Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) endorsed by radical environmentalist group

Florida Representative proudly posted on his Facebook page an endorsement by Ocean Champions:

But who is Ocean Champions?

According to its website:

Ocean Champions is a 501(c)(4) organization with a connected political action committee – the first national organization of its kind focused solely on oceans and ocean wildlife. Our goal is to create a political environment where protecting and restoring the oceans is a national government priority. By helping to elect pro-ocean Congressional candidates and engaging with Congress to pass pro-ocean laws and shoot down bills that would harm the ocean.

What does Ocean Champions mean by having a goal to “create a political environment where protecting and restoring the oceans is a national government priority” and to “pass pro-ocean laws and shoot down bills that would harm the ocean?”

Under the Obama administration this meant implementation of the National Ocean Policy on July 19, 2010, known as “Ocean Zoning.” This policy was fully supported by Ocean Champions and twelve other environment groups. In a July 19, 2010 press release titled “Conservation Groups Applaud National Ocean Policy” David Wilmot, Ph.D., President and Co-Founder of Ocean Champion stated:

The nation can now look to the National Ocean Policy to provide a guiding vision for all federal agencies and a needed mandate for the future protection and restoration of our coasts, oceans, islands and Great Lakes.

The House Committee on Natural Resources wrote this about the Obama administration’s National Ocean Policy:

  • In four separate Congresses, legislation has been introduced to implement similar far-reaching ocean policies, and to-date NO bill has passed the House or been reported out of a Committee. Despite numerous requests from the Committee, the administration has yet to cite specific statutory authority on which this policy is based.
  • Rather than streamline Federal management, the policy adds layers of additional Federal bureaucracy that could significantly impact the economic and recreational uses of our oceans, ocean lands, and potentially all rivers, tributaries and lands that drain or adjoin our oceans. In total, the Executive Order creates: 10 National Policies; a 27-member National Ocean Council; an 18-member Governance Coordinating Committee; and 9 Regional Planning Bodies. This has led to an additional: 9 National Priority Objectives; 9 Strategic Action Plans; 7 National Goals for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning; and 12 Guiding Principles for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning to be created.
  • Restrictive national standards, along with ocean zoning, could slow and potentially stop the permitting of activities such as commercial and recreational fishing and energy production. This will harm the economy and cost jobs.
  • Although the policy is portrayed by the administration as primarily targeting Ocean related activities, recently released documents show just the opposite. The draft implement plan specifically states that the policy plans to address “the major impacts of urban and suburban development and agriculture—including forestry and animal feedlots.”
  • The policy establishes a Federally-controlled system of regional planning bodies that could override local and state zoning authorities. These bodies will have broad authority to issue regulations potentially impacting all activities that occur on lands adjacent to rivers, tributaries or watersheds that eventually drain into the ocean, yet these bodies will allow no representation by the people, communities and businesses that will actually be impacted by the regulations.
  • The new national standards will also create a whole new class of lawsuits that could further restrict permitting of coastal and ocean activities and create a new way to challenge state permitting decisions for activities that “might affect” the ocean environment. This initiative is poised to become a litigation nightmare.
  • Over 80 national and local organizations representing agriculture, forestry, energy, fishing, boating, mining, transportation and construction wrote to Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers requesting a prohibition on funding for the implementation of the President’s National Ocean Policy.
  • This new policy will affect already budget-strapped agencies such as NOAA, Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, EPA, Department of Transportation, USDA, Homeland Security, and the Army Corps of Engineers. As Federal budgets are further reduced, it is unclear how much funding the agencies are taking from existing programs to develop and implement this new initiative. [Emphasis added]

So Buchanan is against Florida’s fishing, boating, agricultural, forestry and energy industries. He wants to take control of  Florida’s shorelines and give oversight to unelected bureaucrats. He wants less permitting for construction along Florida’s shores and more lawsuits.

So is Rep. Buchanan pro-Florida? Pro jobs and for a growing Florida economy. Is he for the working people of Florida or not.

According to the House Committee on Natural Resources you can’t be pro-ocean and pro-growth. Pick one: the people of Florida or the ocean.

We report, you do your own research.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Fishermen Need More Flexibility than NOAA Doles Out

Six Years Later, Strong Uncertainty About President Obama’s National Ocean Policy Remains

In Charts, How These 7 Taxpayers’ Bills Would Change If Tax Reform Were Enacted

How will you fare if the GOP tax plan is enacted?

Well, on net, most Americans will see a significant tax cut under the proposed plans from Republican lawmakers, including virtually all lower- and middle-income workers and a majority of upper-income earners.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would, on average, provide immediate tax cuts across all income groups, according to analysis from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

This analysis does not, however, show how those tax cuts would vary based on factors such as total income, type of income, number of children, and itemized deductions.

While the plans lack a pro-growth cut to the top marginal tax rate (the Senate plan slightly lowers the top rate, but the House keeps the top rate and adds a higher bubble rate), both bills achieve significant reductions in business tax rates. This will help make America more competitive with the rest of the world, and will result in more and better jobs as well as higher incomes for all Americans.

To get a better idea of how some workers, families, and small businesses would fare under the proposed tax reform, The Heritage Foundation has estimated the tax bills of a range of taxpayers under current tax law, the House’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the Senate’s modified mark of that bill.

Tom Wong: Single teacher with median earnings of $50,000 per year. Under the current tax code, Tom pays $5,474 each year in federal income taxes. His tax bill would decline by $914, or 17 percent, (to $4,560) under the House’s plan and by $1,104, or 20 percent, (to $4,370) under the Senate’s plan.

These tax cuts come primarily from a higher standard deduction of $12,000 and from lower marginal tax rates. Currently, Tom’s marginal tax rate is 25 percent. But under both the House and Senate plans, his tax rate would become 12 percent.

John and Sarah Jones: Married couple with three children, homeowners, and $75,000 in annual income. John is a sales representative and earns an average of $55,000 a year. Sarah is a registered nurse. After having children, Sarah cut back to part-time work and she earns $20,000 a year. Under the current tax code, John and Sarah pay $1,753 each year in federal income taxes.

