It Wasn’t a Tax Before It Was a Tax: Court Upholds Obamacare Individual Mandate

Elizabeth Slattery /

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled against a challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate based on the origination clause of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court held in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) that Obamacare’s individual mandate was constitutional because it was a tax. The Constitution also says tax legislation must originate in the House.

But the Obamacare individual mandate tax did not originate in the House. Senate Democrats took a House bill that provided tax credits to veterans purchasing new homes, gutted its language and “amended” it with the language that would become Obamacare.

In a unanimous ruling in Tuesday’s case, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the D.C. Circuit panel held that since the individual mandate’s purpose was to require people to buy health insurance, not to raise revenue, the law did not need to comply with the origination clause.

Todd Gaziano, one of the lawyers for Matt Sissel, likened this amendment to “the complete destruction of a house and the erection of a massive skyscraper on the same street address.”

Citing Twin City Bank v. Nebeker (1897), the court pointed out the Supreme Court has long held that “revenue bills are those that levy taxes in the strict sense of the word, and are not bills for other purposes which may incidentally create revenue.” The D.C. Circuit panel cited NFIB v. Sebelius, noting:

[I]t is beyond dispute that the paramount aim of the Affordable Care Act is to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care…not to raise revenue by means of the shared responsibility payment [of the individual mandate].

Thus, one of the  largest tax increases in our nation’s history (an estimated $4 billion in only 2016) was not a revenue bill because any revenue is “a byproduct of the Affordable Care Act’s primary aim to induce participation in health insurance plans.”

This sole focus on the “aim” of Obamacare ignores the means by which it was enacted—the gutting of a House bill and its replacement with completely unrelated provisions.

“If any act violates the Origination Clause, it would seem to be the Affordable Care Act,” said constitutional scholar Randy Barnett. “The Supreme Court has never approved the “strike-and-replace” procedure the Congress employed here.”

The Founders knew all too well the dangers of an unchecked taxing power. They placed this power in the House of Representatives because, as Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry described, “Taxation and representation are strongly associated in the minds of the people, and they will not agree that any but their immediate representatives shall meddle with their purses.”

The Founders also intended the “power of the purse” to protect the separation of powers since it would be “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people,” as James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 58.

The need for protection is even stronger following the passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments, which provided for the federal income tax and the direct election of senators. Unfortunately, today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit throws this bulwark of liberty onto the proverbial ash heap of history.

Lawmaker Who Backed Export-Import Bank in 2012 Now Says He’s Undecided - Daily Signal

Lawmaker Who Backed Export-Import Bank in 2012 Now Says He’s Undecided

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson /

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., who previously voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, told The Daily Signal this week he’s undecided about whether he’ll support the bank this time around. “There’s been a lot of reforms put forward,” he said after speaking atThe Heritage Foundation. “I want to see the total package as we get closer to the end of September.”

>>> ‘No Way’ Obama’s Climate Change Plan Will Reduce Temperatures, Says Rep. Mike Kelly

Michigan Union Tricks Teachers Into Prolonging Membership - Daily Signal

Michigan Union Tricks Teachers Into Prolonging Membership

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson /

Rob Wiersema teaches high school economics, and he knows the merits of a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Leaving the Michigan Education Association, he surmised, made economic sense. He had found another professional association that offered better benefits at a lower cost.

But his simple economics become complicated. The union didn’t want him to go.

In December 2012, Michigan passed a right-to-work law, which allowed teachers and other workers to keep their jobs without belonging to the union. Until then, union membership was all but a requirement for employment.

“I thought, great, I’m out,” Wiersema said. “As soon as I heard you could leave, I thought, great. My contract is up in 2013. I sent letters to the MEA and the local association to say I quit, but it obviously didn’t work.”

He called the union and sent letters asking how to leave, but he got no reply. In June, he sent a “quit letter” to the state and local branches and the school. In July, union dues showed up on his credit card.

He disputed the charge and said he wasn’t going to pay. Then, he heard the union was going after people who didn’t pay it “and have their credit reports take a hit.”

The union contends teachers can leave in August only. As for teachers who did not opt out during the narrow window in August, “They’re sending a collection agency after them,” said Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The Mackinac Center developed AugustOptOut.org to give teachers the information they need to leave the union. It’s the union’s job to inform its members, Vernuccio said, but the Mackinac Center is trying to fill the information gap.

Lisa Jelenek, who retired this spring after 40 years of teaching, and some of her co-workers chose not to re-join the union for the 2013-14 school year, the first year right-to-work applied. They didn’t know about the August window until too late.

“Early September, we got an e-bill statement from the union treasurer, the dues statement for the year,” Jelenek said. “We said, ‘What? We’re not joining.’ We found it very convenient that we got it right at the beginning of September, when all the powers that be knew we had to do something in August.”

The union was did not return calls for comment.

Read more on Watchdog.org.

Obama Follows Europe in Expanding Sanctions on Russia - Daily Signal

Obama Follows Europe in Expanding Sanctions on Russia

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel /

Following the lead of the European Union, President Obama announced expanded sanctions against Russia Tuesday for supporting separatists in Ukraine.

The latest American sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy and military sectors.

The Treasury Department released a list of large Russian banks that are blocked from transactions with Americans, including the Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank and VTB Bank.

Most of the sanctions imposed in the past have been aimed at individuals.

The new measures, which are similar to those announced earlier today in Europe, will “have an even bigger bite” on Russia than the lesser sanctions, President Obama said.

European nations such as Germany and Britain previously resisted punishing Russia because they depend on the Russians for energy. .

But the newfound collaboration with the U.S suggests the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine this month may have hardened the allies’ resolve.

U.S. intelligence officials blame the Russians for supplying separatists the missile they say was used to shoot down the plane.

“Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigations, continue to interfere with the crash investigation, continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.

“Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress. And it doesn’t have to come to this. It didn’t have to come to this. It doesn’t have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia and President Putin in particular has made.”

Obama also said Tuesday he is not considering providing arms to Ukraine’s government in its fight against the separatists.

In commentary posted to The Daily Signal last week, Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, recommended the U.S. offer assistance to the Ukranian government, exclude Russia from the G20 Summit in Australia and withdraw from New START, the nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Tuesday’s measures fell far short of that, but Gardiner welcomed the broader sanctions and the collaboration with the Europeans.

“At least the president outlined a coherent big-picture strategy for dealing with the mounting Russia threat,” Gardiner said. “But he’s still looking like a deer in the headlights in terms of the crisis in Ukraine and Putin’s aggression. Obama has to go beyond announcing another wave of sanctions to send a clear message to Moscow. He has to project real strength, because right now, Putin views him as a weak foe.”

Obama Administration Halts Export-Import Bank Deals With Russia - Daily Signal

Obama Administration Halts Export-Import Bank Deals With Russia

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn /

The Export-Import Bank announced today it would halt financing deals with Russia and Russian companies.

The Department of Treasury notified House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of the decision to include Export-Import Bank financing in President Obama’s latest round of sanctions against the country.

In a statement, the Texas Republican commended Obama for his decision:

The president made the right decision. There is no justifiable reason why the Export-Import Bank should be allowed to continue financing deals that benefit Russian companies, so I’m pleased the president took this action today that I suggested.

According to The Hill, the Export-Import Bank also immediately stopped all new deals with Russia because of an “expected increased risk that retaliatory actions and other anticipated events will materially affect reasonable assurance of repayments from legal entities in the Russian federation.” Politico reported the decision “won’t affect deals for which letters of credit have already been issued.”

Hensarling, who is leading the charge against reauthorizing the bank, sent a letter to Obama last week asking why his administration was still offering “sweetheart deals to Russian companies” in light of the growing conflict in Ukraine and downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

>>> Obama Faces Pressure Halt Export-Import Bank Deals With Russia

The Obama administration hit two state-owned Russian banks — Vnesheconombank and Gazprombank — with sanctions earlier this month. The firms benefited from $497 million and $22.6 million, respectively, in financing from Ex-Im.

Neither bank was affected by the initial round of sanctions.

Obama and the European Union expanded sanctions to Russia’s energy, arms and finance sectors today. The sanctions are in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down in Eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists. The administration contends Russia provided the separatists with the missile.

