Grover Norquist

Congress should permanently ban Internet taxes to protect innovation and online access for Americans

The Internet has been suffering a series of blows as of late.

Year-old reports of extensive Internet surveillance techniques carried out by the National Security Agency along with pushes from crony senators wanting to difficult our Internet shopping experience have been concerning the most observant amongst us.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has introduced a bill proposing to institute a permanent ban on state and local taxation of Internet access and other discriminatory taxes. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, or H.R. 3086, would protect constituents from government taxation, according to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

In order to ensure taxpayers are protected, House members are being urged by Norquist, Digital Liberty’s Executive Director Katie McAuliffe, and the National Taxpayers Union to cosponsor and vote yes on this bill.

By making these restrictions permanent, lawmakers would also ensure businesses and consumers are permanently protected.

The unrestricted and competitive nature of the digital environment makes it one of the most relevant for those seeking to innovate today. Imposing restrictive taxes on online shopping should be considered a form of punishment.

The burdensome taxation would only accomplish what punishments usually accomplish overtime: absolutely nothing, especially because the kind of taxes some lawmakers would like to see imposed on consumers would not be later directed towards improving Internet services.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Grover Norquist’s quest to reduce the size of government and keep your taxes low

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

Grover Norquist is one of the most well-known figures in conservative politics. Americans for Tax Reform, the organization he founded in 1985, has become a powerhouse in politics, driving the conversation on taxes, labor policy, and regulation.

United Liberty caught up with Norquist last weekend at FreedomFest in Las Vegas and asked him how he got involved in politics and the conservative movement as well as where he thinks the movement is headed over the next few years.

“I was active early on in politics. Back in [the 1970s], I worked on the Nixon campaign because I was concerned about the Soviet Union, and I just stayed involved in politics. If you decide to get involved early, it just kind of stays with you,” Norquist told United Liberty.” It’s kind of like learning to play tennis. Once you’ve learned, whenever there’s a tennis game, you join. If you’re involved in politics, every time there’s an election or a fight, you get in.”

Norquist explained that the central issue he’s working on at the moment is reducing the size and scope of government, especially at the state-level where there are plenty of opportunities due to the fact that Republicans control nearly half of the state legislatures.

Conservatives to Congress: “Spend one dollar less”

A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.

The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.

“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.

“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”

Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

It May Have Never Been About Defunding

Many conservatives who consider themselves the real Republicans have been grousing about those damn Tea Partiers; you know, the ones Ted Cruz was trying to appeal to when he filibustered against Obamacare? A calculated risk — because he and probably everyone else  knew defunding was never going to happen — that led almost directly (no offense to a friend of mine who keeps trying to separate the two things) to the nearly two-week shutdown that ended with celebratory high-fives as bureaucrats skipped their way back into work this week.

Just shut-up rabble rousers, they said in kinder terms, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn among them. Because you managed to make us all look bad and get us nothing in return except repeated lectures from the Reid-Pelosi-Obama trifecta.

I make no claims to be a Tea Partier but (with apologies), I don’t hold with Grover Norquist’s assertion that Cruz et al should apologize to their fellow conservatives:

“They hurt the conservative movement, they hurt people’s health care, they hurt the country’s economic situation and they hurt the Republican party,” he says. “And a lot of congressmen and senators are not going to win because we spent three months chasing our own tail — or at least, parts of the conservative movement spent three months chasing their own tail.”

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

Tax Bite Leaves Flacco Second Best Paid in NFL

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

Team

Federal Income

Tax Burden

State and County

Dear Media: This Isn’t About Grover Norquist

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.

Profiles in Liberty: Tom Smith, Conservative Senate Candidate in Pennsylvania

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.

Tom Smith

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?

Profiles in Liberty: Grover Norquist, Anti-Tax Warrior

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.

Grover Norquist

The Road To Tax Reform: More Potholes Than I Like

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:


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