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Businesses and advocacy groups plan to dial up pressure on Congress to block tax increases, as lawmakers prepare to head home for the August recess.
Business advocates hope the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year will become a flashpoint at town hall meetings and other gatherings, just as health care and government spending were during last year’s August break.
In a pair of letters to lawmakers later this week, businesses plan to raise concerns about looming tax increases on investment income and also on individual income. The groups will argue that the ultimate effect of the tax increases will be to “discourage investment in the recovering U.S. economy and in job creation,” according to a person familiar with the effort.
The effort is being organized by a couple of coalitions. One, the Alliance for Savings & Investment, has about 25 investment group and company members; it focuses on tax relief for investors. The other organization, the Tax Relief Coalition, includes major business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as manufacturers, contractors and others.
Conservative activists are hoping the issue of the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax breaks will catch fire among grassroots tea party groups, too.
“It’s something people everywhere are interested in,” said Max Pappas, vice president of FreedomWorks, the conservative activist group. “There’s pretty broad agreement that higher taxes mean less economic growth.”
Meanwhile, talks continued in the Senate this week over how to deal with the Bush tax cuts, which lapse on Jan. 1. But a number of issues remain outstanding. For example, Democrats are searching for consensus on whether to extend the breaks for all individuals, or let tax rates rise for higher earners – basically families making more than $250,000 – as President Barack Obama and many House Democrats want.
Other issues include how to address the impending re-imposition of the estate tax in 2011, as well as whether any tax relief should be permanent or only short-term, as the government tries to address large future budget deficits and debt. Even if Senate Democrats find a tax package that works for them, they will have trouble signing up Republicans, who sense a powerful political issue for the fall campaigns, and remain unhappy over what they regard as heavy-handed tactics by the majority party this year.
As a result, any final congressional action before November’s elections still seems unlikely. But Senate Democrats are making an effort to pass their tax-cut extension, and action by the Finance Committee before August remains a possibility.
Businesses and advocacy groups plan to dial up pressure on Congress to block tax increases, as lawmakers prepare to head home for the August recess.Business advocates hope the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year will become a flashpoint at town hall meetings and other gatherings, just as health care and government spending were during last year’s August break.
<p>As payday lenders battle regulations in Ohio and elsewhere, they've found allies in organizations linked to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.</p>
<p>FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit organization chaired by the Texas Republican, and the Consumers Rights League, an advocacy group run out of the FreedomWorks offices, have both jumped to the defense of payday lenders, arguing that borrowers can decide for themselves whether to take on the controversial, high-interest-rate loans.</p>
<p>The Consumers Rights League argues that payday loans represent the "democratization of credit" and promises to counter the "numerous, self-appointed 'consumer advocacy' groups that are aggressively lobbying to restrict the choices we have." The site provides links to Internet payday-loan companies.</p>
<p>The organization recently dispatched a billboard truck to Columbus, Ohio, as part of a lobbying campaign against groups pressing the state legislature to clamp down on payday-lending practices.</p>
<p>FreedomWorks provides office space to the Consumers Rights League. The league's Web site identifies Terry Kibbe as its "chief public advocate," but does not explain what that role entails or identify any other official in the organization. Ms. Kibbe is married to Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks.</p>
<p>In January, Mr. Kibbe sent letters to Virginia lawmakers to "urge you to defend consumer choice and avoid passing new regulations on the payday lending industry."</p>
<p>Mr. Armey, a PhD economist, is a longtime advocate of tax cuts and smaller government. He was a leader of the libertarian, supply-side wing of the Republican party after it took over control of the House of Representatives in the 1994 election.</p>
<p>He earned $403,333 in 2006 as chairman of the FreedomWorks Foundation, the organization's tax-deductible educational group, and another $100,833 as chairman of FreedomWorks Inc., its advocacy and lobbying arm, according to the latest public filings.</p>
<p>Mr. Armey is also a one-time board member of Rent-A-Center Inc., Plano Texas, a rent-to-own company that made a big push into payday lending in 2005, when the former congressman was on its board.</p>
<p>Along with the Consumers Rights League, Rent-A-Center has also been fighting in Ohio. It recently used the threat of withdrawing its donations to pressure an Ohio food-bank association into quitting a coalition of church and social activists backing the legislature's crackdown. (See related story.)</p>
<p>Mr. Armey said through a spokesman he has no direct connection to the Consumers Rights League. </p>
<p>In addition, in a written response to questions, he said that when he was "on the board of [Rent-A-Center] it was not engaged in pay-day lending." He added: "However, it is unsurprising that RAC would now fight legislation that would outlaw part of its business in the state of Ohio." </p>
<p>Reminded that Mr. Armey served on the board from 2004 to September 2006 and that the company entered the payday-loan business during that time, his spokesman amended the statement to say that the former congressman "does not recall" Rent-A-Center doing any payday lending during his tenure there.</p>
<p>Ms. Kibbe didn't respond to interview requests through her spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, or her husband, or via messages left on her work and home answering machines. FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon said there is no professional tie between FreedomWorks and the Consumers Rights League.</p>
<p>Mr. Kibbe won't disclose FreedomWorks's financial backers. The group raised $4.2 million from the public in 2006, the last figure the organization has made public. "We will happily take money from anybody who shares our views," Mr. Kibbe said. But, he added, "we don't carry water for corporations or anybody else."</p>
<p>A spokesman for Rent-A-Center said the company makes no contributions to FreedomWorks. A spokesman for the Community Financial Services Association said the payday-loan trade group funds "free-market" organizations, but would not say whether that includes FreedomWorks.</p>
<p>Write to Michael M. Phillips at email@example.com
<p>As payday lenders battle regulations in Ohio and elsewhere, they've found allies in organizations linked to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.</p> <p>FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit organization chaired by the Texas Republican, and the Consumers Rights League, an advocacy group run out of the FreedomWorks offices, have both jumped to the defense of payday lenders, arguing that borrowers can decide for themselves whether to take on the controversial, high-interest-rate loans.</p>