House Energy and Commerce Committee
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been working on trying to update the Communications Act and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been very vocal on recommendations for how best to proceed. Last month the committee released a white paper on the Universal Service Fund (USF), soliciting more input from the public. USF is a tool used to help pay for certain programs implemented under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); which are the Connect America Fund, Lifeline (for low-income consumers), Schools and Libraries, and Rural Health Care. TPA submitted a comment this morning to the committee summarizing the view that it is time to fully re-evaluate the USF as a necessary tool of the Telecommunications Act.
Tonight, the House of Representatives passed yet another short-term spending bill to keep the government open, by a vote of 319 to 108. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a statement saying, in part: Tonight, the United States House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11, 2014 and the legislation is on its way to the Senate for likely passage and then to the President for his signature. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is extremely disappointed in this latest half-measure to fund the government that not only ensures continued protection for the crony Export-Import Bank, but also leaves in doubt whether or not taxpayers will be able to be protected from Internet Access taxes in the long-term. TPA has several issues with this continuing resolution but there are a few that stand out. First, the extension of the Export-Import Bank that is included in the CR is a troubling development on a fight that has been taking up a great deal of debate on Capitol Hill over recent months. The extension goes well into 2015, leaving the possibility that a long-term extension for Ex-Im may be in the works. TPA opposes extension of the bank because it is a major enabler of the worst kind of corporate welfare that leaves taxpayers at risk, costs American jobs, and undercuts the very idea of free-market principles in a global economy. Second, the bill includes only a mere five-week extension to the moratorium on Internet Access taxes. The moratorium was originally set to expire on November 1, 2014; now it is slated to expire in early December. This sets up yet another debate on the issue and TPA is very concerned there will be an attempt to couple a permanent extension with passage of an Internet Sales tax. The two issues are separate and should not be handled in a lame duck session of Congress, when politicians are unlikely to be held accountable.
To read the full statement, click 'read more' below
Congress is set for a final week of business and unfortunately we still have yet to see an extension of the Internet Access tax moratorium. What is worse is that a short-term extension into December is in the works, but there are legitimate fears that this minor extension is a precursor to a renewed push to merge a long-term extension of the Internet Access tax moratorium with the harmful Internet Sales Tax, otherwise known as the Marketplace Fairness Act. TPA has continued to voice our opposition for any legislation that puts these together. With that in mind, TPA signed a letter sent by the R Street Institute and cosigned American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Center for Individual Freedom, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Digital Liberty, FreedomWorks, The Heartland Institute, Heritage Action for America, Institute for Policy Innovation, Less Government, and National Taxpayers Union urging Congress to oppose S. 2609, the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act. The legislation merges both the issues of Internet Access taxes and Internet Sales tax in an attempt to confuse and disguise bad policy by acting as though both should be resolved at the same time in the same bill.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter
At a recent debate on Capitol Hill sponsored by America's Future Foundation, an interesting question was put to two right-of-center thinkers: Is Copyright a Property Right? The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) had a front row seat for the event and there were some interesting observations that definitely merit highlighting to our readers. TPA supports strong IP protections so we were keenly interested in the debate. There are several things that stood out during this back and forth discussion and debate on how to properly define copyright when looking at the issue of intellectual property and what the true meaning is for both concepts. The two sides immediately agreed that copyright and intellectual property are property rights. IP has a role to play in today’s global economy. Intellectual Property is a key driving force behind innovation and global commerce. As technologies continue to evolve and countries continue to advance economically, there should be greater focus on preserving the best standards for IP not just here in the United States, but all around the world. A 2012 report from U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) entitled IP Creates Jobs for America highlighted specific metrics showing the importance of IP to economic growth.
There is no doubt that there must be a priority to make sure that our nation is protected and our interests at home and abroad are secured, but that’s not an excuse to continue wasteful and unnecessary Defense spending. One member of Congress, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), believes that sequestration, the automatic cuts Congress and the President agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011, may have to be halted due to new potential threats to America.
Last month President Barack Obama hosted the U.S.-Africa leaders summit in Washington, D.C. Beneath the fanfare of goodwill, the summit saw three of Africa’s longest serving autocrats Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Yahya Jammeh and Paul Biya – the presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Gambia and Cameroon, respectively, all with decidedly checkered human rights records – be honored guests of America at a state dinner held during the summit. President Obama also saw the summit as an effort to paint the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank as Africa’s new best friend. Two big mistakes in one summit. The first criticism was leveled at the Obama administration from across the political spectrum over the wisdom of feting some of these men. After all, Gambia’s Jammeh has threatened to “cut off the head” of gay people in his country. Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea since overthrowing his own uncle in a coup in 1979 and the U.S. Department of State has accused his government of everything from “unlawful killings” to “corruption” to “suspected trafficking in persons.” Questions about why the United States Government saw fit to wine and dine these individuals are entirely valid, but they only scratch the surface. A few taxpayer-funded bottles of pinot noir are nothing compared to the billions of dollars heading for Africa from the U.S. Export-Import Bank of the United States, many of them destined for countries run by similarly suspect leaders.
The clock is ticking for taxpayers as there are only slightly more than 53 days left until the moratorium on Internet access taxes expires, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is helping to keep the focus on making sure the moratorium is extended permanently. Congress returns to Washington, D.C. after a more than month-long recess and this issue is something that they must address in the limited working time they have remaining this session. Last week, Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty sent a coalition letter to the hill urging Congress act and imploring the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass a bill that will extend the moratorium on Internet access taxes. In the letter, TPA, along with many state and national organizations praise the House for passing H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA); and urges the Senate to pass S. 1432, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (ITFFA), sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). TPA hopes the Senate will act soon so that millions of Americans can continue to utilize the web without the threat of added Internet taxes looming over them.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter