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Jonathan Decker on December 28, 2017 | End Regulatory Tyranny

By Jon Decker

Last week, the developers of Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine finally submitted a permit for their long-delayed project to develop a critical source of copper and other minerals.

This decision follows a major policy shift by the Trump administration which forced the EPA to use science and review actual permit applications when evaluating development projects like Pebble Mine.  It sounds like common sense, I know. But under the Obama administration, scientific analysis was routinely cast aside by an EPA that operated as a left-wing political entity rather than a responsible federal agency.

Previously released emails show how Obama's EPA effectively outsourced its rulemaking responsibilities to far-left, agenda-driven environmentalist groups when crafting regulations. Obama's EPA also channeled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit these fringe organizations through grants, and even more money through sue-and-settle schemes.

But out of the countless examples of Obama's EPA flouting actual science in favor of environmental activism, few were as egregious as the Pebble Mine decision. 

In 2014, Obama's EPA announced that a developer would be unable to even apply for a permit to build a mine on the rural pebble deposit in Alaska – a location so remote that it cannot be reached by car.

Obama's EPA preemptively blocked the development group's permit application by using the highly obscure 404(c) section of the Clean Water Act which, as the House Oversight Committee noted in 2015, "was unprecedented and without a legal basis.” To make matters worse, the development group had already spent nearly $750 million to prepare to apply for the proper permits before the Obama administration announced its crackdown on their infrastructure plan.

Thankfully, the Trump administration's EPA, helmed by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has proven itself dedicated to restoring rigorous, scientific cost/benefit analysis for new development projects. The Trump administration repealed the Obama-era blanket ban on building in this secluded region back in May, and Pebble's developers have now responded by preparing a new permit application to build a scaled-down version of the mine.

As Pebble Mine's developers point out, this project would "bring in additional jobs, investment and economic activity to Alaska." There is no question that the construction of this mine would be a strong testament to the success of Trump's regulatory rollback in creating new American jobs.

Yet even more importantly, the fact that the Trump administration is allowing Pebble's developers to apply for a permit shows that the era of science taking a backseat at the EPA is over. It shows that projects will now be evaluated based on their merits, while weighing all environmental concerns, on a case-by-case basis. That's the way it should be, and that is a Yuge deal. ...

By Phil Kerpen
 
With his signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, President Trump will achieve three signature legislative victories for the American people: cutting taxes, repealing the Obamacare mandate, and boosting American energy production.
 
Tax reform will provide a strong direct boost to take home pay.  The standard deduction jumps from $13,000 to $24,000 for a married couple and from $6,500 to $12,000 for a single filer.  Above the much more generous deduction amount, the 15 percent rate is cut to 12 percent, all the way up to $77,400 for married couples and $38,700 for singles.  The rest of the rates are also cut, providing tax cuts at every income level while making the overall tax system more progressive: the share of all federal income taxes paid by millionaires is expected to increase from 19.3 percent to 19.8 percent.
 
The bill doubles the child credit to $2,000 per child, including up to $1,400 per child for non-income taxpayers.  The credit phases out above $400,000 in income, making it available to nearly everyone.
 
Several controversial items in early versions of the bill were removed: there is no change to the deduction for teachers' classroom expenses, graduate student tuition waivers, the adoption tax credit, or 401(k) contributions.  The deduction for medical expenses was not only retained but expanded.
 
Not everyone gets a tax cut, but the overwhelming majority of Americans do.  Even according to the liberal Tax Policy Center, over 80 percent of tax units will receive a tax cut averaging $2,140 while just 4.8 percent of units will see a tax hike.  
 
The tax hikes tend to be for high income taxpayers in areas with high state and local taxes.  Under the old system, those high state and local taxes could be deducted without any limit from federal taxes.  Under the new bill those deductions are limited to $10,000.  In time, even that small group of taxpayers should benefit too as state and local politicians – no longer able to offload the taxes they impose to the rest of the country via an unlimited deduction – will be forced to lower taxes to stay competitive.
 
The easiest way to find out what the new tax bill means for you is a tool developed by Maxim Lott at www.TaxPlanCalculator.com.
 
The new provisions are expected to be implemented in time to show up in February paychecks, and you should fill out a new W-4 form as soon as the IRS makes it available to make sure your adjusted withholding is accurate.
 
Perhaps even more significant for many families is the impact of the bill's business tax cuts on wage growth.  The U.S. has been uncompetitive internationally, with the highest corporate tax rate in the world and a perverse system that penalizes companies for bringing home the profits of their foreign subsidiaries.  An analysis by Council of Economic...
Phil Kerpen on December 5, 2017 | Protect the Free-Market Internet

By Phil Kerpen

The perpetual outrage mob on the left has adopted an unlikely target of late – the brainy, affable head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Chairman Ajit Pai.  Pai is now flanked by a Homeland Security protective detail everywhere he goes because of a deluge of specific, credible threats of violence toward him and his young children.  He's also facing on onslaught of racist smears and attacks too obscene to quote – including an image asserting that Pai is Osama bin Laden after shaving his beard.     

Members of Congress are coming under similar attack for supporting Pai's signature proposal.  The most outrageous example resulted in a criminal indictment after Congressman John Katko received a message threatening: "I will find you and your family and I will kill you all. Do you understand? I will literally find all of you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth."

So what is the apocalyptic, world-changing Pai proposal that is inspiring violent, unhinged attacks from the left?  He wants to rescind Obama Internet regulations that have only been in place for two years and return to the approach that was in effect since the Internet was privatized in the mid-1990s until 2015, treating net neutrality as a consumer protection and antitrust issue.

Personally, I recall the Internet improving pretty dramatically over those two decades, but the consensus on the left is that it was a hellscape.

How did that happen?  How did so many people become passionately convinced of the plainly illogical proposition that the Internet would be destroyed if we went back to the light-touch regulatory approach that was in place for nearly all the Internet's commercial history until just two years ago?

For over a decade, professional liberal organizers told the bizarre scare story that without heavy-handed government regulation, Internet service providers (ISPs) will start blocking what websites you can go to and impeding free speech on the Internet.  No such thing happened.  To the contrary, robust competition between phone and cable companies – and later wireless companies – drove speeds dramatically higher and consumers benefited from an Internet that innovated beyond our wildest dreams.

Nonetheless, in 2015, ultraliberal advocacy groups (fueled by $196 million from the Soros and Ford Foundations) and Silicon Valley giants like Google (which cycled a shocking 250 personnel through the Obama administration and saw regulating ISPs as a way to guarantee themselves access to below-market-rate downstream bandwidth) succeeded in getting the FCC to reclassify ISPs as regulated public utilities.

This was done under a Depression-era law designed for the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly.  Thousands of requests to micromanage every aspect of the Internet piled up at the FCC Enforcement Bureau and the commission was set to adopt a sweeping new broadband tax to replace the private investment it scared off – with strings attached of course – during a Hillary Clinton administration.

The liberal organizers of the phony scare...

Jonathan Decker on November 29, 2017 | Fix the Tax Code

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