Americans for Prosperity: Congress and the President are shortening the fuse

By Christine Harbin Hanson and Tom Jenney

Imagine paying an extra $15,000 a year in taxes. For 50 working years.

That is the burden Washington is placing on our children and grandchildren.

America’s unfunded government liabilities over the next 75 years are between $100 trillion and $200 trillion, depending on how you crunch the numbers. Those are the spending promises our politicians have made through Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and other federal programs, including “Obamacare.”

According to realistic estimates by the Congressional Budget ­Office, the unfunded liabilities in Medicare alone are $89 trillion.

Let’s take a midway total liability estimate of $150 trillion. If we divide by the 90 million children in this country who are under the age of 18 (and who did not vote for the politicians who made the spending promises), it comes to more than $1.5 million per child over their lifetimes — above and beyond what they are currently scheduled to pay in taxes.

Over a 50-year working lifetime, that’s $30,000 a year. Lucky for them, financial markets will put some of that burden on those of us who are currently working adults. But if they absorb half of the burden, that would be an average of $15,000 a year in extra taxes per child or grandchild.

Of course, any attempt to actually collect that much extra revenue from American workers or their employers would create massive, long-term structural unemployment and destroy economic growth by causing even more capital and jobs to move overseas.

Unfortunately, Congress and the president are doing nothing to defuse America’s gigantic bankruptcy bomb; instead, they are shortening the fuse.

These past few months were a critical time for conservative members of Congress to stand firm behind their promises to get runaway government spending under control. Congress considered two of the biggest spending bills of the year, the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill ­conference report.

The first disappointing vote was on the budget resolution in October. Crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, the deal boosted discretionary spending to a whopping $1 trillion a year for each of the next two years. Worse, the plan shattered previously agreed-upon spending caps for fiscal year 2014 by $45 billion — an alarming increase and a broken promise.

The deal also further nickel-and-dimed American families by hiking airline ticket taxes and making changes to military pensions.

Most alarming is the fact that the Ryan-Murray deal traded higher spending now in exchange for the promise of $28 billion in cuts in 2022 and 2023. American taxpayers deserve spending cuts now, not promises to cut spending in the future.

The second vote was the farm bill conference report in February. This legislation authorized $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. Passed under the false guise of helping small farmers, the bill expanded a number of corporate welfare programs such as crop insurance, massive taxpayer subsidies and revenue guarantees for politically connected farmers.

It also neglected to make any meaningful reforms to ballooning food-stamp spending, which has more than doubled since President Obama took office and is rife with abuse.

Americans for Prosperity urged legislators to vote against both bills, and we will include these votes in our next congressional scorecard.

We are grateful to report that a number of Arizona’s legislators stood up for American taxpayers and voted against both of these bloated bills. House members who voted the right way included Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon and David Schweikert.

On the Senate side, Jeff Flake also voted correctly. AFP applauds these members for standing up against more government handouts and higher spending.

A number of Democratic legislators voted against the bills, but for much different reasons. Some Democrats overwhelmingly felt that the budget resolution and the farm bill conference report didn’t spend enough.

Worse, a disappointing number of Republican legislators cast a “yes” vote for both the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill conference report, signaling their support of higher federal spending. Remember: This is the party that claims to support controlling spending and limiting the size of government.

Meanwhile, the fuse continues to burn on America’s bankruptcy bomb.

Americans for Prosperity is committed to defusing that bomb and securing a bright fiscal future for our children and grandchildren.

Tom Jenney is director of Americans for Prosperity’s Arizona chapter. Christine Harbin Hanson is federal issues campaign manager for Americans for Prosperity. More information: www.americansforprosperity.org.

LegisTraitors Drunk with Power Demand Increase in Deficit Spending

LegisTraitors(picture from Arizona Capitol Times)

Drunk with power, or simply dazed from visions of hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars dancing in their heads, Jeremy Duda from the Arizona Capitol Times, captures Heather Carter, Ethan Orr, Kate Brophy McGee, Doug Coleman, Rob Robson, and Jeff Dial leaving the House before the gavel to make their case to spend-increase-expand with money we lowly taxpayers have not even made yet.

Geez Louise Republicans! The budget you passed in the Senate only has a $400 million structural deficit. That is just not enough!  The Coalition of Corruption including these six and all the Democrats (again) want bigger government – more agencies – increased spending – and to expand on the expansion of last session.  If we are going to borrow money to pass a democrat budget then let’s go all the way!

No money into the rainy day fund. No money to buy back our buildings. No money to decrease our debt. Actually they are demanding that money is spent that does not exist.  In their power-induced-drunken-state the LegisTraitors are blind to the plight of Arizona taxpayers preferring to prioritize the interests of the crony capitalists who bankroll their campaign committees.

The amendments and increased spending requested by the Coalition of Corruption has been scored by the non-partisan JBLC to give Arizona a $1 Billion deficit by 2017. This is “recurring spending” meaning the spending will occur every single year.  

So another day and no budget for Arizona.  The taxpayers, small businessmen, and Principled Conservatives will have to wait and see who is offering what to whom before we will know what is being shoved down our throats this year.  Will there be a fundraiser with a gift-in-kind equal to the amount it takes to educate one child for half a year in a Charter School?

Will we see a new traitor or will the traitors have a traitor? And how much does a LegisTraitor vote go for?

The vote is tied at 30-30. It will be an interesting day.

Stay tuned.

Christine Bauserman
Chair, Alliance of Principled Conservatives

Americans for Prosperity – Arizona: Legislative Action for Week of February 3

Americans for Prosperity-Arizona

The week of February 3, three of AFP-Arizona’s key bills will be in committee. Please use the information and links below to take action TODAY.

HB 2260 — The Small Business Bill of Rights

HB 2260, sponsored by Rep. Tom Forese, will be heard by the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, February 5 at 10:00 am. It would create a list of protections for all business owners and require regulatory enforcement agencies to publicize them.  (Thanks to NFIB-Arizona for pushing for this important bill!)  We need to protect Arizona job creators from government regulatory assault, so please take the following two actions today:

1) Use THIS LINK to call or email the members of the House Commerce Committee,
and ask them to support HB 2260, the Small Business Bill of Rights.

2) Use THIS LINK to email the legislators in your district, and ask them to support HB 2260, the Small Business Bill of Rights, when it comes to a floor vote.

HB 2508 — Criminal Background Checks for ObamaCare Navigators

HB 2508, sponsored by Rep. Phil Lovas, will be heard by the House Insurance and Retirement Committee on Tuesday, February 4 at 2:00 pm. It would regulate ObamaCare insurance exchange Navigators, by requiring them to undergo criminal background checks and by instituting other privacy protections. These Navigators will have access to very sensitive personal health and financial information of citizens — and many citizens are essentially being forced by ObamaCare to go into the exchanges. Please take the following two actions today:

1) Use THIS LINK to call or email the members of the House Insurance and Retirement Committee, and ask them to support HB 2508 to protect citizens’ personal health and financial information from fraudsters acting as Navigators.

2) Use THIS LINK to email the legislators in your district, and ask them to support HB 2508 when it comes to a floor vote.

HCR 2005 — The “Terminal Patients Compassionate Care Act”

HCR 2005, sponsored by Rep. Phil Lovas, will be heard by the House Reform and Human Services Committee on Thursday, February 6 at 9:00 am. The bill would put a “Terminal Patients Compassionate Care Act” on the 2014 election ballot. If approved by the voters, the reform would allow drug manufacturers to provide investigational drugs, products, or devices to terminally ill patients. No individual should be denied the right to save their own life — and, with this legislation, Arizona would recognize that dying patients have a “Right to Try” treatments that have been deemed safe by the FDA but which have not been granted full FDA approval.  (Thanks to our friends at the Goldwater Institute for coming up with this great idea!)  Please take the following two actions today to support this important health care freedom reform:

1) Use THIS LINK to call or email the members of the House Reform and Human Services Committee, and ask them to support HCR 2005 to protect the rights of terminally ill patients.

2) Use THIS LINK to email the legislators in your district, and ask them to support HCR 2005 when it comes to a floor vote.

And here are even more ways to take action:

1) Register in support of the bills. If you do not already have an account with the ALIS system, you will need to come down to the Capitol to set up an account at one of the several kiosks (after you sign up, you will be able to voice your opinion on bills from the comfort of your home). For help getting set up with an ALIS account, contact Bill Fathauer at bfathauer@afphq.org. A member of our legislative team will also be there in advance of the hearing to help anyone who needs to sign in.

2) Attend the committee hearings and testify in support of the bills. If you or someone you know has been personally affected by an issue being raised in committee, you can attend the hearing in person and tell your story. Requesting to speak also requires setting up an ALIS account in person if you do not already have one (see #1 above), but after that it is very easy to request to speak at any time from your home computer or a mobile device.

3) Forward this email to family members. After you’re done lobbying your legislators yourselves, please forward this email onto your friends and family — or anyone else you know — and show them how they can be a part of the process. Every new voice helps!

Thank you for all you do to help win free-market victories for the people of Arizona. I hope you’ll continue to stand with us going forward!

The GOP’s Anti-Bailout ObamaCare Legislation Could Backfire

By Grace-Marie Turner

Conservatives who are angry with health insurance companies over ObamaCare are getting behind legislation to stop the “bailout” of the industry, but they may regret the consequences.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., is the latest to introduce legislation, called the “No Bailouts for Insurance Industry Act of 2014,” that would repeal two sections of the ACA, Section 1341 – the “reinsurance” fund – and Section 1342 – the “risk corridor” provision. The reinsurance and risk corridor provisions were designed to help cover losses if companies found that those who had selected their plans in the health insurance exchanges were significantly more expensive to cover than predicted.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is sponsoring similar anti-bailout legislation and wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last year explaining that his bill “would eliminate the risk corridor provision, ensuring that no taxpayer-funded bailout of the health insurance industry will ever occur under ObamaCare. If this disaster of a law cannot survive without a bailout rescue valve, it is yet another reason why it should be repealed.”

A series of worst-case scenarios is unfolding that could trigger the bailout, starting with the incredible difficulty of enrolling in exchange coverage through the botched website and significantly more older – and presumably sicker – people signing up.  The administration has been pleading with young, healthy people to enroll so they can pay more than their share for insurance to offset the more expensive older people signing up.  But they’re not buying it.

Further, the president keeps changing the law.  The companies priced their policies under one set of rules, and people now are buying policies – or not – under a very different set of rules. The president has allowed non-grandfathered plans to be extended, for example, and he has given a waiver from the individual mandate to people whose health insurance policies were cancelled last year because they didn’t comply with ObamaCare’s mandates. These and other moves draw more healthy people out of the exchange pools.

The American Academy of Actuaries has warned that such changes could destabilize the new markets and result in higher premiums in 2015.  This would trigger the risk-corridor and reinsurance provisions of the ACA, which many conservative leaders say are “bailouts” for the industry. They are supporting the Rubio and Coffman bills to protect taxpayers by repealing one or both provisions.

But every action or change can have a series of unintended reactions in this Rube Goldberg contraption of a law.  And it is important to be aware of these risks of making changes.

It is likely that insurance companies would have to increase premiums higher than otherwise if the reinsurance and risk corridor provisions were altered, as the Actuaries warned.  Republicans could be blamed for causing premiums to be even higher than they will be next year.

Also, taxpayers are on the hook either way. If premiums go up, taxpayer subsidies for policies purchased through the exchange will automatically increase as well.

Some conservatives say that a vote by the House would be safe because the legislation never would be taken up by the Senate or signed by the president.  But I’m not so sure.  The Democrats and especially the president would like nothing more than to have someone else to blame for at least some of the failures of Obamacare.  If Republicans initiate this legislation, then the White House could blame them for the higher health insurance premiums that would result.

Attacking the private health insurance companies was exactly the tactic that the Democrats used to get ObamaCare passed in the first place.  And liberals are urging the White House to revive the strategy.

An article late last year in Politico underscored this: “Democratic allies…are publicly and privately urging the White House to ramp up its attacks on insurers, arguing that the tactic shored up support as they struggled to push the bill through Congress. A group of Democratic strategists pressed senior administration officials during a conference call last week.  They’d like a repeat of 2009-10, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called insurers ‘the villains,’ Obama blasted their willingness to ‘bend the truth or break it,’ and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius accused them of banking excessive profits.”

And Democratic pollsters are saying the same thing: “When Obamacare got into trouble, we juxtaposed our message against the insurance companies, which are very unpopular,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has advised her 2014 clients, including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, to go after insurers. “We should be messaging against the insurance companies this time as well. This is not good faith. If there is a snowstorm, the insurance companies are blaming it on Obamacare.”

If we attack the insurance companies, we are playing from the liberal playbook.  We should focus on the bigger battles, like delay and ultimately repeal of the individual mandate.

While the anger over ObamaCare and its massive failures is real and legitimate, I think conservatives need to be careful with this “anti-bailout” bandwagon.  It really does play into the hands of critics of private health insurance companies who are still distraught they didn’t get a government “public option” when the law was passed.

Where else would conservatives propose that people go for health insurance?  Liberals see the government as the answer, of course. Conservatives don’t, but our free-market policy alternatives do depend upon people having choices from a range of private health insurance and health coverage options.

Further, the “anti-bailout” initiative takes time, energy, and focus away from the much more dangerous provisions of ObamaCare, especially the individual mandate, the employer mandate, new and higher taxes, and the next wave of people losing their insurance because it doesn’t comply with the law’s long list of mandates and rules.

Do we really want to invest effort in this anti-bailout bill instead of focusing on the structural damage core provisions of ObamaCare are doing to our health sector and economy?

Posted on Forbes January 15, 2014

Camp Verde Mayor Endorses Andy Tobin

Andy Tobin

Mayor of Camp Verde Endorses Andy Tobin
Tobin Begins 2014 with Continued Support from Rural Arizona

Starting 2014 with 19 endorsements from elected officials, associations and GOP clubs in AZ-CD01, Andy Tobin’s Congressional Campaign continues its momentum and energy into 2014. Camp Verde Mayor Charlie German is the latest rural Arizona Mayor to endorse Andy’s campaign to replace Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.

“As the Mayor of a small town in Yavapai County, I understand what it means to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps during tough economic times,” said Camp Verde Mayor Charlie German. “Speaker Tobin is a strong advocate for rural communities. From public safety officials and schools to our roads and water needs, Andy understands that people and families are affected when Washington doesn’t function. I am endorsing Speaker Tobin for United States Congress because I know that he will be a strong advocate for rural Arizona in Washington. I encourage everyone to support Andy’s effort to return strong, logical, and conservative leadership back to Arizona’s 1st congressional district.”

photo-7_edited-1

“I am endorsing Speaker Tobin for United States Congress because I know that he will be a strong advocate for rural Arizona in Washington…”

“Camp Verde is a great example of what happens when a town hit hard by the financial downturn rolls up their sleeves, goes to work and gets things done for their community despite a dysfunctional federal government and overbearing regulations,” said Tobin. “Mayor German has lived in the Verde Valley since the 1950’s and has worked to improve his community during strong economic times and recession alike. I look forward to regularly seeking his counsel during my congressional campaign. I sincerely thank Mayor German for his support.”

ABOUT ANDY TOBIN:

Andy Tobin and his wife of 27 years, Jennifer, are the proud parents of five children- three daughters and two sons. Tobin is a small business owner who has devoted his life to positively affecting his community through job creation, public service and advocating for conservative principles. Tobin’s focus has been on creating sustainable jobs, helping small businesses succeed, building a stronger middle class and putting Arizona back on track. While serving as Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Tobin drastically cut government by 25 percent, balanced Arizona’s budget and presided over the largest tax cuts in Arizona’s history, saving Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars.

Tobin has fought for your family’s freedoms, your prosperity and your community for the past six years while serving in the Arizona Legislature. He continues to lead the fight to stop the implementation of the disastrous ObamaCare. As your Representative in Congress, Andy Tobin will represent your voice, and lead the charge in fighting for you against the wasteful spending, government intrusion, and out-of-touch insiders that are taking away your freedoms.

Join Andy Tobin today!

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For more information, please contact Tobin for Congress Campaign Manager Craig Handzlik atpress@andytobin.com or 928-275-1417

Wendy Rogers: Kyrsten Sinema Seeks To Impose Inflexible Big Government Healthcare On All

Yesterday, Congressman Kyrsten Sinema wrote, “The Attorney General’s office should conduct a full review of  . . . unsatisfactory work [on ObamaCare]. The federal government has a duty to take swift action to fix this continuing problem.”   Sinema masks her intentions by calling for government to ‘fix this continuing problem’.

Government IS the problem.

Government doesn’t create new goods or services, nor does it improve national productivity.  In fact, for the bureaucrat to advance her career, she needs to control more taxpayer dollars and/or supervise more people.

Rather than favor a healthcare system that maintains the maximum flexibility and delivers the most benefits to the majority of hardworking taxpayers, Sinema seeks to impose a single and inflexible healthcare system on us all.

