How Janus v. AFSCME Could Expand Worker Freedom
May 9, 2018 by AFP
In 22 states without right-to-work laws, government workers who opt out of union membership can still be forced to fund collective bargaining through agency fees.
Agency fees are used for inherently political purposes, not only collective bargaining which impacts public policy, but also for donations to politically-motivated non-profit groups.
The Janus v. AFSCME case could change all that by declaring that collective bargaining fees should be optional – a decision that would determine the future of worker freedom for decades to come.
Americans for Prosperity Policy Director Akash Chougule elaborates on the significance of the Janus case in his op-ed on FoxNews.com:
AFSCME is one of the largest contributors to political causes and candidates in the country, but maybe not for long.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a potentially landmark First Amendment case brought by Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois who argues that his rights are violated by an Illinois law that forces him to pay for AFSCME’s collective bargaining.
Janus argues that because AFSCME’s collective bargaining with the government affects public policy issues like taxes, spending, pension liabilities and more, such bargaining amounts to lobbying and political speech.
A recent Bloomberg study spotlights the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which lost more than 14,000 members in 2017 after spending nearly $19 million more on political organizing and advocating than representation in 2016.
Chougule underscores this point in his op-ed:
If the Supreme Court agrees with Janus that agency fees fund political activity and thus should be optional, more than 5 million workers could be freed from paying the fees – and it is likely a significant portion would exercise their right to do so.
In 2015, AFSCME itself estimated that about half of its membership would consider no longer paying dues if they were given the freedom to make that choice. Earlier this year, Politico reported on the National Science Foundation’s General Social Survey findings that 23 percent of unionized government employees don’t believe workers need strong unions.
Chougule concludes his piece by noting that should Janus win his case, AFSCME would no longer be able to force workers to pay for its political activities – and the organization would be forced to earn its funding the old-fashioned way:
[…] if the Supreme Court ends AFSCME’s forced-dues gravy train this year, the union will face the same challenge as nearly every other organization in America – having to earn every dollar it receives by demonstrating value creation for members.
Janus v. AFSCME is a landmark case for worker freedom. The outcome will impact the constitutionality of laws in Illinois and 21 other states that force government workers to pay union dues.
TAKE A STAND: show your support for worker freedom today!
The Faces of Right-to-Try: Jordan McLinn
May 8, 2018 by AFP
Like a lot of kids, seven-year-old Indiana resident Jordan McLinn has a dream job.
“I like being a fireman. And I like rescuing people,” Jordan said.
But unlike most kids, Jordan is in a fight for his life, and he’s hoping his advocacy will lead to saved lives for terminally ill patients.
Jordan was born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. As he ages, his muscles will slowly stop working. Most kids with DMD end up in a wheelchair by the time they’re a teenager. Life expectancy is just 27 years.
With no cure and few options for treatment, Jordan and his family have become vocal supporters of right-to-try. Right-to-try laws allow terminally ill patients to access potentially lifesaving experimental treatments that haven’t received final approval from the FDA.
Progress in the States
So far, 40 states have passed right-to-try, and Jordan was instrumental in getting the policy signed into law in Indiana. He testified in front of the state legislature, dressed in his fireman gear from his job as an honorary member of the Indianapolis Fire Department.
“To me, as a mom, it’s a miracle when someone says ‘hey, this drug can add 50 years to your son’s life’,” Jordan’s mom, Laura, told lawmakers.
Jordan’s dad, Jeff, reminded lawmakers that the lengthy FDA approval process could mean that by the time a treatment is approved, it could be too late.
“And at that time, he could already be in a wheelchair instead of walking around with us,” he said.
The bill passed unanimously. At the signing ceremony, Jordan, dressed again in his fireman gear, helped then-Governor Mike Pence sign the bill by handing him the pens.
Not Done Yet.
But Jordan and his family aren’t done. While right-to-try legislation has been successful in Indiana and other states, it still hasn’t been passed on the federal level. That’s why last year Jordan flew to meet with his friend Mike Pence again and testify in front of Congress with his mom.
There’s hope for getting right-to-try to President Trump’s desk this year. Both chambers have passed their own versions of right-to-try legislation. But neither the House nor the Senate have any plans to reconcile the two bills.
For Jordan’s sake, and for the sake of all the other Americans who are running out of time and options, Congress needs to act quickly and pass a finalized version that can be signed into law.
“My dream is for my son to change the world,” Laura said. “And that’s what Right to Try, I think, is going to do for Jordan.”
