Written by Matt Blumenfeld, State Policy Associate at Americans for Tax Reform. Posted with permission from Americans for Tax Reform.
As reported this week, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a six-year, $120.6 million contract making the star quarterback the highest-paid player in NFL history, earning an estimated $20.1 million per year. But being the “highest paid player” and earning the most after tax pay are two very different things.
By choosing to remain a Raven, Flacco is now set to pay a combined marginal income tax rate of 51.98 percent. This overwhelming tax rate is composed of the federal, Maryland, and Baltimore County income tax rate, as well as the Medicare tax. And that’s excluding his “jock tax” liability for away games – play the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, pay Massachusetts income tax on earnings for that game - and other taxes levied against him such as Maryland’s property tax.
Given that Flacco is coming off of his best season, the franchise quarterback could have commanded a similar contract from any other team in the league while keeping a greater percentage of his contract. Four of the nine no-income-tax states have professional teams in need of the Super Bowl MVP’s caliber and skill.
State and County
Grover Norquist is under fire. Unjustly.
With Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Peter King and others seemingly deserting Grover Norquist and the Taxpayer Protection Pledge created by his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, media outlets across the spectrum are declaring that the GOP is “Over Grover” and that his vicelike grip of eternal dominance on the GOP might not be so eternal after all. We have images like this one, showing Republican leaders bowing to him as if he is a god. And on and on and on.
What it really is, though, is just another round of misinformation, wrong data, and interpretations based on faulty premises. Yet another sideshow that is completely missing the point, the real debate we should be having in DC.
Senate candidate Tom Smith, a former Democrat, is an accomplished businessman and a Tea Party conservative. Tom still lives on the farm in Armstrong County where he grew up. After high school, he postponed college to help his father tend that farm and supplemented his income by driving a school bus. After a few years, Tom married his high school sweetheart, Saundy, started a family, and went to work in a local surface coal mine.
In 1989, Tom entered the coal business himself. He succeeded, building a series of companies in a highly regulated industry. When he sold the companies in 2010, they were mining more than a million tons of coal each year.
Now, Tom wants to re-claim for Republicans the seat Sen. Bob Casey took from Rick Santorum in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @TomSmithforPA.
Matt Naugle: You were a registered Democrat from age 18 until August 2011. As a Democrat, you were elected official Plumcreek Township and were a member of the United Mine Workers. Now, you’re a major donor to Republican candidates and a Tea Party leader. How did you become a conservative?
Tom Smith: I’ve always been a conservative and supported pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates and causes. My father and mother were registered Democrats, so when I was 18 I registered the same out of respect for them. It was over the years, while building a family and starting a business I became more and more vocal with my conservative views.
MN: You went from working on your father’s farm and driving a bus to running a 100,000 tons/month coal mining operation. Do you agree with President Obama that you did not build the company?
As a long-time leader in the conservative movement, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform become famous in recent years for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
The Pledge, which was rolled out in 1986 with the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, requires office holders to oppose increases in the marginal income tax rates (personal & business) and to vote against any net reduction or elimination of deductions unless the changes are matched, dollar for dollar, by further reducing tax rates.
With signers in every state, more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Liberals and wayward Republicans blame it (and Mr. Norquist personally) for deadlock in Congressional budget debates.
Mr. Norquist is also involved in many center-right organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, ParentalRights.org, and GOProud. He is also a Contributing Editor of The American Spectator.
Recently, Mr. Norquist co-wrote a book with Professor John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. It is a brilliant take down of President Obama’s radical policies, and you should buy multiple copies today.
With a dry sense of humor, Mr. Norquist tweets @GroverNorquist.
Some panels are off in nowhere, little rooms here and there. Other panels are in giant ballrooms, like the Marshall Ballroom, second largest to the Marriott where all the major speakers are, well, speaking. (Perhaps “blustering” is a better word.) And sometimes, those ballrooms were not full. But then maybe I got there early.