But under the House’s tax plan, their tax bill would decline by $1,033, or 59 percent, (to $720). Under the Senate’s plan, their bill would be reduced by $2,014, or 115 percent, (to $0, plus a refundable credit of $261).

Even though John and Sarah would have more taxable income under the proposed plans (as a result of not being able to deduct all of their state and local taxes and not being able to claim personal exemptions), they would still receive a tax cut because they would face lower marginal tax rates and receive larger child tax credits.

Their current marginal tax rate would decline from 15 percent to 12 percent under both the House and Senate plans. Their current child tax credits of $1,000 each would increase to $1,600 each under the House plan and $2,000 each under the Senate plan. The House plan would also provide $600 in family credits to John and Sarah.

The numbers listed in the above example for John and Sarah’s current tax payments assumes John and Sarah own a home and live in a state with average tax levels. Under the current tax code, if they did not own a home but instead rented, their federal tax bill would be higher ($2,375 instead of their current $1,753 tax bill).

This would mean that their subsequent tax cuts—as renters—would be larger: $1,655, or 70 percent, under the House plan and $2,636, or 111 percent, under the Senate plan. The House plan would partially eliminate and the Senate plan would fully eliminate an inequity in the current tax code that provides bigger tax breaks to homeowners, wealthy individuals, and people who live in high-tax states.

If the John and Sarah rent, their new tax bills would remain the same under both the House and Senate plans (because the larger standard deduction would mean they would not itemize regardless of whether they owned a home or rented).

Peter and Paige Smith: Married couple with two children, homeowners, $1.5 million annual income. Peter works for a technology startup company and Paige is an accountant. Although Peter’s income fluctuates significantly from year-to-year, this was a big year for his company and he received a very large bonus, bringing his total earnings to $1.4 million. Paige’s stable income of $100,000 provided their family the financial stability they needed for Peter to take a risk and follow his dreams.

Under the current tax code, Pater and Paige pay $439,275 in federal income taxes. Their tax bill would increase by $87,993, or 20 percent, (to $527,268) under the House plan and would remain relatively the same, decreasing by just $1,313, or 0.3 percent, (to $437,962) under the Senate plan.

Peter and Paige’s taxable income would increase under both the House and Senate plans because they would lose some or all of their state and local tax deductions. Their total exemptions and child tax credits would remain the same—at zero—as their income is too high to claim any exemptions or credits under the current code or the proposed plans.

Under the current tax code, Peter and Paige face a top marginal tax rate of 42.5 percent (39.6 percent, plus the 2.9 percent Obamacare surtax). Under the House plan, their top rate would rise to 48.5 percent (39.6 percent, plus the 6 percent “bubble” tax, plus the 2.9 percent Obamacare tax), and under the Senate plan, it would fall to 41.4 percent (38.5 percent, plus the 2.9 percent Obamacare tax).

Those marginal tax rates do not include Social Security’s 12.4 percent payroll tax, which can lead to extremely high combined marginal tax rates for second earners that are part of a high-income family like Peter and Paige. Because Paige makes less than Social Security current taxable maximum income of $127,200, her combined federal income and payroll tax rate is 54.9 percent under current law and would be 60.8 percent under the House plan and 53.8 percent under the Senate plan.

Although Peter and Paige would have the most taxable income under the Senate plan, the Senate plan’s lower top marginal tax rate does the most to remove the tax penalty on work and investment. The more Peter and Paige work and invest, the more jobs and income growth they help create across all income groups.  Peter and Paige would also benefit under the Senate plan’s lower marginal tax rates in the bottom brackets.

The above example assumes Peter and Paige live in a state with average taxes. Currently, however, their federal tax bill could be tens of thousands of dollars higher or lower, depending on whether they live in a state with higher- or lower-than-average taxes for them to write off. This is not the case under the proposed House and Senate tax plans, because the Senate plan fully eliminates the state and local tax deduction and the House plan eliminates all but a $10,000 property tax deduction (and at their income level, they would likely claim that full amount in any state).

Jose and Marie Fernandez: Married couple with two children, owners of JM Blinds and Shades LLC, homeowners, $250,000 annual income. Jose owns and manages JM Blinds and Shades manufacturing company. Marie primarily stays home with their young children, but she also helps out significantly with the business when needed. Under the current tax code, Jose and Marie pay $35,588, which is their alternative minimum tax (AMT) amount.

The AMT is a separate tax system, created back in 1982 to make sure that millionaires paid their “fair share” in taxes. However, because the AMT was not indexed for inflation until 30 years after it was enacted, it now hits a significant number of middle- to upper-income Americans with a higher tax bill than they would otherwise pay. That’s because under the current tax code, taxpayers pay the larger of what they owe under the regular income tax system and the AMT.

Both the House and Senate plans eliminate the AMT. Under the House plan, Jose and Marie’s federal tax bill would increase by $799, or 2.3 percent, (to $36,387) and under the Senate plan, their federal tax bill would decrease by $9,325, or 26 percent, (to $26,263).

Jose and Marie’s marginal income tax rates would vary significantly under the different tax plans. Their current marginal tax rate of 35 percent would decline to 30 percent under the House plan and 19.8 percent under the Senate plan.

Under the House tax plan, Jose and Marie would face a good deal more complexity. As a small business, they would face the top rate of 25 percent, but only on 30 percent of their income. The other 70 percent (counted as wages) would be taxed at the regular income tax rates (which range from 12 percent to 46.5 percent). At their current income level, that top rate would also be 25 percent. However, on top of that, Jose and Marie would face an additional 5 percent tax due to the phaseout of their child tax credits.

Under current law, Jose and Marie make too much to claim the $1,000 per child tax credits. Under the House plan, they would be able to claim $1,100 of each $1,600 child tax credit, and under the Senate plan, they would receive the full $2,000 credit per child.

Also, because Jose and Marie make $250,000, their next dollar of income would be subject to the 2.9 percent Obamacare tax under both the current and proposed tax plans. That would bring their marginal tax rate on any additional income to 37.9 percent under the current tax code, 32.9 percent under the House plan, and 22.7 percent under the Senate plan.

The above examples seek to show how some common taxpayers—including some wealthy individuals who are less common—would fare under the proposed tax reforms. Actual individuals’, families’, and businesses’ tax bills could vary significantly.

On net, however, most taxpayers—particularly lower- and middle-income taxpayers and businesses—will pay less in total taxes. Even more important than total taxes paid, however, is marginal tax rates. That’s because a lot of decisions are made at the margin.

For example, a worker is far more likely to work an additional hour if it counts as overtime and provides the equivalent of 1.5 hours’ worth of pay. And an individual is more likely to make a $1,000 contribution to his retirement savings account if that savings goes tax-free and means he can put all $1,000 away, instead of first having to pay between $100 and $400 in taxes on the savings.

Lower marginal tax rates are a big driver of economic growth, and the lower the rates, the higher the growth. Under the House bill, lower- and middle-income earners and businesses face lower marginal tax rates, but some high-income earners face higher marginal tax rates. The Senate proposal reduces the top marginal tax rate for an overwhelming majority of taxpayers, with the largest reductions occurring for businesses and for lower- and middle-income Americans.

While the proposed tax reforms do not achieve 100 percent of the potential pro-growth impacts that they could, they go a long way in helping to jump-start America’s struggling economy and put it on a pathway toward higher long-term growth.

Portrait of Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler is a senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. Read her research.

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After 30 Years, Alarmists Are Still Predicting A Global Warming ‘Apocalypse’

By Michael Bastasch

For at least three decades scientists and environmental activists have been warning that the world is on the verge of a global warming “apocalypse” that will flood coastal cities, tear up roads and bridges with mega-storms and bring widespread famine and misery to much of the world.

The only solution, they say, is to rid the world of fossil fuels — coal, natural gas and oil — that serve as the pillars of modern society. Only quick, decisive global action can avert the worst effects of manmade climate change, warn international bodies like the United Nations, who say we only have decades left — or even less!

Of course, human civilization has not collapsed, despite decades of predictions that we only have years left to avert disaster. Ten years ago, the U.N. predicted we only had “as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more.”

This failed prediction, however, has not stopped the U.N. and others from issuing more apocalyptic statements.

To celebrate nearly three decades of dire predictions, The Daily Caller News Foundation put together this list of some of the most severe doomsday prophecies made by scientists, activists and politicians:

1. Apocalyptic warnings on repeat

A group of 1,700 scientists and experts signed a letter 25 years ago warning of massive ecological and societal collapse if nothing was done to curb overpopulation, pollution and, ultimately, the capitalist society in which we live today.

The Union of Concerned Scientists put out a second letter earlier this year, once again warning of the dire consequences of global warming and other alleged ecological ills. Now numbering 15,000, the group warns “soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

“We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home,” the scientists and experts warned.

It’s a terrifying warning — if you ignore the fact that none of their 1992 warning has come to fruition.

2. The planet will be “uninhabitable” by the end of the century

New York Magazine writer David Wallace-Wells published a 7,000-word article claiming global warming could make Earth “uninhabitable” by “the end of this century.”

Wallace-Wells’s article warned of terrors, like “Heat Death,” “Climate Plagues,” “Permanent Economic Collapse” and “Poisoned Oceans.”

“Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century,” Wallace-Wells wrote.

3. Prince Charles’s global warming deadline passed…and nothing happened

Prince Charles famously warned in July 2009 that humanity had only 96 months to save the world from “irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it.” That deadline has passed, and the prince has not issued an update to when the world needs to be saved.

Though the recently-released “Paradise Papers” show Charles lobbied U.K. lawmakers to enact policies that benefited his estate’s investment in a Bermuda company that does sustainable forestry. So, there’s that.

4. ‘Ice Apocalypse’ Now

Liberal writer and climate scientist Eric Holthaus claimed manmade global warming would set off the “ice apocalypse” at a pace “too quickly for humanity to adapt.”

Holthaus warned the wholesale collapse of two Antarctic glaciers — Pine Island and Thwaites — could happen sooner than previously believed, resulting in “flooding coastal cities and creating hundreds of millions of climate refugees.” Sounds terrible, but his conclusions aren’t really backed up by the science.

“I think his article is too pessimistic: that it overstates the possibility of disaster. Too soon, too certain,” Tamsin Edwards, a scientist who’s studied Antarctica, wrote in The Guardian about Holthaus’s article.

5. 2015 is the ‘last effective opportunity’ to stop catastrophic warming

World leaders meeting at the Vatican  issued a statement saying that 2015 was the “last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2-degrees [Celsius].”

Pope Francis wants to weigh in on global warming, and is expected to issue an encyclical saying basically the same thing. Francis reiterated that 2015 is the last chance to stop massive warming.

But what he should really say is that the U.N. conference this year is the “last” chance to cut a deal to stem global warming…since last year when the U.N. said basically the same thing about 2014’s climate summit.

6. France’s foreign minister said we only have “500 days” to stop “climate chaos”

When Laurent Fabius met with Secretary of State John Kerry on May 13, 2014 to talk about world issues he said “we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”

Ironically at the time of Fabius’ comments, the U.N. had scheduled a climate summit to meet in Paris in December 2015 — some 565 days after his remarks. Looks like the U.N. is 65 days too late to save the world.

7. Former President Barack Obama is the last chance to stop global warming

When Obama made the campaign promise to “slow the rise of the oceans,” some environmentalists may have taken him quite literally.

The United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth told Climatewire in 2012 that Obama’s second term was “the last window of opportunity” to impose policies to restrict fossil fuel use. Wirth said it’s “the last chance we have to get anything approaching 2 degrees Centigrade,” adding that if “we don’t do it now, we are committing the world to a drastically different place.”

Even before that, then-National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center head James Hansen warned in 2009 that Obama only “has four years to save Earth.”

8. Remember when we had “hours” to stop global warming?

World leaders met in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 to potentially hash out another climate treaty. That same year, the head of Canada’s Green Party wrote that there was only “hours” left to stop global warming.

“We have hours to act to avert a slow-motion tsunami that could destroy civilization as we know it,” Elizabeth May, leader of the Greens in Canada, wrote in 2009. “Earth has a long time. Humanity does not. We need to act urgently. We no longer have decades; we have hours. We mark that in Earth Hour on Saturday.”

