February 24, 2015
TPA PRESIDENT DAVID WLLIAMS: FCC ACTION WOULD HARM LOCAL TAXPAYERS
Taxpayers Protection Alliance leader discusses the high-cost of government-owned broadband ahead of FCC decision
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams released the following statement today in advance of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote whether to allow two government-owned broadband networks to expand beyond their state-mandated boundaries: “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will ask his fellow commissioners on Thursday to vote on Chattanooga, Tenn.’s and Wilson, N.C.’s petitions to override municipal broadband laws in their respective states. For the fiscal well being of taxpayers, and in the interest of protecting states’ rights, TPA urges Wheeler’s colleagues to uphold these state laws in Chattanooga and Wilson, which have placed prudent restrictions on government-owned broadband networks."» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full statement
February 21, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has continued to fight against cronyism that gives preferential treatment to certain groups or businesses. These handouts ioccur in many areas in the federal government, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). TPA has warned about this in terms of spectrum auctions (read previous TPA blogs on spectrum here and here) being handled by the FCC. Yesterday, citing a recent auction last fall, TPA submitted joint comments with Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Individual Freedom, and the National Taxpayers Union to the FCC calling attention to and pressing for reforms within the Designated Entity program and how some have taken advantage of it in spectrum auctions, at the expense of taxpayers.
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February 11, 2015
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A version of this piece appeared in the Washington Times
The right of companies to sell their products in packaging that features their legally protected trademarks and branding seems like a no-brainer in a free market economy. In fact it is one of the key components of preserving Intellectual Property (IP) in today’s global economy. But that right is under attack from an unlikely place: The Conservative Government of United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain’s health minister, Jane Ellison, announced recently that, this spring, the government will propose a “plain packaging” scheme for cigarettes that will remove all logos, colors, unique lettering and other brand identification from packs and replace them with a drab brown packaging. The only graphic, beside the brand’s name in small block font would be a graphic picture of a tobacco-related ailment and several large health warnings. Mr. Cameron’s plain packaging idea is based on a similar law in Australia, which stripped cigarette packages bare except for large color photos of rotting teeth, dead fetuses and diseased eyeballs. The anti-smoking scare tactic was lauded as revolutionary when it was mandated by the Australian government in December 2012, but the policy has been an abject failure.
February 4, 2015
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The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), a national taxpayer watchdog group representing concerned citizens all across the country, is deeply opposed to plans announced today from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler on new rule making regarding net neutrality and reclassification of the Internet under Title II. Chairman Wheeler's proposals are completely antithetical to the innovative nature that has been a hallmark of the Internet for nearly two decades.
TPA Signs Coalition Letter Detailing Principles for Congressional Action to Rein in the FCC on Net NeutralityMichi Iljazi on
January 30, 2015
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The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is continuing with their push to make new rules for net neutrality, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is watching closely to see what will come from the agency’s February 26th meeting. TPA has called on Congress to act noting that the time for waiting is over because the FCC and the President are poised to move forward. Keeping that mind, TPA signed onto a coalition letter spearheaded by TechFreedom that included Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Center for Individual Freedom, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Institute for Liberty, Institute for Policy Innovation, International Center for Law & Economics, and Lincoln Labs (as well as a group of individual signers you can see here) that detailed principles for action by Congress that would “prevent a slippery slope towards broader regulation of the Internet.”
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter
January 12, 2015
Federal Election Commission HQ (Washington, D.C.)
This morning, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams submitted public comments to the Federal Election Commission regarding an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that would regulate political speech online. These new rules under consideration by the FEC set a dangerous precedent that severely undermines the political and policy debate process for millions of individuals and groups they are represented by nationwide. TPA takes this matter very seriously as the work we do on behalf of our membership would be greatly impacted by these new regulations. If you would like to file a comment, you still have time as the deadline is Thursday, January 15 (click here).
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January 7, 2015
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Congress has a full plate of issues that they will need to deal with right from the start. But with all the issues that appear to be dominating the new session of Congress, one issue that cannot be ignored is net neutrality, a direct assault on the future of the Internet. Last year, President Obama and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were rebuked by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Verizon vs FCC case. But, just one year later it appears that net neutrality advocates in the Obama Administration appear ready to move forward quickly (as early as February) with plans to reclassify the internet as a utility under Title II. Any reclassification would be disastrous for consumers, taxpayers, and the future of the Internet. Reclassification of the Internet could pave the way for new taxes, harm upcoming spectrum auctions, and totally upend the economy by stifling innovation and commerce.
December 26, 2014
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been a consistent critic of the expansion of regulatory power under various federal agencies. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are just two examples where this has been an issue. However, one agency that has been a standout in using the power of regulations in order to bypass Congress is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Earlier this month, in an effort led by Americans for Prosperity, TPA joined a wide range of groups at the state and federal level sending a coalition letter urging state legislators to fight the EPA's new regulations designed to bring harmful anti-energy policies into the states by supporting the Reliable, Affordable and Safe Power (RASP) Act. The resolution would help fight the EPA on their bltant regulatory power grabs harming state economies.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter » Read More
December 8, 2014
EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
TPA has been a vocal critic of the regulatory power grab under many federal agencies. Whether it’s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Election Commission (FEC), or even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). One agency that has been a chief culprit in using the power of regulations to bypass Congress enacting harmful new rules is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Recently, in an effort led by American Commitment, TPA joined a wide range of groups led by at the state and federal level sending a coalition letter that urged state elected officials fight the EPA's new regulations designed to bring harmful anti-energy policies into the states using the apparent Clean Power Plan. These new regulations would burden states and cost jobs at a time when our economy is still fragile.
To read the full letter, click 'read more' below » Read More
November 28, 2014
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This article originally apeared in The Hill on November 15, 2014
Update* TPA signed onto a coalition letter last week expressing concerns about H.R. 4301
The recent midterm elections sent a powerful message to politicians nationwide that Americans are frustrated with government intrusion into their lives. Obamacare played a central role in the elections as one in four voters said that healthcare was a top issue. Republicans have argued that Obamacare is an issue that should be left up to those at the state level and the federal government shouldn’t be mandating healthcare decisions. Similarly, there should be an emphasis on letting people in the states decide their own future when it comes to online gambling, especially as the issue may be creeping up on Congress once again. Unfortunately, some of the same Republicans that see the threat to individual liberty on healthcare want the federal government to legislate what the states can do about online gambling. In early 2014 a Nevada coalition of gambling companies began pushing for legislation aiming to fix the 1961 Wire Act with a new draft bill. H.R.4301 - Restoration of America's Wire Act, introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) would ban online gambling at the federal level.
November 10, 2014
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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
November 7, 2014
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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.”
October 16, 2014
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The tone in Washington can be described as one of gridlock, and though that isn’t always a bad thing it can certainly cause some to be wary when issues that are bad for taxpayers or states’ rights begin to gain traction. One issue that continues to pop up is the move to pass a federal ban on Internet gambling. There have been voices speaking up on this debate and there have also been interesting alliances formed, leaving no doubt that more activity will arise as this issue progresses in the near future. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has already laid out specific concerns regarding any move on a possible federal ban and why it would be the wrong way to go regarding this issue. Preventing states from making their own decision on this issue, and using federal law as a means to regulate the Internet are two of the most obvious problems. Many have looked at the issue but there is a new study by Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that should renew interest and attention to this issue. Minton’s study is a detailed look at the Wire Act of 1961, and how it fits in with what proponents of the federal ban on Internet gambling are attempting to do, including legislation (S. 2159: Restoration of America’s Wire Act) that was introduced in committee earlier this year.
