February 13, 2016

Maine Ends Dependence on Food Stamps. Virginia Next?

According to an editorial in this weekend's Investor's Business Daily (IBD), "The number of childless, able-bodied adult food stamp recipients in a New England state fell by 80% over the course of a few months. This didn’t require magic, just common sense."

The IBD editorial continues with by explaining:

"From December 2014 to March 2015, the caseload of able-bodied Maine adults with no dependents crashed from 13,332 recipients to 2,678, says the Heritage Foundation. This is a remarkable change and needs to be repeated in government programs across the country.

"How Maine achieved this is no mystery. Gov. Paul LePage simply established work requirements for food stamp recipients who have no dependents and are able enough to be employed. They must, write Heritage policy analysts Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “take a job” — just 20 hours a week — “participate in training, or perform community service” for a mere 24 hours a week. Recipients who do none of those are stripped of their food stamp benefits after three months.

"This isn’t a radical new idea. Rector and Sheffield cite a successful historical precedent:

“When work requirements were established in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in the 1990s, nationwide caseloads dropped by almost as much, albeit over a few years rather than a few months.”

"In the Obama era, “the food stamp caseload of adults without dependents who are able-bodied has more than doubled nationally, swelling from nearly 2 million recipients in 2008 to around 5 million today” across the country, Rector and Sheffield report. That’s far too many Americans who can take care of themselves living at the expense of others. The situation cries out for reform.

The editorial provides a great deal more detail, and concludes by saying:

"The success in Maine is but a blip, affecting only a thin slice of the nation’s welfare rolls. Yet it is a model, a prototype for reforming welfare programs in need of change or elimination, which is all of them. Policymakers at all levels should be rushing to adopt it, then adapt it."

The IBD editorial is based upon a February 8, 2016 commentary by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal news platform and Heritage Foundation's research report (Backgrounder #3091, February 8, 2016) by researchers Rector, Sheffield and Kevin Dayaratna.

Virginia readers of Growls are encouraged to contact their Delegate and Senator in the General Assembly to learn what their legislators have done to pass legislation that would require childless adults to work to get food stamps. Members of the Virginia General Assembly who represent Arlington County include: Senators (Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, or Janet Howell) and Delegates (Rip Sullivan, Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, or Mark H. Levine. Contact information for members of the General Assembly can be found here  -- use one of the "quick links" to locate the senator and delegate who represent you.

And tell them ACTA sent you!

February 12, 2016

Congress Passes Permanent Ban on Internet Taxes

In a press release yesterday, "The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) lauded the passage of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 by a vote of 75-20 in the Senate today.  The provision permanently bans states from taxing Internet access."

The press release went on to say:

"In 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) placed a moratorium on discriminatory taxes on the Internet and taxes on Internet access. With widespread bipartisan support, the Internet tax ban has been extended seven times.  For 17 years, the ban on Internet taxes has benefited millions of Americans by empowering them to conduct transactions on the Internet free from the fear of additional tax burdens.

"CCAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Passage of PITFA is a tremendous win for the American people.  To finally have the prospect of taxes on their Internet access eliminated permanently will provide tremendous economic certainty for the future.”

CCAGW is  the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste.

The National Taxpayers Union also applauded Senate passage of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. Their press release is here, and includes:

NTU has worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to ensure that taxpayers are not forced to pay yet another tax on their telecommunications services. A January 2016 poll conducted by Harris Poll for NTU showed that a four in five—or 83 percent—of Americans agree that Congress should continue to ban taxes on Internet access. Upon passage, National Taxpayers Union Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold issued the following statement:

Today the Senate passed an important bill that prevents government tax collectors from setting up tollbooths on the information superhighway. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act will help to achieve the goal of making Internet access affordable for Americans all across the country. This marks an enormous win for taxpayers and consumers, and we applaud the Senate for sending this critical measure to President Obama's desk.

"The Internet Tax Freedom Act was originally passed in 1998 under the Clinton Administration and has been temporarily extended seven times since then. H.R. 644, more commonly known as the U.S. Customs bill, passed today 75-20 with bipartisan support throughout the Senate."

Virginia's Senators Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D) voted Yea on the conference report. The House passed H.R. 644 on February 12, 2015 by a vote of 279-137. Rep. Beyer (D) voted nay.

If you wish to thank Senators Warner and Kaine or write to Rep. Beyer, take a minute or two to do so using the links below. If you live elsewhere, contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas website (use left-hand column). Here are Arlington County's members of Congress:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

February 11, 2016

A Thought about the Work of Private Citizens

"The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

~ Alexis de Tocqueville

Source: BrainyQuote.com.

February 10, 2016

A Thought on the Minimum Wage

"When liberals want to discourage smoking, they hike cigarette taxes. When they want to encourage college attendance, they subsidize tuition. They clearly understand the relationship between price and demand.

"Yet when it comes to the minimum wage, progressives insist on pretending there is no connection — and come up with all sorts of rationalizations to explain why making people pay more for labor will not make them buy any less of it.

"Reality, however, is delivering a painful object lesson.

"Several big cities have imposed minimum-wage hikes, with more on the way. The result? Hiring has screeched almost to a halt. Investor’s Business Daily reports the grim news, based on Labor Department data:

< . . . >

"So a lot of people in those big cities are now earning zero dollars an hour. On the bright side, at least they aren’t subject to the cruelty of earning $7.25."

~ Editorial, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Source: Editorial, February 8, 2016, Richmond Times-Dispatch.

February 09, 2016

President Releases FY 2017 Budget

President Obama released his FY 2017 budget today. According to CNS News' Terry Jeffrey, the president proposes spending a record $4,147,224,000,000; collects a record $3,643,742,000,000 in taxes; and results in a $503,482,000,000 Deficit. Yes, those numbers are trillions of dollars. He adds:

"The taxing and spending totals would be records in inflation-adjusted dollars as presented by the White House Office of Management and Budget in the historical tables it released today along with the budget."

He includes a copy of Table 1.3, which provides a history of receipts and spending dating back to 1940 with dollars stated in constant 2009 dollars.

In today's Washington Times, Dave Boyer writes, the president's budget "would keep deficits in check only by relying on speculative liberal assumptions of tax increases, immigration reform and economic growth." Boyer goes on to say:

"House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, called the president’s proposal “a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hardworking Americans.”

“President Obama will leave office having never proposed a budget that balances — ever,” Mr. Ryan said. “Americans deserve better. We need to tackle our fiscal problems before they tackle us.”

"But the White House said Mr. Obama is still relevant and still has leverage to get most of what he wants from the Republican-majority Congress, as he did last fall.

"Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said some conservative lawmakers want to “blow up” the agreement by cutting spending below levels outlined in the October deal.

"The question here isn’t a fight between the administration and Republicans,” Mr. Donovan said. “It’s a fight within the Republican Party.”

Finally, at the Washington Free Beacon today, Elizabeth Harrington writes:

"The president’s final budget, widely considered to be dead on arrival due to the Republican-controlled Congress, projects the nation would face a $27.4 trillion debt in 2026.

"The budget set the actual total debt for 2015 at $18.1 trillion, projecting an increase of $9.3 trillion. When President Obama took office the debt stood at $10.6 trillion.

"The White House budget for fiscal year 2017 includes old and new items of the president’s agenda, including the “Fair Share Tax” on the rich, known as the “Buffett Rule,” and a new tax on oil that would increase taxes by $319 billion over 10 years.

"The $4.1 trillion budget also includes raising the minimum wage, “free community college” for two years, and the hiring of 200 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives special agents to “reduce gun violence.”

Concerned about the federal budget, the deficit, and the national debt? Take a few minutes, and write to one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:
  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

February 08, 2016

A Thought on the Wealth of Cities and Counties

"Economic freedom in U.S. cities faces a constant threat from those who would raise taxes, spend more on pet projects, redistribute wealth or impose restrictions on how others use property. The metropolitan areas that resist these demands reap the gains of greater economic freedom."

~ Michael Cox and Richard Alm

Source: their op-ed, 2/8/16, Investor's Business Daily

Michael Cox is founding director of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and former chief economist at the Dallas Fed. Richard Alm is writer-in-residence at the school.

The complete 28-page study is available at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business.

February 2016
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Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister