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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to the rumor of a deal on the discretionary spending caps, Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President, commented:

“Democratic and Republican ‘leaders’ in Congress appear more than content to bankrupt America. This rumored discretionary spending caps deal shows how out of touch the political class is with the rest of the country. Congress is drowning the country in a river of red ink. The recent long-term projections released by the CBO were a dark reminder of the future that we face if we don’t get our fiscal affairs in order.

“Although there are rumors of at least some off-sets, we’re concerned that one potential off-set in the form of price controls for prescription drugs will significantly chill innovation and damage the American healthcare system. This will inevitably lead to calls for far more expensive fixes, only exacerbating the existing issue. We should not insulate this area of our economy from market forces, but rather let the private sector craft the most efficient, cost-effective solution.”

In April, FreedomWorks led a coalition letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urging them not to bust the discretionary spending caps. The letter was signed by the Coalition to Reducing Spending, the Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, and several other organizations that advocate for less spending and limited government.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - FreedomWorks is proud to announce the FreedomFighter Award winners for 2018. The FreedomFighter award recognizes exceptional members of Congress who have proven to be dedicated supporters of economic freedom and personal liberty. On Wednesday, July 17, FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye presented the awards to the following lawmakers:

2018 Freedom Fighter Award Recipients

House (26): Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Dave Brat (R-Va.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Tom Garrett (R-Va.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) Senate (3): Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

FreedomWorks President, Adam Brandon, commented:

“We are proud of the 2018 recipients of the FreedomFighter awards. These dedicated legislators have relentlessly pursued policies that promote and uphold a constitutionally limited government that protects the individual liberties of all Americans. And while we’ve made great progress, we must remain vigilant to ensure bloated government spending and socialist policies from 2020 candidates don’t rob us of economic freedom and civil liberties.”

Eligibility for the award is based on votes on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard. In 2018, FreedomWorks scored key votes for legislation across several issues areas, including rollback of government overreach, efforts to increase Congressional transparency and accountability, cuts to wasteful government spending, and the passage of landmark bipartisan criminal justice reform.

FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Jason Pye, commented:

“We are encouraged by the 2018 FreedomFighter Award winners and all of the work they have done to limit spending and ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to realize their American dream, free of stifling government regulation. But our work is not finished. We still face a growing budget deficit thanks to out of control spending, and now, more than ever, we need lawmakers focused on keeping the federal government in check as we head into a decisive election cycle.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- FreedomWorks announces the launch of a six-figure ad campaign in the state of Tennessee in response to recent efforts by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to set government mandated rates for American pharmaceutical drugs as part of a surprise billing proposal.

Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President, commented:

“Government rate-setting in any form, in the health care sector or otherwise, brings us closer to the kind of full-on government control that the far-left advocates for, regardless of the party which proposes it. The proposals by HHS as well as some Senate Republicans ignore the reality that government interference in the healthcare space has created the problems we see today, and makes the fatal mistake of thinking that further government interference can solve these ills. From rate-setting to grant programs to increased requirements on insurers and healthcare providers, the conservative red flags abound in so-called Republican proposals. While the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs and surprise billing is a major problem, these proposals are not the answer.”

FreedomWorks’ ad campaign will run in the Knoxville and Nashville metro areas for a two week period beginning today, July 18.

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On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to cosponsor the Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act, H.R. 3791. Introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), the Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act would allow airports to become self-reliant when dealing with their infrastructure needs.

Airports are part of the backbone of America’s infrastructure. Carrying both freight and passengers, it is difficult to imagine a modern economy without commercial air travel. Yet, in recent years, we have neglected these crucial commercial hubs. As such, the Investing in America Act seeks to address airport funding needs by uncapping the passenger facility charge (PFC) and reducing the total statutory subsidy through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Doing so would allow our airports to grow and innovate in a way that is significantly less reliant on air-carriers or government subsidies.

