Archive for the ‘Fiscal Issues’ Category
This week, the North Carolina Chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP-North Carolina) announced its Legislative Goals for the 2013-14 legislative biennium. The Regular Session convened briefly on January 9th to adopt rules and organize the session but will reconvene on Wednesday, January 30th.
When it comes to advancing the free market agenda, no state has a better opportunity this year than North Carolina. We believe that we have a genuine opportunity to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in North Carolina with lower taxes and regulations to make government less entangling and burdensome to North Carolinians. We will aggressively promote the opportunities of cheaper energy, quality educational choices, leaner and less burdensome government, and lower taxes.
Please remember that AFP deals only with issues of economic freedom, school choice, and property rights. There are other important issues that face North Carolinians which fall outside of our mission.
We hope you will stand with us once again to promote the following goals:
- Passage of the state budget without tax increases;
- Lower overall tax burden in North Carolina;
- Support for Constitutional Spending Limits that could include: Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) that would limit government spending to the increase in population and inflation and/or legislative supermajority requirement to raise taxes;
- Keeping North Carolina as a “Right-to-work State,” by implementing it into the state constitution along with the state’s ban on public employee collective bargaining;
- Dedicating all North Carolina Education Lottery revenue to school construction; or support ending all state-run gambling;
- Elimination of North Carolina’s Estate Tax – also called the “Death Tax”;
- Promotion of legislation that allows for the exploration and production of North Carolina’s energy resources;
- Advocating a “rollback” of North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard;
- Blocking the creation of a North Carolina Healthcare Exchange;
- Allowing the purchase of health insurance from any state;
- Passage of legislation to get the state of North Carolina out of the liquor business;
- Ending all “welfare for politicians,” known as taxpayer-funded elections;
- Protecting free and political speech rights by deregulating campaign speech;
- Ending the Golden Leaf Foundation;
- Converting the Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities into a refundable tax credit;
- Increasing the number of non-public school choice options available to parents;
- Repeal of the corporate income tax and elimination of all corporate welfare;
- Simplifying and lowering individual income taxes;
- Promoting the elimination of redundant committees and commissions in order to shrink the size of government in North Carolina;
- Expanding recently passed tort reforms, including “loser pays”; and
- In general, greatly reducing the regulatory burden on businesses and citizens.
By Susan Bryant, Chairman, Wake County Republican Party
It’s Tax filing time, and when you file your IRS and North Carolina Tax returns, I am asking that you DO NOT check off the box that sends public funds to political parties!
From the time it began in the 1970’s, I have been opposed to public financing of political campaigns. This includes the years I made my living as a campaign consultant, and could therefore have pocketed some of the money involved myself. I consider my position one of the most selfless and altruistic I have ever espoused. But seriously, why should taxpayers’ money go to pay for politicians’ bumper strips when we are running up trillions of dollars of debt?
So I’ve been against all public financing schemes, the Presidential check-off, the many various proposals for financing Congressional campaigns that have been floated over the year, and, yes, the North Carolina check-off law, too. Now that we have a Republican legislature, I think elimination of the Political Parties Financing Fund ought to be a major part of the campaign reform bill they pass, along with Voter ID and a number of other changes that are needed.
Not all of the reports have been filed yet, but last year, more than $2 million was doled out by the state to the three recognized political parties, with by far the largest share going to the Democrats, who got over a million and a half. Some of the Democrat money (as Francis DeLuca pointed out in a Civitas Review article last April,) went to pay for the settlement the Dems paid to cover up the allegation of sexual harassment.
Doing away with the check-off fund would also make it unnecessary for Republicans to wrestle with the choice between honor and political expediency. Assuming they don’t get it repealed in time for the 2012 tax returns we’re all dealing with now, I will decline to say yes to wasteful spending again, hopefully for the last time, at least at our state level. I hope you will, too.
Democrats argue that public financing will cut down on political clout by fat cats and other special interests, but doesn’t that go against their basic philosophy of “soak the rich?” When they check the box, they are taking $3 out of the funds that would otherwise go to education, mental health and other worthy causes in the state budgets and give it to the politicians. How did that ever get to be the policy of the party of the “little guy,” anyway?
I don’t believe those precious dollars should go to politicians, but rather should go to the education of our children, homeless veterans and other worthy causes. And I encourage all who want to contribute to a political party to do so…and for you Republicans, I’m including a link to do so for either the North Carolina GOP or the Wake County GOP.
Senators Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) filed Senate Bill 4 to exempt North Carolina from establishing a state-based health insurance exchange or a state-federal partnership exchange.
The bill also directs the N.C. Department of Insurance to return unspent taxpayer funds awarded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month to create a state-federal partnership exchange.
“Obamacare was forced on us against our will by the federal government, and they should shoulder the burden of implementing it,” said Sen. Apodaca. “Any claim that North Carolina would ‘control’ this program is nothing more than an illusion.”
Senate Bill 4 also rules out expansion of the North Carolina Medicaid program. In its 2012 decision on Obamacare, the U.S. Supreme Court exempted states from the federal mandate to expand Medicaid eligibility. Based on the court’s ruling, North Carolina has the authority to opt out of expansion.
Costs for North Carolina’s existing Medicaid program have increased significantly in recent years. In 2012, the General Assembly was forced to fill a surprise Medicaid shortfall that totaled more than $500 million. Recent figures from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that an expansion of the program would add hundreds of millions of dollars in additional state costs to North Carolina’s Medicaid budget through 2019.
“Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring every North Carolinian receives the highest quality health care and outcomes,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Saddling our citizens with the enormous costs of a new federal bureaucracy and entitlements is simply not the way to achieve this goal.”
Under Obamacare, each state must have in place a health exchange where individuals and small businesses, which are now mandated to have insurance, can purchase health care coverage. There are three options: a state-run exchange, a state-federal partnership exchange and a federally-run exchange. Senate leaders have spent months evaluating the implications of each type of exchange.
In November 2012, former Gov. Beverly Perdue prematurely declared her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange – three months before the deadline for the state to make this declaration – while at the same time applying for $73.9 million dollars in federal grant funding to set up the new government program.
With the beginning of the new year, more of the provisions of Democrats’ massive, unpopular health care law are going into effect and news reports are, again, popping up illustrating all the negative impacts on health care this ill-conceived law will have.
The New York Times reported last week, “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own. In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013.”
Politico adds today, “If you work for a small business, your next health insurance premium may give you sticker shock. Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law’s 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people. All those new consumer benefits packed into the health reform law — birth control without a co-pay, free preventive care and limits on when insurers can turn down a customer — had to be paid for somehow.”
“Insurers say they have no choice but to increase premiums to cover those costs,” Politico writes. “But it’s hitting pocketbooks sooner than some people expected, and that’s causing controversy. Everyone, even many of the law’s supporters, admit premiums are going to go up under the health law — although many people will get subsidies to help pay for coverage. Many of the costs — and the priciest benefits — were pushed beyond the 2012 election to 2014. But if the public revolts when they see 10 percent,15 percent or 20 percent rate hikes, already shaky support for the health law could suffer. . . . Now, insurers are being proactive, arguing the health law is driving the increase in prices. ‘There’s a massive new health insurance tax that starts in 2014,’ said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans. ‘For policies that are sold in 2013 and extend into next year, there’s going to be taxes imposed. … As a result, like all taxes, they will be reflected in premiums charged.’”
Meanwhile, the health care law is already resulting in cutbacks at health providers and is likely to hurt job creation in the years to come. In a story titled, “Delaware Hospice lays off 52 workers amid federal changes,” the Delaware News Journalwrites, “Delaware Hospice’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Lloyd said Wednesday the nonprofit healthcare provider has laid off 52 workers in a restructuring necessitated by shrinking federal reimbursements. The job cuts, which carve significantly into the organizations 400-member staff, impact jobs in all departments in Delaware, and in Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania, Lloyd said. . . . . Lloyd said the cuts were unavoidable and represent a national trend of providers adapting to changes in health care reimbursement. . . . ‘The decision was not made lightly and it is a direct result of a consequential decline in census and the need to position the organization to meet additional changes and challenges that the hospice industry anticipates with health care reform.’”
And USA Today reported recently, “Many businesses plan to bring on more part-time workers next year, trim the hours of full-time employees or curtail hiring because of the new health care law, human resource firms say. Their actions could further dampen job growth, which already is threatened by possible federal budget cutbacks resulting from the tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. ‘It will have a negative impact on job creation’ in 2013, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers — or the equivalent, including part-time workers — must offer health insurance to staffers who work at least 30 hours a week. Employers that don’t provide coverage must pay a $2,000-per-worker penalty, excluding the first 30 employees.”
Republicans warned about all these consequences as Obamacare was being debated, but Democrats and President Obama ignored them and the disapproval of the American people. In December 2009, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s abundantly clear that the more Americans learn about this bill, the more they oppose it. And now we know the same goes for businesses. Businesses that can’t insure workers face stiff fines, resulting in lost wages and jobs, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office. What’s more, studies suggest that this so-called employer mandate would have a disproportionate impact on low-income, entry-level workers. At a time of [high] unemployment, we should be doing everything we can to create jobs. This bill would only lead to more lost jobs.”
And the night Democrats jammed the bill through the Senate, Leader McConnell said “[H]ere’s the reality: the Democrat bill we’re voting on tonight raises health care costs. That’s not me talking — that’s the administration’s own budget scorekeeper. It raises premiums — that’s the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office talking. It raises taxes on tens of millions of middle class Americans. . . . It forces people off the plans they have — including millions of seniors.”
This terrible legislation still needs to be repealed and replaced, but until then it will unfortunately continue to raise premiums, raise health care costs, hurt care, and hurt jobs.
On his first official workday in office, newly minted Governor Pat McCrory got down to business. He signed his first executive order and named three more appointments to his leadership team.
His first act was to rescind one of his predecessors executive orders which was to have a panel pick vacant statewide judicial positions. In Executive Order 1, he will do it directly.
At his first press conference this morning, the governor expressed concern over the state’s exploding budget and warned agency directors to watch their bottom lines.
Additonally, he discussed the state’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, calling it antiquated and out-of-date. He had specific worries about the computers in Health and Human Services.
Finally, he named three more to positions of political importance:
Tony Almeida as Senior Advisor to the governor for Jobs and the Economy, Fred Steen as the governor’s Legislative Liaison and Chris Estes as State Chief Information Officer.
Tuesday evening, the Governor will be in his predecessor’s (and this blogger’s) hometown of New Bern, greeting constituents. Katy’s Conservative Corner will be there and have the story for you, as well as other stories of the day and from the past weekend.
Thursday afternoon, I was sworn in for my second term in the 113th Congress. I am excited to be serving as a new member on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittees on Health, Oversight and Investigations, and Communications and Technology.
The Fiscal Cliff Deal Did Nothing to Address Spending
This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to avert the Fiscal Cliff- putting off major decisions to reign-in Washington’s uncontrolled spending.
I voted against the Senate’s compromise bill due to its dramatic increase in taxes and failure to address the bloated spending, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will increase the deficit by nearly $4 Trillion over the next 10 years.
This was supposed to be a deficit reduction bill, not a deficit increase that adds trillions to our deficit while increasing taxes. I could not support a measure that adds trillions to our deficits while increasing taxes by $41 for every $1 in spending cuts. Additionally, this deal continues to give tax advantages to big businesses while small businesses – the real lifeblood of our economy – are left to shoulder the burden and pay the bills.
We must get serious about addressing the true driver of the fiscal mess that our nation is in.
Our out-of-control spending does nothing to help American families and only exacerbates the problems facing our country.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the real sources of this crisis and continuing the fight against government waste in the 113th Congress.
Thursday, KCC received a note from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation regarding the off-the-wall Fiscal Deficit “fix” just passed by Congress. Perhaps many of you received it, too. We all need to jump in together and save America from the bad economic policy. Read on:
There they go again.
Recently Congress passed a bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But instead of focusing on the real driver of our fiscal imbalance, runaway government spending, Congress passed a bill that’s all taxes and no serious spending reductions. The bill was filled with terrible economic policy from top to bottom. The one bright spot is that we’re finally starting to establish some permanency in the tax code, an important element of economic stability.
Take action today and remind Congress the American people still want them to cut spending!
Here’s a quick rundown of the bill:
Taxes: the bill fails to protect the economy from all the tax hikes. Everything from capital investment, to labor, to consumption, and even death will be more heavily taxed in 2013. None of that will spur economic growth.
