This article originally appeared in Townhall on March 21, 2015
Desperation can produce a wide variety of reactions: some people think on their feet and try to adapt, while others find themselves paralyzed with fear and repeat actions or arguments that make little to no difference. It turns out that outmoded government institutions fit the latter pattern. Despite a looming threat to its very existence, the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States finds itself stuck. Their charter is due to expire in June, and their clumsy attempts to “rebrand” themselves as a friend to small business in order to curry favor with a skeptical Congress rely on the same tired tropes they’ve been recycling for some time. Even worse for the bank, claiming they’re essential to small business’ success over and over again has not – as they had apparently hoped – magically made it true.
This article originally appeared in Townhall on March 19, 2015
Taxpayers are unfortunately accustomed to extensive federal government intervention in education, healthcare and transportation policy – all under the guise that the federal government knows best. Each instance of new regulation results in massive costs and bloated bureaucracy, all of which are then pushed down to taxpayers. The truth is that states should be given more autonomy when making decisions for their citizens. So, it’s right to be skeptical any time the federal government is trying to replace, redefine or reexamine what states are doing to self-govern. Such is the case with Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-Utah) bill that misinterprets the 1961 Wire Act and pushes for an online gaming ban. Not only was online gaming not envisioned when the 1961 Wire Act was passed, but gaming policy has always been the purview of the state government. This makes Chaffetz’s bill a massive power grab that replaces common sense policy at the state level with federal regulations. In the 43 states with state lotteries, Chaffetz’s bill would mandate how those lotteries can be run to the point where some lottery sales will be prohibited. That has repercussions for states that fund education (or other) priorities through lottery proceeds. And, absent those lottery finds, we all know where the states would move next to raise those funds – taxpayers.
Last week House Budget Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) released a $1.017 Trillion Budget. Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recognized some positive reforms sought after in the budget resolution, but there are some key problems that should worry taxpayers. While the plan utilizes spending caps as an important way to rein in spending, there still needs improvement in the Pentagon spending portion. Last week, TPA joined in a transpartisan coalition letter urging responsible cuts to certain programs contained in the Pentagon spending piece of the budget. These cuts would help to rein in spending, make the agency more efficient, and ensure taxpayers are getting the greatest return on investment while preserving the national security concerns shared by everyone during these challenging times for the country.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been investigating the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) fiscal problems and business foibles. With a loss of $5.5 billion in fiscal year 2014 and more than $45 billion in unfunded liabilities, taxpayers will surely be on the hook if the USPS can’t meet its financial obligations. TPA has also been concerned about USPS’s expansion into the grocery delivery business and the delivery of Amazon packages. TPA submitted public comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) voicing concerns of mission creep and intrusion into the private sector. Despite those warnings, the PRC approved the expansion of the grocery delivery service. Now there are claims that the Amazon packages are getting preferential treatment at the expense of their core mission of delivering the mail.
House GOP FY 2016 Budget Resolution
The $1.017 Trillion Budget released this week by House Budget Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is a major step forward in fiscal responsibility. The most important takeaway from this budget is that the House GOP does see that spending caps are an important way to rein in spending and having a responsible blueprint in order put the country on a path to major deficit reduction. The one area that still needs improvement in the budget is Defense spending. While the Chairman has kept Pentagon spending at its $523 billion cap, there is a $90 billion request for the Overseas Contingency Operations Account (OCO), which is essentially a slush fund that is used year after year to fund pet programs and other various projects that really have no value to taxpayers or the Defense of the country. The legislation struggled to get out of the Budget Committee on Thursday, but a promise from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that an additional $20 billion that was balked at by some Republicans was promised to be put back in during the Rules Committee mark up. That $20 billion was supposed to be offset with spending cuts, but a handful of Republicans refused to vote for a bill that didn’t include the additional $20 billion. At least one Republican saw through the charade. According to The Hill, “’Finding an additional $20 billion of waste should not be a serious problem,’ said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), a Budget member who opposed getting rid of offsets.”