The debate around passenger fees began with Evansville Airport v. Delta Airlines (1972) in which the Supreme Court upheld a $1 passenger fee charged by the Dress Memorial Airport (now Evansville Regional) for the purpose of maintenance and improvements. Delta had challenged the fee under the Commerce Clause and lost. Subsequently, Congress picked Delta’s side, statutorily banning airport-based user fees under the Airport Development Acceleration Act of 1973, legislation that later became known colloquially as the Anti-Head Tax Act.

It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later in 1990 that Congress recognized the enormous benefits of PFCs. In Section 109 of the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act, Congress allowed PFCs for the first time, setting the initial cap at $3.00 per flight segment. In 2000, as part of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, Congress raised the cap to $4.50 per flight segment to help adjust for inflation. Since the PFC has never been indexed to inflation, and since purchasing power has dropped by over 30 percent over the last 20 years, it is time for Congress to revisit the PFC as a way to reinvest in our infrastructure.

Since the last reform in 2000, the infrastructure needs of America’s airports have grown. A 2019 report estimated that American airports will require over $130 billion for maintenance and improvements over the next five years. The Investing in America Act is a pro-market way to address the growing need for funding in our nation’s airports.

The Investing in America Act is, without a doubt, the best road forward for addressing the funding problems that plague our airports. The legislation would achieve two goals. First, it would uncap the PFC, allowing airports the freedom to set their own user fees based on market forces. Second, the Investing in America Act would reduce the total statutory subsidy through the AIP from $3.35 billion to $2.95 billion. Most importantly, large airports who raise PFCs beyond $4.50 would no longer be eligible for subsidies from AIP, focusing AIP grants onto smaller airports while allowing large airports to utilize user fees to make up the difference.

Critics have argued that uncapping the PFC would fail because airports would raise fees, resulting in fewer passengers and less revenue. However, these critics ignore the empirical evidence to the contrary. Tampa International Airport (TPA) is a prime example of the way PFCs can help improve airports and increase capacity. This attracted more airlines and subsequently reduced airfares.

Uncapping the PFC and reducing statutory subsidies through the AIP is the only practical, market-minded approach to addressing the infrastructure shortfalls of our airports currently being discussed. Without any risk to taxpayers, the Investing in America Act would allow airports to provide for their own maintenance and improvement rather than keeping them waiting on a legislature who seems to have forgotten them.

For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and ask them to cosponsor the Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act, H.R. 3791.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks

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On behalf of FreedomWorks’ activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to vote NO on the Raise the Wage Act, H.R. 582. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the Raise the Wage Act would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years. A more appropriate short title for H.R. 582 would be the “Guaranteed Unemployment for Low-Skill and Entry-Level Workers Act.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.1 percent of hourly workers earn the federal minimum wage, with 47.1 percent of those being between the ages of 16 and 24. Generally, these are young and low-skill individuals who need to develop job skills while in high school or college before a career. The Raise the Wage Act would put in place a significant barrier for these young and low-skill individuals who are seeking to enter the workforce.

The Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years and, after the five-year phase-in, require the Secretary of Labor to annually determine a percentage increase based on the percent increase of the median hourly wages of all employees.

The bill would also phase-out the federal $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers. This particular aspect of the proposed legislation was even too far for Washington, D.C. Restaurants in the District opposed Initiative 77 because this ballot initiative applied the $15 minimum wage requirement to tipped workers. Although the initiative was approved by voters, the Council of the District of Columbia repealed the initiative in October 2018 because of the negative impact it would have on the District’s restaurant industry.

The end result of this bill would be reduced employment and reduced hours, as well as higher prices for virtually all consumer products. Low-skill and entry-level workers will ultimately take most of the hit.

States and municipalities have already had some experience with a $15 per hour minimum wage. A 2016 study of Seattle’s minimum wage hike, which, like the Raise the Wage Act, is a gradual increase to $15 per hour, found that “the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance caused hours worked by low-skilled workers (i.e., those earning under $19 per hour) to fall by 6.9 percent during the three quarters when the minimum wage was $13, resulting in a loss of around 3 million hours worked per calendar quarter and more than 5,000 jobs.” This study concluded that “total payroll for [minimum wage] jobs decreased, implying that the Ordinance lowered the amount paid to workers in low-wage jobs by an average of $74 per month per job in 2016.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that a $15 per hour minimum wage could cost as many as 3.7 million jobs. The median estimate of job losses, according to the CBO, is 1.3 million. Overall, family income would be reduced by $8.7 billion.