Spending: remember when both President Obama and Speaker Boehner talked about a “balanced approach?” This bill is a classic Washington tax-and-spend bill with no spending cuts to be found. What’s worse, it actually includes billions in new spending.
Even while raising taxes on hardworking Americans, Congress recognized that high taxes hurt economic growth and so they handed out myriad special carve outs so their friends wouldn’t feel the bite. Wind energy, motorsports entertainment complexes and even the hard-up Hollywood tycoons got a special tax break in the bill.
In addition to the damage these policies will do to the economy, raising taxes in a deficit fight just puts a Band-Aid on the problem. Runaway government spending is still the main problem with the federal budget and with the nation’s economy.
Thank you for all you do for economic freedom and we look forward to fighting side-by-side with you in 2013.
Americans for Prosperity
The Heritage Foundation announced Thursday that U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) will become the next president of the organization. He takes over for Edwin J. Feulner, the man who first envisioned the think tank in 1973 and has led it as president for the past 36 years.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s own website,
Under his leadership, Heritage helped launch missile defense under President Ronald Reagan and welfare reform under President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich. During the past four years, Heritage has led a principled fight against Obamacare and has taken a lead in advancing the case for entitlement reform.
The American Conservative Union’s Al Al Cardenas congratulated Senator DeMint:
With a lifetime ACU Rating of over 97%, Senator Jim DeMint has been an indispensable conservative leader in the Senate and we look forward to continuing to work with him to advance the important cause of liberty and limited government.
Whether the issue has been preserving our economic freedom, standing up for the rights of the unborn or preserving American exceptionalism and protecting our national security, Jim DeMint has been there for conservatives and the American people.
I also congratulate and thank Dr. Ed Feulner who has spent a lifetime as a giant in the conservative movement and wish him well as he remains an important intellectual leader at Heritage.”
TAMPA Live, KCC brings you gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican National Convention. We have what is being shown on closed circuit television inside the Tampa Bay Forum, and produced by the Republican National Committee.
This post will remain at the top of our blog throughout the convention, with other blog posts appearing beneath. Thank you for reading KCC and we hope you get as much out of the 2012 National Convention as we are.
Between the breaks, the G.E. Smith Band plays, a bluesy-rock band formerly of Saturday Night Live, the Blues Brothers, and others. This blogger is a huge fan and is thrilled to see them.
ST PETERSBURG FL Schools are closed for Monday, the Port of Tampa closes on Sunday, and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect. Yet the 40th Republican National Convention will go on as planned, albet a day late.
Kyle Downey, spokesman for the Republican National Committee told media that Monday had been planned to highlight President Barack Obama’s failures. Now that will be spread over the remaining evenings, he stated.
This blogger had quite the day traveling to Tampa International Airport. There were several people on the connection from Atlanta who were convention bound, but not all of them were happy and excited about making the trip.
As KCC was awaiting her van share ride to the North Carolina delegation hotel, a woman asked her why she was here.
KCC thought that to be a very odd question and replied “to attend and write about the Republican convention.” The other lady made it clear that she and her large group were all here to protest.
With all the talk of bad weather on the way, the local news media is actually WORRIED about the protesters. Apparently, they are all staying in tents, which could blow away, forcing shelters to open to accommodate the opposition.
Oddly, the protesters this blogger saw were worried about jobs and they were from union states like Wisconsin. She wanted badly to educate them that unions were preventing new jobs, and in fact destroyed jobs. Additionally, the best way for government to “create jobs” is to reduce regulations and then get out of the way. Those people have no need to be so mean, as it’s a simple difference of ideology.
Saturday night, downtown Tampa is completely blocked off and the police presence is heavy. Meanwhile, here in St. Petersburg seems to be the fun place to be. We look forward to getting out and exploring, rain or not. Unfortunately for this blogger, her back is acting up and has left her in a great deal of pain.
Sunday, we also look forward to dipping our toes in the Gulf for the first time. Growing up at a beach, KCC’s parents didn’t exactly take vacations to other beaches. So this will be a first for her.
Finally, we’d like to thank Rob Benningfield for all the love and support. Without him, none of this would be possible. I love you honey.
Back to the fun and more Sunday…