Americans for Tax Reform

Americans for Tax Reform is an interest group seeking to reduce the overall level of taxation in the United States, at the federal, state and local level. Its founder and president is Grover Norquist, an influential Republican lobbyist.

Background

Americans for Tax Reform was founded in 1985 by William Barr, who would become United States Attorney General in late 1991, to organize grass-roots support for President Ronald Reagan's 1986 Tax Reform Act. Grover Norquist held the title of director of the organization at its founding.

Projects

Since 1986, ATR has sponsored the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", a written promise by legislators and candidates for office that commits them to oppose tax increases. (There are two versions: [http://www.atr.org/pledge/national/index.html national] and [http://www.atr.org/pledge/state/index.html state] . According to an August 2006 press release by the group, [cite press release |url=http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2006/august/081506pr-co_perlmutterrefuses.pdf |format=pdf |title=Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) Fails to Sign Taxpayer ProtectionPledge |date=2006-08-15 |publisher=Americans for Tax Reform ] President George W. Bush, 47 U.S. senators, and 223 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed the pledge, as well as six governors and over 1,300 state legislators.

ATR has several special project lines dedicated to specific issues. The American Shareholders Association (ASA), the Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), the Property Rights Alliance (PRA), the Media Freedom Project (MFP) and the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project.

ATR also sponsors the calculation of "Cost of Government Day", the day on which, by its calculations, "Americans stop working to pay the costs of taxation, deficit spending, and regulations by federal and state governments." [cite web |title=Cost of Government Day 2005 |publisher=Americans for Tax Reform |url=http://www.atr.org/national/cogd/2005/index.html ]

ATR's Ronald Reagan Legacy Project has the goal of renaming public buildings to honor the former president. It also works to have state governors declare February 6th to be "Ronald Reagan Day"; in 2006, 40 governors did so. [cite press release |url=http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2006/feb/021706pr-rrlp-general_40states.pdf |format=pdf |title=Remembering Reagan’s Birthday Across the Nation |publisher=Ronald Reagan Legacy Project |date=2006-02-17 ] From 1995 to 2000, the project was directed by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was a vice president and lobbyist at ATR. Kamburoski was illegally in the United States during this period, having entered on a tourist visa. [Lance Williams and Carla Marinucci, [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/21/MNQBV5RJR.DTL "GOP lobbyist had no work permit"] , "San Francisco Chronicle", 2008-02-21.]

Political positions

ATR has supported United States tobacco companies.cite press release |url=http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/vvz52d00/pdf;jsessionid=20FA0BB6945475C284491E5818FAA868 |format=pdf |title=Another Day, Another Tax |publisher=Americans for Tax Reform |date=1999-02-02 ]

ATR was a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose position on the global warming controversy was that "the science of global warming is uncertain, but the negative impacts of global warming policies on consumers are all too real".

Norquist and the ATR support guest worker cards for illegal immigrants. In a February 2005 statement, Norquist called for Congress to "support President Bush's common-sense plan" to give "foreign laborers guest worker cards" and "to match willing workers with willing employers." [ [http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2005/feb/Congressional-Record-Statement.pdf Statement for the Congressional Record] , ATR, February 2005] In another statement, in May of 2006, ATR declared that it would consider a vote against Senate bill 2611 to be a vote against taxpayer interest. The release stated:

"ATR reserves the right to vote for final passage, a procedural motion, or any amendment to this bill. In particular, amendments that seek to dilute the comprehensive nature of the bill will be strongly-considered. These include but are not limited to measures to restrict the temporary worker program or measures to make it more difficult for illegal workers to earn legal status. ATR is also sensitive to amendments which put onerous restrictions on employers without giving them the ability to acquire a legal workforce sufficient to meet labor needs." [ [http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2006/may/051706la-willrateimmigration.pdf Taxpayer Group WILL RATE Vote on S. 2611, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006."] , Americans for Tax Reform, May 2006.]

ATR is a "leading organization of Republican insiders" according to an article from CNN. [http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/04/09/poll-suggests-mccain-rice-ticket-could-win-big/]

Money from Abramoff clients

According to an investigative report on convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's lobbying, released in June 2006 by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, ATR served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns.

In 1996, the Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client, donated $60,000 to ATR to oppose a tax on Indian casinos. The funds continued; in 1999, Norquist moved $1.15 million in Abramoff client money to Ralph Reed's for-profit political consulting company, Century Strategies, and to anti-gambling groups working to defeat a state lottery in Alabama. The money routing was deliberate: in one email reminder to himself, Abramoff wrote: "Call Ralph re Grover doing pass through."

ATR kept a percentage of the funds that passed though the organization. In May 1999, Norquist asked Abramoff "What is the status of the Choctaw stuff?", in an email. "I have a 75g [$75,000] hole in my budget from last year. ouch." Abramoff eventually grew annoyed at the amount that ATR retained, e-mails show: "Grover kept another $25 k!" Abramoff wrote in a February 2000 note to himself.Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/24/AR2006062401080.html "Nonprofit Groups Funneled Money For Abramoff: Funds Flowed to Lobbying Campaigns"] , "Washington Post", June 25, 2006]

On May 9, 2001, Chief Raul Garza of the Kickapoo tribe of Texas met with President Bush, with Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist in attendance. Days before the meeting, the tribe paid $25,000 to Americans for Tax Reform at Abramoff's direction. According to the organization's communications director, John Kartch, the meeting was one of several gatherings with President Bush sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. On the same day, the chief of the Louisiana Coushattas also attended an Americans for Tax Reform-sponsored gathering with President Bush. The Coushattas also gave $25,000 to Americans for Tax Reform soon before the event.

The details of the Kickapoo meeting and a letter dated May 10, 2001 from Americans for Tax Reform thanking the Kickapoos for their contribution were revealed to the New York Times in 2006 by former council elder Isidro Garza, who with Raul Garza (no relation), is under indictment in Texas for embezzling tribal money. According to Isidro Garza, Abramoff did not say the donation was required to meet the President; the White House denied any knowledge of the transaction. [cite news|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/10/politics/10abramoff.html?ex=1299646800&en=9587f3b5199aa66c&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
title=$25,000 to Lobby Group Is Tied to Access to Bush
publisher=New York Times
author=Philip Shenon
date=2006-03-10
]

ee also

*Americans For Fair Taxation
*Citizens for Tax Justice
*National Taxpayers Union
*Tax Foundation

External links

* [http://www.atr.org/ Americans for Tax Reform]
* [http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=9326 Information and criticism on ATR] from People for the American Way

References


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