FreedomWorks will count the vote on the Raise the Wage Act, H.R. 582, when calculating our Scorecard for 2019 and reserves the right to score any amendments and weight any votes. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks

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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently published its long-term budget outlook for the next 30 years, a report designed to provide lawmakers with a “point of comparison” with which they can assess the health of the current and future federal budget. The report shows that the finances of the federal government are a raging dumpster fire.

The report assumes that federal regulation remains constant as well as that a host of economic and demographic variables – such as inflation, GDP, and immigration – occur within a likely range. Since GDP can help explain a country’s ability to pay back its debts, the CBO’s report evaluates federal debt as a percentage of GDP. For most of the report, the CBO assumes anemic 1.9 percent annual growth in real GDP.

Like last year, the driving force behind this massive budget imbalance is significant federal outlays – resulting primarily from the mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare – without a corresponding increase in government revenue. The report differs slightly from that of last year in that lower-than-expected interest rates in 2018 and 2019 mean that federal borrowing was not as expensive as was predicted and, therefore, the debt projection in 2019 was lowered, modestly.

Regardless of short-term interest rates, however, the report makes it crystal clear: government spending is out of control and will get substantially worse if no serious changes to the budget are made. Although the CBO report expects that government revenues will increase slightly after the individual income tax and pass-through business tax reforms under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cuts expire in 2025, which the CBO assumes will not be made permanent, government spending is set to increase significantly relative to those revenues.

On balance, relatively longer life expectancies and lower birth rates mean that the American population is getting older and, correspondingly, Social Security and Medicare will be obligated to support more people. Current law regarding Social Security stipulates that benefits be paid to eligible dependents and dependents of disabled workers, as well as to survivors of deceased workers. In other words, Social Security will not only be tasked with caring for an aging population, but also for paying for the dependents of such a population. According to the CBO report, this will cause mandatory spending to increase faster than economic output, resulting in a primary budget deficit (deficits excluding net interest payments) equal to 3 percent of GDP in 2049.

Interest payments on federal debt already constitute a sizable portion of the budget in 2019, 1 percent of GDP. According to the CBO’s report, as interest rates begin to rise from their exceptionally low levels following the financial crisis, federal outlays for interest payments will increase more than fivefold relative to GDP, or 5.7 percent by 2049. Interest payments alone will account for “one-quarter of the increase in debt as a share of GDP over the next three decades.” Importantly, this means that in the future, the federal government will have to do more than simply maintain a budget surplus in order to square up with its debt; the budget surplus must also be large enough to allow the government to pay off the interest that it owes.

Additionally, due to high mandatory spending and large interest payments in the future, the CBO report predicts that discretionary spending will account for a lower overall percentage of GDP. That is, the government will have less freedom to decide where they can devote funding simply because of an overwhelming amount of debt obligation.

Finally, the share of the national debt held by the public is another major concern. With the growth of federal spending significantly outpacing revenues, budget deficits will grow and the public’s share of the national debt will rise from 78 percent of GDP to 144 percent. Under other scenarios, this ratio could be as high as 219 percent.

The time to act on the federal budget was yesterday. Our current debt path threatens to dampen economic growth and increase payments to foreign debt holders (which reduces income to US households). The debt also reduces the ability of our government to respond fiscally in times of crisis, military or economic. It’s also important on another point. As noted by FreedomWorks in June 2018, a debt that’s too large begins to create a “debt drag,” which actually reduces economic growth. An August 2010 working paper published by the World Bank made the case that the tipping point threshold for debt-to-GDP is 77 percent. “If debt is above this threshold,” the authors explained, “each additional percentage point of debt costs 0.017 percentage points of annual real growth.”

