Friday Facts: October 8th, 2010

It’s Friday!


– “What progressives want to do is take money from some – by force – and spend it on others. It sounds less noble when plainly stated. That’s the moral side of the matter. There’s a practical side, too. Taxes discourage wealth creation. That hurts everyone, the lower end of the income scale most of all. An economy that, through freedom, encourages the production of wealth raises the living standards of lower-income people as well as everyone else.” – John Stossel

– “The Senate has passed a new bill that requires TV stations to lower the volume level on commercials. This is great, a hundred of the most powerful people in the nation have managed to do the same thing my remote does.” – Jimmy Fallon


What’s happening at the Foundation

– Register now: Saturday, Nov. 13, is the Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing, a daylong event featuring national and statewide experts on the top issues facing the state’s elected officials. Don’t miss a day of dynamic speakers and innovative ideas, sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute. Reserve your spot now to get the early registration discount. Keynote speakers include former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise on, “The Power of Digital Learning for Georgia and the Country” and The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore on, “How to Make Georgia the Most Economically Competitive State in the Nation.”

– It’s good, it’s fresh, it’s free I: Have you joined the Foundation’s new Forum yet? Join a community of Georgians discussing the issues of greatest concern with the Foundation’s experts, register at

– It’s good, it’s fresh, it’s free II: The Heartland Institute is distributing The Patriot’s Toolbox, a 263-page book that consists of eight chapters, each presenting 10 principles for free-market reform in clear and precise English. Each chapter originally appeared in the Legislative Principles series, designed and edited to meet the needs of busy elected officials and opinion leaders. The Patriot’s Toolbox gives the new patriots of the Tea Party movement the intellectual ammunition they need to take their country back! Visit or call 312-377-4000 to request a free copy.


Health care

– Admission: Nearly a million workers from 30 companies and organizations won’t get a consumer protection in the new federal health law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers. The companies, including McDonald’s and Jack in the Box, won’t be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn’t lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether. Source: USA Today

– Unintended consequences: Some public health advocates call for “soda taxes” as effective interventions that will lower obesity as well as generate tax revenues that can be used to fund public programs aimed at lowering obesity. But Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine reports that new research finds these taxes unlikely to significantly lower obesity. The study also cites unintended consequences of other “sin” taxes, including tax hikes on cigarettes, which “have led smokers to switch to higher tar and nicotine brands so that they can maintain chemical intake levels as they smoke less, to the detriment of their health.” The article cites a 2004 study that found “higher cigarette prices, which reduce smoking, are associated with higher rates of obesity.” Source: Cato Institute


Taxes and Spending

– Death by a thousand cuttlefish? Forget about Georgia’s budget woes; go to the fishing hole. The $18 million Go Fish Education Center opened this week in Perry, the cornerstone of a $30 million Go Fish Georgia program intended to lure tourists and fishing enthusiasts to the state. The Macon Telegraph reports the facility is expected to attract 100,000 visitors annually and have a $6.3 million economic impact in Houston County each year. Down the road, Dougherty County and the city of Albany have been subsidizing the $30-million, 6-year-old Flint RiverQuarium to the tune of at least $250,000 a year since 2007. The RiverQuarium has had “close to a half million” visitors since opening, according to news reports. It had anticipated 155,000 visitors a year.

– Charity ends with the IRS. Thousands of nonprofits across Georgia could lose their tax-exempt status on Oct. 15 because they have not filed tax returns for 2007, 2008 or 2009, according to the IRS. A 2006 law required smaller nonprofits –  those with incomes under $25,000 – to file annual tax returns. As of July, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8,261 community-based organizations in Georgia had not filed. It  published a list of organizations in Georgia at risk of losing tax-exempt status. Attorney Allen McCallie says the law governing nonprofits has grown “ever more complex.” He told the newspaper, “It’s easy to spend more than $10,000 to establish a new nonprofit and comply with all the new requirements. Starting, feeding and nurturing a nonprofit is not a casual activity. It is a business activity.”

– At times I am happy when Congress does nothing,” said economics professor Lee E. Ohanian of the University of California (Los Angeles). “But in this case, doing nothing will increase taxes and damage the economy.” He was referring to raising taxes on dividends. If Congress fails to act by Dec. 31, the maximum capital gains tax rate would increase by as much as 33 percent. For dividends, the increase is even more dramatic, with tax rates for many individuals increasing by nearly 164 percent. These increases do not reflect the recently passed 3.8 percent Medicare health insurance tax that will apply to certain investors in 2013, raising their tax rate on dividend income to 43.4 percent, the highest level in decades. Read more at


Agenda 2011

– For facts, principles, innovative ideas and background on the issues, read our candidate briefing books on Taxes and Transportation.


– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Federal Health Law: Reforming or Restraining? by Ronald E. Bachman.


Have a great weekend.


Kelly McCutchen

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