Fired Export-Import Bank Official Pleads the Fifth at Hearing on Corruption, Fraud - Daily Signal

Fired Export-Import Bank Official Pleads the Fifth at Hearing on Corruption, Fraud

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn /

An Export-Import Bank official who was fired on suspicion of taking cash in exchange for helping a Florida company obtain financing cited his Fifth Amendment right in declining to testify today during a House hearing examining corruption and fraud at the bank, a federal agency.

Johnny Gutierrez opted not to answer questions after being subpoenaed  to appear before a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, sought to question Gutierrez, who earlier had refused to appear voluntarily before the panel.

Jordan hoped not only to shed light on the reasons for Gutierrez’s firing but to provide Americans with a better understanding of the inner workings of the Export-Import Bank, an 80-year-old agency that provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign countries and companies. Its charter expires Sept. 30.

Jordan said:

“What better time to discuss real concerns at the Export-Import Bank than when we’re looking at the issue of reauthorization? I think this would be the appropriate time to have this kind of hearing and look at these very issues. … Given such massive government largess, the bank is a natural target for fraud and its employees are natural targets for bribery and corruption.”

Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ordered the subpoena of Gutierrez. But as Jordan began questioning the former Ex-Im Bank official, he  cited his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg and Heritage Foundation research fellow Diane Katz testified before Jordan’s subcommittee on allegations of fraud and corruption at the agency.

At issue for Republicans on the panel was a June report in the Wall Street Journal exposing allegations of gifts and kickbacks as well as “attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies” by four bank officials, one of whom was Gutierrez.

Gutierrez and two other bank employees were fired. The fourth was placed on administrative leave as Ex-Im officials investigate the charges.

The other three Ex-Im officials have not been identified, and Jordan today repeatedly pressed Hochberg for their names.

Darin Miller, a spokesman for Jordan, told The Daily Signal that the Ohio Republican was pointing out that Hochberg had chosen to obstruct a congressional investigation by withholding the officials’ identities. Neither the agency’s inspector general nor federal law prohibits the bank’s chairman from identifying the employees, he said.

Hochberg, who took over Ex-Im in 2009, said he is committed to running an agency with high ethical standards and pointed to Ex-Im’s ethics program as proof. The bank, he said, adheres to standards designed to quell corruption and fraud, including:

Hochberg said it was important for the bank maintain a commitment to ethics. He said:

“We operate at the public trust. We’re here to level the playing field and support jobs, so it’s important that everybody at the bank operate with the highest ethical standards. It starts with top management. It continues through the training we do and making sure we have a culture that when people see something that’s awry or suspicious, they alert the proper authorities so they can take a look at it.”

But many lawmakers fear the bank’s culture breeds corruption.

Ex-Im’s inspector general is investigating 40 complaints of possible fraud, Republicans on the panel noted. Hochberg, however, said the inquiries could involve companies that benefited from Ex-Im financing, not bank employees.

Jordan went on to point to 74 “administrative actions” taken by the inspector general as the result of integrity investigations, actions that Katz brought to light in her research and writing on the bank.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is leading conservatives who are against reauthorizing the bank and would rather Congress not take action to extend its life. In a statement on today’s hearing, Hensarling said:

“The Export-Import Bank has a long and unfortunate history when it comes to ethical lapses and mismanagement, and today we shockingly learned there are 40 active and ongoing investigations of fraud at Ex-Im.

It’s important for every member of Congress to understand the full extent of Ex-Im corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism before deciding whether the bank should continue.  That’s why the Financial Services Committee will soon be requesting information and records from Ex-Im about these 40 active investigations of fraud at the bank.”

Hensarling and other critics argue that Ex-Im furthers corporate welfare and cronyism. Supporters, meanwhile, insist that the agency helps small businesses compete in the global market and creates jobs in the United States.

During today’s hearing, Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., praised the bank. He said:

“We have to level the playing field for our companies because other countries are putting their thumbs on the scale in favor of their own manufacturers. If we don’t level the playing field for our companies, our companies and our workers face an unfair disadvantage.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is expected to introduce a bill reauthorizing the bank for another five years.

Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., has floated the idea of introducing legislation to reauthorize Ex-Im with some reforms.

My Exchange with Two New York Times Writers on Marriage Equality and Civility - Daily Signal

My Exchange with Two New York Times Writers on Marriage Equality and Civility

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Ryan T. Anderson /

Can people respect each other and treat one another civilly even while disagreeing about marriage? No, according to New York Times domestic correspondent Josh Barro. As The Daily Signal reported, on viewpoints that Barro considers “anti-LGBT”, he thinks that “we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

The problem is that much of what Barro considers “anti-LGBT” is simply pro-marriage and pro-common-good.