Send an email to Congress leaders telling them it’s time to give terminally-ill patients another chance at treatment.
3 Things You Should Know About Federal Spending and the Rescission Process
May 2, 2018 by AFP
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably heard something about out-of-control federal spending at some point.
You’ve heard correctly — the federal government’s reckless spending is unsustainable.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts the federal budget deficit will top $800 billion this year.
One reason? Congress recently passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.
As AFP President Tim Phillips recently stated,
The CBO’s projection of America’s rising deficit is a result of overspending, plain and simple, not the product of letting Americans keep more of what they earn. Every major tax cut from both parties has resulted in more revenue to the federal government, yet our deficits continue to climb. That is a symptom that we are spending too much, not taxing too little.
Fortunately, there is a way for the president to work with Congress to curb spending, and we have an opportunity to get started by using a rescission package.
Rescissions: A Primer
What exactly is a budget rescission?
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, “a rescission is a request made by the president to rescind funds previously appropriated by Congress. If Congress approves the president’s rescission proposal, it would mean that particular appropriation would no longer be available to the agency to spend.”
In other words, rescissions are a budget tool to cut wasteful spending that government agencies were set to use.
Here’s how it works:
- First, the president sends a rescission package to Congress with specific cuts.
- Then, the Appropriations Committee has 25 days to approve, deny or amend the package.
- If the committee does not act within those 25 days, members may still bring the bill to the floor for a vote through a technical procedure called a motion to discharge.
- If no action is taken by Congress within 45 legislative days, the rescission package dies. One key feature of a rescission bill is that the vote gets expedited consideration in both chambers and cannot be filibustered in the Senate.
Using this rescission tool would be an important first step in clawing back some of the irresponsible spending in the omnibus bill. It would also be a down payment on cutting spending in next year’s appropriations bills, which are due by Sept. 30.
The president should take this important step toward putting our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.
Rescissions in the Past
Rescissions are nothing new.
Presidents have proposed 1,178 rescissions since 1974, according to the American Action Forum. Congress has approved 461, saving taxpayers $25 billion over the years.
In 1981, Congress agreed to 101 rescissions under President Ronald Reagan. Rescissions were last proposed in 2000 under President Bill Clinton.
Why We Need a Rescission Package Now
Since enacting the Budget Control Act in 2011 following the financial crisis, Congress has repeatedly undermined the caps it put in place that were supposed to limit growth in spending.
The out-of-control omnibus spending bill, and the budget deal that came before it, virtually destroyed those caps. As a result, the CBO projects discretionary spending will reach $1.3 trillion this year, while total federal spending will top $4.1 trillion!
This means the discretionary spending funded by the omnibus bill is just a small part of a much bigger problem.
While rescissions are important, they are not enough to curb government spending.
- The biggest portion of federal spending is entitlements, or “mandatory “spending, and the biggest programs there are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
- Today, along with other programs like Obamacare, they top $2.5 trillion. And that spending will just keep getting higher and higher – exceeding $4.5 trillion in just 10 years.
This is neither affordable nor sustainable. That’s particularly bad news for younger generations of Americans who will be stuck with the bill.
A rescission package, while not a total solution, would still be an important start for the president and Congress to get serious about cutting government waste and start prioritizing American taxpayers.
AFP: Regulatory Reform Package Skates through House
May 1, 2018 by AFP
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania (AFP-PA) on Tuesday applauded the House for passing a package of regulatory reform bills, including the REINS Act, aimed at improving the state’s regulatory culture by eliminating or easing excessive regulations hindering Pennsylvania’s economy from unleashing its potential. The grassroots group now urges the Senate to swiftly approve the legislation.
“Pennsylvania can be a place where business comes to grow, thrive, and be part of our communities, but our state’s excessively burdensome regulatory culture puts that dream on ice. Regulations that impose burdensome taxes or excessive red tape limit opportunity and discourage commercial investment,” said AFP-PA State Director Beth Anne Mumford. “The Keystone State has so much promise, and the bills included in this regulatory reform package will help reduce burdens for businesses and ultimately the consumer. We urge the Senate to swiftly approve this legislation.”
AFP-PA has consistently supported regulatory reform to improve the state’s regulatory culture and has deployed an email and digital ad campaign urging activists to contact their lawmaker in support of the legislation.
For further information or an interview, reach Lorenz Isidro at LIsidro@afphq.org or 703.887.7724
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org