It’s killing our economy.

Can Mr. Taxpayer buy a home when his family healthcare might skyrocket or be cancelled altogether?

Despite small business owners creating 7 of 10 jobs, we are held hostage by ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate which requires 59-y/o patients to be covered for child bearing, yet not be eligible for Medicare.

Dot-gov does not equal competition; Dot-com does.  Get Dot-gov out of the Dot-com business.

Wendy Rogers is a Republican candidate for Congress in Arizona’s 9th congressional district. Visit her website at WendyRogers.org.

Governor Jan Brewer: Arizona to Keep Grand Canyon Open Amid Continued Federal Inaction

Governor authorizes state funding for additional 9 days           

            PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today announced the State of Arizona will continue funding Grand Canyon National Park in light of the continued federal government shutdown.

“Grand Canyon’s importance to Arizona’s tourism industry and overall economy cannot be ignored,” said Governor Brewer. “While I am pleased the state is able to ensure the Canyon remains open during this critical season, it is well past time for the federal government to end this shutdown and pay its bills. We are doing our job. It’s time the President and Congress do theirs.”

On Friday, the governor negotiated an agreement to reopen Grand Canyon for up to at least seven days using state and local monies. Under the terms of the agreement, the State of Arizona is paying $93,000 per day to the National Park Service to fully fund park operations. Governor Brewer today authorized the use of state dollars from the Arizona Office of Tourism to continue funding the Canyon for up to an additional nine days, through October 27, if the federal budget stalemate in Washington persists. If the shutdown ends prior to then, Arizona will be refunded for any unspent days.

Visitors to Arizona’s national parks have spent an average of $2.5 million a day during October in recent years – $1.2 million per day at Grand Canyon National Park alone.

The State of Arizona will seek support from members of its congressional delegation to authorize federal reimbursement of any state dollars expended to fund park operations during the shutdown.

Dinner at Monti’s? It may require reservations now thanks to Obamacare

Reservations at Tempe’s dining landmark Monti’s?

That’s right, because it may be a little harder now.

Monti’s, the famed Tempe restaurant, is now cutting hours for employees because of ObamaCare.

Kyrsten Sinema ObamacareThe same law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craftcampaigned for, and voted to keep is hurting workers in her own district.

But this isn’t the first time that the law’s regulations have hit home for Sinema. Just a few weeks ago, ObamaCare caused her coworkers at ASU to see their hours cut.

When she supports laws that actively hurt those in the 9th district, Kyrsten Sinema proves that she’s just too big a risk for Arizona families.

According to Matt Gorman, spokesman for the NRCC, “The disastrous law that Kyrsten Sinema helped craft and campaign for is hurting workers right in her district. How can workers and families trust her to dismantle ObamaCare when she was its biggest cheerleader in the first place?”

Just another example of the unintended consequences of a devastatingly bad public policy.

 

LIBRE: Minimum Wage Workers Protest for More Pay

Growing the Economy is the Best Way to Raise Wages

(Washington, D.C.) – Fast food workers in many parts of the country today intend to walk out on their jobs in protest of low wages. Press reports indicate these workers support a doubling of the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. This walkout – which is financed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – is the most recent in a series of strikes in major U.S. cities. Supporters of the minimum wage increase for fast food workers say a higher salary is more important now because while fast food jobs used to be primarily taken by teens, many workers are now older and supporting families. Small business advocates argue that raising the minimum wage has the effect of forcing employers to increase their use of technology to replace personnel, reduce employee hours worked, or cut costs in other ways.

Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative released the following statement:

“While the struggle of these workers to make ends meet is legitimate, their complaints are aimed at the wrong target. Minimum wage increases come at a cost to job creators who will inevitably pass the economic burden on to clients and potential employees. Empirical research shows that such increases tend to reduce employment of the very ones requesting higher wages. The best way to get employers to raise wages is to create more jobs, grow the economy, put more money in the pockets of consumers and decrease regulations like the Affordable Care Act that are causing restaurants to lay off workers and cut hours.

More than four years into what the White House calls ‘a recovery’, family incomes have fallen, small businesses are hurting, and a shift in the job market has teens and older Americans competing for the same entry-level, low wage jobs. Fast food workers and others should demand a new approach from Washington – one that doesn’t rely on more borrowing, more taxes, and more regulation. Instead, we need to get government out of the way of entrepreneurs who know how to grow businesses and create economic opportunity.”

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The LIBRE Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit, national grassroots organization dedicated to informing the U.S. Hispanic community about the benefits of a constitutionally limited government, property rights, rule of law, sound money supply and free enterprise through a variety of community events, research and policy initiatives. Latinos have been disproportionately hurt by the economic downturn suffering from higher levels of unemployment and poverty. Our aim is to equip the Hispanic community with the tools they need to be prosperous. Connect with us on Facebook at The LIBRE Initiative and @LIBREInitiative on Twitter. Visit: www.thelibreinitiative.com.

A Natural (Gas) Recovery

Reposted from Western Free Press

By Greg Conterio

The economy is bad.  Let’s be honest—despite the spin, with the media trying to convince us all that less than 2% annual GDP growth is a good-thing, and 7% unemployment represents “light at the end of the tunnel,” the economy is still bad.  I hear from my clients across a variety of industries, and they agree—it’s bleak.  Everyone is hurting.  The talk is whether this really is the “new normal.”  For the first time in my adult life, I hear people talking of an actual recovery in terms of “if” not “when.”

natural_gasWell, I’m not ready to give up so easily.  This may be the longest, worst, most depressed economic period since the 1930’s (…which was the last time we had a Progressive in office, but I digress…) but I don’t think this is the new normal. Not by a long-shot.