If this is the standard, the United States has already passed it. Of course, others believe that the tipping point may be higher. Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation explained, “Academic research by a number of economists finds that countries with high debt levels experience lower economic growth. Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent R. Reinhart, and Kenneth S. Rogoff found that debt levels between 90 percent and 120 percent of GDP correlate with slower growth of 1.2 percentage points.”

While the CBO’s Budget Outlook does account for “alternative scenarios,” in which either the government spends more or less than what is expected, the report does not consider the potential effects of proposed programs such as single-payer health insurance or the Green New Deal. These programs threaten to burden Americans with even more debt. Of course, the purpose of the CBO’s report is to extrapolate present legislation into the future. However, it should be noted that given the current and foreseeable dire state governmental debt, the introduction of such government programs would be ill-advised to say the least.

Politicians owe it to the American people not to wait around to see which straw breaks the camel’s back.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to the Wall Street Journal breaking the news of Nike’s scandal surrounding the decision yesterday to pull their Betsy Ross American Flag sneaker from production, Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President, commented:

“I grew up watching athletes like Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson who made kids like me strive for greatness. Through their sponsorship, Nike projected a positive image that brought us together, rather than divided us. I’m heartbroken to see that rather than unify Americans this Independence day, Nike would rather pull the plug on a design that features nothing other than the American flag, a symbol that embodies the values our nation was founded on. Free markets and free societies allow companies such as Nike to thrive. Nike should be celebrating the American dream, not running from it.

“To discard their American flag design is to subvert the legacy of early American women patriots such as Betsy Ross. It is equally embarrassing for Nike that they would pull their design on the anniversary of Gettysburg, the turning point of the American Civil War during which more than 400,000 Union soldiers died to preserve the ideals that the American flag stands for.

“Governor Ducey of Arizona had the right idea today to revoke Nike’s tax breaks. We hope to see more elected officials do the same. On behalf of FreedomWorks and our grassroots community, we thank Governor Ducey for his leadership.

“Rather than deepening the political divide in America, FreedomWorks calls upon Nike CEO Mark Parker to bring together outside voices who have defended our nation’s values and begin a dialogue that brings us together, rather than driving us further apart. I'm sure Nike thinks this move makes great business sense, but you cannot put a price-tag on core American values that so many have paid the ultimate price to defend.”

This Independence Day, FreedomWorks’ grassroots community will be driving thousands of tweets and calls to Nike, their executives, and their shareholders, asking them to put the shoes back on the shelves, and stop disrespecting our nation's history. For more information visit www.JustDoItAmerica.com.

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FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our bill of the month for July 2019 is the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act of 2019, H.R. 1895, introduced by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). The FAIR Act would overhaul existing civil asset forfeiture rules by raising the evidentiary standard for seizing assets and restoring the presumption of innocence to federal civil asset forfeiture hearings.

The FAIR Act is also originally co-sponsored by a politically diverse group of lawmakers including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.). This coalition has demonstrated praiseworthy dedication to the Fifth Amendment principles.

Federal civil asset forfeiture laws are a stain on our republic. Currently, federal and state law enforcement can seize any assets they believe are in some way connected to criminal activity. The original idea behind such practices was to attack organized crime by seizing bank accounts and other assets used to commit crimes. However, in recent decades, law enforcement has taken this justifiable idea and twisted it for profit.

There are many practical and ideological issues with civil asset forfeiture, but the FAIR Act cuts right to the heart of the problem addressing the two biggest problems with abuse of the practice. As it stands, it is inexcusably difficult for an innocent individual to receive due process in civil asset forfeiture proceedings. Since civil asset forfeiture proceedings take place in civil court, rather than criminal court, no presumption of innocence exists; one of the fundamental principles of due process. Furthermore, the government must only prove the assets’ connection to criminal activity using “a preponderance of the evidence,” an incredibly low standard, rather than by the higher evidentiary standards of criminal court.

In short, if the government seizes an individual’s assets and claims that they were used for illicit activity, the cards are all stacked against the citizen. So much so that a large number of people whose assets have been wrongly seized never even attempt to recover the losses. Since the proceedings are in civil court, individuals are not provided an attorney, often meaning it would be more expensive to fight for justice than to give up on the assets.

