11 months ago

Palmer champions simplified tax code, regulatory reform at Yellowhammer event

TRUSSVILLE — Yellowhammer Multimedia on Tuesday held its sixth News Shapers event of 2019, with Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) making a special guest appearance.

The event, held at the Trussville Civic Center, featured a panel discussion focused on small businesses in Alabama.

About 35 minutes into the forum, Palmer joined the panelists in the front of the room to discuss issues affecting economic growth and jobs in the Yellowhammer State.

The congressman, who is currently the fifth-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives as chair of the Republican Policy Committee, also commented on matters of the day and ways his fellow party members could govern more conservatively.

However, to open his remarks, he explained what conservatives have done especially well since President Donald Trump took office.

“What the Trump administration has done … the thing that really got the economy growing was not the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Trump tax cuts of 2017) — that accelerated the growth — but what got it starting was the first 14 bills that we passed in the 115th Congress: broad Congressional Review Act bills that rolled back Obama administration proposed regulations that were really hamstringing the economy,” Palmer advised.

Palmer detailed that a Gallup report had shown there were 100,000 more businesses opening than closing in 2008, compared to 70,000 more closing than opening in 2014.

“The primary reason [for that] was regulation,” he remarked.

Palmer then made several series of remarks on the federal tax code — including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

He explained that he was part of the working group on this historic piece of legislation.

“I kept making the point that (tax) rates are important, but they’re not the most important,” Palmer said. “Businesses are not tax averse, they’re not regulation averse. What they’re averse to is a lack of predictability. Business does not like operating in an unpredictable environment — there’s enough risk already without adding to that additional risk from not knowing what the regulation is or not knowing what the tax laws are.”

“The thing that I pointed out to my colleagues and to Jared Kushner is that money is like water,” he continued. “It will always seek the path of least resistance. So, if you want your economy to grow, you’ve got to create a predictable environment. It doesn’t mean that you’re totally unregulated. It doesn’t mean that you go without paying taxes. It means that you operate in an environment where you know what the regulations are, you know what the taxes are and you can make the decisions about how to invest your capital.”

Palmer then added, “I think we’re seeing the benefits of that.”

Transitioning into reforms to federal commercial driver’s license (CDL) law, Palmer commented, “We’re moving toward that in Congress. Having the Democrats impeach the president I think will give us some other stuff [that we are preoccupied with].”

After chuckles from the crowd, Palmer added, “We kind of joke about it, but we’re really in the midst of something we’ve never seen before.”

“As I described it today, it’s a bloodless coup that’s taking place,” he emphasized.

Later during the discussion, Palmer described the gap between what the IRS believes it should be collecting in taxes annually and what it actually does. This gap, he said, is over $400 billion.

“It’s going up every year,” Palmer lamented.

Over a 10-year window, not even considering interest on the added debt the country is taking on by not collecting that money, the gap comes to well over four trillion dollars.

Palmer told the crowd that he believes the United States should adopt a consumption tax in lieu of the current federal tax code to simplify things and reduce the collection gap.

He added that this would be “the best thing that we can do for the economy.”

This would be along the lines of the “FairTax,” which has been proposed for years in Congress with no meaningful traction towards passage.

Palmer said “a simplified average tax” would also be better than the current code, which is far too complex, in his opinion.

He reiterated this would increase the predictability factor that he harped on earlier, while also putting more money back into the economy in capital investments.

Palmer subsequently commented further on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“Congress should stop passing these huge, comprehensive bills, because inevitably we screw something up,” he said. “And we did in this one.”

Palmer added that they almost messed something up that was a crucial priority of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) regarding pass-through entities, too.

“We almost did [screw something up] with the NFIB, but we did with the restaurants on the deprecation — that’s really hurt them,” Palmer stressed, saying he has made this same argument on other major legislative issues such as healthcare.

He said these “huge” legislative efforts need to be done in phases rather than all at once.

One other issue Palmer touched on was the growing national debt.

He lamented that the federal government is set to have a deficit of over one trillion dollars this fiscal year alone.

Admitting he was “getting in the weeds,” Palmer then described a plan to get to a healthy level of debt again instead of the increasing hole of over 22 trillion dollars that America currently faces.

“We’re right now at 80% debt to GDP — that means that our debt is 80% of what our whole economy is,” he outlined. “In 25-30 years, it’s going to be 150%… To get back down to a manageable level, and government’s always going to have debt… it needs to be in the 40-50% range. To get there, we need about seven trillion dollars.”

Palmer mentioned the tax collection gap he previously outlined as a way to eat into this target of seven trillion dollars.

He then added eliminating improper government payouts as a $1.6 trillion savings over 10 years.

Finally, he mentioned a bill he filed earlier this year that would require unappropriated funds collected by federal agencies to be transferred to the U.S. Treasury and subject to the congressional appropriations process.

This would mean fines and fees levied and collected by agencies could not simply be swallowed up and spent by these agencies without Congress accounting for the money and having a say so. Palmer believes this could mean huge annual savings in tax dollars.

“So, there’s a way to get us back to where we need to be on our debt to GDP [ratio],” Palmer summarized.

On a final note, Palmer said the permitting process, especially for infrastructure construction, needs to be seriously sped up and streamlined.

He stated that this was a huge problem right now with the Northern Beltline Project in Jefferson County.

“The Northern Beltline is the key not just to Birmingham but for the whole region — maybe even the whole state — in terms of our future economic development and in terms of keeping us from becoming like Atlanta or Nashville, where our economic development overwhelms our infrastructure,” Palmer advised. “They’re predicting that it will be finished by 2054.”

“And the president’s really big on this part,” he continued. “He wants to reduce permitting time to no more than 18 months.”

Palmer says this plays into the predictability factor he mentioned earlier in his remarks.

“That’s the kind of stuff that’s really holding us back,” he concluded. “The economy would take off again if we took care of those things.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

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“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

12 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

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Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

14 hours ago

Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) sent a letter on Tuesday to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, advocating for the SEC to allow its member institutions to proceed with the 2020 college football season this fall.

The letter came the day that the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel their fall seasons. Of the Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have yet to announce if they will play football this year.

To try saving the season, a player-led #WeWantToPlay movement has popped up in the past few days, quickly gaining momentum nationally.

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent leaders in the world of college football have advised that most players want to play, and that players will very likely be safer following enhanced safety protocols developed by their teams rather than being back at home or left to their own devices on campuses all fall.

For example, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) head coach Bill Clark on Monday tweeted that his team had tested all 176 people in the school’s football building for COVID-19, with all tests returning negative.

“In addition to the [SEC]’s Medical Advisory Group providing a medical clearance for gameplay this fall, I have faith in the various health and safety guidelines being adopted by the Conference’s member institutions, who have themselves relied on the vast expertise of the medical professionals on their campuses and within their respective university systems,” Reed wrote to Sankey.

He added that on top of “the heightened health and safety protocols in intercollegiate athletics, each member institution has created health and safety guidelines campus-wide.”

“I have a tremendous amount of trust in the decision making of institutions such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University and wholeheartedly believe that every decision made by their respective administrations will prioritize the health and welfare of their students, faculty, and staff over all other considerations,” Reed continued.

“Member institutions and student-athletes have worked tirelessly to get back on the field this fall,” the senator said. “Depriving opportunities for student-athletes to succeed on the field will long lasting and potentially devastating consequences for their futures, with many student-athletes aspiring to compete professionally.”

Reed concluded by asking the SEC to “hear the calling of their member institutions and student-athletes and commit to competition this fall.”

You can read the full letter here.

Shortly after Reed sent his letter, the SEC via Twitter released a statement from Sankey.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Lawsuit challenging statewide mask order dismissed by judge

A Montgomery County Circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to challenge the legality of Alabama’s statewide mask mandate.

The suit was brought by three Jackson County residents who thought the mask order, first ordered by Governor Kay Ivey in mid-July, was outside the bounds of what the government could put in place.

Seth Ashmore, the attorney handling the lawsuit, said on Tuesday his clients plan to appeal the ruling.

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Judge Greg Griffin handled the case at the circuit court level and made the decision to dismiss the suit shortly after a hearing conducted on Tuesday afternoon.

Both Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, in their official capacities, were named as defendants in the suit.

The persons suing Ivey and Harris argued the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and a “deprivation of liberty.”

Lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General’s office argued in their motion to dismiss the suit that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gave the Governor “ample authority” to require the wearing of masks by individuals when they are in public.

Both the lawsuit and motion to dismiss have been made available to the public by Mike Cason, a reporter for Alabama Media Group.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

16 hours ago

Alabama HBCU students chosen for Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED internship program

Birmingham-based Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED has held the 2020 edition of its annual “Pay It Forward” program, which aims to provide black college students with opportunities to celebrate achievement and further their success.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students from 16 schools throughout Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED’s six-state footprint submitted applications earlier this year.

Now in its fifth year, the program was promoted actively across participating HBCU campuses. Coca-Cola reviewed the applications for the program, selecting 25 students total based on their impressive applications. This included seven students from Alabama HBCUs:

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Micah Hardge and Marion Brock IV, Alabama State University
Michael Howard, Miles College
Olivia Sarley, Stillman College
Jasimen Collins and Ayala Seaborn, Talladega College
Nia Reid, Tuskegee University

Normally, this program is a week-long, in-person experience; however, this year due to COVID 19, selected students participated virtually. These students engaged with Coca-Cola Company teams to learn more about the organization and how to conduct business most effectively during a two-day, informative development session held last week.

“Although we will not be able to meet these students in person this year, we are excited to get to know this remarkable group of ‘Pay It Forward’ interns,” stated John Sherman, president and CEO Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED. “Our intent through the two-day program is to encourage these young adults and help enable them to further develop career goals as they plan for the next phase in life.”

During this internship, students reportedly gained experience in a wide range of roles at Coca-Cola, including sales, production, marketing, pricing, event planning, packaging, philanthropy and community relations. The program exposes participants to real-world work situations, including business practices and protocols, how to network and other important skills that will prepare them for the job market.

Over 100 students from Coca-Cola’s partner HBCUs have participated in the Pay it Forward internship to date.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., founded in 1902 and headquartered in the Magic City, is the second-largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States. Now with its fifth generation of family working in the business, the Yellowhammer State company has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn