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This Week on Capitol Hill
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Press Release

This Week on Capitol Hill

Congress is still adjourned for the Easter recess and will not return until next week. The economic growth plan will be the first item of business for congressional tax writing committees. However, if Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) steadfastly maintains his guarantee to Senate moderates Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to oppose any tax cut more than $350 billion, his assurance could jeopardize the entire economic growth plan and affect the 2004 presidential and congressional elections.

04/25/2003
The End of Broadband As We Know It?
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Press Release

The End of Broadband As We Know It?

The Courts are about to eviscerate Internet privacy in the name of protecting large record labels. In his January 21, 2003, ruling, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled that Verizon had to disclose the personal information of a Verzion customer who was file-sharing. The Judge made a flawed interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), because the allegedly infringing content never resided on Verizon’s servers.

04/25/2003
Ohio Agrees: It’s Time to “Ax the Double Tax”
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Press Release

Ohio Agrees: It’s Time to “Ax the Double Tax”

When the wheels of Air Force One touch down at Akron-Canton Regional Airport on Thursday morning, there will be a groundswell of grassroots support across Ohio in support of the President's plan to end the double taxation of dividend income.

04/24/2003
Voinovich Will Greet Bush in Ohio, but Won't Change Stance on Taxes
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Voinovich Will Greet Bush in Ohio, but Won't Change Stance on Taxes

BY Carl Weiser

WASHINGTON -- Sen. George Voinovich and President Bush will come close enough to shake hands Thursday in Dayton, but they'll still be $ 200 billion apart. The two Republicans are at odds over how large a tax cut Congress should pass. Bush originally wanted a $ 726 billion tax cut over 10 years. Earlier this month, Voinovich and other moderate Republicans, worried about endless deficits, struck a deal with Senate leaders to keep Bush's proposed tax cut to $ 350 billion.

04/23/2003
Ohio Agrees: It's Time to "Ax the Double Tax";
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Ohio Agrees: It's Time to "Ax the Double Tax";

When the wheels of Air Force One touch down at Akron-Canton Regional Airport on Thursday morning, there will be a groundswell of grassroots support across Ohio in support of the President's plan to end the double taxation of dividend income. Five grassroots groups, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens Against Government Waste, the National Taxpayers Union, 60 Plus Association, and the Seniors Coalition, are actively coordinating their activities in support of the President's tax cut plan. All combined, these groups have tens of thousands of members in the state of Ohio and form an informal coalition working to "Ax the Double Tax." As part of this coordinated effort, at 11 AM while the President meets with Ohio workers Thursday morning, Ohio citizens will converge on the Cleveland offices of Senator George Voinovich to rally for full and complete repeal of the dividend tax. CSE President Paul Becker said: "The Buckeye state wants to send a message to Senator Voinovich that it is critical to get real tax relief through the Senate. Full repeal of the dividend tax is the centerpiece of the President's tax relief proposal, and it will bring real benefits to the Ohio economy. "The Cleveland 'Ax the Double Tax' rally is part of an all-out effort by five different grassroots groups to promote the plan to get full repeal of the dividend tax. The President is focused on enacting tax relief to create jobs and get the economy moving again, and that issue is also the first priority for all of our members. We're working hard to get Senator Voinovich to support at least $550 billion in tax relief in the budget this year, and to support full repeal of the dividend tax."

04/23/2003
Hotel Subsidies Up In Downturn
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Hotel Subsidies Up In Downturn

BY J. Christopher Hain

As cities nationwide compete to lure conventioneers, financing for convention center hotels is drying up, and local governments are putting more public money into building them. Even so, some question putting public dollars into a venture that private investors consider too risky. One Texas study last month suggests government-financed hotels hurt existing hotels instead of attracting new conventioneers. Others argue that any public convention center project is doomed without a headquarter hotel. A study published last year in Economic Development Journal estimated the public sector provided nearly half of $3 billion spent to finance 20 major convention center hotels built since 1995. In West Palm Beach, the county-owned, 330,000-square-foot convention center is scheduled to open in November. The Related Cos., the developer expected to build the adjacent $70 million hotel, has made no progress toward constructing it. "It's going to be almost impossible to finance that hotel privately," said Bill Meyer, chairman of Meyer Jabara Hotels, which owns 27 hotels primarily along the East Coast. The Palm Beach County Convention Center will suffer without an adjacent hotel. Few hotels exist nearby - only one within walking distance. But since Sept. 11, 2001, financing for hotels of every kind has declined along with air travel, tourism and room bookings. "2002 was probably the worst year in the hospitality industry since the real estate crash of the early 1990s," Meyer said. "And 2003 is even worse." Additionally, the rates a West Palm Beach hotel can charge year-round are not enough to make a large, full-service hotel profitable because of the decreased demand during the summer, he said. "It becomes very difficult to make a profit without public subsidies," he said. Across the country, cities are getting into the convention game. Within Florida alone, the Palm Beach County Convention Center will face considerable competition. Orlando is expanding its Orange County Convention Center. And those who find Orlando too pricey can soon sign up at the Osceola County Convention Center and its 800-room hotel to be built just to the south of Orlando. In Texas, officials in Dallas and San Antonio are contemplating government-supported convention hotels. A study released last month by Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative think tank, concluded that the primary impact of tax-subsidized convention hotels is to hurt existing, privately financed hotels rather than to attract new conventions. What's more, a glut of new and expanded convention centers and a decline in nationwide attendance have made convention competition hectic, the study declared.

04/23/2003
The Texas Freedom Agenda
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Press Release

The Texas Freedom Agenda

For those Texans who support the principles of lower taxes, less government, and more freedom, we have a real opportunity in 2003 to affect policy change in our state. But we need your help. Our governor and Texas legislators on both sides of the aisle need to hear from you that Texans want to see these principles reflected in legislation this year. I hope that you will join with CSE to promote these important issues and work to defend our economic liberty.

04/23/2003
Rein in the Trial Lawyers
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Press Release

Rein in the Trial Lawyers

April 22, 2003 The Honorable Bill Frist Senate Majority Leader S-230 Capitol Building Washington, DC 20510-7010 Dear Majority Leader Frist, On April 10, 2003, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved bipartisan legislation, S. 274, the “Class Action Fairness Act of 2003.” Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) supports this important civil justice reform measure, and on behalf of CSE’s 280,000 members, I urge you to expedite this bill for Senate consideration.

04/22/2003
Budget Would Curtail Land Buys
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Budget Would Curtail Land Buys

BY Bruce Henderson

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund, North Carolina's premiere source of land-conservation money, is once again the target of budget-slashing legislators. N.C. House members last week shaved 75 percent off the $100 million that, by state law, the fund is due. But the fund is also an example of this session's special brand of in-your-face environmental legislation. Some bills, for the first time in memory, have attempted to eliminate the jobs of "adversarial" state regulators. Others would place critical limits on key existing environmental laws. A provision attached to the House budget, for example, prevents trust-fund acquisitions in counties where state or federal governments own 40 percent or more of the land. Swain and Macon counties, site of one of the state's highest conservation priorities, fit that description. The trust fund board last week gave initial approval to a $6 million grant to help buy the 4,400 acres of wilderness there, along the Little Tennessee River. The trust-fund measure was later softened to allow acquisitions if county commissioners approve. Broad public support has greeted the purchase of the Needmore tract, as the mountain property is known, making the budget provision an unlikely handicap. Rep. Roger West, the Cherokee County Republican who sponsored the provision, said he's against more government acquisitions in mountain counties dominated by national forests and parks that are exempt from county property taxes. West made another point via legislation. This one was about state environmental officials, who he said are too slow to issue permits and too fast to levy fines. He sponsored a budget provision that would eliminate the job of a regional air-quality supervisor who fined a contracting company from West's district $78,000 last year. West said he filed the provision because Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials wouldn't discuss the fine with him. The House co-speakers killed his measure last week. West's name also appeared on a bill, sponsored by Rep. Connie Wilson, R-Mecklenburg, that would essentially fire two "adversarial" state wetlands officials. That measure will be withdrawn, West said. "It seems like they're not pro-environment but anti-progress," West said of the environmental officials. "I'm hearing from people in the mountains who can't get development projects done. It seems like there's a problem that needs to be looked into. They're holding up progress, and progress is something I like." Advocates haven't seen so many anti-environmental measures since 1995, when property-rights supporters threatened to block legislation, said Molly Diggins, state director of the Sierra Club. One possible explanation: A large number of new legislators and the unusual situation of co-speakers leading the House, she said, may give interest groups higher hopes of influencing lawmakers. Diggins attributes chafing over environmental permits, in part, to chronically understaffed state agencies. Permit fees, which help pay for staff, haven't increased since 1989. "Most often," Diggins added, "it's people not really wanting to abide by their permits." It's deja vu for some measures emerging this spring. Wilson sponsored a bill that requires state agencies to consider the economic impact of new rules on small business, and forbids state rules that are tougher than federal law. The last provision reminds old-timers of the so-called Hardison amendments, which forbade stronger state environmental rules than the feds' rules. The legislature repealed those limits in 1991. In the mid-1990s, responding to pollution from hog farms, the state adopted new tougher rules that Wilson's bill would have prevented. Property rights also bubbled up again this year, for the sixth time, by Diggins' count. A bill Wilson co-sponsored would make local governments pay "just compensation" for billboards or other structures they want removed. It also says giving billboard owners a period of years in which to remove their signs, a typical approach, doesn't count as compensation. The anti-tax group Citizens for a Sound Economy rallied around property rights in recent years as the state Environmental Management Commission moved toward requiring buffer zones on the Catawba River. It's now exhorting its members to attend public hearings on state stormwater rules, which CSE charges would be stricter than the federal government requires. "The environmental lobby and the EMC seem to have tremendous power, whether it's highways or buffers," said CSE state director Jonathan Hill. Bill Holman, a longtime environmental lobbyist and former DENR secretary, said the environment is usually in the middle of a legislative tug-of-war. Now executive director of the Clean Water fund, Holman said he doesn't detect a backlash as much as a need to educate House members about the importance of environmental programs. Last year, state law called for the fund to get $70 million a year. Statewide cutbacks reduced the appropriation to $66.5 million. State law says the appropriation is supposed to rise to $100 million for each of the next two fiscal years. The House budget set it at $25 million. The Senate still must act. The fund is reviewing about $100 million in grant requests, including projects to clean up Charlotte's Little Sugar Creek, protect the city's water intake and buy shoreline on the South Fork Catawba River. Holman expects new requests totaling a similar amount later this year. The state needs to spend $176 million more each year to reach its goal of conserving 1 million acres by 2010, says a new study by UNC Chapel Hill's Environmental Finance Center. "It's hard times" in the state budget, Holman said. "But I think it also shows we have work to do in the House to make investments in clean water more important."

04/20/2003
Tax Day Tally
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Press Release

Tax Day Tally

April 15th has come and gone and the issue of paying taxes may be losing its urgency for many. But in Washington, taxes remain an important topic of conversation, with President Bush and the Congress still hammering out the budget for next year. The president is pushing for a significant tax cut, but Congress has balked, with the Senate proposing to reduce the $726 billion tax cut proposal to $350 billion. Beyond the size of the government’s take, the complexity of the tax code also has sparked discussions on the future of tax policy in America. The tax code has grown so complex and so riddled with special interest loopholes that a real debate over fundamental tax reform is beginning to emerge.

04/18/2003

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