Archive for the 'Economy' Category

Cato Institute gives Hick an “F”

Posted by on Oct 02 2014 | debt, Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, TABOR, Taxes

Our friends over at the Cato Institute just came out with their Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors (2014). You’ll never guess where our governor lands in their ranking. Would you believe it if I told you Hick is 2nd?! Yes, Governor Hickenlooper – Mr. I haven’t met a tax or debt increase I haven’t liked – earned 2nd.

SECOND FROM DEAD LAST THAT IS. Only California Governor Jerry Brown was ranked lower than Hick.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 3.39.26 PM

Each state get its own little paragraph. Here’s the commentary for Colorado, ranked 49th out of 50:

General fund spending has ballooned over the past three years under Governor Hickenlooper, from $7.2 billion in 2012 to a proposed $9.2 billion in 2015. The governor’s proposed spending increases have averaged 6 percent over the past three years. His most recent budget included a 15 percent spending boost for higher education and new spending on corporate welfare programs. State government employment is way up under Hickenlooper, rising 16 percent since he came to office. He pushed for a huge personal income tax increase on the ballot in 2013 to fund education, which would have raised more than $900 million annually. If passed, Amendment 66 would have replaced Colorado’s flat income tax of 4.63 percent with a two-rate structure of 5.0 and 5.9 percent. Luckily for Colorado taxpayers, this increase was soundly rejected by voters, 65 to 35 percent.

Read the whole thing here.

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Forget Waldo. Where’s Hick?

Posted by on Oct 24 2013 | Amendment 66, Economy, education, elections, Taxes

When it comes to raising debt and taxes, John Hickenlooper is a rainmaker. As mayor of Denver, he jumped out of airplanes to poke a hole in TABOR, wore a blue bear suit for tourism taxes, rode the trolley for RTD’s Fastracks boondoggle, walked with Sesame Street-like letters A through I to raise property taxes and money for Pro-comp for Denver teachers, and a new jail…

Now, in his first foray into tax hikes as governor, he is AWOL. He has worked the phones to pull in millions for the Amendment 66 campaign and said nice things about this 27.4% income tax hike at public events, but he has been missing in action when it comes to taking the lead in selling it. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

In his past anti-taxpayer conquests, he was able to build a broard coalition of diverse organizations and bipartisan support. But not a single elected Republican supports 66. His usual partners in crime at the Denver Metro Chamber won’t even stand by him. Business groups like the NFIB and Colorado Concern have endorsed a “No” vote. Even Left-leaning editorial boards like the Fort Collins Coloradoan urge defeat.

Without the comfort of the herd, Hick seems content to play only a supporting, backroom fundraising role. Could it be that, after his debacle taking Michael Bloomberg’s advice on gun control (which cost him two senate seats), angering rural Colorado with a renewable energy mandate, and being unwilling or unable to make a decision on clemency for mass-killer Nathan Dunlap, Hick wants distance from another potential embarrassing loss?

Well, we can’t stay quiet and MIA like Hick. The Independence Institute has taken the lead in spreading the truth about Amendment 66. In fact, our work has made it up to our friends on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Their lead editorial today warns: “Democrats and unions try to kill Colorado’s flat tax.”

Our educational effort is called Kids Are First. I urge you to go to right now. There, you’ll see many resources, including the videos we’ve been airing on television. Please share this site with everyone you know. Unlike Hick’s team, we don’t have $7 million+ to get the word out.

And our scholars have been busy actually READING this 150 page monstrosity. Learn about their findings:

Ben DeGrow’s Issue Paper: Amendment 66: Unfair and Overpriced

Ben’s op-ed: Tax Hike Won’t Deliver on its promise

Linda Gorman’s Issue Paper:
A Billion Dollars Worth of Bad Ideas: Amendment 66 Tax Hike

Linda’s Issue Backgrounder: Amendment 66: Spend More, Get Less

My debate with Senator Michael Johnston: 9News video

You know the whole country is still reeling from the last bill we “had to pass to see what’s inside of it.” Amendment 66 is Colorado’s version.

Please get involved in sharing the word. The wallet you save may be your own.

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Colorado’s Billion-Dollar Tax Hike Proposal: Really Bad Constitution-Writing

Posted by on Sep 24 2013 | Amendment 66, Constitutional Amendments, Economics, Economy, education, Initiative 22, Politics, Taxes

Hear Justin Longo’s interview with Rob on Amendment 66 here.

