Study: Florida’s Marginal Tax Rate at 42.6% – Ouch!

This week the Tax Foundation is featuring two new maps which pull data from a Fiscal Fact released last week, “Individual Tax Rates Impact Business Activity Due to High Number of Pass-Throughs,” and look at the top marginal tax rates for sole proprietorships and S-corporations throughout the states. In his study, economist Kyle Pomerleau explains that more than 30 million pass-through businesses file their taxes at the individual rate, and why a large percentage of those businesses have a marginal tax rate exceeding 40 percent.

According to the Tax Foundation: The map [above] is not examining the effective rates of businesses in the top bracket, but rather, the top marginal tax rate on (S-Corporations/Sole Proprietorships) in each state. A “marginal” rate is the amount that is taxed of the next dollar of income earned by pass-through businesses in each state’s highest tax bracket. These rates reflect the sum of federal, state, and local income taxes (minus the state and local tax deduction); self-employment taxes; and the limitation on itemized deductions.

View the Tax Foundation map archive here.

ABOUT THE TAX FOUNDATION:

Founded in 1937, the Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent, non-partisan organization providing sound research and analysis on federal and state tax policy. The Tax Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and our offices are located in the National Press Building in Washington, DC.

Coalition formed to repeal the 16th Amendment

A broad coalition of national organizations, hosted and managed by Competitive Governance Action, whose initial members include Americans For Fair Taxation®, Tea Party Patriots, Free Market America and Americans for Limited Government, announced a joint effort called “Repeal 16: A Coalition to Repeal the 16th Amendment.”

The coalition’s message to Washington lawmakers is straightforward: End the current corrupting tax system and the IRS.

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director Americans For Fair Taxation

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director, Americans For Fair Taxation, in an email states, “As FairTax supporters we know how the current tax code has corrupted our economy, our political system, small businesses and the livelihood of countless American citizens.  This summer’s scandalous revelations of IRS abuses are just the latest example of how the IRS, for 100 years, has systematically violated the fiduciary trust given to it by the American people.”

“Although there have been numerous hearings and calls for action, it has turned out to be much ado about nothing because the current tax code is, in reality, an incumbent Member’s delight.  Why? Because it enables the status quo to maintain complete control over you the taxpayer,” notes CGA.

According to CGA, “Repealing the 16th Amendment will allow citizens from all political perspectives to finally have an open, transparent and honest debate about comprehensive tax reform, without getting bogged down on which plan is best. Repeal 16 will finally give supporters of fundamental tax reform a neutral vehicle to address the most pressing issue of the day – eliminating the IRS and Repealing the 16th Amendment.”

Canevaro states, “While supporting the coalition, Americans For Fair Taxation will continue to proudly and aggressively advocate the FairTax Plan as the only viable choice for fundamental tax reform.  With a successful Repeal 16 campaign, we know the FairTax Plan will now be in a position to be the tax reform plan of choice for elected officials and the American people who want jobs and economic growth.”

repeal petition has been posted at www.Repeal16.org for those who see the IRS and income tax as a a threat to American prosperity. The coalition’s initial goal is to recruit 10,000 Americans to sign the petition. “With Congress coming back into session this week, timing is of the essence”, notes Canevaro.

Canevaro, states, “We are excited about the opportunities the new Repeal 16 coalition will bring to the FairTax, and look forward to being on coalition team.”

ABOUT COMPETITIVE GOVERNANCE ACTION

Competitive Governance Action is a 501(C)(4) organization committed to education and advocacy to manifest the concept that problems should be solved by the smallest, least centralized, most local authority that may effectively address the matter. Central to the concept is the devolution of political power from the federal government to state and local governments, to individuals and to non-government community and religious institutions.

Message to “defund Obamacare” resonated with Florida grassroots

Jim DeMint speaks at the “Defund Obamacare” town hall tour in Tampa on August 21, 2013. Photo courtesy of Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay Times staff.

Heritage Foundation President and former Senator Jim DeMint and Raphael Cruz, father of Senator Ted Cruz, came to Tampa, Florida to bring their message that now is the time to defund the Affordable Care Act. The Heritage Action for America sponsored event was over booked. Tampa was the third stop on a nine city tour. Over 850 signed up for the event, with only 550 seats available.

Raphael Cruz gave the invocation and was greeted with a standing ovation when he was introduced by Karen Jaroch, Tampa Regional Coordinator for Heritage Action, as the father of Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz ended the event with a stirring call to action.

Senator DeMint then took the stage to a standing ovation. DeMint looked over a packed house of diverse concerned citizens, who traveled from across the state of Florida. DeMint then said in his soft southern voice, “We had you wait in line to get into this event so you can get used to standing in line to get medical care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With the over 550 people jammed into this hall you now know what your doctor’s waiting room will look like very soon.” These comments were like throwing raw meat to the grassroots activists in the audience.

Senator DeMint then went into detail on how the Affordable Care Act can be defunded. DeMint explained defunding Obamacare means attaching a legislative rider to a “must pass” bill (e.g. debt limit, annual spending bill or continuing resolution to fund the government) that 1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot.

DeMint was then joined by Mike Needham, Chief Executive Officer for Heritage Action for America, to answer questions. The issue of what is the urgency to defund Obama care now was raised. According to DeMint and Needham on January 1, 2014, Obamacare’s new main entitlements – the Medicaid expansion and the exchange subsidies – are scheduled to take effect. Open enrollment for both programs begins on October 1, 2013, at the start of the new fiscal year. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government will spend $48 billion in 2014 and nearly $1.8 trillion through 2023 on these new entitlement programs. Also on January 1, Americans will be forced by their government to buy a product, health insurance, for the first time in history. Individuals and families who don’t comply will be penalized by tax penalties administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One Floridian asked Senator DeMint isn’t is mean to not provide the funding for healthcare. Senator DeMint replied that it is mean for the President to promise Americans that they can keep their current insurance and doctors under Obamacare. It is mean for the President to say that health insurance premiums will go down $2,000 when in fact they will go up over $2,000 or more in some states. It is mean for the President to say everyone will receive better health care when we know from the experiences of Canada and England that socialized medicine leads to rationing and poor care, even to patients dying for lack of attention..

The question of some House Republicans supporting the repeal of Obamacare but not defunding it came up.

DeMint noted that some fear if they take a stand on Obamacare it will hurt them in the 2014 elections. He then pointed out that same tactic of “first do no harm” lost Republicans the US Senate and White House twice. DeMint noted that when he was in the Senate, and since he has become President of the Heritage Foundation, he experienced a Republican leadership that will “cut the legs out from under any who oppose them”.

DeMint said that Republicans took the House of Representatives in 2010 and retained the majority in 2012 on the promise of repealing Obamacare. Either Republicans keep their promise or go home and explain why they lied. DeMint noted that repealing Obamacare is not enough. The House has had numerous votes to repeal the law, but the chances of statutorily repealing the law decreased once President Obama won a second term. Those who oppose Obamacare, he said, cannot wait another three and a half years to ” begin dismantling Obamacare; they need to leverage current opportunities to defund using ‘must-pass’ spending bills.” DeMint said time and again, it is now or never.

The Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact blog took exception to four of the things Senator DeMint said during his presentation. However, DeMint’s message clearly resonated with the audience. The devil is always in the details.

ABOUT HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA:

RELATED:

Congressman Mark Meadows : Letter Encouraging House Leadership to Defund Obamacare

Should We Delay or Defund Obamacare?

Did you know Florida’s highest paid public employee is a basketball coach?

Ruben Fisher-Baum from DeadSpin.com reports, “You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach. Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren’t even in charge of a team.”

For a larger view click on the map.

To view how much in revenues college sports in Florida generated in 2012 click here.

So are Florida’s hard-earned tax dollars paying these coaches?

According to Fischer-Baum, “Probably not. The bulk of this coaching money—especially at the big football schools—is paid out of the revenue that the teams generate.”

So what’s the problem then? These guys make tons of money for Florida schools; shouldn’t they be paid accordingly?

Fischer-Baum says there are at least three problems.

  1. Coaches don’t generate revenue on their own; you could make the exact same case for the student-athletes who actually play the game and score the points and fracture their legs.
  2. It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don’t have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.
  3. This revenue rarely makes its way back to the general funds of these universities. Looking at data from 2011-2012, athletic departments at 99 major schools lost an average of $5 million once you take out revenue generated from “student fees” and “university subsidies.” If you take out “contributions and donations”—some of which might have gone to the universities had they not been lavished on the athletic departments—this drops to an average loss of $17 million, with just one school (Army) in the black. All this football/basketball revenue is sucked up by coach and AD salaries, by administrative and facility costs, and by the athletic department’s non-revenue generating sports; it’s not like it’s going to microscopes and Bunsen burners.

Did you know that  471 University of Florida employees pulling down over $200,000 a year. UF has the most high-salaried employees of any state university in Florida, according to figures taken from state data for Spring 2013. In fact, 2,031 of its employees made at least $100,000.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office has expanded its public records website — floridahasarighttoknow.com — to include the $2.66 billion in salaries for more than 52,000 workers at Florida’s 11 universities.

To find the salary of any employee working for the state of Florida click here.

Florida Tenth Amendment Center launches petition to stop Common Core

There is a growing movement at the state level to stop Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. There is a new twist to the movement. The Florida Tenth Amendment Center (FLTAC) has launched county-level e-campaigns for local resolutions to stop CCSS.

FLTAC campaign links are listed by county at the bottom of this article.

FLTAC’s intent is to pressure all of Florida’s 67 county commissions to pass non binding resolutions against CCSS. One of the petitions was launched in Sarasota County, Florida.

According to the FLTAC website,  “This campaign is launched to demand a strong stand, however non binding and symbolic that might be, by the Sarasota county government in passing a resolution to stop Common Core Standards. Common Core is the latest effort by Washington to eliminate local control, i.e., parents and local government from exerting their rightful role over the education of the County’s public school children.”

The non binding Resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION OPPOSING “NATIONALIZED” COMMON CORE STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution reserves the control of education to the States and the people; and is not an enumerated power delegated to the General government in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Florida Executive Branch officials committed this state to adopting common standards with a consortium of states through the Race to the Top grant created by the federal Executive Branch; and

WHEREAS, this participation required the State of Florida to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics (now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative) and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their Legislative Branch despite the fact that the people fund K-12 education with over $1 billion in state and local taxes each year; and

WHEREAS, adoption of Common Core obliterates Florida’s constitutional autonomy over the educational standards for Florida’s children in English language arts and mathematics because 100 percent of the Common Core standards must be delivered through Florida’s curriculum, yet the standards belong to unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C.
which have copyright authority and do not allow any standards to be deleted or changed, but only allow Florida to add 15 percent to those standards; and

WHEREAS, this push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; removing education of Florida’s children from the government closest to them to unelected and unaccountable officials outside of Florida;

WHEREAS, both the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and our local school districts; and

WHEREAS, the Race to the Top grant conditions require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement which violates student privacy;

THEREFORE, the County/City/Township of ___________ resolves that the legislature of the State of Florida should:

Withdraw Florida from the Common Core State Standards Initiative; Withdraw Florida from the PARCC consortium and its planned assessments for Florida’s students, and any other testing aligned with the Common Core standards;

Prohibit all state officials from entering into any agreements that cede any measure of control over Florida education to entities outside the state and ensure that all content standards as well as curriculum decisions supporting those standards are adopted through a transparent statewide and/or local process fully accountable to the citizens in every school district of Florida; and

Prohibit the collection, tracking, and sharing of personally identifiable student and teacher data except with schools or educational agencies within the state.

Be it further resolved that the Board of County Commissioners, County of SARASOTA, State of Florida, declare that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Governor of the State of Florida, the President of the Florida Senate, the Speaker of the Florida House and the sitting State representative(s) and State senator(s) who represent the people of SARASOTA County.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA TENTH AMENDMENT CENTER:

The Florida Tenth Amendment Center is not affiliated with any political party. FLTAC does not subscribe to any ideology but the Constitution as intended by the Framers and Ratifiers. This is the standard by which we measure all holders of public office, regardless of that person’s party affiliation. We believe very simply in the following: The Constitution. Every Issue, Every Time. No Exceptions, No Excuses.

FLTAC petition links listed by county:

Alachua County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e418e8-e7a0-470b-877a-434032741282
Baker County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a20b-4da0-4bb9-a89e-60b332741282
Bay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a32a-d588-450e-9b2e-6b8432741282
Bradford County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a43a-974c-468c-b4bd-654632741282
Brevard County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a5ae-ce9c-46a1-bccc-6ba532741282
Broward County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a6fc-37c8-4299-bb21-6c0e32741282
Calhoun County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a9af-f11c-428c-87f1-6c2a32741282
Charlotte County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6abbb-f7d8-469d-a711-6c9632741282
Citrus County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6acd2-e324-4c35-b91c-6cc832741282
Clay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6af5e-f87c-4d66-81e2-6cfb32741282
Collier County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b071-bf94-49da-97c3-6cc632741282
Columbia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b209-95dc-4172-97c8-6d7c32741282
DeSoto http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bb55-ef24-4db2-b9df-6f1b32741282
Dixie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bce7-7754-422c-822e-6f1e32741282
Duval County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6be18-0954-41c8-93a1-6f6b32741282
Escambia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6beb8-31dc-4a6b-9241-6f1e32741282
Flagler County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6cf23-a984-4973-bacd-704232741282
Franklin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d045-b914-4d32-b2c0-724532741282
Gadsden County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d101-91ec-427c-ae26-718532741282
Gilchrist County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d246-05e8-4dce-be4d-726332741282
Glades County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d51f-ae60-42d5-b95f-72a532741282
Gulf County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f237-5e90-4c9b-baae-73c432741282
Hamilton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f307-fe70-484a-b798-759a32741282
Hardee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f5bb-a264-41d9-aff4-75fa32741282
Hendry County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f669-1240-443c-919c-761632741282
Hernando County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f716-709c-465e-adc3-762f32741282
Highlands County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f7cd-e394-4e6b-8714-765332741282
Hillsborough County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f87d-0018-4a54-a05d-765332741282
Holmes County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f933-91d8-4136-abee-76a632741282
Indian River County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fa71-59b4-4dd0-9989-762732741282
Jackson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fb37-ca7c-48f2-9370-72a532741282
Jefferson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fc18-faf4-4278-b7d6-773332741282
Lafayette County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fcb2-8fc8-4300-ad42-776c32741282
Lake County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fd39-01c4-4966-b68c-769e32741282
Lee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fe9a-b340-478a-b655-77e932741282
Leon County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71554-4170-42fa-9da2-795b32741282
Levy County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e715ef-02e8-4b55-89c8-7ab832741282
Liberty County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7167f-adfc-4364-9594-7acd32741282
Madison County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71731-8210-493b-bd83-7aeb32741282
Manatee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e717e8-3418-4991-acf0-7b2632741282
Marion County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71881-be9c-4267-b169-7ad532741282
Martin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7190d-20c4-43e4-97dc-7ad532741282
Miami-Dade County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71a62-b48c-4453-8e07-7af832741282
Monroe County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71b3d-38d8-4d63-b3b2-7b9632741282
Nassau County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71c0a-ae20-41c9-aad1-7b8632741282
Okaloosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71cd8-3e3c-4b1d-8d73-7b8632741282
Okeechobee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71f5a-6950-4023-aa05-7be732741282
Orange County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e72010-f780-4e78-8a51-7c6632741282
Osceola County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75c54-48e8-48e2-a4ee-016732741282
Palm Beach County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75d42-cc88-464b-be63-024332741282
Pasco County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75df8-8fc8-40bd-a4dc-024032741282
Pinellas County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75ec4-bd24-4222-8439-02d832741282
Polk County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75f5d-ae84-4cbf-8872-027c32741282
Putnam County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75fee-36b0-423a-a870-02d832741282
Santa Rosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7608c-8718-4237-85e0-023e32741282
Sarasota County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76127-7584-4b06-8424-025032741282
Seminole County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e761a9-cda0-4f95-8905-03ad32741282
St Johns County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7622f-69fc-491f-ac52-041532741282
St Lucie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e762ca-c650-458e-a7db-041b32741282
Sumter County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e763f2-d3c8-45a6-aa78-049032741282
Suwannee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7648c-3fe4-47af-a4c2-04b232741282
Taylor County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76608-a710-437b-b154-04e232741282
Union County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76750-2e5c-47b7-ba40-04e132741282
Volusia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7685b-70b0-43a5-a2f6-04e232741282
Wakulla County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7699b-af14-4044-8d43-04e132741282
Walton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76a76-b410-40f1-b085-058332741282
Washington County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76b64-3210-4520-b289-05b532741282

 

How do Americans with jobs get to work?

I have reported on the growing costs of running publicly funded transportation systems (buses, light rail, AMTRAK). Public bus systems rarely pay for themselves. Rather they are heavily subsidized by federal, state and local governments. For example, in Sarasota County, FL government runs two bus services and both are monopolies. SCAT is run by the County and the other run by Sarasota County School Board. Both are paid for by county property taxpayers.

NPR’s Shiva Koohi portrays in two simple charts how Americans who have jobs get to work.

Since 1960 American workers get to work primarily, and in ever increasing numbers, via private transportation. Use of public transportation has declined by over half since 1960, while use of private transportation has increased by 20% (see below charts). The use of bikes, taxis and walking by workers have all declined since 1960 and 1980. The number of those working at home has doubled since 1980 but remains a small number of total workers. Telecommuting has not yet caught on.

Click on the chart for a larger view.

Koohi reports, “More than ever, Americans are getting to work by driving alone. As the graph above shows, the share of Americans driving to work rose sharply in the second half of the 20th century, as the nation became more suburban. The rate has been flat for the past few decades — but during that time the percentage of people who carpool fell (even as carpool lanes proliferated).”

Koohi notes:

Today, only 5 percent of workers take public transportation, down from 11 percent in 1960; only 4 percent walk to work, down from 7 percent in 1960.

One surprising detail in the numbers: The share of workers who work at home is actually lower today than it was 50 years ago (4 percent today versus 7 percent in 1960). A 1998 Census report pointed to “the steep decline in the number of family farmers and the growing tendency of professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, to leave their home and join group practices resulted in a loss each decade of the number of at-home workers.” The share of people working at home has been rising for the past few decades, as telecommuting has become more popular, but the rise hasn’t been nearly enough to make up for the earlier decline.

In October, 2009 Catherine Rampell posted the below map on Economix. It shows the percentages of workers who drove to work alone by state and is based on U.S. Census data.

 

Richard Florida noted patterns in Rampell’s map. Florida reported:

Income and Economic Output: The richer the state, the less likely people were to drive alone. Driving alone was negatively correlated with state income levels (-.46) and output per capita (-.41).

Class and Human Capital
: States with higher percentages of college graduates (-.47) and the creative class (-.43) were less likely to have people driving alone. Driving alone was much more likely in states with large working class concentrations (.62).

Professional and Creative Jobs:
 Driving alone was less likely in states with high concentrations of virtually every type of professional, knowledge-based and creative jobs. But it was least likely in states with large concentrations of artists, designers, and entertainers (-.63), architects and engineers (-.61), scientists (-.56 ), and lawyers (-.55).

Florida Federal Judge Bans Enforcement of HHS Mandate

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced that this past Monday, Federal District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich of the Middle District of Florida granted its Motion for a Preliminary Injunction barring enforcement of the HHS Mandate.  The motion for a Preliminary Injunction was filed by TMLC on behalf of Plaintiffs Thomas R. Beckwith and his family’s company, Beckwith Electric.

The government claimed that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace or incorporate his business, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.

However, Judge Kovachevich’s 37-page decision which mentioned Thomas R. Beckwith’s unique family history—Beckwith’s ancestors arrived on the shores of America in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England — ended with a powerful statement on religious freedom:

 “The First Amendment, and its statutory corollary the RFRA, endow upon the citizens of the United States the unalienable right to exercise religion, and that right is not relinquished by efforts to engage in free enterprise under the corporate form. No legislative, executive, or judicial officer shall corrupt the Framers’ initial expression, through their enactment of laws, enforcement of those laws, or more importantly, their interpretation of those laws. And any action that debases, or cheapens, the intrinsic value of the tenet of religious tolerance that is entrenched in the Constitution cannot stand.” (Emphasis added)

Erin Mersino, TMLC’s lead attorney representing Beckwith, commented, “Tom Beckwith was fighting the Federal Government for the freedom to practice his Southern Baptist faith.  The HHS Mandate would have forced him to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in violation of his religious beliefs or face up to $6 million in annual penalties. Kovachevich’s ruling halts enforcement of the HHS mandate until a final decision is reached in this case.”

 Click here to read Judge Kovachevich’s entire opinion.

Judge Kovachevich’s ruling is the first injunction against the HHS Mandate granted in the State of Florida.  It also marks the twenty-second injunction against the HHS Mandate granted by Federal Courts on religious freedom grounds across the country. The Government is expected to appeal the ruling to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Thomas More Law Center was assisted by local counsel Paul Pizzo and Scott Richards of the firm Fowler White Boggs, P.A. located in Tampa, Florida.

The Attorney General of the State of Florida filed a friend of the court brief in support of the Thomas More Law Center, as did several other Christian organizations, including the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

ABOUT THE THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER:

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

Melbourne, FL citizens outraged that red light cameras to be installed

With all of the national attention on government surveillance into the personal lives of citizens one method is drawing fire from citizens – the use of red light cameras. Citizens of Melbourne, FL are now expressing outrage at the City Council of Melbourne’s plan to install red light cameras.

Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%. WDW – FL reported on red light cameras here and here.

Scott Ellis, a resident of Melbourne, in an email to WDW – FL states, “There is no safety to this issue at all.  I have been driving the intersection of US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard for 40 years and never seen an accident, as well as hundreds of hours of campaigning at the intersection.  But rather than rely on analogy, I requested the study performed by the City of Melbourne used to justify the Red light cameras.  In the city study there is NOT ONE MENTION of accident statistics for this intersection.  NOTHING.  This is supposedly all about safety yet no accident data is part of the study?” [Emphasis added]

The subject line of Scott’s email is, “Government Camera Looters Coming to Eau Gallie.”

Scott wrote, “This is all about the money.  If it was about safety the accident records would be a factor.  It is all about revenue and traffic count, US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard being one of the highest traffic counts in the entire county.  The City Manager’s comments are so ludicrous one must question his sanity in believing the general public is as gullible as the City Council.  However, let’s take him at his word and have the City of Melbourne donate their $75 skim of every ticket to various charities around the city.” The USF study seems to bear Scott’s concerns out.

The Melbourne red light camera ticket fine of $158.  The receiver gets 60 days to pay from date of infraction, not date infraction notification is received.  The new law specifies if the receiver requests a hearing the hearing officer is a City of Melbourne appointed special master. If the ticket is not paid by mail to the city. The City turns the red light ticket into a regular Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC) and fine increases to $267.

A brochure was mailed out by Melbourne residents. It is similar to brochures used in Edgewood, FL, and Moline, Iowa. Residents noted that the brochure is the same as one provided by Gatso USA the camera vendor.

Cities and counties look at red light cameras as revenue generators. However, some are seeing revenues fall.

Robert Napper from the Tampa Bay Times reported, “The number of tickets generated by the [New Port Richey] city’s red light cameras has dropped dramatically, along with the number of crashes at some of those intersections. That’s the good news, city finance director Doug Haag told the City Council last week. The bad news, he said, is that the city faces an $800,000 shortfall this year in red light ticket revenue.

Napper found, “The city had expected the cameras, installed in July 2011, to generate $1.15 million this year. So far, the city has collected $162,189, and officials expect to finish the fiscal year with just $350,000 in ticket revenue — a 70 percent shortfall. ‘That’s the big elephant,’ Haag said.”

Scott included a letter from an unnamed visitor to Florida subject – “Who won’t be back anytime soon”:

To whom it may concern,

My name is X and I received a letter from a collection agency called Municipal Services Bureau (MSB). It is a collection letter on a traffic infraction ticket for $396.20 in Brevard County  I am verifying that this letter isn’t a scam and if not to figure on how/why I got a ticket. It confused me that the offense was supposed to happen in Florida but the letter is coming from Texas. I was in Port Canaveral area in August of 2012 on a business trip with the military during the time frame of a hurricane in the area.

I had a rental car. I never got pulled over or came in contact with any policemen to receive a ticket. If you could please provide me information on this or information who could answers these question.

Stay tuned, more government surveillance coming to a town near you!

Four Words to Watch in the Immigration Debate

This column courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

The Senate will begin debate on the Gang of Eight’s immigration proposal next week. Here are four words to watch out for as the Senators make their case—and warnings about what they might mean.

1. COST

“Cost” is one word that should come up in the immigration debate, because the Gang of Eight’s amnesty proposal has a cost that is simply too high for Americans to bear. Heritage analysis found that amnesty would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.

Amnesty means that illegal immigrants become legal—and become eligible for Obamacare benefits, Social Security, welfare, and Medicare. But they won’t pay enough into the system in taxes to cover the cost of all these benefits, meaning the rest of the taxpayers will have to bear the burden. This simply isn’t fair to hard-working Americans.

2. BORDER

Despite claims of security—and talk of amending the bill—the Gang of Eight immigration bill doesn’t secure the border. Instead, it “delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.” As James Carafano, Heritage’s E. W. Richardson Fellow, explains: “Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill’s strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border.”

3. AMNESTY

Heritage President Jim DeMint has said that it’s a false choice for people to say that amnesty is necessary to immigration reform. Amnesty encourages more illegal immigration, and that is not what immigration reform is supposed to do.

Former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, reminds us that America has tried this before, and it didn’t work:

Today they call it a “ road-map to citizenship.” Ronald Reagan called it “amnesty.” And he was right. The 1986 reform did not solve our immigration problem—in fact, the population of illegal immigrants has nearly quadrupled since that “comprehensive” bill.

4. “COMPREHENSIVE”

Beware the word “comprehensive.” As Meese notes above, the amnesty of 1986 was also called a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. It doesn’t work, and it’s not what we need. We need a separate, step-by-step approach to immigration reform. An approach that works—that the American people can trust—would start with reforming the legal immigration system and enforcing the security measures that are supposed to be in place.

Read the Morning Bell and more en Español every day at Heritage Libertad.

IRS favored HAMAS linked CAIR while targeting Iraq War Veteran who exposed them

In a strange twist of fate, it appears that in 2009 the IRS targeted Iraq War veteran David Gaubatz who was involved in exposing the HAMAS front group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Based upon Gaubatz’s book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret World that’s Conspiring to Islamize AmericaRep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and other congressional leaders asked the IRS to investigate CAIR. Gaubatz’s book called attention to CAIR’s missing IRS filings and foreign donations.

World Net Daily reports, “At the same time the Internal Revenue Service delayed or denied requests for tax-exempt status from hundreds of conservative non-profit groups, it was quietly restoring the tax-exempt status of an Islamist front group accused of collaborating with terrorists. Last year, the politicized agency reinstated the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations’ tax-exempt status despite years of delinquent tax filings. CAIR officials had met with officials inside the White House before the decision was made.”

In an email to WDW Gaubatz states, “Once my book (Muslim Mafia) came out in 2009, I got a letter from the IRS for an audit. They wanted a copy of my book, info about the Center for Security Policy, World Net Daily, etc… and then slammed me with a $146,000 tax bill. I had always completed my taxes on time and paid what I owed. I had two accountants go through my tax info, and in actuality the IRS owed me, but I am too small to fight the govt. Now they take it out of my disability pension (from war in Iraq).”

