Yesterday, The Heartland Institute announced more than 5,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Congress “rein in the Environmental Protection Agency” (EPA) through deep cuts in the size, power, and cost of the agency.
EPA was established in 1970 to protect the nation’s air and water from pollution. Over the years, Congress put EPA in charge of implementing and enforcing many laws, some of them important and needed, but others based on faulty science and adopted without regard to their enormous costs and small or nonexistent benefits.
In recent years, EPA has increasingly become a rogue agency, spending billions of dollars (approximately $9 billion in 2012) directly and imposing on individuals and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs. This huge burden is destroying jobs by blocking the use of American energy resources and giving foreign competitors an enormous cost advantage over U.S. businesses.
Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, said, “The toll EPA is now taking on our country is staggering, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work at a time when millions of people are out of work and our reliance on foreign sources of energy threatens to compromise the nation’s security. The solution is to rein in EPA through deep cuts in the size, power, and cost of the agency.”
Heartland is planning to present the petitions to Congress once the drive hits 10,000 signatures. I hope you will consider signing the petition and forwarding it to others who might be interested.
You can read the petition and background essay by The Heartland Institute here.
This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing carbon taxes, wireless tax fairness, spending reforms, gas taxes, reconciliation, and lagging student achievement.
Research & Commentary: Carbon Tax Swaps
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Taylor Smith examines carbon tax swaps, whether we are to believe they will be revenue-neutral, and if they would successfully prevent global temperatures from rising. Supporters say a carbon tax swap would be revenue-neutral because revenue levied from a new tax on carbon dioxide emissions would be returned to taxpayers in the form of a personal income tax cut. This tax “swap” is intended not only to be revenue-neutral, but also to grow the economy by replacing a tax with more disincentivizing effects with one that has fewer such effects.
According to Taylor, “The claimed need for forced carbon dioxide reductions by the United States is also dubious. The International Energy Agency (IEA) states U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 7.7 percent since 2006, the largest reduction by any nation, yet this had little or no appreciable effect on global carbon dioxide emissions. IEA found the reduction in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions is largely due to the ongoing switch from coal to natural gas in electricity generation.”
He goes on to explain how history reveals similar plans have failed to be revenue-neutral, because the offsetting tax cut tends to be temporary and the new tax permanent, thereby growing the government and not the economy. Ultimately, this flawed tax swap idea would be all cost and no benefit.
What We’re Working On
Wireless tax rates have reached all-time highs. Almost half the states nationwide now impose a wireless tax above 10 percent (the national average is more than 16.3 percent). Legislative efforts to combat these high tax rates may be taking another step forward. In this Heartlander piece, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, an Amendment to S. 2237, the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act, that would put a moratorium on discriminatory state wireless phone and data service tax increases. “High wireless taxes drag down both consumers and the wireless market, deterring innovation and infrastructure improvements, while disproportionately affecting minority and low-income populations. The Wireless Tax Fairness Act and the moratorium on discriminatory tax hikes it implements would be a boon for the industry and consumers, encouraging economic g rowth while protecting taxpayers.”
In this Policy Tip Sheet, Matthew examines the issue of state overspending and proposes several solutions. He writes, “As we’ve seen all too often, surging property values, strong retail sales, and other factors that drive up government revenues are often used as an excuse to expand government. Before long, the locked-in spending drives demand for still more tax revenue. Higher tax rates then burden families, weaken businesses, and act as a further drag on the economy, creating a cycle of tax hikes and revenue shortages.”
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew examines motor fuel taxes, how they are applied, and their economic effects. Critics of gasoline taxes argue the levies are regressive, having a greater effect on the poor than on the wealthy. Some proposed alternatives for funding road construction and traffic infrastructure are privatizing roads, congestion fees, and automobile insurance premiums based on consumer use.
Matthew explains, “Motor fuel taxes affect everyone who uses any kind of transportation. These taxes, which are paid as an excise duty – a tax on the sale of motor fuel – increase the cost of transportation for individuals. They are designed by most national and state governments to raise revenue for improvements to the overall transportation system, including roads, bridges, and airports. In recent years, however, governments have increasingly diverted funds from this tax away from their intended purpose, in order to balance budgets or fund unrelated projects.”
In this Research & Commentary, Research Fellow Benjamin Domenech, managing editor of Health Care News, discusses the concept of reconciliation in relation to the federal health care law. Reconciliation is a parliamentary method that can be used to bypass the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate, and it was used to pass President Barack Obama’s health care law. According to Benjamin, this same method could be used to repeal the law. He states, “While it may seem to be a messy parliamentary procedure, it has been used many times before. There are relatively straightforward ways for a majority to construct a repeal of Obama’s law should they achieve the necessary seats.”
This article from School Reform News reports that while academic performance increased this year, the U.S. is still lagging behind other countries. The article looks at a Harvard University study that “tracked math, reading, and science test scores among fourth and eighth grade students in 49 industrialized countries from 1995 to 2009. The U.S. rates precisely in the middle.” The study found, “In the past 14 years, American fourth and eighth grade students’ average academic performance has pushed forward a year, but that national advance is still not enough to put the U.S. ahead of most international peers.”