This article originally appeared in The Hill on March 18th, 2015
The renewable energy world was abuzz a few weeks back over news that Elon Musk's SolarCity, the 800 pound gorilla of the residential rooftop solar business, is now leasing California office space formerly occupied by Solyndra, the most notorious of numerous “green stimulus” debacles. It was seen in some industry circles as long-sought redemption—proof that Big Sun finally is emerging from Solyndra’s long shadow. “Solar is moving on” was the message dominating Twitterworld as news of the move spread. But is solar moving on? Was Solyndra just an aberration? Or are new Solyndras—the Sons of Solyndra and Grandsons of Solyndra—still out there, just waiting to have the plug pulled? The same week that brought news of SolarCity’s symbolic move also brought news of its mounting losses, which continue despite infusions of tax dollars and other industry preferences that would seem to make profitability a cinch. SolarCity reported a net loss of $141 million for the 4th quarter of 2014, despite a 52 percent increase in revenue, strong demand and clear dominance in the market. That compared to a nearly $40 million loss during the same period in 2013.
This article orginally apeared on CNBC.com March 16, 2015
Small businesses are undoubtedly the backbone of our economy. We would all agree that more must be done to foster their growth. However, when misguided government efforts to do so lack the appropriate oversight and rules, a few bad acting corporate entities will exploit flawed policies and line their pockets with taxpayer-funded dollars. Satellite provider Dish Network exemplified this when it took advantage of a program designed to help small business win coveted spectrum in a recent auction held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Dish has an 85-percent financial interest in Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, two companies that didn't exist until a few months before the auction. Because they have little to no revenue, they qualified as small businesses under the FCC's Designated Entity (DE) program and got a 25-percent bidding credit. They outbid major competitors on countless occasions, and Dish ultimately won about half of the licenses up for grabs – more than $13 billion worth, with a more than $3 billion discount, courtesy of taxpayers. Only AT&T spent more.The end result raises serious concerns about the structure and continued efficacy of the DE program and the FCC's ability to conduct future auctions.
This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on March 12, 2015
President Obama’s energy policies have been a debacle since his first day in office. Now, with Americans dubious of his schemes after being burned by his war on coal, stifling environmental regulations, and refusal to allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the president is pulling a new tactic from his bag of tricks in hopes of winning back public support: The old switcheroo. Last month, when the president announced his draconian new policies that would block the production of as much as 30 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Alaska and ban future generations from recovering an estimated 10 billion more sitting beneath Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he included a trade-off meant to help American energy production efforts elsewhere. Or so it seemed. In his compromise, Obama promised to open up areas of the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Georgia to new opportunities for offshore oil and natural gas leasing … sometime between 2017 and 2022 … maybe. That same area had previously been approved for energy exploration before, but the president killed that plan in 2010. There’s little reason to believe that any drilling will occur in the region this time around, either.
This week a group of bipartisan Senators reintroduced the poorly named Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), better known as the Online Sales Tax, in yet another attempt to get this terrible legislation through Congress. In 2013, the Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate in bipartisan fashion but the House wisely left the legislation dead on the floor. Toward the end of 2014, attempts were made to shove the bill into the Cromnibus although thankfully it did not happen. House Speaker John Boehner has said the measure is going nowhere in the House, but that didn’t stop the group of Senators from reviving it a few days ago. Keeping that in mind, TPA signed onto a letter to the Senate led by the R Street Institute and co-signed by American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Center for Individual Freedom, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Digital Liberty, FreedomWorks, Generation Opportunity, The Heartland Institute, Heritage Action for America, Institute for Policy Innovation, Less Government, National Taxpayers Union, and Rio Grande Foundation urging Senators to reject MFA and protect taxpayers from a massive tax increase that will do great harm to the internet economy, which accounts for billions of dollars on Cyber Monday (largest online shopping holiday each year, the Monday after Thanksgiving) alone.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
One of the most important issues facing the country right now is the need for real and comprehensive tax reform. The tax code is excruciatingly complicated and Congress must act in way that will help to grow investment for American businesses, but also positively impact working families. Last week, a step in the right direction occurred when Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) released their plan for comprehensive tax reform, the Economic Growth And Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, or as it is becoming known as, the Rubio-Lee plan. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) welcomes the Rubio-Lee plan and would like to see Congress take steps to working on making these reforms a reality.