Gaubatz notes, “Anna Prillaman (IRS Tax Compliance Officer from Richmond, VA office) was reviewing my book Muslim Mafia, and wanted to know exactly which mosques I visited in 2007 and 2008…The IRS insisted I list the individual mosques.” Prillaman gave Gaubatz 15 days to respond to the tax bill.

World Net Daily notes, “Though Democrat-connected CAIR did not officially endorse Obama, many of its staffers helped turn out the Muslim vote for his re-election. CAIR boasted that its own polling showed more than 85 percent of Muslim-Americans voted for Obama. In 2011, the IRS stripped the group’s national office of its nonprofit status for failure to file annual tax reports as required by federal law.”

“During the years CAIR failed to disclose its donors to the government, it solicited funds from Libya, Sudan and other terror-sponsoring foreign governments, according to ‘Muslim Mafia‘. CAIR is not registered as a foreign agent. CAIR repeatedly failed to file its annual disclosure report, IRS Form 990. CAIR blames a clerical error for the delinquency and claims to have completed the forms. However, several news organizations, including Politico.com and Gannett Co., have asked CAIR for the 2007-2010 documents, and CAIR has not been able to produce them,” states World Net Daily.

CAIR’s is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing case, this failure to comply with federal disclosure laws is all the more troubling,” U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, wrote the IRS in a separate request for investigation in 2011.

World Net Daily found:

CAIR’s terrorist ties run deep. The Justice Department lists it among U.S. front groups for Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization. And several CAIR officials have been convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges.

The FBI says that until suspicious ties between the leadership of CAIR and that of Hamas are resolved, it will no longer work with CAIR as a partner in counter-terrorism efforts.

Despite these red flags, the IRS in June 2012 sent CAIR-Foundation Inc. a letter stating the controversial nonprofit had regained its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3. At the same time, the IRS demanded tea party and other patriot groups turn over donor rolls, membership lists and contacts with political figures, among other things, before the agency would consider granting tax-exempt status to them.

CAIR Foundation, which is listed at the same 453 New Jersey Ave. address as CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington, told the Washington Post that “all the paperwork issues have been resolved” concerning the organization.

However, WND has obtained CAIR-Foundation Inc.’s latest filing, and even this tax document is incomplete. It is a partial return for the calendar year 2011, covering only the period from Aug. 9, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2011. The final page of the return, in fact, requests an extension from the IRS.

“Additional time is required to obtain information necessary in filing a complete and accurate return,” states CAIR’s accountant Joey Musmar.

The filing says the organization solicited $3,964,990 in gifts, grants and other contributions that “were not tax deductible.” An annual fundraiser raised a net $106,879.

At the beginning of 2011, CAIR’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $940,279.

It also owed “CAIR Inc.” $722,261 for “charity consulting.” This amount is listed as a “loan.” CAIR Inc. is listed as a “C Corp.”

CAIR insists its tax returns for 2007-2010 exist. Yet it still won’t produce them, despite repeated requests. According to the IRS, nonprofits must make their tax returns available to the public upon request.

CAIR lists Todd Gallinger, director of chapter development, as its contact for such matters, at (202) 488-8787 and tgallinger@cair.com.

It’s not clear what, if anything, the IRS investigated concerning CAIR’s filings. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.

What Is The Debt Ceiling and why should I worry?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zVFFO64OAQ4[/youtube]

The following is from the Heritage Foundation:

new video by Bankrupting America uses humor to call attention to an issue that is anything but funny, and why it matters for every American household.

Recent Heritage research reveals how the rising national debt hurts American families, including:

  • Higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans make it more costly for families and businesses to borrow money.
  • Higher debt and higher interest rates mean more tax dollars must be used to pay the government’s interest expense, leaving less money available for other priorities like national security and making it harder to keep future taxes from rising.
  • Less economic growth means fewer jobs, lower wages and salaries, and fewer opportunities for career advancement.

Over the next few weeks, Members of Congress will be deciding what their priorities for spending reduction will be in connection with any vote to increase the debt ceiling sometime this fall. The debt ceiling vote likely presents an opportunity for real spending restraint this year.

Anyone following the shocking IRS scandal has fresh and frightening evidence of the dangers of a massive, over-reaching, highly intrusive federal government. This is yet another reason to cut spending: Washington has a problem respecting fiscal sense and citizens’ freedoms.

The first step to solving it? Shrink the monster down to size with real spending cuts.

It’s a goal many claim to work toward, yet few seem committed to achieving. Choices presented by the debt limit debate can force both parties to trim down the federal budget—if they don’t get sidetracked.

HOLDING THE LINE: There are refreshing examples of principled leadership among members of Congress committed to getting spending under control. Currently, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) are working hard to prevent any backdoor effort to increase the debt limit without spending cuts.

Cruz_screenshotWhen it comes to holding the line on new spending, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and five other Senators recently announced their intention to object to consideration of legislation that spends new money unless it also trims the federal budget in other areas. Their goal is to “no longer spend money we do not have to pay for programs we do not need.”

The secret to controlling spending: To get spending under control, you have to know where the dollars are spent.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security make up 45 percent of our national budget, as this recent chart shows. Millions of at-risk citizens depend on these programs, and Congress has yet to take the steps needed to reform and preserve them so they benefit those most in need and are affordable for current and future taxpayers.

To fix entitlements and get spending under control, only certain policy changes will make a difference. Key examples of transformative reforms are outlined generally in the landmark Saving the American Dream plan, and more specifically in “Six Bipartisan Entitlement Reforms to Solve the Real Fiscal Crisis.”

While members of Congress may be tempted to fold on the challenge of getting spending under control, now is the time that they as the leaders they were elected to be and deal with balancing the national budget in 10 years.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

True The Vote files suit against the IRS

True the Vote (TTV), the nation’s leading voters’ rights organization, filed suit in federal court in Washington today against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), asking the Court to grant its long-awaited tax exempt status and seeking damages for the unlawful actions by the IRS in the processing of its application for exempt status. ActRight Legal Foundation, a 501(c)3 fundamental rights and public interest law firm represents True the Vote in the lawsuit.

“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court – which is precisely what we aim to do.”

True the Vote is dedicated solely to promoting election integrity in our Republic,” Engelbrecht said.  “Our mission is to educate Americans on all of the rights they enjoy as voters. We do not pick winners and losers, but instead fortify the voting process so that it is fair and free. If this goal is deserving of such scrutiny, then we have serious questions that we, as a nation, must face,” she added.

Cleta Mitchell, counsel to True the Vote and of counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation, stated, “We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed.’   It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”

True the Vote‘s lawsuit consists of three counts:

Count One:  Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to  26 USC § 7428.

Count Two:  Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote’s exempt status.

Count Three:   Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.

“This is just the first of several cases ActRight Legal Foundation plans to file against the IRS and those within the agency who have violated the constitutional rights of these citizens’ organizations,” said Dr. John Eastman, Chairman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and of Counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation.
To read the complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, click here.

True The Vote 

(TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Voto Honesto 

(TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite  www.votohonesto.org.

Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) co-sponsors HR-25, the Fair Tax Act

Representative Tom Rooney (R – FL District 17)

Representative Tom Rooney (R – FL District 17) has now become the eleventh member of the Florida delegation to co-sponsor the Fair Tax Act (HR-25/S-13). Rep. Rooney represents South Central Florida including most of Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties. He sits is on the House Appropriations committee. A full list of House sponsors may be viewed by clicking here. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is the sponsor of S-13 in the US Senate. Senate sponsors may be viewed here.

The IRS scandal has renewed interest in HR-25.

The Fair Tax Act is introduced, “To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.” The Fair Tax Act states:

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS.

2 (a) FINDINGS RELATING TO FEDERAL INCOME

3 TAX.—Congress finds the Federal income tax—

(1) retards economic growth and has reduced the standard of living of the American public;
(2) impedes the international competitiveness of 7 United States industry;
(3) reduces savings and investment in the United States by taxing income multiple times;
(4) slows the capital formation necessary for real wages to steadily increase;
(5) lowers productivity;
(6) imposes unacceptable and unnecessary administrative and compliance costs on individual and business taxpayers;
(7) is unfair and inequitable;
(8) unnecessarily intrudes upon the privacy and civil rights of United States citizens;
(9) hides the true cost of government by embedding taxes in the costs of everything Americans buy;
(10) is not being complied with at satisfactory levels and therefore raises the tax burden on law abiding citizens; and
(11) impedes upward social mobility.

Members of both major political parties have stated that the IRS is a threat to freedom, fairness and economic opportunity. However, none have suggested the elimination of the 90,000 employee strong IRS. Many have voiced concerned that the IRS will expand its powers by being a key part of the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which is a national tax according to a recent US Supreme Court decision.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-District 13) addresses the Congressional investigation:

Rep. Buchanan sits on the House Ways and Means Committee. He has not signed on as a co-sponsor of HR-25.

Disclaimer: The author sits on the Board of Directors of Fair Tax – Florida.

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Jon Stewart: Why does the President gets his information by watching TV?

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has a series of video clips of President Obama saying he did not know what was going on in his administration. The President states repeatedly that he learned about it from watching the news. From Fast and Furious to the IRS targeting Christian, Jewish and Conservative groups, the President had no clue.

This theme was repeated by David Axelrod. Jonathan Easley from The Hill reports, “Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Wednesday defended the president, saying it was ‘impossible’ he could have known about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups because the government is too big.”

“White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that nobody in the White House knew about or influenced the IRS’s policy, and that the president found out about the transgression through the news media at the same time as the public. The Justice Department on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the matter,” notes Easley.

Watch Jon Stewart’s monologue:

Center for Immigration Studies calls Rubio’s amnesty ad “deceptive” (Video)

Jon Feere, the Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, reviews an ad released by the “Gang of Eight” featuring Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The ad is playing nationwide, including in Florida.

Feere states, “The minute-long advertisement calls the proposal ‘conservative immigration reform’ and attempts to make amnesty appealing to Republican voters. Partisan politics aside, the amnesty ad is misleading on a number of counts…”

The ad was produced by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who created FWD.us, an advocacy group aimed at promoting amnesty. One of the group’s offshoots is “Americans for a Conservative Direction“, which is cited at the end of the ad.

Americans for a Conservative Direction’s board members include: Haley Barbour: former Governor Haley Barbour served as the 62nd governor of Mississippi from 2004 to 2012 and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the mid ’90s; Sally Bradshaw: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff from 1999-2001, and served as a Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project; Joel Kaplan: currently Vice President of US Public Policy at Facebook, Joel also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush; Dan Senor: former chief advisor to Representative Paul Ryan on the Romney-Ryan 2012 campaign; Rob Jesmer: former Executive Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2008 – 2012.

Below is the ad:

Here is Feere’s analysis of the ad phrase by phrase:

RUBIO: “Anyone who thinks what we have now in immigration is not a problem is fooling themselves. What we have in place today is de facto amnesty.”

Very few Americans believe that we don’t have a serious problem with illegal immigration. It is true that this country is experiencing a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens, and it is largely the result of the Obama administration refusing to enforce immigration laws on the books. The problem is that Rubio wants to turn this “de facto” amnesty into a formal amnesty, and grant millions of law-breakers work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, travel documents, and an unknown number of additional state-level benefits. Rubio is trying to help President Obama fulfill his campaign goal of keeping all illegal aliens in the country and giving them benefits reserved for legal residents. If Rubio was actually troubled by the de facto amnesty being advanced by the Obama administration, Rubio would side with the ICE officials who are suing the Obama administration over the president’s effort to prevent them from doing their jobs. Top-ranking ICE official Chris Crane explained the lawsuit to Fox News, here. Mr. Crane’s recent congressional testimony, available here, raises many troubling issues. ICE’s additional concern is that the amnesty bill would make permanent their inability to enforce the law by giving DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “virtually unlimited discretion” to waive all enforcement of immigration law. If an amnesty is passed, the Obama administration will likely continue to undermine any immigration enforcement provisions in the bill.

ANNOUNCER: “Conservative leaders have a plan, the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.”

The so-called “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the bill aren’t all “conservative leaders”, unless you consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to fit that description. True, the gang also includes Republican senators, but it is up for debate whether one considers Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to be conservative on immigration. Their immigration report card grades, from the pro-enforcement group NumbersUSA, are troubling: Graham has a “C”, McCain a “D”, and a Flake “C”. This is in contrast to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has an “A+” from NumbersUSA.

The voiceover in the ad also cites a newspaper article for the “toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States” language. This commercial carefully avoided some of the language in the article’s full sentence, particularly the part noting that this bill would allow previously deported illegal aliens to return to the country. The article’s full sentence reads:

The controversial proposal would grant most of the 11 million people here illegally a path to citizenship and give thousands of deported individuals a chance to return, but would also adopt some of the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.

No immigration bill in the history of the United States has ever permitted previously deported illegal aliens to return to the United States to receive citizenship, so it is difficult to see how this news organization concluded that the bill is the “toughest” our country has ever seen. Of course, the article is really claiming that the bill would “adopt some” tough enforcement measures, not that the bill itself is tough.

On closer inspection, many of these measures (noted below) are not as tough as they seem to be.

RUBIO: “They have to pass the background check, they have to be able to pay a registration fee, they have to pay a fine.”

Within six months of the bill’s passage, illegal immigrants would become immediately eligible for legal status, and many of the hoops that illegal immigrants would have to jump through to get such status do not amount to much. It is likely that any illegal immigrants who simply claim to be eligible will be able to avoid deportation, even if they’re already in detention. This is exactly what is already happening under President Obama’s deferred action program. ICE agents are being instructed to release any illegal aliens who claim to be eligible, even if they haven’t filled out an application form. The same situation will unfold under the large-scale amnesty bill. ICE will be virtually handcuffed and will not be able to carry out most enforcement.

