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D.C. Report: Retail Politics and FAIRtax Strategic Partners

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D.C. Report: Retail Politics and FAIRtax Strategic Partners
AFFT Chairman & President Steve Hayes and I had another whirlwind trip to Washington, DC, on June 2 - 4!  In preparation for upcoming congressional hearings on tax reform for either this fall or early next year, I targeted the congressional offices of Ways and Means Committee members on both sides of the aisle!!  Our 20 appointments included meetings with members of Congress as well as with congressional staffers.  Although we had scheduled meetings with several Members of the Ways & Means Committee, we were unable to meet with them on this trip since Chairman Ryan scheduled hearings for the Committee that week.
 
Cyberattacks and IRS Data Breach — IRS Commissioner Koskinen mentions the FAIRtax!
 
While we were focused on members of the House Ways & Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee was focused on Americans being targets of cyberattacks and identify theft, a bipartisan issue.  In the Committee hearing last week, Senator Pat Roberts (KS; Cosponsor of S.155, the Fair Tax Act) mentioned Neal Boortz's book and the “sales tax” as a solution, and IRS Commissioner Koskinen actually mentioned the FAIRtax as an alternative.  The bottom line:  Cyberattacks from organized crime in other countries are stealing billions of dollars every year from the Treasury through tax refund scams, and ruining the financial security of millions of American taxpayers!  The need for the FAIRtax becomes more visible every day, and is why we continue to add more cosponsors. Thank you, Senator Roberts, for being a vocal advocate for the FAIRtax!!
 
Congressional FAIRtax Strategic Partners
 
An important part of our DC trip was meeting with our congressional strategic partners.  On the Senate side, we met with:  Senators Jerry Moran (KS; Sponsor of S.155) and David Perdue (GA; Cosponsor and vocal champion for S.155).  On the House side we met with the following members of Congress to discuss FAIRtax strategy:  Rob Woodall (GA-7; Sponsor of H.R. 25, the Fair Tax Act); Lynn Jenkins (KS-2; Cosponsor who actively works behind the scenes on the Ways & Means Committee); and Steve King (IA-4; an activist Cosponsor).  In order to be successful, we need vocal advocates in Congress, as well as activists’ support in the districts and states.  Please go to their websites and Facebook pages, and thank them for their continued support!
 
We also appreciate the work of their staffs:  Chief of Staff Derrick Dickey and Tax Legislative Asst. Gerald Huang with Sen. Perdue; Tax Legislative Asst. Tom Bush with Sen. Moran; Tax Legislative Asst. Alex Poirot with Congressman Woodall; Chief of Staff Pat Leopold and Tax Legislative Asst. Colin Brainard with Congresswoman Jenkins; and Legislative Director Jared Culver with Congressman King.
 
The Importance of Our Visible Presence in DC
 
As we visited with congressional staffers, some of them initially thought that this was an annual visit by senior executives from AFFT.  However, they were pleasantly surprised when I told them that we generally make monthly visits to Capitol Hill, depending on the congressional schedule.  That made a difference!  They realized that we were serious about delivering our message and building relationships. 
 
Potential Coalition Partners
 
Since March, my primary focus has been on establishing a more visible presence in DC as well as continuing a rollout of the FAIRtax State Memorial Resolution in 25 states. However, one of my goals has also been to work on building a network of coalition partners.  The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was on my list to contact; when I was Director of Government Relations for National Gypsum Company, I used to be in NAM’s Texas and Southwest regional leadership. 
 
Last Wednesday, Congressman Steve King (IA-4) was telling me that he wanted to talk with NAM to discuss international competitiveness.  I told him about my previous experience with NAM, and I would help with that meeting.  Well, as one of my former Administrative Assistant’s would say, Peggy’s Luck intervened! 
 
Later that afternoon, Steve Hayes and I were waiting to meet with a congressional staffer, and another group was also waiting.  I saw the NAM badge on one of them, and started up a conversation about my previous experience with NAM and my legislative success on opening international trade with Japan.  Lo and behold, she was the Senior Director for Tax Policy for NAM’s DC office, and was interested in finding out more about how FAIRtax helps with American manufacturers’ international competitiveness.  When I introduced Steve Hayes to them, one of their Board members expressed interest in Steve talking to their group. 
 
Please let me know if you have contacts with other national organizations, where their membership would benefit from the FAIRtax.  Coalition partners can encourage their members to be ambassadors for the FAIRtax!!
 
Retail Politics is Key to FAIRtax Success
 
How do we expand our base of informed citizens and elected officials about the FAIRtax.  The answer is simple — One by One!  This is retail politics, and our retail product is the FAIRtax.  Retail politics is defined as a type of political campaigning in which the candidate focuses on local events and meeting individual voters, the old fashioned shaking hands and kissing babies!  Although we are not candidates, we use similar methods when we talk to our neighbors, to congressional staffers or to members of Congress about something that we want them to support.
 
Last week, we were marketing the FAIRtax product on Capitol Hill — one congressional office at a time!  Although there is other competition on tax reform, the FAIRtax is the only solution that completely replaces the income and payroll taxes.  However, since this is transformative and historic legislation, a lot of education and persuasion is needed to encourage members of Congress to take that step forward.
 
We took more steps forward last week as we met with congressional staffers in the following offices, many on the House Ways & Means (W&M) Committee:
 
  1. Sr. Tax Legislative Asst. Nancy Juarez with Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), 202-225-5801. We were privileged that John O’Rourke, New Jersey FAIRtax leadership, joined us for this meeting, and then visited other New Jersey congressional offices while Steve and I continued with our scheduled appointments.
  2. Tax Legislative Asst. Natalie Kamphause with Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-7761.  We met Congressman Reichert briefly when he walked into the waiting area, and in addition to the FAIRtax, we discussed his days as a Sheriff and his book on a case that he solved.
  3. Tax Legislative Asst. Elaina Houser with Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-5751. We met Congressman Pascrell briefly as he was leaving the office for a Committee meeting, and he asked who we were representing.
  4. Sr. Economic Policy Advisor Phillips Hinch, MBA, with Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-3161. New York FAIRtax leader David Swift helped to schedule this meeting, and joined us by teleconference.
  5. Tax Legislative Asst. Hana Greenberg with Congressman Ron Kind (WI-3; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-5506.
  6. Tax Legislative Asst. Randy Hearndon with Congressman Jim Renacci (OH-16; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-3876.
  7. Deputy Chief of Staff Jill Hunter-Williams, Ph.D., with Congressman Danny Davis (IL-7; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-5006.
  8. Tax Legislative Assistant Lora Hobbs with Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), 202-225-4931. Alabama FAIRtax leadership Chuck Bailey and Tony Gasbarro (a constituent) were helpful in scheduling this meeting.
  9. Tax Legislative Asst. Jennifer Becker-Pollet with Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-17), 202-225-6506.  As her constituent, NY FAIRtax board member Adam Yomtov scheduled this meeting for us.
  10. Legislative Director Robert Cogan with Congresswoman Diane Black (TN-6; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-3876.
  11. Deputy Chief of Staff Andrew Christianson with Congresswoman Kristi Noem (SD; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-2801.
  12. Legislative Director Reba Raffaella with Congressman Charles Rangel (NY-13; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-4365.
  13. Tax Legislative Asst. Michael Gleeson with Congressman Jim McDermott (WA-7; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-3106.
  14. Legislative Director Jacob Triolo with Congressman Todd Young (IN-9; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-5315.
  15. Sr. Tax Policy Advisor Melissa Gierach with Congressman Charles Boustany (LA-3; on House W&M Committee), 202-225-2031. 
Thank you to the FAIRtax leaders above who helped with scheduling meetings for us!  If you are a constituent for any of the above members of Congress, please call the person listed above and thank them for meeting with us, and ask them to support H.R. 25, the Fair Tax Act.  A positive, respectful and short phone call from a constituent is very important.  We were told by several offices that they had not heard from any constituents about the FAIRtax, and therefore, the issue was not receiving attention in their office until we met with them. We know first-hand how important constituents are.  After receiving many emails and phone calls from his constituents, Congressman Jason Smith (MO-8; on House W&M Committee) became a cosponsor just before our scheduled appointment with him in April!
 
AFFT Logo Store
 
Not only is Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7) the Sponsor of H.R. 25, but he also proudly wears a FAIRtax lapel pin on his jacket.  In addition, he prominently displays a FAIRtax sign in his bookcase for all visitors to see.  The next time that you see your members of Congress, who are one of our cosponsors, be sure to provide a lapel pin to them, if you still have one.  If not, then submit your request to our new AFFT Logo Store, and ask them if they can order some.  Also, consider purchasing some palm cards for the next time that you are at a town hall meeting.  You can preface your question to the candidate or member of Congress by reading some talking points from the card, and then asking if they will support the FAIRtax.  That way you have educated the audience as well as the speaker, who only needs to reply with a Yes or No answer, and then give the speaker the palm card for future reference.
 
Finally, it’s important to remember that the FAIRtax organization is funded by people like you and me.  Your annual financial donation helps with that effort.  If you have not already joined this year, please consider joining us today by clicking on the link for Donate or for the 1040 Club (a monthly $10.40)!
 
The momentum in support of the FAIRtax continues to grow.  With your calls, letters and visits to congressional district offices as well as your volunteer and monetary contributions, we can show Congress that we remain FAIRtax strong!!
 
Peggy Green-Ernst, MBA
Director, Government Relations
Board of Directors
Americans For Fair Taxation
Peggy.Green-Ernst@FAIRtax.org



 

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