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Andrew Moylan
Director of Government Affairs

Dan Barrett
Policy Analyst

David Keating
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Demian Brady
Senior Policy Analyst

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Jeff Dircksen
Director of Congressional Analysis

Jordan Forbes
Federal Government Affairs Manager

Joshua Culling
State Government Affairs Manager

Kristina Rasmussen
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Kristine Tuinstra
State Policy Analyst

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Paul Gessing
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Pete Sepp
Vice President for Communications

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The Official Blog of National Taxpayers Union

New Blog Link & RSS Feed, and New Website!
Posted by Demian Brady - February 20, 2010

At long last, I am pleased to announce that NTU's new website is up and running at www.ntu.org. The new layout will make it easier for folks to see the latest work from NTU and NTU Foundation on federal and state issues, find the reports and information they are looking for, and stay involved with our new Action Center.

And that means our blog has a brand new home: www.ntu.org/governmentbytes/. There will be no further posts at blog.ntu.org so please update your links and shortcuts!

At the new site, please subscribe to our new RSS feed. In case this is helpful, here is the feed's link:http://www.ntu.org/system/rss/channel.jsp?subsiteID=57468158&feed=feed-120870617

Please share your feedback on the new site with us at ntu @ ntu.org!

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CPAC Day 3
Posted by Jordan Forbes - February 20, 2010

I'm up here on Blogger's Row, blogging live from the third day of CPAC 2010. We have an exciting lineup of speakers for today: Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. I'll be posting excerpts and analyses throughout the day, so stay tuned! The energy in here is incredible and I'm looking forward to an exciting final day.

Click here to watch live!

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Mike Pence at CPAC on Fiscal Discipline
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 19, 2010

Indiana Representative Mike Pence was a headliner at Friday’s Conservative Political Action Conference. He began by declaring, “You proved Thomas Jefferson right. He said “The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty.” Because of you, the American people have been on the march to restore the timeless values that have built this nation.”

When speaking of the GOP’s Congressional presence in past year Pence, third in line for Republican House leadership, said, “Some folks like to call us the party of ‘no.’ Well, I say ‘no’ is way underrated in Washington, D.C. Sometimes ‘no’ is just what this town needs to hear… When it comes to more borrowing, the answer is no. When it comes to more spending, the answer is no. When it comes to more bailouts, the answer is no. And when it comes to a government takeover of health care, the answer is no.”

In terms of the finances of the federal government, the 6th Indiana District Representative noted “fiscal discipline is not enough…we must return incentive to the American people.” This means the across the board tax cuts he asked President Obama about in January’s Question and Answer session in Baltimore. Citing a man talking to President Reagan who said “I want you to pass those tax cuts for the rich because I’ve never been hired by a poor man,” the Representative made a case for less government spending and less imposed taxes on the American people.

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Tim Pawlenty at CPAC Day 2
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 19, 2010

Grover Norquist introduced Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a critic of federal healthcare reform and increasing debt, spoke at 10AM on the second day of CPAC in Washington DC. After praising the recent DC snow storm for shutting down Congress, he described the Obama Administration as “hope and change and teleprompters.” His PAC, Freedom First, has the goal to make candidates who campaign under the conservative banner “walk the walk” when they get to Washington.

An emphasized point he made was “we can’t spend more than we have.” If the US has an income of $2.2 trillion, the government should only spend that amount. With $65 trillion total unfunded liabilities, he was prompted to declare, “if the US was a bank, they’d shut themselves down.” Pawlenty’s state has “taken the spending curve down to zero…after 150 years.” He has spent his time as Governor cutting his state’s spending, which has generated outrage from big spenders and unions, culminating in a proposed Constitutional Amendment to limit Minnesota’s government spending.

The Governor also criticized the GOP in a recent issue of Esquire magazine. He compared elections with markets by saying, “in 2006 and 2008, the marketplace was telling the Republicans 'We prefer the products and services of your competitors.”

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My Day at CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 19, 2010

I had the opportunity to cover the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference’s first day for the National Taxpayers Union. As a blogger, we were given a room overlooking the floor of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel but that didn’t stop the discussion amongst the tech savvy sect of the conservative and free-market blogosphere.

While speakers were headlining initiatives like the Contract from America and various campaigns going on around the country, bloggers were chatting, tweeting, facebooking, and snickering. When Dick Cheney and Scott Brown made surprise appearances, you could tell they were the news makers as Internet junkies abandoned laptops for a spot at the nearby balcony to get a look at the national figures.

Subjects were as varied as the tickers on news networks. I heard one of the first speakers mention Roe vs. Wade, a later speaker described the credit crisis, and two Cheney’s spoke of the United States’ direction in foreign policy and defense. Socially, culturally, and politically, this year’s CPAC brought American grassroots concerns to the national forefront.

While Americans are struggling with the economic downturn, the housing crisis, and the uncertain future before them, they understand the triumphs of America’s past were conceived of not through government policy but private sector innovation. However, the two don’t operate independently of each other. Markets rely on government rule of law while governments can’t handle the load the spontaneous order generates on an hourly basis.

