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- Joseph D. Henchman, Vice President of Legal & State Projects,Tax Foundation
On December 9, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation. The question presented in the case is twofold: (1) whether a state violates the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (4-R Act) by “discriminating against a rail carrier” when it requires rail carriers to pay a sales-and-use tax but exempts railroads’ competitors from paying the same tax; and (2) whether, in resolving a claim of unlawful tax discrimination under the 4-R Act, a court should consider the state's broader tax system rather than focusing only on the challenged tax provision.
To discuss the case, we have Andy Grewal, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law.
Saving Congress from Itself proposes a single reform: eliminate all federal grants-in-aid to state and local governments. This action would reduce federal spending by over $600 billion a year and have a profound effect on how we govern ourselves. The proliferation of federal grants-in-aid programs is of recent vintage: only about 100 such grants existed before Lyndon Johnson took office, and now they number more than 1,100. Eliminating grants to the states will result in enormous savings in federal and state administrative costs; free states to set their own priorities; and improve the design and implementation of programs now subsidized by Washington by eliminating federal regulations that attend the grants. In short, it will free states and their subdivisions to resume full responsibility for all activities that fall within their competence, such as education, welfare, and highway construction and maintenance. And because members of Congress spend major portions of their time creating grants and allocating funds assigned to them (think earmarks), eliminating grants will enable Congress to devote its time to responsibilities that are uniquely national in character.
The Federalist Society's Practice Groups presented this closing discussion on "Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People" on Saturday, November 15, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.
Several major federal programs directly tax the young to provide benefits to the elderly. This is a main feature of the Affordable Care Act, the Social Security System as it currently works, and of the laws guaranteeing pensions. In addition, the national debt raises intergenerational equity issues. What obligations do these debts impose on the young? Are they all of a piece or are the answers different in each case? Is it true that this generation is likely to be poorer than the previous one? What role does our legal system play in this? How will the law address pensions that contribute to bankrupting cities or states? What is the nature of the Social Security contract?
The Federalist Society's Practice Groups presented this showcase panel on "Intergenerational Equity and Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, and Pensions" on Friday, November 14, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.
In a case decided on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court ruled that subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought health insurance in exchanges run by an individual state or the District of Columbia, and not to people who purchased health insurance on the federally run exchange, HealthCare.gov. How did the court reach its conclusion, and is the court’s reasoning sound? Will the ruling make the Affordable Care Act financially unworkable? Is a final ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court inevitable?