The FAIR Act is a huge step in the right direction towards leaving civil asset forfeiture abuse to the waste bin of history. By increasing the evidentiary standard and instituting the presumption of innocence, the FAIR Act would be a major victory for the rule of law and due process in America.

It should never be easy for the government to take from its citizens, and this legislation would make it significantly more difficult, protecting the rights of the individual against the tyranny of the state. We appreciate the hard work of Rep. Walberg and Rep. Raskin and hope that other members of both chambers of Congress will wake up to this reality and support the FAIR Act, H.R. 1895.

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Last Friday, the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released a comprehensive report outlining the effects of the Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda and the results are even better than expected.

Since January 2017, President Donald Trump has been on a deregulatory crusade. According to the report, between 2001 and 2016, fifty-three “economically significant” regulations were implemented per year. Under the Trump administration, that average has been reduced to four; a decrease of over 92 percent. Such a significant pivot demonstrates clearly that the Administration is dedicated to their stated goal of eliminating “regulations that disproportionately burden small businesses, reduce worker productivity and real wages, and distort competition in the labor market.”

Quantifying the benefits of such action can be tricky. Fortunately, the CEA summarized the historic deregulatory agenda by analyzing a sample of the most “likely largest actions in terms of economic impact.” These included important legislative victories such as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, regulatory actions from the FY 2019 Regulatory Budget, and a Federal Communications Commission rule that received “millions of comments,” just to name a few.

From this representative sample, the CEA determined that the President Trump’s deregulatory agenda has been a boon for main street and workers. The report’s topline states that deregulatory changes are estimated to increase annual real income by approximately $3,100 per household or about 1.3 percent. This corresponds to an aggregate increase of about $380 billion over the next five to ten years. Taken alone, the 20 most notable deregulatory actions are estimated to save businesses and consumers around $220 billion per year. This agenda is also set to increase our gross domestic product by between 1 and 2.2 percent over the next decade due to increased productivity and increased competition.

Although critics of the agenda cry havoc over deregulation, these impressive statistics underline the fact that free-enterprise and small government are the best way to achieve sustainable economic growth. Furthermore, the apparent increases in individual real income are indicators that such policies improve the lives of all Americans, not just Wall Street.

It is important to remember that the beneficial effects of Trump’s deregulatory agenda are not an anomaly. Deregulation is nearly always beneficial for Americans and previous deregulatory programs prove this empirically. Take, for example, the comprehensive deregulation of the transportation industry implemented by an unlikely champion for free-markets; President Jimmy Carter. In what was described by Clifford Winston as “one of the most important experiments in economic policy of our time,” the Carter administration removed barriers of entry and freed up market forces to promote competition in the airline and trucking industries. According to the CEA, these two actions together provided “net aggregate benefits of about 0.5 percent of national income.”

Clearly, President Trump’s deregulatory agenda is working and history shows that it will continue to work for the American people. With the size and scope of government bureaucracy rising each day along with the debt, Americans should take a stand against such encroachment on their individual liberties and support continued deregulation.

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The FreedomWorks Foundation's Regulatory Action Center submitted formal comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), urging them to move forward with their proposal to de-list the Gray Wolf as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act places incredibly burdensome regulations on American property owners if they live on or near a potential habitat for an endangered species. It is also quite difficult to remove a species from the list, once it has been designated. This leaves rural Americans under the thumb of big government for years with no end in sight. It is also particularly dangerous when applied to an aggressive species like the Gray Wolf. Because of the regulations, land owners cannot take preventative measures to protect themselves, their land, or their property. This needs to end.

Also, the Gray Wolf has shown great signs of recovery since its designation. It has recovered from the brink of extinction to having almost 6,000 wolves nationwide. These majestic animals no longer require the protection of the federal government and can certainly sustain under the protection of state and local laws. It is time for the FWS to declare victory for the Gray Wolf and ease the regulatory burden on rural America.

You can read the full comments submitted by the Regulatory Action Center here or in the attachment below.

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