It was a great experience to see proponents in the freedom movement planning and organizing for the upcoming elections and rallies, and more can be done.
Taxes seemed to have become a staple issue but it is much more important than a simple sound bite. Pundits fail to point out the ever-increasing complexity of the tax code, both for individuals and businesses. With that complexity comes a harder way to make taxes more transparent. With less transparency comes much more difficulty in the check citizens have on government.

Ultimately, fiscal responsibility suffers with the higher revenues and growing fallacy that government solves problems. Higher taxes hurt healthy economies and the government shot of penicillin always turns out to be snake oil.

Spending also has been marginalized instead of attacked. It wasn’t healthcare reform or the proposed Cap-and-Trade bill that got America into a spending spree but the progressive expansion of government with every new Presidential Administration. Excess spending is a symptom of both Republican and Democrat decisions and results in everyone suffering. If real change is to occur, spending freezes must be acts of Congress on mandatory spending, as well as the discretionary.

Overall, liberty lovers should sleep a bit better tonight with the happenings at CPAC. Like the Tea Party Convention and numerous conferences going on around the country, the meetings and speeches are coalescing into a unified opposition of big government, higher taxes, and tyranny.

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Boehner Finishes up CPAC Day 1
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

Standing amidst a standing ovation, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner spoke of his efforts throughout his career centering on doing the right thing and be willing to listen to supporters and opponents. Since 1991, Boehner has served in the US House of Representatives representing Ohio’s 8th District. He stated three lessons he lives by: Be open, transparent, and willing to listen; If you do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen; Real leaders work harder than their opponents.

Focusing in on transparency, Boehner said “no one is immune from the finger pointing” when the Obama Administration doesn’t get its way. He cited the closed-door healthcare reform negotiations as a principle case for turning that finger back on the blamer. He pledged to run the House differently if he were Speaker. He would require a 72 review period on the Internet of bills before bills would be voted on. Running cameras in the Rules Committee – the group which decides which bills reach the floor – would also be a priority in the Boehner House.

I certainly hope the new transparent House of Representatives has less taxes and greater economic freedoms as well.

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“Thank you Massachusetts”
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

Citing Barack Obama’s downhill direction in the polls, Mitt Romney spoke at CPAC of the “4 million Americans who lost their jobs last year and millions more who stopped looking for work.” He cited how pillars of business, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Sam Walton, shaped their enterprises and in so doing, shaped our nation. Capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty but President Obama and fellow “liberals are convinced government knows better than people [do].” “He (Obama) scared employers so jobs were scare.” Romney went on a timeline of the President’s accomplishments, ranging from Obamacare’s transparency conflict to where Democrats began saying no to his agenda of tax and spend. He countered the points with a simple solution: Simplify and lower taxes while freeing trade.

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Scott Brown makes surprise appearance at CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

In one of his first public appearances since being elected as a US Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown spoke on the first day of CPAC just before 2PM. Citing his election, he feels it happened so fast that it’s just now sinking in that we have changed the course of American politics.” Brown was sworn on February 4th. He introduced former Massachusetts Governor and former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.

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Moylan Moderates CPAC Panel on Mobilizing Grassroots
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

National Taxpayers Union’s Director of Government Affairs spoke at a CPAC panel focused on helping the grassroots organizers how to organize and to connect with other groups and individuals for promoting greater freedoms. The Saving Freedom One Patriot at a Time panel had many prominent innovators of the freedom movement:

The interesting discussion ranged in both scope and application of mobilizing local citizens for the cause of liberty and freedom. Dana Loesch said, “go to your neighborhood waterhole and take them over… don’t ever become predictable… [and] never let opposition define your boundaries.” Jenny Martin, who helped organize the 9-12 March on Washington, made the goal of doubling, if not tripling, the number of Tax Day Tea Parties, numbering over 850 last year.

The underlying point of the panel was, get connected and get active in the movement to make the government for the people, not against the people. NTU has many ways for you to get involved in our efforts for limited government, lower taxes, and greater freedom:

Andrew Moylan also mentioned two ways to help develop new legislation and to show leaders in Washington DC we mean business when it comes to defending our freedom:

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Dick Cheney makes surprise visit to CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

After a rousing speech by Liz Cheney about the security and defense situation of the United States, she introduced her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. He spoke of the recent elections and rallies as encouraging and stated “I think Barack Obama is a one-term President.” He called for the younger generation to get more active and to encourage citizens to get involved in the cause of freedom.

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Ohio State Representative Josh Mandel at CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

Representing a northern Ohio district, predominately an opposition electorate, Josh Mandel spoke around 11 o’clock on the first day of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington DC. He spoke of the many challenges he has faced. After being elected to a city council position, Mandel set about lowering the local property taxes and mobilizing a community in the process. The young, actively serving US Marine, took an intellectual – not a political – approach to lowering taxes at a grassroots level while keeping the city he served fiscally solvent. Now as an Ohio State Treasurer candidate, Mandel aims to bring his conservative fiscal policies to the greater Ohio government.

