Flake Wins First Anti-Pork Amendment

Mr. Andrew Roth - June 29th, 2007

Flake Takes on Pork and Wins

Washington &mdash For the first time, one of Representative Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) amendments to eliminate wasteful pork projects passed. Late last night, 100 Republicans and 149 Democrats voted to strip the Financial Services Appropriations Bill (HR 2829) of a $129,000 pork project offered by fellow Republican Patrick McHenry (R-NC) for the “Perfect Christmas Tree” project&mdasha venture to subsidize North Carolina artists who make holiday decorations.

The indomitable Jeff Flake has made a career out fighting against wasteful pork projects on behalf of American taxpayers. Last year, he offered 39 similar amendments and has offered 12 so far this year with more to come. The Club for Growth is monitoring these votes and others and will release a RePORK Card documenting which congressmen vote to protect American taxpayers and which do not.

“Last’s night’s victory is a small victory for taxpayers, but it is a victory nonetheless,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “The Club for Growth commends Jeff Flake for his tireless work and encourages taxpayer heroes like Rep. Flake to continue in what will surely be an uphill battle.”

“Unfortunately, many of the Democrats voting for Flake’s amendment were motivated by personal animus rather than fiscal responsibility. The same Democrats who rallied to vote against the ”Perfect Christmas Tree’ project voted to support a host of other wasteful projects including the Barracks Row Project in D.C. and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s urban center. Clearly, we have a long way to go before taxpayers can count on a majority of Congress to protect their hard-earned dollars.”

A Repork Card

Mr. Andrew Roth - June 27th, 2007

Club for Growth Announces 2007 RePORK Card

Washington &mdash As House members stuff the fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills with wasteful pork projects, Congressmen Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will offer a series of amendments to strip the most outrageous earmarks from the spending bills.

The Club for Growth will be monitoring the votes on these amendments, and other anti-pork amendments, over the next several weeks and will release a 2007 RePORK Card documenting each lawmaker’s vote and his or her commitment to protecting taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The 2007 RePORK Card follows a similar tally released last year by Citizens Club for Growth, documenting members’ votes on 19 anti-pork amendments offered by Rep. Jeff Flake.

Some of the targeted pork projects this year include:

  • $100,000 for the Philadelphia art museum exterior facade, requested by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
  • $100,000 for renovation of the Fire Fighters Hall in Columbus, Ohio, requested by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
  • $100,000 for the renovation of St. Joseph College’s theatre in Indiana, requested by Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN)

“This new Congress talks a lot about fiscal responsibility, but there is nothing fiscally responsible about these pork projects,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “These earmarks are not competitively awarded and are divvied out without any congressional oversight. But most important, the federal government should not be in the business of renovating union halls and local art museums, and American taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for what are essentially political reelection campaigns.”

“American taxpayers deserve to know how their representatives spend their money. The Club for Growth RePORK Card will provide a list of congressional members who are willing to stand up for taxpayers and congressional members who are only willing to stand up for themselves.”

Drunk on Nannyism

Mr. Andrew Roth - June 26th, 2007

Mike Bloomberg Spends Taxpayer Dollars to tell New York What to Drink

Washington – It wasn’t enough for New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to make the mere presence of an empty ashtray in an office building illegal. Nor was he satisfied with banning trans fats in all New York City restaurants. Now Mike Bloomberg wants to tell New York City residents what to drink, and he wants to spend taxpayer dollars to do it.

According to the New York Daily News, Mayor Bloomberg is launching a $700,000 ad campaign to promote tap water. Taxpayer dollars will fund a total of 1,400 advertisements on New York City subways, bus kiosks, and check-cashing stations. Ironically, this campaign comes one month after the city raised water rates.

This latest waste of taxpayer dollars reflects Mayor Bloomberg’s long record of raising taxes and city spending through the roof. In his first term, Bloomberg raised sales, income, and property taxes while increasing spending by an average of 10% per year&mdashfar outpacing the growth of inflation and population.

“Many journalists have labeled Mike Bloomberg a ”fiscal conservative,’ but there is nothing conservative about spending $700,000 of taxpayers’ money to tell them what to drink,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Bloomberg’s latest crusade demonstrates his little respect for New York City’s hardworking taxpayers and the right of individuals to make their own choices.”

Club Reaction to WRTL Decision

Mr. Andrew Roth - June 25th, 2007

Club for Growth Cautiously Optimistic over Court’s Free Speech Decision

Washington &mdash While the Club for Growth supports the complete repeal of McCain-Feingold, the Supreme Court’s decision today in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC marks an encouraging victory for political free speech.

In a 5-4 decision, Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy upheld Wisconsin Right to Life’s First Amendment right to run ads that mention a candidate’s name within 60 days of a general election. Although McCain-Feingold restricts “electioneering communications” within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election, the Court ruled that the group’s ads were not the “functional equivalent” of express advocacy. More importantly, the majority decision lays out a clearer test for which speech falls under the prohibited category of “express advocacy” and which falls under the now permitted category of “issue ads.” The Roberts test will hopefully put an end to the FEC’s practice of issuing deliberately obscure guidelines so as to chill political speech and force the agency to rewrite its regulations.

“The Court’s ruling has the potential to dramatically open up public debate in this country,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “We are particularly pleased by the Court’s insistence on giving ”the benefit of any doubt to protecting rather than stifling speech.’”

“At the same time, we are disappointed that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito balked at overruling McCain-Feingold’s ban on ads close to an election, as advocated by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy. The Court’s 93-page decision today has the potential to open up a Pandora’s Box of future litigation as groups struggle to determine which kind of speech falls under the Court’s protected category and which kind of speech remains prohibited by McCain-Feingold. We hope the Supreme Court will take the opportunity in future cases to close the Pandora’s Box once and for all.”

Taxing Private Equity

Mr. Andrew Roth - June 19th, 2007

Taxaholics Target Private Equity

Washington &mdash As several private equity firms prepare to go public, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are attempting to hammer legislation through the Senate that will punish these firms by imposing an oppressive tax hike on all publicly traded partnerships.

Supporters of the Baucus-Grassley bill anticipate a treasure trove of new tax revenue, but taxing innovation and success will produce less revenue, not more. A punitive tax increase will push private equity firms to remain private or move offshore&mdashto the detriment of the country’s economic growth. “If Congress was really interested in producing more tax revenue, it would cut taxes, not raise them,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Private equity firms add liquidity to our capital markets, spur innovation, and enhance productivity. The Baucus-Grassley tax hike will diminish their dynamism and lower returns for pension funds, universities, and others who invest with them.”

To make matters worse, there is talk of attaching the Baucus-Grassley legislation to the energy bill slated to move through the Senate this week in the hopes of slipping the offensive tax hike under the radar of public opinion.

“If Senators Baucus and Grassley think they can pass an onerous tax increase on American businesses without so much of a peep from the American taxpayers who would bear the brunt of diminishing growth and innovation, they have another thing coming,” Mr. Toomey said. “Advocates of economic growth will not sit silently while the taxaholics in the U.S. Senate take their shots at the U.S. economy.”