Suppose I were to tell you we might be sitting on the cusp of an economic surge of unprecedented proportion.  A surge modestly projected to increase annual GDP by half a trillion dollars or more in the next seven years.  Do you think that might create a few jobs?  Bump-up our standard of living a little bit?  Perhaps even pay-down some of our astronomical national debt, provided we can get those clowns in Washington to work within a rational spending allowance?  Of course, much is dependent upon those same clowns, and our ability to convince them who they really work for, but I’ll get back to that.

McKinsey & Company released a report this month titled Game Changers: Five opportunities for U.S. Growth and renewal.  You can download the complete report; it is well worth reading if you are interested in the potential future of our economy.

While other writers have ably dealt with the complete McKinsey report, such as the Wall Street JournalBusiness Insider, and Counsel on Foreign Relations, I would like to focus on the one sector from the report with the most potential impact, the one that I also see as something of a linchpin to unlocking the other sectors—that of course being the energy sector, with special focus on the emerging shale oil and natural gas opportunities.

Beginning in about 2005-2007, U.S. shale gas production began to climb dramatically as a result of technical advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  Since 2007, annual gas production has grown by 50% per year, and with large new fields discovered recently in the Bakken, Marcellus, Utica and Morrison formations, the U.S. has more than 317 trillion (with a “T”) cubic feet of proved natural gas reserves.

While there have been equally encouraging discoveries in oil reserves, shale gas is particularly exciting and has huge economic potential to affect a number of different sectors.

Energy independence

The boom in natural gas production has forced prices down domestically, from $13/MMBtu (one million Btu, or British Thermal Units) to about $4/MMBtu, or about a 60% decrease.  This is already creating a drive to convert from oil to natural gas for industrial and residential andcommercial transportation energy needs.  Moving from oil to natural gas cannot happen overnight, and with the current administration’s hostility to both oil and coal, prices and domestic development of those resources can be expected to remain deliberately inflated for the foreseeable future.  But as natural gas development gains momentum, the prospect of exporting LNG or liquid natural gas creates the possibility of neutralizing the cost of continued oil imports.

Cross-sector economic growth

Becoming an exporter of LNG means renovating part of our transport industry, specifically converting under-utilized oil import terminals into export terminals for LNG.  According to the McKinsey report, the U.S. Department of Energy has already approved two such conversions, and is reviewing applications for 20 more.  This of course represents a “stimulus” and job creation for several years’ worth of construction, engineering, and infrastructure projects, and represents just one of the ancillary effects of the boom in natural gas.  Dramatically increased energy costs over the past several years have been a significant contributor to rising costs of goods and services across the board, whether it be transportation, electricity, heating, or nearly anything you care to name.  The cost and relative abundance of energy is one of the keys to unlocking economic growth in all sectors, which is why McKinsey’s report shows the potential impact of energy, and particularly shale gas, as far outstripping the other game-changing sectors.  It is the one sector that impacts ALL others.  Put another way, it is the one game-changing sector that can significantly hamstring all the others if it were taken out of the picture.

A cynic may point out that the only reason natural gas is booming right now it that the current administration didn’t anticipate the industry’s sudden rise, and thus did not react quickly enough to dampen it with regulation the way it has done with coal and oil.  I would argue however that trying to do so now would cause such economic harm, as well as cost so many jobs, that even this administration could not withstand the resulting outcry.  The genie is already out of the bottle, so to speak.  But as the McKinsey report points out, it remains keenly in the best interest of the gas industry to continue to develop safe, clean, and responsible methods of recovery.  Certain political cohorts—and we all know who they are!—have already demonstrated their willingness to go to completely dishonest lengths to vilify techniques like hydraulic fracturing, so it’s easy to imagine what they would do if they didn’t have to make things up.  Still, without interference from the government, or hysterical propaganda from the environmental movement, natural gas is a good reason to believe in a brighter economic future.

Dr. Art Laffer: E-Fairness Is A Pro-Growth Solution


Marketplace Press Release-1Study projects 1.5 million jobs in the next 10 years; Over 39,000 in Arizona

For Immediate Release

July 18, 2013

Contact: Paul Layeux

paul@colemandahm.com

Phoenix, AZ – Small business owners in Arizona welcomed a study conducted by economist Art Laffer and Donna Arduin that shows closing the online sales tax loophole has a myriad of benefits, including the potential to lower overall tax rates and jumpstart economic growth.  Laffer’s study suggests that passing e-fairness legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act would create a tax system with fewer loopholes, a larger base, and lower rates for all taxpayers, which could lead to an increase in GDP of $563.2 billion and over 1.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

“As a small business owner, I think a level playing field is essential, but Dr. Laffer’s study makes it crystal clear that this is something that will create jobs in Arizona” said Sole Sports Running owner Lance Muzslay in Tempe.  “It’s hard to argue with the possibility of adding over 13% to Arizona’s GDP while also helping Main Street businesses.”

The Marketplace Fairness Act received a bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate on May 6, 2013, and similar legislation is already pending in the House of Representatives with over 60 bipartisan cosponsors.

Dr. Laffer’s findings support the efforts of a growing coalition of small business owners, governors and free market conservatives across the country who are urging the U.S. House of Representatives to act and to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act.

“The Laffer study shows we have a chance to not only correct the inequity of the current system, but also to boost economic growth by cutting taxes across the board” said Jim Mapstead of Accurate Signs & Engraving of Phoenix.

Click here to download a copy of the report.

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Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen -
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               ”When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.

Aaron Borders: Republicans and the Blue Collar Worker

I want to open this article with a simple, yet profound, statement from President Reagan “You can’t be for big Government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

When I talk to Blue Collar workers I have found many of them do not spent much time following politics. They rarely know how government works from the federal level down to local government, yet they have a common thread as they often tell me, “Republicans ONLY care about the Rich.” It always breaks my heart to hear this because I know that it is the furthest thing from the truth; yet, a lot of the Blue Collar workers I meet truly believe this from the bottom of their hearts.