Ohio currently ranks 49th in overall economic performance, while Ohio’s business tax climate ranks 46th. If there was a campaign to reform a state’s tax code and to improve its business climate, Ohio would be the poster child of a basket case. The state’s Auditor predicts an $8 billion budget shortfall.

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Marco Rubio kicks off CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

Senator Jim DeMint introduced Marco Rubio who said, “2010 is a referendum on the very identity of our nation and issues are so big… that many of the old rules of political engagement don’t apply.” CPAC started off with an articulated speech by the Florida Senatorial Candidate who pushed for jobs created by the private sector rather than politicians. He exclaimed, “let’s reform the tax code and reduce the tax rates across the board… lower the corporate tax rate…” Rubio went on to mention the hopeful death of the punishing death tax, a tax that shackles Americans with a 45% penalty on nest eggs.

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NTU Covers CPAC
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 18, 2010

The National Taxpayers Union will be covering this year’s CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, being held in Washington DC. It is one of the largest organizing events between grassroots organizers, political leaders, and everyday citizens. This three-day event will feature well-known national figures such as:

As the speeches and panels detail a national dialogue of the year’s theme, Saving Freedom, NTU will be right there commentating, examining, and contributing on Government Bytes. Join NTU at CPAC over the next three days and add your own ideas to the national discussion!

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Leviathan is Hungry: Tax Audits on the Rise
Posted by Demian Brady - February 18, 2010

CNN reports that 1.4 million taxpayers were audited last year, the most in a decade. And expect even more audits this year with the Administration's $8.2 billion budget for tax enforcement - a 10 percent increase over last year.

Hat tip: TaxProf Blog.

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Stimulus turns a year old, Gets continued spending and fake jobs as presents
Posted by Dan Barrett - February 17, 2010

On the first anniversary of the Stimulus package’s signing, it’s time to take stock of President Obama’s cure-all for the kaput housing market and continuing economic decline. Back in the infancy of the President’s term, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed Congress with little opposition and fewer members actually reading the bill. Still, the fed up electorate was ready for action and that is what the new President gave them.

“Preventing Catastrophe”

While Obama claims the $787 billion expected to be spent over 2 years steered us away from an economic depression, it was more like we dodged the pothole of a market correction and are now headed for the cliff of free-market destruction. The Administration hypocritically advertised a “New Era of Fiscal Responsibility” and put more cash in the spending blast furnace than ever before. So far according to Recovery.gov, a scant $272.2 billion has been awarded – 35% of the total price tag. An even lower amount, $57 billion, has actually been received by state and local governments.

I have to ask, what kind of catastrophe Obama was trying to prevent? The Great Depression was largely caused by the Federal Reserve’s mismanagement of the money supply. The housing crisis was a result of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac offering subprime loans to financially incapable Americans. The unemployment rise spawned from increased uncertainty in the market’s future. The theme? Through these periods we’ve been told to trust government while much of what occurs is government’s fault. I wonder, if the government doesn’t trust me with my money when I live within my means then how can I trust it after so many catastrophic failures?

“Increasing Transparency and Job Creation”

After states and citizen groups started noticing phantom jobs appearing in fake Congressional districts, the media rushed to interview the six people whose jobs were “created or saved” in South Carolina’s 16th district. Unfortunately, no plane tickets could be booked and no roads led to such a happy place because it doesn’t exist. In reality, jobs have been created or saved but at fantastic costs. Two jobs in Cebolla, New Mexico for $1.5 million and no jobs in Union City, New Jersey for an impressive $38.6 million. These are but two examples of government inefficiency. Don’t believe me? 595,263 total jobs are listed as created but at a cost of almost $200 billion. That’s $333,489 per job - no wonder the public sector is exploding!

Many proponents of the stimulus have cited this year’s larger influx of government dollars as a reason to wait for the stimulus’ full disbursement. Many economists, such as Brian Bethune, are not so optimistic. The focus on infrastructure spending "doesn't really have a big impact on net employment, simply because a lot of the activity is mechanized.”

“Reinvestment and Recovery”

The stimulus is not a failure because President Obama wishes to help people, it fails because it helps very few at the cost of so many. We cannot expect to climb out of such an economic downfall expecting the broken leg to work and ignoring the working leg. We have to learn from our mistakes and understand that government is not the solution to many of the problems we face today.

Government reinvesting in America is somewhat counterintuitive. We do not have to pay out dollars and superficial jobs but allow America to reinvest in itself. If the handcuffs are removed on the innovative spirit and capabilities of the nation’s businesses and entrepreneurs, the exports will rise from our competitive labor force, the unemployment rate will shrink with the growth of demand, and our national identity will change from the empty factories of Detroit to the telecommuting bases of Atlanta and Seattle.

Recovery can only occur when regulations, taxation, and government intervention are all stemmed in our economy. When freedom returns to a free-market, we need only wait for what really employs people in worthwhile jobs: Capitalism.

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