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06-19-2013 at 07:43 am - Michi Iljazi - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Spending Cuts, Spending, Sequestration, Senate, Sen. Tom Coburn, Michi Iljazi, House, Congress - 0 Comment

US Capitol

In an outrageous but unsurprising revelation about the extent to which our tax dollars are being wasted by Washington politicians this one extends to the staff of those very elected officials charged with the task of spending federal funds wisely. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), who has been diligent when it comes to exposing waste and fraud in government, sent a detailed letter to Congressional Leaderslate last month detailing many of the programs he believes need to be ended due to the amount of money they cost relative to the lack of value they are worth in relation to benefitting the taxpayers. Sen. Coburn notes that “There are a variety of commonsense actions Congress could take to save money within its own budget…” and he cites an extensive list but one in particular caught our eye: Lifestyle Coaching for Congress.  This section of the letter outlines what amounts to be nothing more than taxpayer funded activities that literally have nothing to do with how legislative staff should be functioning as a paid member of a Senator or Representative’s office:

  • A class to help staffers socially titled “Small Talk: Breaking the Ice in Social Situations”; and
  • A lifestyle class designed to help staffers titled “Lighten Up! Spring Cleaning for your Body and Your Life,” where staffers can learn about healthy eating and recipes to be “balanced, calm and focused and several practices that will support you in releasing the old and inviting in the new.”
  • From Stress to Relaxation to help staffers with “exhaustion and lack of clarity” (Senate)
  • Your Credit Score – Friend or Foe (House)
  • Choose Your Attitude: Attitude is Everything (Senate)
  • What’s My Communication Style? (Senate)
  • Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep (Senate)


Right now in Washington congressional leaders are crafting spending bills to continue the funding of the government and there is always a temptation when writing an appropriations bill to fill it with unnecessary spending. This is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon but there are ways to combat this overspending and Congress has even played a role at times.  Last week, in an effort led by the National Taxpayers Union, TPA joined several other free-market and taxpayer groups in urging the Congress to follow the spending limits set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BAC) and the House passed budget when it comes time to pass appropriations bills. In a time where we are facing serious debt and deficit problems, it is crucial that Congress does not break their own rules and exceed the spending limits set forth in the Sequester, and in fiscal year 2014, compliance means a reduction in total discretionary spending by 2 percent to a level of $967 billion… Congress must adhere to this limit to show taxpayers that fiscal discipline is feasible in a time when it is absolutely necessary. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance will be following all the latest developments as it relates to the upcoming appropriations bills and we hope that Congress will act responsibly.

Click read more to read the full letter



NTU/RSt Report

T
he goal of balancing fiscal responsibility with efficiency when it comes to Defense spending has always been an important issue. In fact, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance has done extensive work on this matter and it is always encouraging to see other free-market organizations join in the effort to identify smart ways where money can be saved in defense spending, without jeopardizing important programs essential to national security. Last week, a joint report put together by NTU and the R Street Institute was released entitled “Defending America, Defending Taxpayers: How Pentagon Spending Can Better Reflect Conservative Values” which focuses on the number of ways that the Pentagon’s massive budget can be cut, saving nearly $1.9 trillion dollars with 100 specific cuts to reflect smart defense policy, while at the same time being beneficial to taxpayers noting that the, “‘universe’ of programs and processes in need of reform at the Pentagon is more than large enough to allow for compliance with so-called sequestration while maintaining the strongest and most capable military the world has ever known.” There are many recommendations that the report’s authors, Pete Sepp and Andrew Moylan, indentify and though they are all achievable it is not likely we will be able to see them all implemented, but what is important is that the report gives specific ways that the Pentagon can become more efficient, without deviating from their role as an agency vested with providing national security. Savings in the report include: $878.5 billion through 30 recommendations by overhauling deficient processes and management structures, including a reduction in DoD printing costs, consolidation of foreign language contracts, combining support services at joint bases, and a full audit of Pentagon finances; $618.6 billion through 20 recommendations with personnel, compensation, and benefit reforms ranging from less spending on military bands to capping the troop presence in Europe; from health care benefit restructuring to adjusting the "high-three" retirement formula; and $385.8 billion through 50 recommendations by eliminating wasteful, unnecessary, or low-priority weapons systems, such as the SM-3 Block II-B missile (eliminated in favor of less expensive options), the F-35 fighter (replaced with other jets), refurbishment of M-1 tanks (delayed), and the Virginia class submarine (reduced in procurement).



04-10-2013 at 01:01 pm - David Williams - Posted in: Defense, President Obama, Sen. Tom Coburn, Spending, Spending Cuts, Taxes, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Tobacco - 0 Comment

President Obama released his long awaited budget today (access all budget documents here).  Two months overdue and dead on arrival to a dysfunctional and divided Congress, the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget is nothing more than a wish list of things that will never happen.  It is important to look through the budget and see where the President’s priorities are.  The budget proposes to spend $3.78 trillion in FY 2014.  That is $10.3 billion per day, $431 million per hour and $7.2 million per minute.  There are two fundamental problems with the budget, there is too much revenue asked for and not enough spending cuts.  Even though the budget calls for $24 billion in specific spending cuts, Defense spending alone will be $52 billion above the budget cap for next year saving some programs that should be eliminated such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  The President’s budget also wants to raise more revenue via tax increases on the wealthy and a new program to offer preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families through higher tobacco taxes.



04-04-2013 at 09:28 am - David Williams - Posted in: Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. John Duncan, Spending Cuts, Spending, David Williams, Congress - 0 Comment
On April 3, 2013 the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, through an initiative led by Americans for Tax Reform, joined with more than 40 other free market and taxpayer groups to  support Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) bill to create the Committee to Reduce Government Waste.  This bill signals a serious step toward reforming federal spending and provides prudent lawmakers with an important tool to decrease the size of government.  The letter points out that the Committee to Reduce Government Waste is not a new idea—in fact, the committee existed first in the 77th Congress after it was proposed by Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. (D-Va.). Named after its creator, the “Byrd Committee” was tasked solely with cutting unnecessary and redundant federal programs and was able to enact real reform—the Committee netted over $38 billion in savings (in adjusted dollars) in its first few years of existence.  The bickering over the past few months over a two percent cut in federal spending shows that fiscal restraint is hard to come by.  Institutional changes, such as implementing a committee focused only on cutting spending, is the only way to ensure lasting reform for taxpayers. Passage of this legislation will be a serious step forward in advancing spending cuts and finally give taxpayers a much-needed congressional voice.


02-27-2013 at 07:22 am - David Williams - Posted in: David Williams, Defense, Sequestration, Spending, Spending Cuts, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment
On February 27, 2013, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance joined with groups from the Left and Right to urge Congress and the President to reduce wasteful and ineffective Pentagon spending to make us safer.  There is a growing consensus—among members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, policy wonks of various stripes, and even defense industry CEOs—that lawmakers can, and should, find areas for substantial savings in the Pentagon’s bloated budget. The colaition, and military experts believe we can realize savings of at least $50 billion to $100 billion per year over 10 years in the Pentagon budget—without compromising national security. In fact, such savings will make us safer since our security depends on a sound strategy and a strong economy.  The Pentagon must confront the threat to our economy with the same vigor, determination, and skill it has shown toward other urgent tasks. Our military might is not measured by how many dollars we spend but how we spend our dollars.  The signatories to this letter are:  Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for America's Future, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Cost of Government Center, CREDO, Freedom Action, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, National Taxpayers Union, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Project On Government Oversight, Republican Liberty Caucus, R Street, Take Back Washington, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, USAction, U.S. PIRG, Women’s Action for New Direction, and Win Without War.  Read the full letter here.