Rep. Vern Buchanan Wrong on Sea Levels Rising, Wrong on the Paris Accord

Florida  Representative Vern Buchanan is running for reelection in 2018. He is now officially a career politician first elected in 2006. Buchanan has sadly learned how to pander to certain constituencies, like environmentalists, for political gain.

Recently Buchanan sent out the following in an email with an accompanying ABC Channel 7 video:

Climate change is a serious issue for a state like Florida that has two coastlines vulnerable to rising waters. That’s why I am again calling on President Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris Climate Accord.

Take a look at the video below and let me know what you think by replying to this email.

Vern

The greatest problem facing Florida is saltwater intrusion not rising sea levels.

Dr. Roger Bezdek has found that salt water intrusion is caused by land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal from subsurface shale and sandstone formations, and to “glacial isostatic adjustments” that have been ongoing since the last glaciers melted.

In a column titled “Sea level rise – or land subsidence? Excessive groundwater pumping is the real culprit” CFACT reports:

[T]he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 that seas might rise up to only 2 feet by 2107. By comparison, oceans have risen nearly 400 feet since the last ice age ended, reflecting how much water was trapped in mile-thick glaciers that buried much of North America, Europe, and Asia. In recent decades, though, global sea level rise has averaged just 7 inches per century…

[ … ]

As a new report by Dr. Roger Bezdek explains, reality is much different. (His report awaits publication in a scientific journal.) At least for the Chesapeake region, Houston-Galveston, Texas, area, Santa Clara Valley, California, and other places around the globe, the primary cause of seawater intrusions is not rising oceans – but land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal from subsurface shale and sandstone formations, and to “glacial isostatic adjustments” that have been ongoing since the last glaciers melted.

The solution therefore is not to continue trying to control Earth’s climate – an impossible, economy-busting task that would further impede fossil fuel use, economic development, job creation, and human health and welfare. The solution requires reducing groundwater removal in these coastal areas. 

President Trump was right to leave the Paris Accord. It is nothing more than a massive $100 billion annual “climate finance” transfer of money from the United States to third world countries. Also understand that China, Russia and India are paying nothing.

Clearly Representative Buchanan needs to understand that mankind cannot control either the weather or sea levels. But Florida can control the removal of groundwater in our coastal areas.

The real issue with Buchanan is drilling off of Florida’s coastlines, not the Paris Accord. He is against drilling while President Trump is opening up vast areas to energy exploration and fast tracking environmental processes and removing regulatory hindrances to energy exploration and drilling.

Buchanan is anti-President Trump’s policies of economic growth via increased energy production. That’s the real issue facing Floridians. Cheap reliable power or sending billions in U.S. tax dollars to third world nations. You choose.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Europe Squanders Money on Green Dreams

Another Obama Legacy: Americans Will Pay Billions for a Useless Climate Agreement

President Obama’s Climate-Change Agenda Costs American Lives

China caused a two percent surge in global CO2 emissions after joining the UN climate pact

Alarmists feverish over sea levels

BankThink: Mortgage deduction helps housing lobby, but not homeowner

The battle lines are drawn between those seeking to protect the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and a legislative effort to greatly reduce the use of the MID. Hopefully, this is a battle that taxpayers will win over the housing lobby — the loudest supporter of keeping the deduction intact.

The housing lobby’s effectiveness is measured by its success at garnering subsidies. But the proposed House bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would be a shot across the industry’s bow. The stage is now set for a crucial debate between two competing visions: the House plan — which would disincentivize the MID by raising the standard deduction and capping loans qualifying for the MID at $500,000 — and Senate tax reform legislation that effectively would leave the deduction intact.

From the perspective of taxpayer cost and federal budgeting, it’s no contest which plan is better. Since 1994, the cost of the MID, the separate real estate tax deduction (also downsized in the House plan), and other single-family tax subsidies has totaled over $2.5 trillion and in fiscal year 2017 were estimated to cost $141 billion. This does not include the many hundreds of billions in subsidies over the same period provided to or by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, Ginnie Mae and others, and the $6.7 trillion in taxpayer mortgage debt guaranteed by these same agencies.

What did the U.S. taxpayer get for this massive level of rent-seeking? First, the U.S. homeownership rate today is 63.9% — statistically no different than the average rate of 64.3% since 1964 (excluding the bubble years). Second, these policies directly caused the 2008 financial crisis — a catastrophe for the U.S. and world economies.

True to their past positions, both NAR and the NAHB are opposing the House tax reform plan, favoring the Senate version. NAR had previously released a study it commissioned that found that a doubling of the standard deduction, elimination of the state and local tax deduction, and lower marginal tax rates would cause home prices to fall by 10.2%. On the other side are supporters of tax reform and lower marginal rates. Gary Cohn, President Trump’s head of the National Economic Council, stated in September: “People don’t buy homes because of the mortgage deduction.”

Before getting to the merits of these positions, it is worth noting the “man bites dog” nature of NAR’s admission that the MID drives home prices up higher than they otherwise would be. While this certainly explains the NAR’s past and current support for the MID, it is a damning admission for a group that purports to promote homeownership and “affordable housing.”

In terms of the merits, federal subsidies for homeownership like the MID get capitalized into higher prices, encourage the taking out of more debt, promote the buying of larger, more expensive homes, and price homes out of reach of lower-income buyers. Recent research at the Federal Reserve confirmed these points and found “when house prices are allowed to adjust in response to the elimination of mortgage interest deductions, the homeownership rate actually increases.”

One could end the argument here. However, this would leave NAR’s claim about a 10.2% price reduction unaddressed. First, a common sense reading of “a fall in home prices” is that prices would actually drop from current levels. This conflates a drop in price level and a slowing of the rate of increase. High-end home prices in 16 large metropolitan areas were up about 5% in July compared to a year earlier. A slowing of the rate of increase for high-end homes to the inflation level of 2% would, over three years, result in high-end home prices ending up about 10% lower than they otherwise would have been, but without an actual drop in prices.

Why is a slowing in the rate of increase, not an outright drop, the likely result? According to NAR, existing home sales have been in a seller’s market for 61 straight months and there are no signs of this abating anytime soon. A seller’s market is commonplace even at the higher price end of the home market. This includes San Francisco, where homes selling for more than $4.6 million have less than 2.5 months inventory along with similar conditions for the highest price points for metro areas such as Seattle and Los Angeles. Areas like Boston, Denver, New York City and Washington D.C. have a seller’s market except for price points in excess of $1.5 million to $2 million.

Jerry Howard, chief executive of the homebuilder association, told The Wall Street Journal that the House legislation is “a bad bill for housing.” In reality, it’s a good bill for American taxpayers and homebuyers.

Democrats in Meltdown Mode as Obamacare Individual Mandate Moves Toward Extinction

Democrats, of course, oppose the tax cuts moving through Congress. They believe government knows how to spend your money better than you do.

But what has really got their goat is eliminating the Obamacare tax—known as the individual mandate—that Americans have to pay to the IRS for simply choosing not to buy health insurance. This has thrown them into a tailspin of despair.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said eliminating the individual mandate would amount to the “destruction of the Affordable Care Act.” She said it would create no less than a “life-or-death struggle for millions of American families.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Thursday that “[t]he number of middle-class families who would lose money from this bill may be even higher now considering the 10 percent increase in premiums that will occur as a result of the Republican plan to repeal the individual mandate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was asked by Anderson Cooper on CNN about cutting the individual mandate. “It’s a bad idea,” replied the former Democratic presidential candidate. “This is going to throw 13 million Americans off the health insurance they currently have.”

No doubt the talking points that flew around Democratic offices on Capitol Hill were written to scare people into thinking the tax cut forces people off all health care. But it’s a big stretch to state that as fact.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the individual mandate would decrease the number of people with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. It also predicted average premiums in the individual market would increase by about 10 percent per year.

However, the Congressional Budget Office was extremely careful to explain the inexact science of its analysis. A whole section of the report is titled “Uncertainty Surrounding the Estimates.” To put it simply, economists can’t predict human behavior.

I don’t even know what health insurance I will pick to get the best bang for my buck in 2019. How would bureaucrats in D.C. know?

Nevertheless, Democrats grabbed that report and ran with it, trying to put on a horror movie through the halls of Congress.

Pelosi threatened that as the bill moves toward final passage in the Senate and a reconciled bill through both chambers, “outside mobilization” will be activated to stop it. She said the Senate Finance Committee’s decision to include repeal of the individual mandate “really electrified, energized the base even further … .”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., tweeted on Tuesday: “RED ALERT: Senate GOP just added provision to their tax plan that would gut ACA & kick 13M ppl off insurance.”

(Yes, Franken tweets blatant falsehoods when he’s not groping women.)

Schumer took to Twitter to put the blame on the White House: “.@POTUS’s absurd idea to repeal the individual mandate as a part of the #GOPTaxPlan would boot 13M ppl from the health insurance rolls and cause premiums to skyrocket – all to pay for an even bigger tax cut for the very rich, those who pay the top rate. What a toxic idea!”

President Donald Trump, however, is quite enthusiastic about taking a big whack at Obamacare through the tax bill. Reportedly, Trump encouraged Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to get repeal into the committee bill text. This is what also infuriated the Democrats.

You can’t help but smile that Republicans are now using a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court—which let the individual mandate stay in law, with the rationale that it was a tax and not a fine—as a way to ultimately kill the key provision that keeps Obamacare on life support.

Since the mandate is now considered a tax, its repeal will fit perfectly into the GOP tax reform plan.

Last week, a reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if the individual mandate repeal is a priority for the president. “That’s something the president obviously would love to see happen,” she responded.

The Obamacare mandate tax was always more of a “nanny tax” than a way to raise government funding. Democrats included it in the law in order to force the young and healthy to buy into the government-run health exchanges so as to offset the high cost of the old and very sick.

But the tax has ended up hitting lower-income and working-class families the hardest because it is much cheaper to pay the tax than to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and pay the absurdly high insurance premiums and deductibles.

The hardest thing to do in Washington is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. If the Obamacare tax can be repealed in the final bill that lands on Trump’s desk, Americans will get back a key individual liberty—the right to choose whether or not to buy government health insurance.

This would be the perfect early Christmas gift for hard-working families. Democrats should think twice before standing in the way of it.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Emily Miller

Emily Miller is an award-winning journalist and the author of the book “Emily Gets Her Gun” about gun control policies. Twitter: .

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

Trump Administration’s 2 Priorities for Welfare Reform Executive Order

President Donald Trump is making welfare reform a major priority and will sign an executive order laying out the administration’s goals while also urging action by Congress, a White House official said Thursday.

Trump’s executive order will be twofold, said Paul Winfree, director of budget policy at the White House. The order will state the Trump administration’s principles for welfare reform of empowering individuals and learning from state and local initiatives, and then direct federal agencies to come back to the president with recommendations for implementing the principles.

“Welfare reform is something that is very important to the president,” Winfree said during a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation’s anti-poverty forum on Thursday. “It’s something that excites him. It’s something that he has a lot of energy about.”

The White House is also working with Congress on reform proposals, Winfree said, but in the short term is looking at what federal agencies can do unilaterally. The federal government has 89 different welfare programs spread across 14 departments and agencies.

Winfree explained the two priorities of Trump’s upcoming executive order.

The first thing it does, it sets out a series of principles for welfare reform that we would like to be a message to Capitol Hill and the direction we want to take. … We want to empower people. We want to learn from the states. We want to learn from local communities.

One of the messages is that I’ve been driving to essentially our staff and our agencies on welfare reform and the direction we are taking is this message that it’s people that help people. It’s not governments that help people.

So, how do we learn from people who are actually in the communities actually helping people and then ultimately empower them by either getting out of the way or redirecting the resources in their direction to essentially reward successes without a unilateral approach or without just kicking it to the states and transition [to] what is essentially a federal role into a state role.

The second half of the executive order, which is yet to be signed, essentially directs agencies to take a look at the principles and then figure out what they can do on their own to start meeting some of the objectives that are out there through changes in regulation and guidance and then to ultimately submit those recommendations to the president for an evaluation.