I could go back and explain how we got to this point, and I used to try. However, I find that I usually lose them as I dig into American political history. Lets face it, unless you’re really plugged into politics, a 10 minute dissertation is way too painful to the average “non-political” Joe.

This is where our challenge lies. How do we educate, but not lecture? How do we be informative, but not come across as combative, arrogant and preachy? How I have started talking about Republican economics is simply to tell of my Blue Collar struggles and their paycheck.

Long ago in Ohio I worked with my cousins and friends in the construction field and I found that it was a trade that would suit me. Soon after, I started to work for a masonry company and went to masonry school to be a brick, block and stone mason. A few years later I started working for a General Contracting company, and started to make the best money of my young life. One afternoon the boss asked me to work a Saturday to help keep a project on track and enticed me by saying, “I will pay you time and a half!” I jumped on the opportunity.

A week or so later I went to grab get my check so I could take my young wife out to dinner to make up for the prior Saturday. When I opened my check, it was smaller then my normal checks. I thought there must be some mistake and went to speak with the HR department. Betty-Joe from HR sat me down and listened to my bewilderment for a few minutes before finally cutting me off. She calmly explained it to me, “Aaron, I know this is hard to understand, but you made too much money this week. It pushed you into a higher tax bracket, and so you have to pay a higher percentage in taxes then you normally do, making your check smaller.”

I had taken economics in school and thought I understood government taxes, but that day solidified my realization that I deserved the money I worked for, not the government. I have always believed that taxes were the ultimate win-fall for the government, but now I knew how unfair the system was. I had worked hard, negotiated my wages, put in extra time, yet now that I had worked one day more the government needed more of my money. I remember thinking, that was MY money, MY time and I earned it; not the Government.

From then on whenever my foreman asked me to work on Saturday, I always said that I had prior plans, and couldn’t. This in turn, made the projects we were building take longer, stalling the projects opening and thus slowing the growth of the economy in our small town.

There was no financial gain for me to work harder, so why would I; especially since the additional work actually accounted for a loss to my paycheck. If I would have gotten the paycheck with the extra money instead of extra taxes; my wife and I would have supported a local restaurant, tipped the waiter/waitress a little bit more, and probably spent a little more money at the store. All of that was taken out of the local economy, because I refused to work harder to earn less.

As I moved through my life and I became a business owner. I found this reasoning also applied to business. With a normal business plan, a business strives to reaches different levels of success in order to reinvest into its self. Whither it is more efficient tools, a larger facility, or more employees; a business is reaching for higher benchmarks. During this struggle to grow, they always have to account for the constant draining of funds being pulled away from the business via the government and taxes. This constant draining is a roadblock that every determined job creator has to jump over to be successful.

Democrats try to put blinders on low-income employee to say, “the other guys can afford to pay a little higher taxes.” However, many times the ‘other guy’ in this statement is their employer or a corporation that with the ability to keep a bit more of THEIR profit could hire more employees. Just like when I couldn’t spend MY money on MY family with MY earnings, a company getting a higher tax bills can not spend or invest their money in their company, through pay raises (to the Blue Collar Workers), new equipment, or new employees.

These financial hurdles and roadblocks hurt Blue Collared Workers yet, the Democrats consistently want to raise taxes on income and businesses that directly impact Blue Collar Workers. The Democrat Party says it’s a huge supporter of the “little guy” and the “Blue Collar Worker” but then their economic plan completely rejects this point. Anyone who wants people and businesses to pay more, because of their hard they work cannot say they want everyone to succeed. This makes the Democrat platform either completely disingenuous or completely inept to basic capitalistic principles.

When I tell this story to Blue Collar workers, I watch as they put it into perspective and see the basic logic and reasoning. Many Democrat candidates demonize corporations, big business and “the Rich.” In all actuality they are really demonizing every worker who wants to work hard to succeed for their family. Every worker should be able to work hard to support their family and every corporation needs to work hard to reinvest into itself. This is how Republicans view the economic development with tax cuts in order to spur economic growth.

President Ronald Reagan implemented this strategy when he cut taxes across the board and created a boom in the economy in the 1980’s. He so eloquently said, “A rising tide floats all boats.” When I try to start with this quote, I am always accused of defending the “rich guy.” But when I start the story from the beginning, I find that this quote is a great closer because by then nearly all my Blue Collar friends have realized that Republicans are actually the party for the hard working Blue Collar workers, not the Democrats.

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About the Author: Aaron Borders is a Financial Specialist and business owner in Arizona. Aaron was a Journeyman Mason and partner in a General Contracting and Construction business prior to the 2008 market crash. He got the proper education in order to help families and businesses with their Risk Management and Financial needs. He lives in Litchfield Park with his wife Shelly and three little boys, with a baby girl due in Sept. Aaron Borders is also a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. For more information on Aaron, please visit his website at www.AaronBorders4AZ.com.

The Arizona Senate & Medicaid Expansion: A Lesson in Making a Bad Bill Worse

By Christina Corieri

Last week, the Arizona Senate passed Medicaid expansion. Sadly, the proponents were not satisfied with merely passing a program expansion we can’t afford; they actively worked together to kill a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented extra expense and abuse.

One amendment would have activated the circuit breaker if the federal government ever dropped its share of the cost below the promised 90 percent, but every senate Democrat and five Republicans voted the amendment down, signaling that the Feds should feel free to increase Arizona’s costs.

Another amendment would have required an independent audit to ensure hospitals don’t pass the provider tax on to patients. Expansion proponents voted the amendment down, making it easier for hospitals to illegally pass the cost along without fear of being caught.

An amendment was offered to require an annual report on the quality of care provided by AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program. Although taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being put to good use, these same senators voted the amendment down. Without this transparency, proponents can continue to assert how well the program works without risking evidence to the contrary.

This coalition also voted down amendments designed to curtail non-emergency use of emergency rooms and ambulances, which result in high, unnecessary costs to the state. Likewise, they voted down amendments to require health professionals and pharmacists to check the prescription monitoring database before authorizing or filling a member’s prescription for a controlled substance such as Oxycodone, Percocet, or Vicodin. These amendments would have saved taxpayers from paying for and enabling addictions to these medications.

While the Medicaid expansion is a costly and misguided policy, these amendments were not poison pills but sensible ways to mitigate some of the costs and prevent abuse. The proponents, however, made a bad bill much worse by rejecting these amendments. Thankfully, the Senate does not have the last word. While we hope the House declines the Medicaid expansion, at a minimum, we hope it supports some common sense amendments that will help protect taxpayers.

Christina Corieri is a health care policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.

 

Phoenix Business Owner Says Mayor Needs To Keep Campaign Promise Regarding Food Tax

(Phoenix, AZ) It seems there were a lot of questions directed at Mayor Stanton at a community meeting held at the Mayo Clinic on April 23rd. But it wasn’t zoning laws or the need to fix our streets that was on most people’s minds, it was the food tax. In fact some of the residents that attended wanted to know why Mayor Stanton isn’t keeping his campaign promise that he made to repeal it like he did during his campaign. While Mayor Stanton continued to tell residents that the tax is needed to keep fire and police services operating, Phoenix business owner and city resident Nohl Rosen reminded him that he needs to keep his promise to the people.

“As a business owner when I make a promise to a customer, I honor it as that is what your supposed to do because it’s good service. I simply reminded the Mayor that he made a promise to the citizens of Phoenix and that he needs to keep it,” Rosen said.

However, during the meeting which was also attended by City Council members Jim Waring and Bill Gates, it was revealed that the food tax was used to give pay raises to city employees and also fund golf courses.

“When the food tax was put into affect 3 years ago, the citizens were told that it was to keep fire and police services going. Now we find out that the money wasn’t used for its intended purpose. Still, Mayor Stanton during his campaign said he would repeal the food tax and hasn’t done it. That would be the honorable thing to do and also sets things right. Just what is the Mayor waiting for?” Rosen further asked.

Rosen says he’s considering doing more of his shopping in Scottsdale and other neighboring cities to fulfill regular household needs until the food tax is repealed and encouraging others to do the same.

Why Does APS Want Energy Consumers to Subsidize Their Profits?

We all know that it’s mainly Republicans who read Sonoran Alliance. Last year, Arizona voters rewarded Republicans with a sweep on all of the open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Now all five members of the ACC are Republicans. All commissioners are constitutionally obligated to oversee the utility companies which of course, include APS. Republicans commissioners, big utility corporations, you’d think Arizona consumers would be getting the biggest bang for the buck right?

But anyone who reads this blog has probably noticed a little back and forth over the past few weeks regarding energy issues here in Arizona and how one monopoly utility is attempting to squash emerging competition from flourishing rooftop solar entrepreneurs and their consumers.

But APS’ efforts are actually far more disturbing. If you’ve made the choice to install rooftop solar panels, APS is essentially trying to confiscate the power that you generate and provide back to the grid.

How is this possible?

When you install your own solar power plant on your roof, any power that you don’t instantly consume yourself flows onto the grid and over to your neighbor’s home, therefore reducing the overall demand on utilities like APS that distribute power to other homes and businesses. Seems fair, makes sense and benefits everyone right? Energy production and distribution should be a free-market transaction. Consumers have to buy power from utilities. Utilities should have to buy power from consumers. And that’s exactly why it’s law in 43 states.

But, according to what APS has told Wall Street in their investor reports, there’s a radically different story than what’s being told to the public and Arizona Corporation Commission here in Arizona. APS views the increasing use of consumer-based solar as an inhibitor to their further growth and profit and even as a mortal threat to their profits. It’s very much the same way the public education establishment views charter schools and school choice.

That’s why APS wants our Republican-controlled Arizona Corporation Commission to lower the price of what APS has to pay for power consumers generate and provide to the grid – so they can sell it to others for a higher profit.

In other words, APS wants residential solar consumer-providers to subsidize the APS monopoly. Using government to punish innovation, ingenuity and self-sustainability among individuals who pursue energy choice is not a Republican principle. As Barry Goldwater, Jr. recently said this type of practice is not the American or Republican way.

This isn’t  the first time APS has tried to play this game. Take for example, a mailer insert recently sent out to APS customers notifying them that as of March, 2013, they would see a rate increase because more ratepayers are implementing more energy efficient measures and it’s eating into APS’ revenues. That was not a typo. If you choose to recycle your refrigerator or compact fluorescent light bulbs, you will indeed pay more! More energy efficiency and choice of course, obviously means lower profits for them. So APS passes along these fees and rate increases to offset consumers who are becoming more efficient.

APS Ratepayer Notice

APS Notice

As I wrote about earlier, Republican policymakers need to move away from supporting this type of corporate cronyism. When it comes to promoting a culture of competition, we should take a lesson from American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks who recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Corporate cronyism should be decried as every bit as noxious as statism, because it unfairly rewards the powerful and well-connected at the expense of ordinary citizens. Entrepreneurship should not to be extolled as a path to accumulating wealth but as a celebration of everyday men and women who want to build their own lives, whether they start a business and make a lot of money or not.

Many elected Republican officials are embracing changes of competition and innovation taking place in the energy marketplace as they have in other sectors of the economy including education and health care. When we do, the vast beneficiaries are parents of school children, patients, small business and energy consumers.

Like many Republicans realizing the need to refocus back to a free-market entrepreneurial-supportive marketplace, more than ever, we need to extend and reinforce these same principles within the burgeoning small energy provider arena.