To acquire the primary legal status offered under this bill, illegal immigrants would have to undergo a simple background check. But the bill would still grant legal status to illegal immigrants with a significant amount of criminality on their rap sheet. For example, crimes like ID theft and vandalism are not considered serious enough to deny a person status, despite the fact that such crimes create real victims. Specifically, two misdemeanors will not result in legal status being denied and under the bill multiple misdemeanors could be counted as “one” misdemeanor, provided they occur on the same day. Additionally, any problematic history an illegal immigrant has in his home country is unlikely to be uncovered; in a sense, our public safety would depend on the bookkeeping of police departments in the alien’s homeland, and there are many things that Americans consider criminal that are not criminal overseas.

Finally, the government’s capacity to conduct background checks on millions of illegal immigrants is questionable. ICE Union head Chris Crane explained in a video interview with the Daily Caller that there is “no such thing as a background check on a foreign national.” The 1986 amnesty also had background checks, but hundreds of thousands of fraudulent applicants were rubber-stamped. The amnesty granted legal status to someone who used his new status to freely travel to the Middle East to pick up terrorist training and helped lead the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Had we enforced our immigration laws, he would have been removed from the country and the attack might never have occurred.

The recent Boston Marathon bombing should also illustrate the government’s inability to carefully vet backgrounds. The FBI interviewed at least one of the terrorists, his family members, and his neighbors, in addition to analyzing his Internet usage. They apparently found nothing that would have raised a red flag. Despite the fact that DHS estimates there are many problematic foreign-born people living in the United States, the millions of illegal aliens applying for the amnesty will not have nearly as vigorous of a background check as the Boston bombers had, suggesting that some bad people will receive legal status through the bill. As written, the bill would allow known gang members to become U.S. citizens if they simply “renounce” their gang affiliation.

Rubio also claims that illegal aliens applying for the amnesty would have to pay a fee, but there are waivers and no specificity. The bill simply notes that illegal aliens aged 16 and older who want legal status will have to pay a fee “in an amount determined by [DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano]”. While it is unclear how much the fee would be, the bill says it should be enough to cover processing the applications. (See here for David North’s estimate of the size of the fee needed to process applicants properly.) But in the next section, the bill gives Napolitano the power to limit the fee and to exempt “classes of individuals” altogether. With such broad authority granted by Congress, it is unclear whether this fee would apply to most amnesty applicants.

It should also be noted that USCIS already offers waivers for those who cannot afford certain fees — in fact, the Obama administration created a form for such waivers in 2010 — and similar waivers may apply to any future amnesty. To obtain a fee waiver for some existing immigration benefits, an applicant simply must show that they are currently using a welfare program. Currently, 71 percent of illegal alien households with children make use of at least one form of welfare.

Rubio also claims that amnesty applicants would have to pay a fine. A fine is different from a fee and, by definition, a fine is meant to be a punishment for breaking a law. The bill puts the fine at $500 for the initial legal status — not much of a punishment considering the laws that have been broken. This initial status turns the illegal aliens into legal residents and grants them work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, and many other benefits. Applicants would have to pay another $500 over the next six years. If a person wants to upgrade from this provisional status to full green card status (and eventual U.S. citizenship), they would have to pay another $1,000 many years down the road. But there are many exceptions. For example, people of any age who claim to have entered before age 16 and have a high school degree or GED would not have to pay either of the $500 fines, nor would they have to pay the $1,000 fine for green card status. Also, all people under 21 years of age, regardless of when they entered and whether they have a high school degree, would be exempted from both of the $500 fines.

Furthermore, it is likely that some pro-amnesty groups will assist applicants in paying the fines — some of which will be using taxpayer-provided funds to do so. The bill would actually grant groups like La Raza $150 million of taxpayer dollars to help illegal aliens apply for the amnesty, and the bill grants them a lot of discretion to decide how to spend the money. In reality, the fine may not be much of a punishment at all — particularly if American taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.

Absent from Rubio’s list is the requirement that illegal aliens pay back taxes. The reason he is no longer citing it is because that provision never made it into the bill. For months Rubio and other amnesty advocates sold the bill on the notion of requiring illegal aliens to pay back taxes for the years they have worked off the books. But it was simply part of an attempt to mislead the public into thinking this bill is tougher than it really is. Only “assessed” taxes have to be paid, and if the IRS doesn’t audit illegal immigrants working off the books — which is won’t — then there will be no “assessed” taxes to pay.

ANNOUNCER: “Border security on steroids. Tough border triggers have no giveaways for law breakers.”

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Napolitano simply has to submit a plan for border security and a fencing plan within six months of the passage of this bill. As soon as she submits the plans, illegal aliens become eligible for work permits, Social Security accounts, driver’s licenses, travel documents, and countless state-level benefits. Past amnesties show that these benefits are mostly what illegal aliens are looking for; green card status and U.S. citizenship are not priorities for most illegal immigrants. No border security has to be in place for these benefits to be handed out. A proposed amendment to the bill that would have made border security come before these benefits are handed out was rejected by the Senate. Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham, two of the alleged “conservative leaders” who helped authored this bill, voted against the amendment along with all of the Democrats.

The “triggers” — border security, an entirely new electronic verification system (to replace E-Verify), and an operational exit-tracking system — are required to be in effect before illegal immigrants can upgrade to a green card. But even this isn’t exactly true.

The bill does provide a significant amount of funding for border security, but it remains unclear how that money would be spent and whether the border would ever actually be secured. The bill requires an “effectiveness rate” of 90 percent and defines such a rate as “the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn-backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year.” This equation requires some estimate of the number of missed illegal entries, but the metrics of border security have been up for debate for many years and it’s unclear how such an estimate would be reached. Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council asks, “How are they going to measure effectiveness?” He fears the bills language “will put pressure on Border Patrol management to fudge the number in order to fit political purposes.”

Rubio has said that if effective control of these sections of the border is not met within five years, “it goes to a border commission made up of people that live and have to deal with the border and they will take care of that problem.” But in the bill, the “Southern Border Security Commission” would be made up of six Washington-appointed members (two by the president and four by congressional leaders), plus one from each southern border state (appointed by the governor), and it could do nothing but issue recommendations. But it gets worse. The bill also says that if “litigation or a force majeure” prevents the border from being secured then Secretary Napolitano has the authority to go ahead and issue illegal aliens U.S. citizenship anyhow.

One member of the Gang of Eight has asserted that citizenship for illegal immigrants will not be conditioned on actually having a secure border. Sen. Charles Schumer (R-N.Y.) explained, “We are not using border security as a block to a path to citizenship. This [the trigger] will not be a barrier to giving citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country.”

In other words, there really aren’t any border security triggers at all.

RUBIO: “No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no Obamacare, they have to prove that they’re gainfully employed.”

Rubio is simply wrong with these assertions. Illegal immigrants are already receiving federal benefits and this bill would do nothing to stop that. This bill would actually extend greater amounts of benefits to illegal immigrants by giving them legal status.

