American Council for Capital Formation
|Founded at||Washington, DC|
|Purpose||capital gains tax reduction|
|Mark A. Bloomfield|
Executive Vice President
|George David Banks|
The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) is an American think tank founded in 1975 by Charls Walker. It is located on the District of Columbia's Connecticut Avenue. Mark Bloomfeld and George "David" Banks serve as its president and executive vice president, respectively.
The group lobbied for the Revenue Act of 1978, which cut capital gains taxes. The council supports ending the ban on crude oil exports and a flexible approach to the regulation of greenhouse gases. The council describes itself as nonpartisan, while journalists generally describe its positions as "free market" or "pro-business."
The council was founded in 1975 as the American Council on Capital Gains and Estate Taxation. Charls Walker founded the council and acted as its first chairman. Seed money for the Council was provided by the Weyerhaeuser Company, a logging concern, and the National Forest Products Association; timber firms were at that time particularly affected by the capital gains tax.
Revenue Act of 1978
In 1978, Democratic President Jimmy Carter announced his intention to pass tax reform legislation. That year, the ACCF set up a meeting between William A. Steiger, a Wisconsin congressman, and Ed Zschau, an electronics entrepreneur from California. Persuaded by Zschau's case that the doubling of capital gains taxes between 1969 and 1976 had badly hurt his industry, Steiger put legislation in motion to reset the tax to 1968 levels. The ACCF spoke in support Steiger's measure.
Carter opposed the measure, but by mid-1978 realized that he lacked the political support to defeat it, given widespread popular anger at high taxes and broad support by both parties. The tax cut bill (the Revenue Act of 1978) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 362-49 and was signed into law by President Carter.
Analyzing the Revenue Act in his 2008 book The Rise of the Counter-establishment, Democratic activist Sidney Blumenthal was sharply critical of the act, arguing that the bill created no actual growth. Walker argued at the time that the bill had spared the economy from a sharper downturn, and reflected a new bipartisan consensus in favor of capital formation: "'You put the question this way: Do you think that American business is putting enough money into new machinery? And they say no. There it is.'"
Crude oil exports
The council supported ending the ban on export of crude oil from the United States. Margo Thorning of the ACCF said in response to the refusal of President Barack Obama's administration to lift the ban: "The world has changed tremendously since the ban on crude oil exports was put in place over 40 years ago. That is nowhere more evident than in the transformation of our nation's energy landscape from one of scarcity to one of abundance." The Council hosted two policy briefings on Capitol Hill against the crude oil export ban in 2015 - one in May with Senator John Hoeven and the other in November with Senator Cory Gardner.
The council's position on climate change is that "because energy use and economic growth go hand in hand, policymakers should develop a flexible, long-term approach to reducing the growth of greenhouse gases. This requires a global effort based on technological innovation and technology transfer to developing countries where greenhouse gas emissions growth is most rapid."
While the ACCF is skeptical of climate policies and regulations that impose significant costs on the U.S. economy, the Council does not reject climate-related science. ACCF economist Margo Thorning supported the Energy Tax Prevention Act in 2011 and 2012. This bill would have reversed a Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. In Congressional testimony, Thorning stated that the regulation of greenhouse gases "makes little economic or environmental sense." In 2015, the ACCF joined with an alliance of oil lobbyists and environmental groups to oppose the federal ethanol mandate. In 2017, ACCF’s Vice President of Policy and General Counsel, Timothy M. Doyle released a paper criticizing New York City's decision to divest $5 billion of its pension fund from fossil fuels.
The council also disagrees with policies that would restrict the export of fossil energy. In 2015, Banks wrote, "Some people, particularly environmentalists, will claim that the United States should not export fossil energy because of climate mitigation concerns. While climate change is a problem that the world needs to address, cutting off U.S. exports of fossil fuels is not the answer. In fact, pursuing such an action only reduces the amount of affordable and reliable energy available to global markets for economic development and poverty eradication efforts, increasing the scarcity of energy resources and worsening related competition between nation states."
In 2018, Timothy M. Doyle, Vice President of Policy and General Counsel of the ACCF, released a report criticizing the growing role of proxy advisers in finance and supporting bipartisan legislation requiring them to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and disclose conflicts of interest.
Walker was the council's first chairman. He served the administration of President Richard M. Nixon as undersecretary of the treasury from 1969 to 1972 and as deputy secretary of the same department in 1973 under John Connally. Walker was born in Texas and educated at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received an undergraduate degree and an MBA. He took a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Walker was a professor, Federal Reserve staffer, and banking executive for brief periods before becoming executive vice president of the American Bankers Association in 1961. He retained that position until 1969 when he left to work under Nixon. Walker started consulting after leaving the Nixon administration.
Mark A. Bloomfield is the president and CEO of the council. After working on Ronald Reagan's first presidential campaign, Bloomfield became involved with ACCF after meeting Charls Walker while working as an aide on the House Ways and Means Committee. Walker and Bloomfield later co-authored the book Intellectual Property Rights and Capital Formation in the Next Decade (University Press of America, 1988).
Bloomfield is known for the monthly dinners he holds for members of Congress, business leaders, and journalists. He has been holding these dinners for almost thirty years. Senator Joseph Lieberman called them "Washington's last salon", and Senator John E. Sununu stated that they gave politicians from opposing parties a chance to meet and have "substantive discussions".
George David Banks
George "David" Banks serves as executive vice president at the ACCF. Before his position at ACCF, Banks was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush on international climate change and then a deputy director of the nuclear energy program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. In 2017, he served as Special Assistant for International Energy and Environment at the National Economic and National Security Councils in the administration of President Donald Trump.
At ACCF, Banks has been a strong advocate for energy free trade and constructive U.S. engagement with China. "China-bashing in the context of U.S. energy policymaking will only cause Beijing to become more stubborn in the South China Sea and more aggressive in locking up energy supplies around the globe,” he wrote in November 2015. He has also been critical of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), writing in The Washington Times in February 2016 that "The RFS has plagued the country for years by jacking up food and fuel costs. What’s more, it’s outdated and offers zero environmental benefits. Congress should nix this standard before it wreaks more havoc on the country."
The council is funded by contributions from foundations, corporations, trade associations, and individuals. But declines to be more specific.
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- Blumenthal, Sidney (2008). The Rise of the Counter-establishment: The Conservative Ascent to Political Power. Union Square Press. p. 73.
- Snow, Nick. "White House not inclined to end crude oil export ban, official says" Oil & Gas Journal. September 17, 2015.
- "ACCF Hosts Congressional Briefing on Crude Oil Exports and Trade Policy". ACCF. May 20, 2015.
- ACCF homepage
- Baer, Hans; Singer, Merrill (24 April 2014). The Anthropology of Climate Change: An Integrated Critical Perspective. United States: Routledge. ISBN 1317817672.
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- ISBN 978-0819168849
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- Burita, Mike. "ACCF welcomes George “David” Banks as Executive Vice President". ACCF. January 29, 2015.
- "Former White House Advisor on Environmental Quality George "David" Banks Joins CSIS". Center for Strategic & International Studies. April 15, 2013.
- Friedman, Lisa. "Former Trump Aide Calls Paris Climate Accord ‘a Good Republican Agreement’". The New York Times. February 22, 2018. Accessed May 11, 2018.
- Dlouhy, Jennifer A. China keeping an eye on surging U.S. oil and gas production. The Houston Chronicle. November 5, 2015.
- Banks, George David. "Renewable Fuel Standard deceit". The Washington Times. February 8, 2016.