To further support my argument, watch as American Enterprise Institute’s Tim Carney exhorts us to pursue a “Culture of Competition” because pursuing profit through competition has the broad effect of benefiting the consumer.

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Ten Reasons to Decline Medicaid Expansion in Arizona

By Christina Corieri, Heath Care Policy Analyst, Goldwater Institute

1. Expanding Medicaid will cost Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars.

For the first three years, the federal government has promised to cover 100% of the medical costs for the newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, and yet the cost to Arizona’s General Fund for the first year alone would be $154 million. The costs to the state are a result of the fact that the federal reimbursement rate of 100% applies only to the direct medical expenses of the newly eligible enrollees, not the additional administrative costs. Additionally, the 100% reimbursement rate does not apply to those new enrollees who were previously eligible but either did not know it or otherwise failed to enroll.

The true costs to Arizona have been hidden by projections that reflect only the first three years of the expansion, not the later years when the state’s share increases. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the total cost to Arizona for 2014-2019 could be as high as $739 million depending on how many newly eligible people enroll.

2. A supermajority vote is required to authorize new taxes.

In 1992, Arizona voters passed Proposition 108, which requires approval of 2/3 of both chambers of the Legislature to impose a new tax or fee or to increase an existing tax or fee. There is a narrow exception for “fees and assessments that are authorized by statute, but are not prescribed by formula, amount, or limit, and are set by a state officer or agency.”

The proposed Medicaid expansion disregards the spirit and letter of the law. Because the Governor’s office has explicitly prescribed the assessment amount in the proposed budget, the tax increase doesn’t fall within the exception in the law.

If legislators authorize a provider tax by a simple majority vote, they will circumvent the will of the voters and will be vulnerable to a lawsuit that, if successful, will leave the legislature with an expensive Medicaid expansion that lacks a funding mechanism.

3. The federal government is unlikely to maintain promised funding rates.

President Obama has already proposed cutting the promised reimbursement rate to states in his last two budgets.

The Governor’s office has acknowledged that Washington will likely cut its promised funding level. A publication released from the Governor’s office in January entitled Difficult Choice: Expanding Adult Medicaid Coverage states “it is probable that, at some point, the federal government will choose to reduce reimbursements to the states as a consequence of its own fiscal challenges.” In fact, the circuit breaker, which is intended to protect Arizona from additional costs, is not activated until the federal government cuts the reimbursement rate for the newly eligible enrollees to less than 80% – effectively allowing the federal government to double Arizona’s share of the costs before the state would react.

4. The provider tax, which is the proposed funding mechanism for the expansion, could be limited or eliminated.

A provider tax is a scheme by which states tax healthcare providers in order to draw down additional federal matching dollars. The tax paid by healthcare providers is returned to them via increased Medicaid spending in the state or increased Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers.

There are growing calls from both sides of the aisle in Washington to limit or eliminate the ability to assess a provider tax. Attacks have come from President Obama, Majority Whip Durbin (D-IL), Senator Corker (R-TN), House Republicans, and the Simpson Bowles Commission. If the provider tax is limited or eliminated, Arizona will be left holding the bill.

Eliminating or limiting the provider tax will not trigger the circuit breaker despite the fact that it would leave the expansion in place with no funding source besides the general fund.

5. The circuit breaker may not be enforced by a future governor and future legislature.

The circuit breaker is designed to automatically abolish the Medicaid expansion if the federal reimbursement rate for the newly eligible enrollees ever falls below 80%.

If circuit breaker is triggered, the sitting governor and legislature would face a media storm as thousands of people who had become dependent on free government health care were removed from the Medicaid rolls. Arizona has already experienced such a media storm when the state did not drop coverage, but merely froze enrollment for childless adults up to 100% of the federal poverty level in 2011.

6. The Woodwork Effect is likely to be much larger than anticipated.

The federal health care law’s higher reimbursement rate does not apply to the costs associated with those individuals who are newly enrolled but who were previously eligible – this is referred to as the “woodwork effect.”

When Arizona passed Prop 204, it was estimated that roughly 129,000 people would fall into this category. But by 2003 it was approximately 250,000 – almost double the original estimate, costing the state hundreds of millions in unexpected money.

7. Uncompensated care is unlikely to decrease.

The Governor’s office has stated that uncompensated care results in a hidden tax of $2,000 per family per year that is reflected in the family’s insurance premium. Proponents of the expansion claim that it will solve the problem of uncompensated care and eliminate this hidden tax.

The same claims were made by proponents of Prop 204, but neither claim proved true. Uncompensated care increased by an average of 9% a year during the first seven years of the Prop 204 expansion according to a study by the Lewin Group. And the average family premium increased from $8,972 in 2003 to $14,854 in 2011 – a 66% increase. There is no reason to believe the results will be different this time.

8. Cost projections are likely incorrect, as Arizona’s last Medicaid expansion illustrates.

The Prop 204 expansion was four times more expensive than the projected cost each year. For example, in 2008, the cost of covering the Prop 204 population was projected to be $389 million, but the cost was actually $1.623 billion.

9. There is no rush because a state can choose to expand Medicaid at any time.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have made it clear that states may opt into the Medicaid expansion at any time. It would be wise for Arizona to wait and see how the expansion plays out in other states before committing Arizona to an expansion that will be incredibly expensive and difficult to roll back.

10.There is no such thing as free federal money.

This “free federal money” is borrowed money which taxpayers must pay back.

By agreeing to the Medicaid expansion, Arizona legislators would be committing current and future Arizona taxpayers to billions of dollars in new federal debt, and each Arizona legislator who votes for the expansion will be complicit in Washington’s spending problem.

Click here to download “Ten Reasons to Decline Medicaid Expansion in Arizona.”