Taxibus: Tax-And-Spending Bill
It's a very mixed bag. Here's a quick rundown on the issues we were tracking:
- Key First Amendment protections. This is something we've been working on for several years and were thrilled to see included. The deal bans the IRS from regulating political speech by nonprofit groups, shortcircuiting any effort to use the agency to sideline conservative groups in 2016 as they did in 2012. We think the First Amendment comes first for a reason, and while so much of the economic policy in the deal is terrible, losing our ability to engage the political process would be much worse, because it would take us out of the game of being able to effectively fight back on any issues.
- The expiring ban on state and local Internet access taxes. We didn't get the permanent extension we wanted (we still expect a vote on that in January - so keep sending those letters to the Senate) but we also avoided the nightmare scenario of the ban expiring as scheduled. It has been extended one year until October 1, 2016.
- Obamacare insurance company bailout and Obamacare taxes. Democrats and the big insurance companies fought hard to remove language from last year's omnibus that prohibits HHS from turning a program called Risk Corridors into an open-ended bailout to funnel billions from taxpayers directly to insurance companies taking losses on their Obamacare products. They lost. The language was retained. This is a huge conservative win because an open-ended bailut would have masked Obamacare's structural problems through another election. On the other hand, Democrats did get several taxes delayed, including a two-year pause of the medical device tax, a one-year pause of the health insurance premium tax, and a two-year delay of the Cadillac Tax. The Cadillac Tax is already hammering union health plans, so that was the top priority for Democrats.
- Funding for Green Climate Fund/Paris global warming agreement. Democrats wanted a $3 billion downpayment on the massive $100 billion annual transfer of wealth that John Kerry agreed to in Paris. Republicans wanted language BANNING any contribution. What ended up passing is completely silent on the issue, but sources are saying the State Department has enough money in other accounts to make the first $500 million payment and possibly the whole $3 billion.
- >The FCC order implementing Obama's plan to regulate the Internet.
The bottom line is this: Democrats got their way on many major issues but we're also heading into 2016 with some very crucial wins. Conservatives cannot be IRSed in 2016 the way we were in 2012 and Obamacare will not be propped up with a bailout.
That's enough to make me very optimistic that 2016 can be a huge conservative year so I'm choosing to look on the bright side!
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. Follow him at (@kerpen) and on Facebook. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.
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