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The Lame Duck Congress is headed home for Thanksgiving, but when they return there will still be work that must get done. Besides the fact that the government will run out of funding on December 11, there is also the expiring (again) moratorium on Internet Access Taxes and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 (NDAA). On that note, it is important that Congress take a close look at what programs will be getting taxpayer funding and making sure that wasteful and unnecessary spending be eliminated. One program is to keep an eye on is the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), which the President is seeking 202.9 million for to continue development. TPA has written before (read here) why this program shouldn’t be getting taxpayer money at all, and last week this organization joined a coalition letter sent by National Taxpayers Union and signed by 60 Plus Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Coalition to Reduce Spending, and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste urging a reduction of spending on LRASM. While there are many programs that waste money, when an NDAA is passed it would be a win for taxpayers should LRASM’s funding be reduced.

To read the full letter, click 'read more' below


(Will Rinehart is the Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at American Action Forum, this post originally appeared on the AAF website Wednesday, November 18, 2014) Under proposed changes currently being circulated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Wheeler the E-rate program is set to expand nearly 123 percent from 2008 levels. The program, which provides funds to schools and libraries for telecommunications services, has been the target of reform for years due to its onerous requirements. Instead of streamlining the process and ensuring that the neediest schools receive assistance, the new plan merely expands the program without the overdue reforms. E-rate is the name given to the one part of the Universal Service Fund (USF). The fund was set up in the wake of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and now has four major programs to promote access to various telecommunications services: a program for rural and high-cost areas; low income consumers; rural health care facilities; and schools and libraries. As consumers have moved away from landline telephone services and adopted wireless phones and broadband connections, the fund has come under financial pressures. Funding caps were set on E-rate at $2.25 billion in 1997, but was not indexed for inflation until late 2010. Since then, inflation adjustments have shifted the cap to $2.4 billion. Although the Chairman claims that 60 percent of “$1.5 billion cap increase represents simply a ‘catch up’ of the lost inflation adjustment from 1997 to 2010,” the cap didn’t become an issue until 2010 because the fund never reached the threshold.



11-18-2014 at 08:41 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Tobacco, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Plain Packaging, Michi Iljazi, Intellectual Property, Australia - 0 Comment

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The free market is most effective when consumers are allowed to make choices for themselves and businesses are not burdened by onerous regulatory measures designed to harm sales of legal merchandise. When government steps in and increases taxes and/or adds needless regulations, the market suffers and in turn, consumers and businesses do too.  The plain packaging initiatives for tobacco like the one in Australia are a case study in what not to do. It is has been more than a year since plain packaging rules were instituted and the results have been bad for taxpayers and businesses.  The new rules also represent a serious infringement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Unfortunately the impact of plain packaging is being misconstrued by those who are pushing the counterproductive initiative; and now even media in the United States is picking up the narrative. Last week the Washington Post praised the effects of plain packaging down under.  But, a closer look reveals just how bad plain packaging is for consumers, businesses, and taxpayers.



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This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on November 14, 2014

For many years, earmarks were business as usual in Washington, D.C. That changed in 2006 when Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives partly due to their excessive spending on earmarks. Responding to that voter pressure, Congress instituted transparency rules for earmarks starting in 2008 and then in 2010, the House and Senate agreed to a two-year moratorium. The moratorium was extended and most earmarks disappeared, except for the defense spending bill. In fact, TPA uncovered 186 earmarks worth $7 billion (click here to see the full list) in the Defense Appropriations Bill that was part of H.R. 3547, the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, aka the Omnibus appropriations bill. One member of Congress tried to unsuccessfully bring back earmarks. A post from Redstate.com on November 14 noted that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) tried to introduce an amendment to House rules that “would allow an exception to the earmarks ban for ‘State, locality (including county and city governments), or a public utility or other public entity.’”



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This article originally appeared in Townhall.com on November 7, 2014

The Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States may have finally admitted to themselves what a broad swath of voices have been saying for months: they are an unnecessary institution. After fighting for their very existence against a skeptical Congress, the Ex-Im Bank might have just proven the point that American exporters could very well survive their dissolution. The final showdown over the eventual fate of the Bank was recently deferred to next summer by a temporary government funding measure, after their charter was originally set to expire on September 30. This followed a significant legislative battle in which a number of voices from all over the political spectrum spoke out critically against this institution, calling it the poster-child for crony capitalism – not a difficult case to make considering ten major corporations scoop up about 60 percent of Ex-Im financing. The leader of the Congressional assault was Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a noted member of the Republican conference’s conservative wing. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also voiced his opposition to the Bank, as did liberal Democratic Representative Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). A long-time champion of eliminating corporate welfare programs, Ralph Nader, has also surfaced to argue for Ex-Im’s demise.



11-14-2014 at 07:27 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Michi Iljazi, Intellectual Property, Copyright - 0 Comment

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Intellectual Property (IP) continues to be a major factor in helping to drive today’s global economy. Innovation and economic expansion are buoyed as IP is strengthened, as shown by a recent report from the US Chamber of Commerce. Though Congress has been quiet since early summer on this issue, there is hope the new Congress will pick up where this Congress (now a Lame Duck) left off. There’s no question that as technologies change it becomes increasingly important to keep up with those changes and make sure that consumers and businesses have the tools they need in order to enjoy the content in the digital marketplace that they most enjoy. Just this week a new tool for helping to find and locate legal content online was launched. Todd Spangler of the Variety reported.



11-12-2014 at 06:34 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Wyoming, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Spending, National Park Service, Michi Iljazi, Internet, Broadband, Yellowstone - 0 Comment

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Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for taxpayers, along comes another way for government to waste money, broadband in national parks. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has documented the lousy track record the public sector has when it comes to government broadband and with examples like the ones in Tennessee, Louisiana and Utah (read here, here, and here), it defies logic why more attempts would be made. Just last week, reports surfaced about another proposed expansion of government broadband, but this time in national parks. For example, Yellowstone National Park is on the verge of adding to an already established broadband apparatus as part of the “Go Digital” campaign. This proposal comes at the same time that Yellowstone is in the midst of considering a fee increase that would hit the millions of annual visitors to the park. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for providing broadband in the national parks. A trip to a national park should be spent enjoying the natural beauty of nature, not posting nature “selfies” to social media.



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The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), a national taxpayer watchdog group representing concerned citizens all across the country, is deeply troubled by statements made from President Obama today that call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move forward with new rule making regarding net neutrality and reclassification under Title II. The fundamental debate about the best public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open is extremely important.  The White House and FCC Chairman Wheeler continue to get it wrong. There is no justification to adopt an aggressive regulatory approach to keep the Internet open.  Of late, the country has seen an unprecedented amount of innovation and investment from the private sector.  In fact, a report out early last year by Charles Davidson and Michael Santorelli at the New York University Law School noted that, “Broadband providers have invested more than $1 trillion in broadband between 1996 and 2010, and $66 billion in 2011.” Any reclassification of the Internet could open the flood gates for new taxes. If the FCC decided to regulate broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, customers would see the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution fee assessed on broadband bills.  Telecommunications taxes are already too high and consumers can’t afford to be burdened with more taxes.

click 'read more' below to see the full statement form TPA



11-10-2014 at 07:17 am - Stephen Adkins - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Taxes, Stephen Adkins, State, Spending, Budget - 0 Comment
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National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting 

Stephen Adkins is a research fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Which governors do best at protecting taxpayers’ money and controlling state spending? That’s the questions answered by the Cato Institute’s 12th biennial “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” Residents of North Carolina, Kansas, Maine, and Indiana are in good hands, according to the report card. The study finds that, while some state executives responded to widespread upticks in state revenues by lowering tax burdens on their constituents, others, predictably, have decided to go on spending sprees.


11-07-2014 at 07:31 am - David Williams - Posted in: Regulation, President Obama, Oil, Energy, Congress, David Williams, Department of Commerce, Export, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

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This article appeared in Inside Sources on November 5, 2014

Gas prices are the lowest Americans have seen in quite some time. This is partly due to the basic principle that as supplies rise prices fall. And in the past few years we have seen supplies of both oil and gas increase substantially in this country, as we are using new technology to reach energy resources that were previously unavailable to us. Add in discoveries in shale formations across the country and we can see how truly blessed we are. What many may not know is that America recently became the world’s top producer of natural gas, and soon the U.S. may pass Saudi Arabia in oil production. This is a significant turn of events that very few people could have imagined over the past 40 years. During the oil crisis of the 1970s, we found out just how dependent we were on foreign oil. Americans lined up at gas stations, canceled vacations and watched gas prices rise, along with the cost of just about every product that required transportation or depended upon petroleum. Yet now with low prices and abundant resources, our policies should reflect this changing landscape of energy development. A positive step is that just last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz that “some policy provisions put in place as recently as 2007 are now at best irrelevant, or at worst detrimental, to national environmental and economic goals.”



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Recent Posts

TPA Joins Coalition Urging Reform on LRSAM Program
11/21/2014 at 08:34 am - Michi Iljazi

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11/20/2014 at 08:13 am - Will Rinehart

Washington Post Gets It Wrong On Plain Packaging
11/18/2014 at 08:41 am - Michi Iljazi

A Return of Earmarks? Not So Fast
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