American’s For Tax Reform Clarifies It’s Position on HB 1055

Received via email. Click here to view the entire letter from Grover Norquist.

Our recent statement that HB 1055 does not violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is being misconstrued by some as an endorsement of the hospital bed tax increase. It certainly is not. We have opposed Gov. Perdue’s hospital tax since our letter on January 20, when we noted that HB 307 was a toxic mix of high taxes on Georgians and increased dependence on federal bailouts. We sent an alert to the entire legislature on March 24 reiterating our opposition to that bill.

HB 307 subsequently underwent a number of changes. It was amended in the Senate to include the elimination of the insurance premium tax. ATR remained opposed, as the tax cut was to be triggered by a $500 million reserve buildup and did not fully offset the hospital bed tax increase. We thank those legislators who worked to defeat that proposal.

When HB 1055 was amended by the House to include the hospital bed tax, the elimination of the statewide property tax, and tax reductions on retirement income, this was a net tax cut on Georgians.

The reserve buildup requirement does not exist in HB 1055; the tax cuts begin on January 1. When fully phased in, with the hospital bed tax expiring in three years and the statewide property tax completely eliminated in 2016, HB 1055 represents a net revenue reduction for the state – and a net tax reduction for Georgia citizens.

To be clear: The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a promise to oppose and vote against any bill that increases total taxation. To vote against a net tax cut because one opposes other increases inside the larger bill is certainly not a violation of the Pledge.(emphasis in the original)

I understand that some Pledge signers have reservations with the bill and voted against it. I share some of those reservations. Specifically, I see another fight on the horizon to ensure the hospital bed tax is not extended. ATR will work tirelessly to ensure that it sunsets in three years, and that the phaseout of the property tax is seen to completion. Our initial statement on the passage of HB 1055 reflects this.

28 comments

  1. fishtail says:

    So Grover Norquist is for a tax increase if another tax or fee is reduced to make it revenue neutral? Sounds like BullS*#t to me.

  2. John Konop says:

    The truth is the state needs the money and somebody has to pay. And if you take out the Obama stimulus money from the federal government we are short another 2 billion dollars if not more.

    The sunset we will see on fee increase and or taxes is when we have the money to pay our bills. And the truth is we will likely see more lay-offs and fee/tax increases once the stimulus money runs out.

    And I sure once again the right and left will attack me for posting the truth. But I challenge any of you to have a straight conversation with your representative and ask them if I am off on my math. In fact I challenge any office holder from either party to tell you how we make up the 2 Billion or so if the economy maintains relatively flat rate of growth? And I challenge them to tell how they plan on making up the 18 billion dollar future liability in the government workers retire healthcare plan with only 4 % in reserve? How will the schools keep up with the unfunded mandates from the failed No Child Left Behind? It is time for real adult conversation!

    • Henry Waxman says:

      The state “stimulus” dollars in Section 5001 of P.L. 111-5 will be extended beyond 12/31/10, and I am willing to entertain any wager from anyone who disagrees.

      • John Konop says:

        HW,

        The irony you scream about voting for a stimulus bill which the GOP is betting on to keep the state a float. And your comment is on a thread about a fee used to help balance the budget.

        • John Konop says:

          HW,

          One more thing you are banking on getting the renewal of the same amount of federal stimulus money from Obama which is a core issue you are running against. Why should anyone trust either party?

          This is just as crazy as Obama copying Romneycare while he is the leading GOP candidate for President and the major rallying cry is healthcare for the GOP.

          I will repeat we need real adult conversations about the taxes and cost cuts via the budget NOT GRANDSTANDING! At the end of the day this tax increase represents tough love realities of the situation we are in.

          • ByteMe says:

            At the end of the day this tax increase represents tough love realities of the situation we are in.

            Not really. It’s way too small and contrived. Next year’s budget will be much worse once the stimulus money is mostly gone. They need to suck it up and find additional sources of tax revenue without the grandstanding and contrivances.

            • John Konop says:

              ByteMe,

              I do agree, I see now way out without more cuts with fee and or tax increases. The government healthcare for state workers alone is getting out of control not including retires. I do think the state should look at self pooling to save money on insurance. And with that savings they would be at least treading water against the increase on a yearly healthcare.

        • Henry Waxman says:

          John, I really don’t see in any irony in a declarative statement that the Democrats will almost certainly extend the primary state assistance component of the “stimulus” bill. A six-month extension (until 7/1/11) has already passed the U.S. House twice, and it has significant support in the Senate.

          I’m just trying to be informative on an issue that I follow very closely, and I appreciate it when others inform me on issues they follow closely.

  3. mitchmartin says:

    yawn, who cares what an organization says that is funded by big tobacco and gambling interests.

    • Henry Waxman says:

      Speaking of gambling interests, someone should take a close look at who is making donations to the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who inserted billions of dollars in giveaways and new entitlement programs for Native Americans in the ObamaCare bill. By the way, there are no recognized tribes in his district.

      The word “Indian” appears 166 times in P.L. 111-148: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/C?c111:./temp/~c111fSLJqi

      • Henry Waxman says:

        So, if we are ignoring organizations that take gambling and tobacco money, then we have to ignore the DNC.

      • Henry Waxman says:

        Oh, and one more thing: When Native American tribes sign new contracts with casino companies, make sure you notice where that casino operation company is headquartered.

  4. kcordell says:

    Sen. Chip Rogers said on WDUN this morning that none of the “hospital fees” would be going into the general budget. He stated that 100% of the money would go toward “indigent care.” He also stated that hospitlas were prohibited from passing their fees onto the patients.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Chip Rogers is either a complete idiot, thinks that Georgians are idiots, or is preparing to implement medical services price controls. Short of extensive audits and price controls, there’s no way to keep service providers from raising prices to offset the tax.

    • Henry Waxman says:

      Senator Rogers is incorrect. Medicaid DSH funds go for uncompensated care. This is not going into a DSH or uncompensated care pool.

  5. Good to know our Republican lawmakers are tying themselves in knots to appease their god and butt-buddy Grover rather than do what’s needed for their constituents here in Georgia. Chip’s going to find out this November that the good folks in Cherokee County are tired of him jetting around on Koch Industries jets and screwing us and our kids.

  6. birdfan says:

    kcordell is right. If you read the bill, then you’ll see that the funds don’t go to the general state budget. They go into the indigent care fund, which then allows the hospitals to draw down medicaid dollars.

    The bill says, “All revenues raised pursuant to this article shall be deposited into the segregated account. Such funds shall be dedicated and used for the sole purpose of obtaining federal financial participation for medical assistance payments to providers on behalf of Medicaid recipients pursuant to Article 7 of Chapter 4 of Title 49.”

    ‘Segregated account’ means an account for the dedication and deposit of provider payments which is established within the Indigent Care Trust Fund created pursuant to Code Section 31-8-152.”

    The hospital community as a whole breaks even…with some benefiting more than others…based upon their number of medicaid patients. However, the hospital community supported the legislation rather than taking a cut that would have been financially detrimental to them.

    • Henry Waxman says:

      It MIGHT allow the state (not the hospitals) to artificially increase its effective FMAP (federal matching rate for Medicaid), but ONLY IF the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approves this additional funds.

      However, it is hard to trick HHS into matching a kickback/recycling scheme when the state’s attempts to scam the federal government out of more money is so plainly obvious and well advertised.

      If this bill passes, I will be contacting HHS to make sure the American taxpayers are not scammed by this BS.

  7. Goldwater Conservative says:

    All in all…”you can not have guns, butter and low taxes. The number just dont add up.”

  8. I don’t think very highly of interest groups arm-twisting politicians into signing “pledges”, even when they are about general idea that I support. Don’t try telling this to Bible fundamentalists or to Ron Paul “strict constitutionalists”, but with most ANY text you’re going to have terms that could easily be interpreted in two or more different ways.

    There are NO documents which tell you exactly what to do in any circumstance, from now until the end of time, without the need for further interpretation in the context of new questions. The same holds true for a political “pledge”. So you’re not only being arm-twisted on the front end to sign, but you’re basically giving the interest group control of INTERPRETING that principle for you in every given situation going forward.

    If your own good faith interpretation of how best to advance the principle varies, then you can certainly take that to the voters. However, the tag line that will be used against you is, “Sen. So-and-So Broke His Pledge!”. It’s hard to combat simple narratives like that with more intelligent and realistic “nuance”.

    I understand why politicians sign these things, as it’s often necessary to secure endorsements and get out ahead of an opponent on an issue. But it really is compromising your independence and judgment on an issue, and is poor leadership all around. Personally, I almost always think more highly of leaders who refuse these things.

    • Harry says:

      You can think more highly of them if you like, but you’re leaving them more weasel room, allowing them to be more easily bought off in the future by other interests which are perhaps less sympathetic to your own interests.

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