It was certainly an illustrious panel, which explained why it began to fill up shortly after it officially began. It was chaired by Grover Norquist himself, President of Americans for Tax Reforms, and the legendary proponent of the “No New Taxes” Pledge he encouraged (some on the left would say “forced”) politicians to take up. To his right was Lew Uhler , chair of the National Tax Limitation Committee, and to his left were Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute and Phil Kerpen, Vice President for Policy, of Americans For Prosperity. I went because the subtitle implied there was going to be a debate between supporters of the Flat Tax, Fair Tax, a VAT, and maybe even 9-9-9—and that plan’s author, Rich Lowrie, did show up in the audience. But there really wasn’t any debate on that front.
And let’s face it, what kind of debate can we really have on taxes? Even the left admits that the tax code we have now is horrifically complex, prone to corruption and gaming the system. Though they disagree about “broadening the base and lowering the rates,” I don’t think any sane American, left, right, or center, can look at the miasma we have now and say, “Yeah, it works.” For whom?
There were some interesting points to be made, but ultimately I didn’t think the solutions that Norquist posed during question time were all that good. But let’s focus on the interesting first:
Grover Norquist chats with Stuart Varney about the problems with the Marketplace Fairness Act. The interview was conducted before the passage of the measure; however, Norquist discusses why the measure creates a problem for online retailers, which could be left to comply with tax laws in 45 states and more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions.
There has been movement from conservatives over the last few years to reform criminal justice laws at the state-level. Thanks to the Right on Crime initiative, many states have pursued these changes as a cost-saving measure.
For example, criminal justice reforms that focus on rehabiliation rather than imprisonment saved taxpayers some $2 billion in prison expansion costs. Additionally, these reforms reduced recidivism rates.
The shift away from “tough on crime” laws gained more traction at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor, urged conservatives to “lead the campaign to chang[e] the culture of corrections in America.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who also addressed this issue during his speech at CPAC, spoke more in-depth on the issue during an appearance over the weekend on Fox News Sunday.
When asked by Chris Wallace why he is “more lenient on drug laws,” Paul explained that he isn’t interested in legalization, but rather to stop putting people in jail for long periods of time.
“There are people in jail for 37, 50, 45 years for nonviolent crimes. And that’s a huge mistake,” Paul told Wallace. “Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals.”
Paul was clear in his personal opposition to the use of marijuana, which he said “takes away your incentive to work and show up and do the things that you should be doing.” But he explained that he didn’t want people to go to jail for making that mistake.
Should the government be snooping around you e-mails and cloud accounts? Given that there are constitutional safeguards in place to guarantee our privacy, one would think that the answer to this question would be obvious. But because federal laws haven’t been updated to cover online communication, law enforcement agencies haven’t bothered to obtain warrants for these searches. Additionally, efforts to pass SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA — bills that would have dire implications for online privacy and due process — are likely to resurface soon.
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, and Laura Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, teamed up recently to discuss the issue of Internet privacy and to announce a joint effort to address this issue in an op-ed at Politico:
The essential elements of [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] have not changed since 1986, and the courts have failed to keep pace, saying remarkably little about the Constitution’s application to new technology. Hence, the government can contend ECPA gives it the authority to ignore your privacy to an extent that would have shocked the framers of the Constitution.
Despite the White House issuing a veto threat against the so-called “Plan B,” Speaker John Boehner called on President Barack Obama to “get serious” in the discussion on the “fiscal cliff” during a press conference today and insisted that the House of Representatives will pass his latest proposal:
Boehner’s “Plan B” would raise tax rates on individuals earning over $1 million, raise the debt ceiling for one year, and cut entitlement programs. While some conservatives are unhappy with House Republicans over the negotiations, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, has given Boehner’s plan a stamp of approval. Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks, has also had a positive reaction to the plan.
Much hash has been made lately over Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform. The Pledge forces anyone who signs it to not vote for tax increases, unless there is reduction in taxes elsewhere (for instance, voting to raise excise taxes but cutting income taxes, though don’t quote me on that.) It’s also been in the news because some Republicans have backed away from the pledge, not wanting to be feel like they’re in a straight jacket while engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, writes in National Review that while Grover’s push is admirable, it’s not entirely sufficient:
For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.