The last sweeping welfare reform package came more than two decades ago, passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. However, Robert Rector, who helped shape some of the 1996 bill, said new improvements are needed.

“The current welfare system harms the very poor that it’s trying to help,” Rector, a senior research fellow for domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, said. “We need a reformed welfare system that promotes work and marriage, and rewards outcomes rather than simply greater spending.”

The Heritage Foundation is supportive of the principles in several proposals in Congress now.

A bill by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and companion House bill by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would require all welfare programs to strengthen existing work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and establish a real work requirement in food stamps. Separately, a bill by Rep. Garrett Graves would require work requirements for the food stamp program.

Other members of Congress have talked about saving $15 billion annually by eliminating fraud, waste, and excessive benefits in the earned income tax credit, while making the program more encouraging of work. Others call for removing the marriage penalty with regards to welfare programs.

Senate Tax Force Aims for Obamacare

“I don’t know if I can live on my income or not,” comic strip writer Bob Thaves joked. “The government won’t let me try it.” But Republicans might, if their twin tax plans can survive the twists and turns of a House and Senate debate. A good House plan got even better, thanks to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who heeded conservatives’ concerns and honed the language on the Johnson Amendment, adoption tax credit, and marriage penalties. After some thoughtful revisions, his bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is headed to the floor as early as tomorrow.If there’s trouble ahead, House leaders are confident it won’t be on their side of the Capitol. “It’s probably the most unified we’ve been in a while,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) told reporters about Thursday’s vote. “We all have our issues, and we know the Senate is going to do something different. But I think everyone is very focused, and we know we need to get this thing done.”

Collins was right about the Senate doing something different. Late yesterday, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that Republicans were tweaking their bill to take on an old foe: the Obamacare individual mandate. In a major departure from their first draft (and the House plan), GOP leaders decided this was the perfect time to attack the IRS’s punishment for Americans who refuse to buy insurance. In doing so, Hatch argued, “We not only ease the financial burdens already associated with the mandate, but also generate additional revenue to provide more tax relief to [middle-class] individuals.” The benefits are two-fold: taxpayers aren’t fined for making a personal decision about health care, and the Senate has more money to offset other tax reforms.

That’s key for Republicans, who unlike the House, are working under much stricter budget rules. Under the reconciliation process (which lets them pass the bill with a simple majority instead of the regular 60), GOP leaders have to find a way to “pay for” their plan, and zapping the individual mandate would free up about $338 billion over the next 10 years. Senator Hatch knows that if fewer people are forced to buy insurance, then fewer people will be applying for federal subsidies to pay for it. That saves GOP leaders a lot of money, which it’s decided to use for an even better causes: like the child tax credit.

Thanks to the persistence of Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the modified Senate bill doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 from the initial $1,650. FRC, along with other conservatives, had been pushing for this increase for months. Now, that work is paying off. “Good news for working families,” Rubio tweeted. “The Senate #TaxCut bill now has #ChildTaxCredit at 2K. We are making progress.” Hopefully, the GOP finds a way to make the change permanent, since the text, as it’s currently written under reconciliation rules, would expire in 2025.

The Left’s pro-abortion crowd has gone hysterical over an education tax deduction, the ability of expectant parents’ to contribute to their future children’s education. The Left insists that this is some radical new way of undermining abortion, which is interesting since it has nothing to do with it. Yet still, NARAL calls it “dangerous” to let families save for college early. Affirming this language, claims Ilyse Hogue would “lay the foundation for ‘personhood,’ the idea that life begins at conception thus granting a fetus in utero legal rights.” But guess what? That foundation was already laid in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which, Hogue may be interested to know, uses the same terminology.

As most people know, the real debate on these provisions will be in three weeks or so, when the two chambers conference together and hash out their differences. Until then, Americans will watch and wait — hoping, as we all do, that Republicans can finally offer families some much-needed relief from Uncle Sam.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the November 15 Washington Update:

U.S. Strayed by USAID

Bible Speeches Make the Week Strong

The Military May Soon Get a Long-Needed Boost. Why That’s Good News.

It’s not exactly “Man Bites Dog,” but “Congress Gets Defense Spending Right” is almost as surprising a headline.

For too long now, we’ve been cutting corners when it comes to the military. Years of underfunding have given us a weakened force that, despite the hard work of our brave troops, is ill-equipped to handle the missions we keep throwing at it.

Think the recent spate of ship collisions is a coincidence? Hardly. They’re a red flag—a warning sign we ignore at our peril. That’s what happens when you shortchange our armed forces, and fail to ensure that they have the best training and the best equipment possible.

So when House and Senate leaders released their proposal for a defense spending authorization for 2018, and it not only met but exceeded the amount that Heritage Foundation experts had been recommending, it marked a rare piece of good news from Capitol Hill.

A base funding amount of $634 billion sounds like a lot of money—and it is. But it’s money well spent. Indeed, notes defense expert Thomas Spoehr, it “will go a long way toward beginning the rebuilding of America’s deteriorated military.”

It will do that in large measure by providing increased numbers of aircraft, ships, and ground equipment—all of which, thanks to years of underfunding, is desperately needed.

House and Senate leaders are also calling for increases in the size of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Good thing, too. Each branch needs additional personnel and are at historic lows in terms of manpower.

How low? Consider what the Air Force recently did. It’s facing a shortage of fighter pilots. By year’s end, defense expert John Venable writes in the National Interest, “the service is projected to have fewer than 2,643 of the 3,643 active-duty fighter pilots it needs to execute its mission.”

So President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing the secretary of defense to recall up to 1,000 retired Air Force pilots to make up for the shortfall. A good idea, but this is the sort of stopgap measure that the military has been forced to rely on for too long.

Sooner rather than later, Band-Aids won’t work.

In fact, such short-term solutions, however creative, can almost be dangerous. They help the various branches accomplish the mission at hand, and that’s certainly a good thing. But they can mask the serious problems underneath.

It’s like putting duct tape on a crack in a door. It covers up the crack, yes, and it makes things seem fine—for a while. But a problem that’s out of sight doesn’t magically go away. It continues to fester until some emergency down the road forces you to fix it properly.

But by then, it’s metastasized and become more expensive to fix.

By the same token, the underfunding problem that plagues our overworked, overstressed military should have been addressed long ago. But there are no time machines handy, so the only thing we can do is to start fixing it right now.

That’s what the congressional defense authorization bill does. It takes our collective head out of the sand and enables us to get to work.

Mind you, this is just the first step. And it’s not even a step per se—it’s a decision to take that step. But the mere fact that congressional leaders are owning up to the problem and vowing to do something about it is promising.

There is much to follow through on, and Heritage’s research papers have detailed recommendations for each branch. And if our elected leaders need some motivation to get it right, Heritage’s 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength also outlines the growing threats around the globe.

There are many things we can afford to do cheaply. Defense isn’t one of them. Let’s make sure we get this right.

Originally published by The Washington Times.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Ed Feulner

Edwin J. Feulner’s 36 years of leadership as president of The Heritage Foundation transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into America’s powerhouse of conservative ideas. Read his research. Twitter: .

President Trump ends Obama’s illegal Central American Minors program

Do you remember the program the Obama State Department created out of whole cloth in 2014 when it took it upon itself to write refugee law without the Congress?

It was called Central American Minors or CAM for short and was supposed to help the minors escaping poverty and gangs in Central America get into the U.S. as refugees so they wouldn’t get hurt sneaking across the border as they had been doing by the tens of thousands.

Obama’s State Department created the program so that the invading “children” wouldn’t get hurt or exploited trying to get to America on the “Beast Train” or on foot.

The program had a couple of major flaws—first is that the kids were hard-pressed to show they were legitimate refugees fearing persecution and secondly, the parent filing the application in the US had to prove they were here legally (oopsy!).

The good news is that CAM has been canned at the Dept. of State as of November 9th!

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department will stop accepting new applications at midnight on Thursday for a program that allowed children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for refugee status in the United States before leaving home.

President Donald Trump’s administration told Congress in September it would phase out the Central American Minors (CAM) program during fiscal year 2018, which began on Oct. 1.

New applications will not be accepted after 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday (0459 GMT on Friday), the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday night.

The CAM program started at the end of 2014 under former President Barack Obama as a response to tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum in the United States.

Continue here where Reuters says that 1,500 kids got in out of 13,000 applications (imagine what that must have cost taxpayers to process 13,000 applications!).

For more, search RRW for ‘Unaccompanied minors’ or ‘Unaccompanied alien children.’

RELATED ARTICLES: 

EU officials: ISIS has been wiped out in Syria, time for refugees to go home

US Bishops lambast Trump over closure of Central American Minors program

Afghan refugee charged with murder not an “unaccompanied minor” as he claimed

German teacher says Islamist ideology making teaching Muslim refugees impossible

Why We’re So Lucky that Donald Trump is the Most Unreasonable President in U.S. History

In one of my recent columns, I talked about the value of being unreasonable.

The premise of that column was based on a quote from British playwright George Bernard Shaw:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself; therefore, all progress is dependent upon the unreasonable man.”

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of organizing a small roundtable with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). She is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, which makes her the fourth ranking member in House leadership.

We invited about 25 very successful Black, Asian, and Hispanic business owners to have a private conversation with her about the soon-to-be written tax bill that President Trump wants to sign before the end of the year.

During this meeting, we highlighted three individual entrepreneurs: Kenya Pierce, the co-president and COO of Voulez Beaute (cosmetics), Gerald B. Boyd, Jr. the CEO of DB Consulting Group, Inc. (IT), and Robert L. Wallace, the president and CEO of Bithenergy, Inc. (energy).

VIDEO: Robert Wallace, President and CEO, Bithenergy, One of America’s Faces of Tax Reform Addresses Economic Empowerment.

Each of these business owners gave a very compelling story about their respective journeys into entrepreneurship and made the case for tax reform.

In the spirit of Shaw’s quote above, Rep. McMorris Rodgers was unreasonable enough to see value in creating a dialogue with the minority business community to get their input into a tax bill that had yet to be written.

The NNPA Newswire was one of the few Black-owned media outlets to cover this historic event. The NNPA Newswire operates BlackPressUSA.com, the public news website of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which consists of over 200 Black-owned media companies operating in the United States. The NNPA Newswire also syndicates my weekly newspaper column.

What I find amazing is that many Black journalists, especially the ones that work for Black media outlets, constantly complain about how the mainstream media only covers negative aspects of the Black community; yet, they are doing the same thing, by ignoring positive stories, especially when they come from Blacks in the Republican Party.

To my Black, liberal Democratic journalist friends, who refused to cover this event, because it didn’t fit into their partisan, political narratives: you are a bunch of hypocrites. Your job as a journalist is to report the news, even when it goes against your liberal biases. Quasi-journalists like Roland Martin (News One Now), Joy Reid (MSNBC), Don Lemon (CNN), Jason Johnson (The Root), Amy Barnett (The Grio), and Amber Payne (NBCBLK) do more damage to our community than anyone with a white sheet over their head could ever do.

Their hypocritical biases notwithstanding, we received a tremendous amount of press from our event.

Leading up to our event, we received so much buzz that the White House reached out to me and asked if they could participate in the event. They sent Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president and Jovita Carranza, the Treasurer of the United States, to represent President Donald J. Trump. I challenge anyone to recall a similar event, that President Barack Obama supported on Capitol Hill, that prominently featured minority business owners, especially Black entrepreneurs.

This is the first time in my memory that small and minority business-owners have been seen as so valuable that they have been invited to give input into a yet-to-be written tax bill. This is not only historic, but also a transformative, tectonic shift in the political landscape.

The mere fact that Rep. McMorris Rodgers and President Trump invited us to participate in the shaping of this proposed legislation makes them two of the most unreasonable people I have ever encountered.

For McMorris Rodgers to spend time with minority business owners on Capitol Hill was extremely unusual by any standard. Remember, she is No. 4 in House leadership and her time is very limited, but she was unreasonable enough to see value in listening to us.

President Trump couldn’t make our event himself, but he was so unreasonable that he sent two of his top aides, Conway, who is also a longtime friend of mine; and his U.S. Treasurer.

This is the type of unreasonable behavior that our president and our party need more of.

If President Trump continues to be unreasonable enough to see value in the minority business community, especially Black entrepreneurs, I can guarantee that they will be more than willing to work with the White House.

If Trump continues to be unreasonable enough to work with us on issues like access to capital, making sure we get our fair share of government contracts, and keeping open a pipeline of direct communications between us and the White House, we will not only work with the president, but we will advocate on behalf of the policies that we know will make America great again.

So, to President Trump and Rep. McMorris Rodgers: please continue to encourage those around you to be unreasonable knowing that only unreasonable people are able to make transformative change in our world.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.

VIDEO: A Taxing Week for Republicans

“Tax reform is a noble goal but an ugly process,” Howard Kurtz said, almost sympathetically. He won’t have to convince Republicans of that, as they slog through one of the biggest tax rewrites since Ronald Reagan. It’s a grueling process for the members and staff, who not only feel the weight of the task — but the weight of expectation. For a party who hasn’t delivered on its key promises to voters, this debate is the debate for changing that.

While the rest of the city was emptying out for Veterans Day, the light on the Capitol dome was still on, signaling the ongoing work of the chambers underneath. That work turned out to be incredibly good news for families, as the House Ways and Means Committee passed a much-improved version of the tax reform package Americans were introduced to last week. Heeding the chorus of conservatives’ concerns, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) made the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act even stronger — thanks to a 29-page amendment that addresses everything from the Johnson Amendment to marriage penalties and the adoption credit. Happy with the work of his committee, Brady told reporters that this proposal “reflects the consideration and thought we’ve heard on both sides of the aisle.”

It was a big win for families, who stand to keep a lot more of their hard-earned money, and it was a win for free speech. Unlike the earlier draft of the bill, churches aren’t the only ones that’ll have the opportunity to speak freely in the political process — so will nonprofit and faith-based groups. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) were able to expand the old language and incorporate their Free Speech Fairness Act into the bill, which stops the IRS from policing the speech of churches and other charitable organizations. That’s a huge relief for men and women of faith, who watched the Obama IRS breathe down the necks of nonprofits and religious entities, threatening to take away their tax exempt status if they dared to talk about moral or political issues.

Most importantly, the House plan recognizes that families are at the heart of our economy. By increasing the child tax credit (the most popular piece of the proposal, according to polling), moms and dads can provide better for their children. And with the changes to education savings accounts, that includes unborn children. Now, expectant parents will be able to put aside money for their babies’ future learning. Marriage tax penalty rates are significantly reduced — something that pro-family groups like FRC have been advocating for years.

Ivanka Trump, who flew back early from her dad’s Asian tour, was thrilled to see the tax relief for parents.

“The average American family,” she points out, “spends almost 30 percent of pre-tax income on the cost of childcare. So the cost of childcare has gone through the roof and families just can’t afford it… The GOP idea is not to have government become more involved in providing affordable childcare services but rather to deliver a tax plan that will empower parents to better care for their kids — which means leaving parents with more of the money they’ve earned rather than allowing the government to take it via taxation and reallocating it as it sees fit.”

Americans overwhelmingly agree, Politico shows in a new survey. While the liberal media is busy panning the plan, they may be the only ones. According to the poll, 45 percent of the country supports the GOP’s proposal, an almost 10-point gap from the 36 percent who don’t. Most Americans think it would have a positive impact on them (36 percent) than negative (25 percent). And with the greatest enthusiasm, most say it would benefit the economy (42 percent); only 22 percent disagreed.

That’s good news for House Republicans, who have plenty of hurdles to go before H.R. 1 is a reality. The Senate, with its own draft of tax reform, may be the biggest. But House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still confident the two chambers can work something out. “Yes, the Senate bill is going to be different than the House bill, because you know what? That’s the legislative process. But what’s encouraging in all of this is… we have a framework that we established with the White House and the Senate, and these bills are being written inside that framework.” Ironing out the differences won’t be easy, but it is doable. “The House will pass its bill, the Senate will pass its bill, and then we will get together and reconcile the differences, which is the legislative process, and that’s how this process will continue.”

In the meantime, we tip our hats to House Republicans for listening to voters and giving conservatives a plan they can be proud of. For more on the tax debate, check out FRC’s Ken Blackwell on Fox Business.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the November 10 Washington Update:

The Heart of a Warrior

Strategic Partners for the New Year!

Taxpayers Get a Win Over Sports Stadium Cronies

As the Houston Astros enjoy their World Series victory, taxpayers across the country have a reason of their own to celebrate this week.

Buried in the tax reform bill is a provision that fixes an egregious loophole that sends billions in tax preferences to private sports stadium construction.

The current tax code allows billion-dollar sports franchises—such as the (soon-to-be) Las Vegas Raiders—to use tax-exempt municipal bonds to build their stadiums.

Whereas interest generated by corporate bonds is taxable by the federal government, municipal bond interest is tax-exempt, allowing municipal bonds to command comparatively lower interest rates.

Tax-exempt municipal bonds are generally reserved for public-use infrastructure projects, such as roads, schools, and water systems. But due to a loophole in the tax code, sports franchises have been able to prolifically exploit this tax preference to construct their private stadiums.

Since 2000, at least 36 stadiums have been financed with tax-exempt bonds, amounting to a total tax subsidy of $3.2 billion due to lower financing costs.

Worse still, the foregone federal revenues from this carve-out are even greater—amounting to $3.7 billion. This is because the subsidy is inefficient, allowing high-income earners to capture some of the benefits.

While proponents of this tax break claim that sports stadiums create jobs and economic growth, studies detailing subsidies for sports stadiums repeatedly show no effect or even a drag on economic growth in the overall metropolitan area in which the stadium was constructed.

Building on a bipartisan effort to eliminate this handout to special interests, congressional leaders took the admirable step of eliminating the option of tax-exempt financing for any sports stadium in section 3604 of the tax reform bill.

While the provision eliminates just one of the many crony features of the current tax code, ending the tax preference for sports stadiums is a clear win for all federal taxpayers, regardless of which team they support.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Michael Sargent

Michael Sargent is a policy analyst for transportation and infrastructure in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: 

A Note for our Readers:

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