Colorado’s Amendment 66—the billion dollar tax hike—is a constitutional monstrosity.

Amendment 66 is, technically, not entirely a constitutional amendment. It is an unusual hybrid of constitutional amendment and change in the state tax law. The secretary of state refers to it as Initiative 22, and it is on the ballot this fall.

The constitutional change would lock in a hugely-disproportionate share of state spending for a single program at the expense of every other Colorado service, public or private. The statutory change would impose a big hike in the state income tax.

As explained below, the costs across a wide range of areas—including public health and safety—could be immense.

But before we get to that, just think of how unfair this measure is:

Under its rules, everything else would take a back seat to the demands of the school bureaucracy. Law enforcement would suffer. So would disaster relief, parks, the environment, services for the elderly, health care, our universities, not to mention economic investment and the taxpayers’ own needs.

Why? Because Amendment 66/Initiative 22 says that (with a sinister refinement explained below) the state school bureaucracy “shall, at a minimum, receive forty-three percent of sales, excise, and income tax revenue collected in the general fund.” In other words, it requires that we spend nearly half our state general fund for a single service before funding anything else!

And that 43% is only a floor. Amendment 66 demands even more. Here’s why:

* The 43% is in addition to what we pay in property taxes.

* The statutory part adds a steep income tax hike on top of that and gives all he revenue to the school bureaucracy.

* The 43% is calculated on what the older, lower tax rates would have brought in. But an income tax of, say, 20% yields less than 20% more revenue, because of disincentives and tax avoidance. So the 43% is calculated on the older, richer system, not on the newer, poorer one.

Now consider some of the other consequences:

* Because of the 43% strait jacket, the legislature couldn’t freely reallocate existing revenue to new needs. For example, the Denver Post has reported that due in part to funding limitations for supervision, inmates released on parole often commit new crimes, including murder. Yet Amendment 66 would make re-allocating funds to parole supervisions that much harder, thereby endangering the lives and safety of Colorado citizens.

* That means a primary way of allocating revenue would become more tax increases.

* We would be crippled in adjusting school costs to reflect changes in technology or to promote educational accountability. Even if schools don’t do the job or are using money wastefully, they still get their guaranteed cut. This violates a basic principle of Anglo-American constitutionalism: agencies are responsible to the legislature for what they do with appropriated funds.

* State income taxes would jump for everyone—by over 27% for everyone with a taxable income of more than $75,000, and 8% for everyone else.

* And the cost of living would rise for every family in the state—including and especially the poor. This is because tax increases–even they seem to hit only the “rich”—have a way of seeping through an economy like venom. Almost everyone pays in the form of higher prices, lower incomes, and fewer jobs. A tax hike, like water, runs downhill.

* Higher taxes also weaken the entire economy. Don’t be misled on this score: The studies show that the additional spending mandated by Amendment 66 is likely to harm much more than it helps.

* The state income tax hike could wound Colorado’s economic competitiveness and kill Colorado jobs—a serious concern right now. Remember that we are in economic competition with other states and other countries, and several of our neighbors either don’t have an income tax or are cutting, reducing, or phasing out the income taxes they have.

* Colorado’s current tax may look like a flat rate, but because of the base on which it is calculated it is actually somewhat punitive as to income. Amendment 66 would make it much more so. Tax hikes like that have been shown to be particularly damaging to prosperity.

* Because the 43% guarantee is based on revenue from former, lower tax rates, the Amendment 66 insulates the school bureaucracy from the economic damage imposed by the tax hike.

A good constitution protects individual rights and structures government to serve the interests of all. But Amendment 66 mutilates our state constitution to privilege the greedy few. It transfers more money to the bureaucracy to do things that will hurt the general welfare, including the welfare of our children.

This violates every principle of good constitution-writing.

* * * *
P.S.: Here’s the ultimate irony: For years advocates of this money-grab have attacked Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), claiming it unduly restricts the legislature. Yet now they want to constrict the legislature far more than TABOR does. Hypocrisy, anyone?

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Welcome To Colorado, 26th In State And Local Tax Burden

Posted by on May 22 2013 | Economy, Politics, Taxes

You might think that a self-proclaimed “economic development expert” would have a solid grasp of the levels of taxation in Colorado. You might be wrong.

