the hands of patients and their doctors – not government bureaucrats."

The fate of Obamacare repeal in the U.S. Senate remains unclear, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed he will not permit it to reach the floor. That being said, Senator Jim DeMint is rumored to have a Senate version already in the works, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement after Wednesday’s House vote: “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.”

And, regardless of Senate action (or inaction) on Obamacare repeal, the new House majority is already moving forward. According to The Hill, Representatives voted Thursday to instruct individual committees to begin to develop alternatives to the law.

The battle to "repeal and replace" is far from over, folks. It's only just begun.

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H.R. 2’s Five-Year Cost Examined in Latest Taxpayer’s Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 01/19/11

Tab Insert

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation starts off 2011 right with an analysis by Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady on the 112th Congress’ most talked about piece of legislation yet. The Congressional Budget Office has already released two preliminary reports on H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, but questions remain as to the budgetary impact of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. NTUF has laid out the costs and savings associated with such a repeal so that everyone can be on the same page.

Also included in the Tab are details of the National Taxpayers Union coverage of the upcoming President’s State of the Union Address, scheduled for Tuesday, January 25th. NTU will once again open a chat room to anyone wishing to share their opinions on the Administration’s accomplishments so far, the agenda the President outlines in the speech, and any other taxpayer-related items. NTU’s Facebook and blog, GovernmentBytes.com, pages will also be buzzing with posts and comments, updated throughout the night by policy experts, advocates, and everyday citizens. @NTU and @NTUF on Twitter will also be tweeting developments as they happen using the hashtags #NTUSOTU and #SOTU.

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A Disingenuous CBO Report
Posted By:  - 01/07/11

As a lead-up to Wednesday’s health care repeal vote, many of you may have heard assertions that repeal would increase the deficit by $145 billion. This false claim comes from a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Fortunately, numerous experts have spoken up on why this is not the case, and why it’s imperative that Congress follow through with repeal if they do in fact want to reduce long-term deficits.   

To be clear, I’m not knocking the CBO. They do good work, but the very nature of that work requires assumptions and a need to take the information they are given at face value.  

Please take a look at this must-read National Review piece by former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin (one of the aforementioned experts). Holtz-Eakin says we should not blame CBO, but rather “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” budgeting that forces CBO to “incorporate a wide range of budget gimmicks in their original estimate of the health care law.”

Want specific examples of these budget gimmicks? According to Mr. Holtz-Eakin, CBO was provided information (from the former Congressional Majority) that forced them to:

  • Leave out $115 billion in funding needed to implement the bill;
  • Double-count $521 billion in Social Security payroll taxes ($53 billion), CLASS Act premiums ($70 billion), and Medicare cuts ($398 billion);
  • Leave out the costly doc-fix provision; and
  • Assume a cadillac tax on high-cost health plans.

In his article, Holtz-Eakin says, “There was never any reason to believe that the law reduced the deficit by roughly $140 billion over ten years. Starting two new open-ended entitlements without fixing the existing budgetary cancers just doesn’t work that way. Repealing Obamacare is simply a first step toward fiscal sanity that should happen as soon as possible.”

Take it from the expert. I think a former CBO director understands CBO reports far better than liberal media and Members of Congress.

For even more information on the disingenuous CBO report, check out this analysis from the Heritage Foundation.

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