We estimate that 71 percent of illegal immigrant-headed households with children use at least one welfare program. Illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children, but they, not the children, are collecting the benefits, which support the entire family. Illegal immigrant households with children primarily use food assistance and Medicaid, making almost no use of cash or housing assistance. In contrast, legal immigrant households tend to have relatively high use rates for every type of welfare program. It is undeniable that if the amnesty bill becomes law, the legalized illegal immigrants will have greater access to the welfare state.

As for Obamacare, illegal immigrants who get green card status will have access to Obamacare, causing the aggregate annual deficit to soar to around $106 billion, finds the Heritage Foundation. Heritage also concludes that the amnesty applicants who receive green card status would also receive full eligibility for more than 80 means-tested welfare programs.

As to the “gainfully employed” requirement, Rubio is not being completely honest. The most important exemption comes toward the end of the bill, but it’s worth noting at the outset: All education and job requirements in the bill are waived if the immigrant is unable to work or go to school “due to circumstances outside the control of the alien”. The bill provides no explanation of what this might include, and one must ask whether high unemployment rates would count as something outside the control of the amnesty applicants.

Acquiring provisional status does not require evidence of employment. Renewing the status after six years does trigger an employment section of the bill. The section requires that the legalized immigrant fulfill one of two options. In the first option, the alien must prove that he “was regularly employed throughout the period of admission as a registered provisional immigrant, allowing for brief periods lasting not more than 60 days” and “not likely to become a public charge”. But this means that the immigrant could be unemployed for a two-month period and still meet this requirement. Plus, the wording is such that it leaves some interpretation to the courts. What if the immigrant has two “brief periods” of unemployment “lasting not more than 60 days”? By some interpretations, the immigrant would still be able to meet this requirement. Can an immigrant have five such brief periods? Ten? If the bill were written to limit unemployment to 60 days, then it would read “allowing for brief periods of unemployment totaling not more than 60 days”. It is a simple wording change, but it leads to a significantly different outcome.

As an alternative, the alien can “demonstrate average income or resources that are not less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level” for the period he lived here as an alien legalized under the bill. If the alien is the only person in his household, this requirement means that he would have to be making at least $11,490 a year.

But standards are low here. Amnesty applicants can submit a number of different documents to prove they worked. This includes any paperwork from a day laborer hiring center or even sworn affidavits from an alien’s family member who is willing to claim that the alien was working.

On top of all this, the work requirements do not have to be met if an amnesty applicant is going to school. The bill defines the education requirement quite broadly.

Furthermore, the employment and educational requirements do not apply to anyone under age 21 at the time of applying for the amnesty’s provisional legal status, nor do they apply to people over age 60. Also exempted is anyone who is a “primary caretaker of a child or another person who requires supervision or is unable to care for himself or herself.”

ANNOUNCER: “Bold, very conservative, a tough line on immigration.”

Considering all the exemptions and waivers already laid out above, it is difficult to conclude that this bill is bold with a “tough line” on immigration. The phrasing in this portion of the Rubio commercial is taken from quotes from pro-amnesty columnists in the media. The word “bold” was used by a Washington Post blogger who supports amnesty. The phrase “very conservative” is from the same writer; the full sentence is more illuminating:

In essence, if you accept that you have to start somewhere and we have no capability to uproot 11 million people, this is a very conservative-friendly plan.

So the writer called the bill “very conservative-friendly” and the ad shortened it to “very conservative.” One could certainly argue that these have different meanings. But the premise of the full quote is also worthy of debate. Does the United States have no capability to send 11 million people back home? Amnesty advocates constantly argue that the only alternative to mass amnesty is mass deportations. But in reality, both are unworkable. The only solution to the illegal immigration problem is the “attrition through enforcement” policy where we consistently enforce our immigration laws for a period of years and encourage illegal immigrants to go home in greater numbers than they already are. The Post blogger does not entertain this option and presents only a choice between amnesty and mass deportations, one embraced by Rubio.

The phrase “tough line on immigration” was taken from a pro-amnesty columnist from CNN. The same columnistcalled Arizona a “rogue state at war” for passing laws attempting to curb illegal immigration. That the pro-amnesty columnist opposed Jan Brewer’s efforts but embraces Rubio should raise flags about Rubio’s commitment to immigration enforcement.

RUBIO: “It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally but does so in a way that’s fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn’t unfair to the people that have done it the right way.”

Rubio claims that this comprehensive amnesty will fix the illegal immigration problem “once and for all”. But the American people have been told this before. The 1986 comprehensive amnesty, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was sold to the public as a one-time plan that would not have to be repeated because the bill contained sanctions against employers for hiring illegal immigrants, and other enforcement provisions. But after IRCA legalized about three million illegal aliens, the enforcement provisions never materialized. Today, about 7.5 million illegal aliens are holding jobs and their employers are not being held accountable. Why would anyone believe that the enforcement provisions in yet another amnesty would ever be enforced? In fact, only a few years after IRCA passed, the National Council of La Raza issued a report calling for the end to workplace enforcement. Interestingly, the author of that report was Cecilia Munoz, who today is President Obama’s chief immigration advisor. Odds are high that she will be working to undermine the enforcement in Rubio’s bill the moment it becomes law. Just last week President Obama told a roomful of amnesty advocate groups that if the bill becomes law, he will “revisit” the enforcement provisions. In other words, Obama has pledged to administratively narrow the scope of enforcement as soon as 11 million illegal immigrants and their family members acquire legal status through the bill. This is why enforcement must come before any type of legal status. Rubio’s bill is backwards, and it’s clear he hasn’t learned from the mistakes of IRCA.

Rubio also claims that the bill “does not encourage people to come illegally” but he apparently hasn’t been listening to border officials in the field who have come to Washington to testify before Congress. Rubio didn’t see thisWashington Times article:

“We have seen an increase in attempted entries,” Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher told a Senate committee.

He said part of the reason for an increase is that Congress is talking about legalizing illegal immigrants, which is luring more foreigners to try to be in the U.S. when amnesty takes effect.

This should not come as a surprise. Amnesties always encourage illegal immigration because they send the message that illegal entry is a feasible path to legal U.S. residence.

Rubio also claims that amnesty is not unfair to those who are attempting to come to the United States the legal way. The reality is that illegal aliens get to stay in the country the moment they apply for amnesty. If they pass the simple background check, they receive legal status and nearly all the benefits of citizenship, including a work permit, a Social Security account, travel documents, a driver’s license, and many additional state-level benefits. While green card status may be delayed for a period of years, it is undeniable that amnesty applicants are in a much better position compared to those overseas who have applied to come to the United States legally. The amnesty applicant is only in the “back of the line” in the sense that the green card — and eventual U.S. citizenship — would allegedly be delayed until after all existing green card applications are processed. But the fact is, the genuine back of the line is in the illegal alien’s home country.

ANNOUNCER: “Stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty, support Conservative Immigration Reform.”

Again, Rubio wants to turn the de facto amnesty we’re currently experiencing as a result of non-enforcement of immigration laws into a de jure amnesty for millions of people who do not belong here. Rubio asks you to “stand” with him, but Rubio himself is standing with Obama, Napolitano, La Raza, the ACLU, and many other amnesty supporters who cannot be described as “conservative” in any sense of the word.