June 5, 2012

Foundations of Liberty: Americans for Tax Reform

By: D.B. Atchison

Founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of Ronald Reagan, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATRF) are a 501(c)4 lobbying and 501(c)3 educational organization that fights against any increase in tax as a matter of principle.

Their stated mission is to support “a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today.  The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax.  [They] believe that power should be minimized.” ATR’s flagship issue, The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, is an attempt to hold often fickle politicians to their no-new-taxes campaign rhetoric by making them pledge that commitment to their constituents in writing.  This pledge was launched with Ronald Reagan’s endorsement in the 1986 presidential election, and has become central for many Republicans seeking office.  For many voters, myself included, this can be a make-it or break-it issue in the campaign process.  Here is a list of all the pledge signers for the 112th Congress.

Outside of tax reform, ATR covers a whole host of other issues and has partnered with several affiliates to reduce government across the board. This includes efforts to cut spending and reduce the ever-widening budget deficit, reduce protectionism and establish free trade agreements, healthcare controlled by the individual, and an all-of-the-above approach to American sources of energy. Each year, ATR publishes it’s “Cost of Government Day” report.  This report falls on “the day of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed at the federal, state and local levels.”  In 2011 this day fell on August 12, and the report determined that the Federal government consumed 61.42% of national income.

In recent years the government has made many and often successful attempts to tax the internet.  As a response, ATR launched Stop eTaxes as a special project to keep the internet free of the taxman’s fingers.  These taxes, such as the Amazon tax or Internet Access taxes, greatly hinder interstate commerce, put states at comparative disadvantages with one another, and above all, restrict one of the greatest free-market inventions in human history- the internet.

Starting in 1997, Grover Norquist launched the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project.  The project seeks to honor President Reagan by having a monument, building, road, or other public space named after the President in every county/parish in the United States. Additionally, the project encourages state governors to name Feb. 6 as “Ronald Reagan Day”. ATR believes that a man who “led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment” deserves such recognition.  Their first undertaking was to rename Arlington, VA’s “National Airport” to “Ronald Reagan National Airport”.

With a membership of well over 60,000 individuals, and with a commitment to keeping government accountable to taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform leads the charge in keeping your money in your wallet.  For additional information on their projects, issue areas, and publications, please visit atr.org.