Over the weekend, Barro replied to a tweet I sent out. Below are some of the exchanges. You can read all of them on my twitter page.

@RyanT_Anderson why would you expect me to be civil toward you? You devote your life to promoting anti-gay public policies.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson it’s your right to do that, but it’s ridiculous for you to expect me to be nice about it.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014
 

.@jbarro I think even in the midst of disagreement we should treat all people with respect. Apparently you don’t. sad. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson we should treat all people with respect? obviously not. should we treat segregationists with respect? — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro Yes. believe it or not, you can respectfully disagree with people. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson obviously some policy views render people unworthy of respect. you just don’t like where I’m drawing the line. — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro people are always worthy of respect, even if their policy views are misguided. Nothing renders “people unworthy of respect” wow. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

Leave aside the dismissive way he refers to policy arguments for why marriage should be the union of a man and woman as “anti-gay” (much like liberals deride pro-lifers as “anti-choice” and welfare reformers as “anti-poor”). The larger problem is that one of the country’s leading policy wonks and correspondent for The New York Times thinks that some people are “unworthy of respect.” Not that some ideas are unworthy of respect, but that the people are.

Next, consider how shallow Barro’s thinking about marriage policy is. Picking up the thread from the beginning but following a different branch:

@RyanT_Anderson why would you expect me to be civil toward you? You devote your life to promoting anti-gay public policies. — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro um, actually, no, I don’t. We disagree about what marriage is and which policies will best serve the common good. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson yeah. I’m for equal rights and you’re for policies that disfavor gays and lesbians.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro we’re all in favor of marriage equality. We just disagree about what a marriage is. That’s the debate. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson you really think I’m going to be impressed by you throwing doublespeak at me?

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro it’s not doublespeak, it’s the very nature of the debate. Did you read Alito’s opinion on this? I’m surprised you don’t understand. — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson a marriage is whatever the government says it is.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro well, no, by that logic government could never define marriage wrongly. The Q is “how should gov define it, based on what it is” — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

@RyanT_Anderson a marriage is like a corporation or a patent. its legal terms are not ‘discovered’, they are set by lawmakers.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014


.@jbarro That’s part of our disagreement. You think the state creates marriage, i think the state recognizes marriage, based on human nature — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

 

@RyanT_Anderson you think the government *ought* to proclaim a kind of marriage, but I am right about what its actual powers are. — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro government can define however it wants. the Q is “how ought government to define”. To answer we need to know what marriage is

— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

The reference in the tweet above to Justice Samuel Alito is to the opinion he wrote in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case. As Alito explained there, and as I’ve explain in the book I co-authored (which Alito cited twice), in my Supreme Court amicus brief, and in various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, our current marriage debate is a debate over what marriage is, why marriage matters, and what the consequences will be if we redefine marriage. Appeals to equality get us nowhere unless we can answer the fundamental question.

Some people think marriage is primarily an emotional union of two (or more?) adults in a loving care-giving relationship. Others see marriage as a comprehensive union of sexually complementary spouses in a two-in-one-flesh bond, a union of man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother. Our debates are over which understanding is correct, which understanding best serves the political common good.

As I explained in my lecture at Stanford University, a comprehensive union capable of uniting children with their mom and dad is something only a man and a woman can form. So enacting same-sex marriage would not expand the institution of marriage, but redefine it. Finishing what policies like no-fault divorce began, it would finally replace the conjugal view with a revisionist view of marriage as fundamentally an emotional union. This would multiply the marriage revolution’s harms, making them harder than ever to reverse. This particular line of thought continued, with Barro’s New York Times colleague, the columnist Ross Douthat, joining in:

@baseballcrank a public policy defining marriage can be bad or undesirable but it cannot be false. — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

@jbarro @baseballcrank Perhaps another way to put it is that it could be incoherent or unstable. — Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 26, 2014

@DouthatNYT what would be an example of an incoherent policy about marriage? — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

@jbarro I believe that one of the arguments @RyanT_Anderson and his co-authors make is that the emerging definition is incoherent. — Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 26, 2014

@DouthatNYT is that incoherence? NYC suspends alternate side parking rules on holidays not clearly distinguished from others when it doesn’t — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

@jbarro It is possible that coherence matters more for a central institution of civil society than it does for parking-meter policies. — Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 26, 2014

Indeed, if the law redefines marriage to say it is about consenting adult romance and caregiving, what principle would govern the contours of marriage policy? Can’t three people form such a union, so that if you sue for marriage equality for the same-sex couple, why would you deny such equality to the throuple? And how about those who desire a “wedlease” instead of “wedlock.” These are the sorts of consequences that result once you abandon the natural law understanding of what marriage is.

After these exchanges, Barro tweeted out a short sentence attacking the concept of natural law:

Natural law is the right’s version of critical theory. — Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro it is simply a 2,500 year old tradition of thinking that runs through Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, Kant MLK

— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

.@jbarro not to mention its essential to the American Founding and UN Declaration on Human Rights. Natural rights w/o natural law? good luck — Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson) July 26, 2014

Part of the genius, success, and justice of the American experiment is that we have overtime continually subjected our man-made laws to the standards of the natural law. We haven’t always gotten things right, but we have strived to passed just laws. I cited Augustine, Aquinas, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others, as examples of natural law thinkers. Here’s how King put it in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”:

I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

This helps to explain why Barro is on such weak ground when he says that “a marriage is whatever the government says it is.” It implies that government has no external standard of right. Imagine how this would apply in the civil rights context: “a person is whatever the government says it is”—we’ve been down that road before and it is unacceptable.

Can Higher Payroll Taxes Fix Social Security? - Daily Signal

Can Higher Payroll Taxes Fix Social Security?

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Ryan T. Anderson / Michael Sargent /

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed several different payroll tax proposals to shore up Social Security’s finances, and the results are not very appealing.

The Social Security trust fund ran a $71 billion deficit in 2013 that is on pace to quadruple by 2032. Some have called for a payroll tax increase, but CBO found that in order to balance the trust fund over 75 years, the payroll tax would have to be permanently increased from 12.4 percent to 15.9 percent—a nearly one-third increase—as soon as 2015. It’s hard to see how this would benefit most Americans in the long run, however:

All of this pain would be just to sustain current benefits—that extra $1,800 per year out of Americans’ paychecks would not increase the amount workers would receive when they retire. In essence, this proposal asks younger, poorer Americans to pay more so that Social Security can continue to subsidize decades of inflated retirement benefits, including for the richest Americans who do not need them.

So why not just eliminate the cap on income subject to the payroll tax (currently $117,000)?

This “fix” poses similarly prohibitive tax increases that would especially harm the self-employed and certain small businesses. If the cap were eliminated in 2014, someone earning $150,000 would experience a 26 percent payroll tax increase, amounting to an extra $1,900 on his or her tax bill. Someone earning $250,000 (not an extravagant sum for families in major metropolitan areas) would pay $8,100 more in payroll taxes—more than doubling their current payroll tax burden.

Keep in mind that this tax hike would come on top of income taxes, which already disproportionately tax high-income earners.

There are better optionsavailable than drastically increasing payroll taxes. Lawmakers could extend payroll-based private retirement accounts to many more Americans through proposals such as the auto-IRA. Indeed, fully 73 percent of millennials support private retirement accounts for Social Security.

Coupled with other reforms, such as scaling back benefits for the wealthiest beneficiaries and adjusting the retirement age to reflect improvements in life expectancy, a better approach would ensure the solvency of Social Security for those who truly need it while giving Americans of all incomes more control over their own retirement savings.

Ignore the New Obama Administration Report on Climate Change Action - Daily Signal

Ignore the New Obama Administration Report on Climate Change Action

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Ryan T. Anderson / Michael Sargent / Nicolas Loris /

The Obama administration released Tuesday a new report warning that with accelerating climate change comes accelerating costs: Costs will increase by 40 percent each decade of inaction on climate change. The report fails to mention, however, that the administration’s climate policies come with much steeper price tags. Nor is there any action that will actually mitigate temperatures even if climate change were a problem.

The new report warns that inaction will result in temperatures increases that will exacerbate economic damages associated with climate change by 0.9 percent of global output or $150 billion.  Let’s assume this is true.  Whether it be cap-and-trade, carbon tax or Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the climate change proposals will cost that annually.

For instance, Heritage Foundation economists modeled the effects of the Boxer-Sanders carbon tax legislation. The Boxer–Sanders bill calls for a tax on CO2 emissions that starts at $20 per metric ton in 2014. This tax rate rises by 5.6 percent per year, growing to $50 per metric ton by 2030 (after adjusting for inflation).  Since a carbon tax would drive up energy costs and squeeze production and consumption, it would not only result in higher taxes but also in less economic growth.

Heritage found that Boxer–Sanders would extract over $100 billion from the private sector in its very first year (2014) and over $200 billion in 2030 (after adjusting for inflation). The total revenue for the years 2014 through 2030 is nearly $3 trillion. The energy price shocks created by the Boxer–Sanders bill would reduce national income by $92 billion in 2020. This negative economic impact gets worse and cuts $146 billion from gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030.

What about the EPA’s war on coal?  Heritage modeled those costs as well, finding that a phasing out of coal over the 2015-2038 time period would decrease GDP by $2.23 trillion over the entire period of the analysis.

Again, let’s assume the climate report is accurate (a big assumption) in their calculation of the costs of $150 billion for a 3 degree Celsius increase as opposed to 2 degrees.  These costs would occur even with action because the climate policies would do nothing to significantly mitigate global temperatures. A high-end estimate of a $25-per-ton tax concludes that it would moderate global warming by 0.11 degrees Celsius by the end of the century – far short of the full 1 degree reduction the report says is necessary to avoid these costs.

The report is also predictably inaccurate in the actual assessment of the earth’s climate.  The report warns of rising sea levels and that “the rate of increase appears to be accelerating.” Yes, sea levels are rising but a March 2014 report in Nature shows that the rate of increase has declined so much so that climatologist Judith Curry said it “makes the 21st century of sea level rise projections seem like unjustified arm waving.”

Unjustified arm waving is an apt way to describe the administration’s climate push and it’s the climate policies that will cost Americans an arm and a leg.

 

EPA Climate Regulations Will Affect You—but Not the Climate - Daily Signal

EPA Climate Regulations Will Affect You—but Not the Climate

Elizabeth Slattery / Kelsey Harkness / Alex Anderson / Mary Tillotson / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Ryan T. Anderson / Michael Sargent / Nicolas Loris / Hillary Rosenjack /

Senators John Barrasso (R–WY), James Inhofe (R–OK), David Vitter (R–LA), and Roger Wicker (R–MS) rightly criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed regulations for new power plants at a congressional hearing last week.

The regulations for new plants, announced in June, set thresholds for CO2 output that would effectively eliminate new coal power plant construction. For the existing plant regulations, states will be forced to cut huge and widely varying portions of their emissions by 2030 based on a state-by-state formula created by the EPA.

More than 80 percent of America’s energy needs are met through carbon-emitting conventional fuels. Last year, coal and natural gas provided 66 percent of U.S. electricity generation.

While hardworking Americans have no say in whether this agency-sponsored rule will go into play, they will be personally affected. At the hearing, the opponents of the rule emphasized that the targets will increase energy prices, the costs of which will ripple through the economy, raising prices on all goods because of the increased input costs for businesses. In turn, this will cause people to spend a larger portion of their income on necessities. It will hit those on fixed incomes—especially the poor and the elderly—the hardest.

Even worse, jobs may be scarce even as wages have decreased. State governments, as they seek to lower emissions, will likely be forced to choose winners and losers among the energy providers, thus lowering consumer choice. According to Senator Wicker, for example, reaching the targets will require 100 percent of Mississippi’s coal production to be shut down, which makes up thousands of jobs and a huge portion of the state economy.

The opponents also spoke about how the rule possesses questionable legality and environmental impact. The EPA is regulating greenhouse gas emissions because of the alleged contribution to global warming that would result in harmful effects to human health and the environment. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted, these regulations would have no meaningful impact on climate change or temperature reduction. This means the loss of jobs, affordable energy, and innovation would all be for naught.

All in all, the regulations would without a doubt cost jobs and hurt the paychecks of hardworking Americans.

Hillary Rosenjack is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.