In a recent Denver Post guest opinion column making a case for a two-tiered state income-tax rate, former state representative and executive director of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade Don Marostica makes the claim that Colorado ranks 45th in combined state and local taxation. Mr. Marostica did not cite any source for this claim. Here is the what he wrote:

For state taxes paid per $1,000 of income, Colorado ranks 48th. When state and local taxes are combined, Colorado is still near the bottom at 45th, below Texas and all our other neighboring states.

But according to the the meticulously sourced and cited 2012 Independence Institute study, “How Colorado’s Tax Burdens Rank Nationally,” Colorado is 26th in the nation for combined state and local tax burdens…hardly “near the bottom” in terms of paying taxes. From the study:

Colorado ranks 26th nationally, compared to all other states for the combined state and local tax burden, on a per capita basis.

You can read the study here.

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VIDEO: One on One with Professor Walter Williams

Posted by on Mar 22 2013 | Economics, Economy, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC, Video

The great economics professor Walter Williams joined me on my show last week. In case you missed it, here is the video.

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VIDEO: Walter Williams 2013 Founders’ Night Keynote Address

Posted by on Mar 15 2013 | Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, PPC, U.S. Constitution, Video

In case you missed our annual Founders’ Night dinner last Thursday, here is the keynote address given by world famous George Mason economist Walter Williams.

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28th Annual Founders’ Night Featuring Walter Williams

Posted by on Jan 28 2013 | Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, Events, PPC, Taxes, U.S. Constitution

Mark your calendar right now for the biggest party of the year. And it’s coming up fast. Our 28th Annual Founders’ Night Dinner will be held March 7th at Infinity Park in Glendale.

Every year we honor one person who has gone above and beyond to fight for Liberty and the future of Colorado with our David S. D’Evelyn Award. Past recipients include Mike Rosen, Jake Jabs, Bruce Benson, William Coors, Hank Brown and many more.

This year we are thrilled to recognize with this award a true Independence Institute original – one of our former Senior Fellows and former Board Trustee. This person was a lawyer for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a free market public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty and property rights. This person also served as Attorney General for the State of Colorado and later as the Secretary of the Interior of the United States of America.

Haven’t guessed who it is yet? Here’s a hint – liberal actor/activist Robert Redford was so enamored with this person that in a public letter to her, he said, “Sadly, since assuming the Interior Secretary post, you have compiled an abysmal record of capitulating to big businesses at the expense of the nation’s public health, public lands and wildlife.” How can you not love her?

Yes that’s right: Liberty’s Warrior, the Honorable Gale Norton will receive our D’Evelyn award.

And now for the main act…

America is on the edge – the edge of fiscal ruin by governmental spending, the edge of moral ruin by mortgaging our children’s future, the edge of Constitution ruin by an unchecked federal government.

Perhaps like you, we at Independence find ourselves wondering – is it too late?

We wanted to bring that question to someone qualified enough to actually answer that question. After a great deal of in-house argument as to who was best to understand and explain the role of government in a free society, we all found ourselves drawn to the same name.

I am more than excited to announce our keynote speaker on March 7th is the great economist and communicator, Walter Williams.

Following in the trail blazed by Fredrick Hayek and Milton Friedman, Walter Williams is the nation’s finest, clear-thinking economist. And his thinking has brought him to what he told me was his solution for the nation’s crisis – Obey the Constitution.

Dr. Williams is Chairman of the Economics Department for George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review. He has authored ten books including Do the Right Thing: The People’s Economist Speaks, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography, and Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination?

He has made scores of radio and television appearances which include Nightline, Firing Line, Face the Nation, Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose, Crossfire, MacNeil/Lehrer, Wall Street Week and was a regular commentator for Nightly Business Report. He is also an occasional substitute host for the Rush Limbaugh Show. In addition Dr. Williams writes a nationally syndicated weekly column that is carried by approximately 140 newspapers and several web sites.

Seats for this event will be going quickly, very quickly. If you wish to join us, you have the opportunity to purchase tickets online here, or you can email Mary MacFarlane at

Don’t be the person who someday says, “Oh, I wish I had been there!”

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Paul Ryan’s Budget Too Moderate, Not Too “Extreme”

Posted by on Nov 23 2012 | canada, Economics, Economy, Health Care, Politics

The federal budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan has been repeatedly characterized as “extreme.” (I Googled, “Ryan plan extreme” and got over 43,100,000 hits.) Among those making the charge have been the editorial writers over at the Denver Post.

In reality, several Western democracies have enacted far more “extreme” deficit elimination plans in recent years—and with great success. In the early 1990s, Canada was laboring under about as much debt as the U.S. now is, measured as a share of the economy. In a new article, former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin (a Liberal Party prime minister, no less) tells us how his government cut federal spending in absolute terms, balanced the budget in about five years, and lowered taxes.

The Canadian reforms were preceded by similar successes in places like Alberta, New Zealand, and Great Britain. All required absolute drops in spending, with no sacred cows. Everyone has to feel that he or she is making a sacrifice for all.

Ryan’s plan would only slow the increase in spending, not cut it. It would exempt people over 55 from Medicare changes, a political as well as a budgetary mistake. And it would not balance the budget until at least 2040—if at all.

In other words, a fundamental flaw of the Ryan plan is that it is not sweeping enough.

You can expect Lefty activities to throw dirt on any plan that would curb even minimally the out-of-control welfare state. But the Post editors—who write for Colorado’s newspaper of record—need to exercise more discretion.

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The Denver Post Needs an Intervention

Posted by on Oct 19 2012 | Economics, Economy, energy, Environment, Media, obama, PPC, Taxes

Why is this Billboard now across the street from the Denver Post building?

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, so let me explain. I really miss the days of Denver being a two newspaper town. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News for a century had a competition which gave Coloradans superior news coverage of state and local issues. Those days are gone. The Rocky went under a few years ago and sadly, the Post is a frail shadow of what it once was.

Much of this demise is not the fault of the Post. Younger people don’t buy papers, they get their news for free online. Online classified ads like Craigslist took away the paper’s largest steady income source. The Post is also straddled with crippling debt.

But the Denver Post is still the paper of record for Colorado. And it needs to act like it.

I want to see the Post survive and thrive. The state needs a trusted news source. But just like when a friend needs an intervention, the Post needs to hear the truth no matter how painful.

To the good and extremely overworked people at the Post, we have to tell you that you are failing to cover news. My guess is you know this. We understand your staff has been slashed to a fraction of what it was and how this economy has hurt your industry. But we rely on you for actual reporting, and you are failing to do that job. Rerunning Associated Press stories and writing about gardening tips and Bronco games are fine. However, you have a responsibility to report the news.

When Denver Public Schools changed their evaluation for teachers, judging them on how well they got our children to get involved in “social justice,” there was no news coverage from the Post. 9News did the story. When DPS reversed this politically-driven policy, there was again no coverage. You could read about it in the Washington Times, however.

When it was found that the co-chair of President Obama’s reelection committee, Denver’s former mayor Federico Pena, was a venture capitalist just like Mitt Romney, laying off a thousand workers and closing three domestic factories, there was no coverage. Rush Limbaugh did a better job informing Coloradans about this story than the Post did.

But hiding from the Abound Solar story is beyond excusable.

In our own backyard is Solyndra on steroids, and not a peep from the Denver Post. A politically-connected solar company gets a $400 million guarantee of government loans. And we learn of the Pat Stryker connection from Complete Colorado.

When the firm went belly-up the company execs told a Congressional committee it was because of cheap Chinese competition. But when whistle blowers show that the product was so faulty it would catch fire, it was the Daily Caller that told the story As one worker said – it was a fine product, so long as you didn’t put it in the sun.

When documents were found suggesting Abound falsified its books to secure funding, there was no story in the Post. You had to go to Fox News

When the District Attorney of Weld County opened a full investigation into Abound, you could find the story on Channel 7 but not in the Post.

When the US House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a further investigation into Abound, – now the story made it to Reuters, but not the Post.

We put a billboard across the street from the Denver Post to remind them that they are STILL the paper of record in Colorado. And it’s time they stopped turning a blind eye to news that matters. We want the Post to succeed.

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The Economy Won’t Give You Groceries or Gas, But We Will!

Posted by on Oct 16 2012 | Economy, energy, Events, PPC

Bad economy got you down? Feeling like you can use a break from the “economy tax?” Well, the Independence Institute is here to provide relief! Come party with us this Friday, October 19th, 5-8 pm at the Freedom Embassy (727 E. 16th Avenue, Denver, Colorado)

We will be providing relief in the form of hot dogs, chips and lemonade (for the first 200 people), and FUN! FUN! FUN! (yes, we’re going to have a big bouncy house). We will have a drawing for gift certificates for BOTH groceries and gas! After all, the economy won’t give you groceries or gas…. but we will! RSVP for FREE with Mary MacFarlane at 303-279-6536, ext. 102 or

For more information, visit our “Groceries or Gas” Facebook page.

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