The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) announces the Sequester Flip Floppers of 2013. Below is a list of members of Congress who voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which contained the path to sequestration. Now, they have effectively voted to alter sequestration and break the spending caps by voting for the Murray/Ryan Budget. Sequestration wasn't the best or smartest way to cut spending but it had to be done. The dire warnings about furloughs and economic catastrophe never came true with the Department of Defense cutting furloughs back from 22 days to 6 days. The recent jobs number of 7 percent unemployment and revised GDP growth upwards in the third quarter shows that the economy was able to absorb the cuts. And, let's not forget, it was Congress’ vote on the BCA and their failure to pass specific budget cuts that led us to the sequester in the first place. Further continuation of the sequester is a small step toward fiscal responsibility and any move that alters or eliminates the caps is a precursor to a larger disappointment on spending cuts down the road. Making any changes to the sequester that break spending caps puts taxpayers at greater risk and those who voted for the sequester and are now voting to alter the sequester have made it into TPA's Flip Flopping Hall of Shame. It is important to note that both Democrats and Republicans Flip Flopped.
TPA Responds to Announced Budget Deal, Signs Coalition Letter Urging Preservation of BCA 2011 Spending Caps
TPA President David Williams responds to the Murray-Ryan Budget accord announced on Tuesday evening:
“Washington has yet again failed the American taxpayer by choosing phony spending cuts over fiscal responsibility. The agreement reached tonight between Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) does nothing to address the long-term spending problems that this nation faces. Unfortunately what it does do is create more problems by setting the precedent to increase spending levels previously agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011. While millions of Americans look for ways to change their spending habits by tightening their belts, Washington remains clueless and increases spending. It is inexcusable to think that just a few short years after agreeing to long-term spending restraint, deals are being made behind closed doors to break those very agreements. Sequestration wasn’t the ideal solution for anyone but it was the failure of Congress and the President to agree to specific spending cuts that led us to where we are now, and there is no reason to believe that we won’t see repeated attempts to do away with more required cuts down the road.”
This budget announcement by comes shortly after TPA signed onto a letter spearheaded by the Conservative Action Project urging lawmakers to oppose any budget deal that “raises spending levels or increases revenue”
The growth in spending by the federal government has been one of the worst things that taxpayers have had to deal with over the last several years and one aspect of federal spending that has seen major increases is entitlements. The more money that is being spent on entitlement programs, the more opportunity there has been for taxpayers to be exposed to waste, fraud and abuse. A new report by Our Generation highlighted some of the most egregious examples of how the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) has been defrauded at the expense of your tax dollars. SSDI is a federal insurance program funded by payroll taxes and overseen through the Social Security Administration. The program is aimed at providing supplemental income to individuals who are physically restricted in their ability to work due to disability, commonly physical disability. The program has seen a great deal of growth over the last two decades, and over the last five years the Disability Trust Fund has been running a deficit. The growth in the payments being distributed accompanied by the lack of job creation in this administration has been a dangerous combination for the taxpayer-funded entitlement.
The federal government has a spending problem and federal agencies have shown a particular penchant for spending money in ways that defy explanation. Just this week, we learned that the State Department ran up a $400,000 bar tab. Also, let’s not forget the wasteful spending by the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, and the Transportation Security Administration among others. Payment errors are also a major problem for federal agencies (and taxpayers) and the problem is getting worse. The Government Accountability Office noted that federal agencies reported $115.3 billion in improper payments in fiscal year 2011 alone. This is inexcusable at a time when taxpayers are feeling the burden of a $17 trillion dollar debt and a government in Washington D.C. that seems not all that concerned when it comes to making meaningful spending cuts and trying to do away with structural reform that would reduce spending in the short and long term. With that in mind, TPA was pleased to join an effort led by Americans for Prosperity signing this letter, along with American Commitment, Americans for a Balanced Budget, Americans for Tax Reform, COAST (Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes), Concerned Women for America, Cost of Government Center, Generation Opportunity, Less Government, National Center for Public Policy Research, National Taxpayers Union, and the R Street Institute urging Congress to support the Eliminate Preventable Waste Act, sponsored by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). The legislation would “require federal agencies to show a reduction in the error rate for payments in federal spending. If the rate of improper payments increases in a given fiscal year, then the administrative budget for the agency will be cut by the same percentage of the error rate.” In a time where debt and deficits continue to plague the country’s finances, this is one step of many that Congress can take to move toward solving an enormous and preventable problem. In a spending atmosphere of difficult decisions to make, getting rid of improper payments should be a relatively easy fix.
Click ‘read more’ below for the full letter
United StatesThe promised revenue from increased tobacco taxes is nothing more than Fool’s Gold. The Minnesota State News pointed out that “Since 2003 there have been 57 cigarette tax increases across the nation and 68% of them have failed to meet projected revenues. In 2006, New Jersey raised cigarette taxes with the hope of pulling in $30 million in extra revenue each year. Not only did the tax hike fail to bring in extra revenue, but the state actually collected $20 million less in cigarette sales.” According to the Troy Record, “The sale of black-market, untaxed cigarettes has resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the state, robbing state health care programs designed to help children.” And, also noted in that same article, “According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington D.C., business-oriented tax research organization, approximately 60.9 percentage of cigarettes sold in New York were smuggled in from other states.”
States across the nation are facing financial challenges when it comes to funding and budgets. Many local governments have a legitimate interest in issues such as zoning and public safety but at the same time it is important to clarify between helping to fix a problem, and making it worse by expanding the size of an already bloated government. TPA recently sent a letter to represenatives in the state of Georgia regarding wireless infrastructure, transparency, and common sense when it comes to spending by local governments. TPA recognizes the legitimate concern to cover costs for permitting reviews, but it should be for the actual cost and this should be a transparent process.
As you know, I traveled to Uganda last month to meet with taxpayer advocates and engage in a meaningful dialougue about what Uganda and the United States can learn from each respective country's tax structure. Here are a few photos from my trip, enjoy!
When it comes to having too much of something, the federal government is an expert. This year they’ve taken in a record haul in taxes, a report out early last Spring showed that they own massive amounts of unused land and properties, and they certainly have too much debt as far as the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) (and probably most taxpayers) are concerned. Another thing that the federal government has far too much of is wireless spectrum. TPA has been a strong advocate of the government selling as much government held wireless spectrum as is possible without endangering any abilities of the federal, state, and local agencies to their job (read previous TPA blogs here and here). Currently, it is estimated that the amount of spectrum the government has is nearly 60% of what is available. This statistic (and fact) is something that has been the subject of Congressional inquiries over the last several months, including a recent hearing just a few weeks ago focused on the 5 GHz spectrum and the opportunities for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make more available to consumers and businesses.
Recent PostsTPA Presents the Sequester Flip-Floppers of 2013