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Wednesday, November 2, 2017

Miami Beach in October
By Chip Faulkner
Director of Communications

Chip Faulkner's CLT Commentary

I received an e-mail invitation in August from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in Washington, DC. They were announcing an Annual Coalition Leaders Summit in Miami Beach for mid-October. Would I be interested in attending with all expenses paid? I certainly would.

I’ve been a guest of ATR at several conferences over the past 15 years. I’m invited because I host a monthly meeting of conservative activists called the “Friday Morning Group” (FMG) here in Massachusetts, one of 55 center-right groups meeting periodically throughout the country. They are patterned after the Wednesday morning meetings that Grover Norquist, president of ATR, hosts in Washington, DC.

These annual conferences typically draw around 35-40 activists, who have been running groups from Maine to Hawaii. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my FMG meeting is the longest running of all 55 groups — our FMG started in December of 2001. My group has met every single month since then, with one exception for a snowstorm. In second place starting in April of 2002 is the meeting hosted by Mary Adams — Maine’s version of the late Barbara Anderson. The governor of the state, Gov. Paul LePage, attends most of their meetings.

One great aspect of these annual gatherings is networking with leaders from Texas, Alabama, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Alaska, etc. and finding out what‘s going on in their states.

There were several panel discussions scheduled over 2½ days on a variety of topics. One was called: “Corrections and Sentencing Reform: Saving Taxpayers Money and Reducing Crime through Smarter Investments.” Points being made in this session: Too many people are incarcerated for minor crimes; expanded drug courts, community treatment, and other alternatives dramatically reduce the number of prisoners behind bars.  Grover Norquist mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal column that Texas has avoided $3 billion in new spending and has closed four prisons with four more planned closures.

Crime has dropped to levels not seen since the ‘60s. As Grover has said repeatedly, conservatives can effectively lead the charge on these reforms. If the liberals tried to do them, everyone would just accuse them of being soft on crime.

Another panel I found interesting was entitled: “The Co-opting of the Right: Emerging Threats to Energy Consumers.” This discussion centered on the dangers of a carbon tax. One panelist showed that carbon taxes are imposed on over 80% of the energy we use. Also carbon taxes were depicted as a poor way to stimulate the economy, reduce the cost of production, and make poor people spend a greater proportion of their household budget on energy than the rich.

Grover Norquist put it all in a nutshell: “The creation of any new tax such as a VAT or energy tax — even if originally passed with offsetting tax reductions elsewhere — would inevitably lead to higher taxes as two taxes would be at the disposal of politicians to increase. Two smaller tapeworms are not an improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow.

A session called “Improving Access to Health Care through Telemedicine” discussed a procedure that allows people to take an eye test in their own home with the use of a computer and smart phone.

The Wednesday luncheon featured Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) who began his speech by proclaiming: “Move here and spend all your money.” Gov. Scott told the group that almost 1,000 people a day move to Florida; there is no income tax, while 25% of Florida’s sales tax is paid by tourists. His was a very upbeat message despite the recent hurricanes which Florida handled well, according to the Governor. What impressed me the most about his appearance was his staying around and chatting with attendees for at least half an hour after his speech. Much better than politicians who give a talk then quickly head for the exit surrounded by aides.

It was well worth the trip, met a lot of like-minded tax-fighters — and CLT and I didn’t spend a dime.

Chip Faulkner
Communications Director


Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665