02-18-2013 at 10:22 am - David Williams - Posted in: Agriculture, Congress, David Williams, Farm Bill, Food stamps, Spending, Spending Cuts, Subsidy, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

Farm

On February 14, 2013, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance joined with nine other taxpayer and free market groups to urge Congress to take common sense steps to reform federal supports for agriculture and save taxpayers at least $100 billion over the next decade.  The 113th Congress has a prime opportunity to reduce the federal government’s meddling in the agricultural sector while helping to pay down our $16 trillion national debt. A number of common sense steps can be taken to create a more accountable, responsive, and cost-effective agricultural policy.  Despite the 2012 drought being one of the most severe in history, the agriculture industry “suffered” with near-record profits. Given today’s extraordinarily high commodity prices and farm profits and our monumental fiscal crisis, agriculture subsidies should be reduced by at least $100 billion over the next decade.  Federal supports for agriculture must be evaluated on their own merits. Though explosive growth in nutrition programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), must be addressed, that discussion must not be used to sidetrack necessary reforms to federal subsidies to agricultural businesses.  Congress must consider changing the law under which America operates in the absence of a new farm bill. The current fallback, the horribly outdated Agricultural Act of 1949, forces taxpayers to decide between Farm Bills with inadequate reforms or reverting to even more detrimental World War II-era law.



Tonight was President Obama’s fourth State of The Union (SOTU) address (2009 was technically just a speech before a joint session of Congress, not a State of The Union).  Just as in previous SOTU’s by President Obama, and former President’s, there is quite a lot to digest.  As you can imagine, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) listened intently as the President talked more about his spending and taxation plans for the year.  An article in The Hill earlier today gave us a sneak preview of what to expect, “President Obama will use his State of the Union speech Tuesday to turn public opinion against automatic spending cuts and argue that some of the money to replace the cuts should instead come from higher taxes.  He will use the prime-time TV address to argue the economy would be damaged if $85 billion in automatic spending cuts were to go ahead on schedule on March 1, and will seek to set up Republicans to take the blame if they do.”  Well, President Obama kept true to his word.  He railed against the sequester (automatic spending cuts), asked for more revenue, and called for additional spending.  The trifecta of what not to do considering that the nation is $16.5 trillion in debt and the deficit this year will eclipse the $800 billion mark.



02-06-2013 at 07:12 am - David Williams - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Spending Cuts, Sequestration, Defense, David Williams - 0 Comment

Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance joined with 7 other groups to urge Congress to pursue a minimum of $50 to $100 billion in annual Pentagon budget savings over the next decade—savings taxpayers were promised in the Budget Control Act of 2011.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are ending, and our defense leaders admit the spending boom that more than doubled the Pentagon budget since the wars’ launch a decade ago must end.  Consensus exists among civilian and military experts that DOD can absorb at least sequestration levels of spending cuts while retaining a robust force to meet the nation’s security needs. The bottom line is that sequestration will not weaken our military and should only be the first step in realigning the Pentagon’s priorities.  Reforms such as eliminating outdated, Cold War-era weapons; cutting programs the military doesn’t even want; reforming military health care programs; and closing unneeded bases will not only save taxpayers billions, they will also make our nation stronger by helping safeguard our financial security.



01-22-2013 at 04:17 pm - David Williams - Posted in: Congress, Corporate tax, David Williams, Spending Cuts, Taxes, Taxpayers Protection Alliance - 0 Comment

In the culmination of the fiscal cliff talks and despite what politicians said, taxes increased for all working Americans.  Now is the time for all taxpayers to join together and seize the opportunity to pursue the long overdue reform to our nation’s tax code.  Fortunately, some members of Congress agree and understand the need for change.  In a Politico op-ed from last week, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) wrote, “Our tax code has become an obstacle to growth, and only a robust, growing economy can create the new jobs (and future tax revenues) that we need.”  Senator Portman also stated that, “Since 2001, taxes on everything from salaries and small business income to investment earnings and gifts have been temporary — a source of economic uncertainty and perennial fiscal fights. New permanent rates create a clear starting point for tax reform and end disputes over the baseline that have vexed past reform attempts.”  Another problem with the shenanigans of the past several years is the significant uncertainty Washington’s game playing imposes on businesses.  With so many unknowns, businesses are cautious about making large investments (and creating new jobs in the process) for future gains because they lack any assurance that Congress won’t change the tax rates with its next whim.



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