October 7, 2014
This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on October 1, 2014
The deeply forested state of Oregon may have been in the final one-third of states to join the Union in the latter half of the 19th century, but today the state rates among the very first in the nation working to dismantle the certification monopoly that for decades has quietly strangled America’s timber industry and unnecessarily burdened taxpayers. Last week, under the direction of Gov. John Kitzhaber, the Oregon Department of Forestry released a new white paper examining the economic impact of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program’s prejudices against the state’s two prevailing timber certification standards, the American Tree Farm System and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). LEED, the green building standard of choice for some 34 state governments and 440 municipalities across the country, plus more than a dozen federal agencies, awards its “green” construction points only for the sourcing of timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The other two are left in the cold.» Read More
October 6, 2014
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This article originally appeared in Townhall on Otober 1, 2014
In a recent stunt that flamed out, Netflix led an online effort to incite their consumers into taking action on net neutrality that would ultimately benefit the company’s own bottom-line. The company tried to fake a slowdown of the Internet on its site to mimic what they claim could happen without net neutrality. The failed stunt showed that Netflix’s assertions and sneakiness are absurd. Netflix is now the go-to destination for movie and TV show rentals, accounting for a staggering one-third of all downstream Internet traffic during peak hours. As the company’s popularity and consumer base has grown, so too has its role at the center of many ongoing public policy debates in Washington, D.C. As the House of Representatives works to overhaul our outdated communications laws against the backdrop of a contentious debate surrounding net neutrality, they have examined the complex issue of interconnection – defined by the government as “the linking of two networks for the mutual exchange of traffic.”
September 15, 2014
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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler with President Obama (courtesy WhiteHouse.gov)
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to warn against ‘net neutrality’ and increased regulatory initiatives on the Internet stressing the belief that a light regulatory footprint by the government is what has allowed for such innovation and expansive commerce and economic output by way of the Internet. Today, TPA President David Williams submitted another public comment (view here) regarding a draft proposal for new rules on open Internet policy from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) including the possibility of a reclassification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II, which would most certainly result in more regulation and more government control over the Internet.
Click 'read more' below to view the full comment
September 4, 2014
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This article orginally appeared in Townhall.com on August 28, 2014
Most people don't associate the concept of restraint with a federal government that's spending taxpayer dollars at a rate of $7 million a minute and passing so many new regulations that the Code of Federal Regulations is now over 175,000 pages, and growing. But give credit where credit is due. The Feds have shown remarkable restraint and foresight when it comes to not burdening the Internet with unnecessary regulations and taxes. Ever since the Internet emerged as a consumer tool in the early 1990s, politicians and regulators recognized that the technology was developing in ways they couldn't predict. Instead of legislating yesterday’s Internet, they decided to let it evolve with minimal government intrusion into the Internet we have today. Washington has held to this "light touch" approach and the benefits speak for themselves: the web has transformed the way we live, work, and play. America is the undisputed Internet creativity capital of the world with companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter being household names the world over.
August 12, 2014
Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is always concerned when government agencies begin proposing new rules and regulations. Whether it’s energy, telecommunications, or many of the other issues TPA is involved in; there should always be caution when news of increased regulatory authority is announced. Recently, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that the Gainful Employment regulation was being drafted for private-sector colleges and universities and the new regulations are not welcome news for low-income and minority students. When looking at how to evaluate which schools will qualify for program opportunities under the Gainful Employment rule, the new regulation would use the amount of debt the average student incurs, compared to their income. TPA signed onto a letter sent by the Hispanic Leadership Fund urging DOE to rethink the rule because it “is not a fair measure of a program's worth, especially given that colleges do not control the amount of debt students undertake.” The letter was also cosigned by Americans for Limited Government, Independent Women's Forum, American Commitment, Frontiers of Freedom, Business Coalition for Fair Competition, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Individual Freedom, and the Cost of Government Center.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter » Read More
July 22, 2014
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The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has been very busy over the last few months dealing with spectrum and net neutrality. They have also been busy with another issue, government broadband. In April, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made his intentions clear to ensure that government broadband would not only be here to stay, but that under his FCC, would flourish. The latest development that began much of the renewed discussion was an amendment that passed the House last week. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) meant to rein in the FCC’s power in their attempt to force states into government broadband expansion. Reacting to Rep. Blackburn’s amendment, there are some who chimed in on this issue siding with Wheeler saying that expansion is important and that critics are wrong. For example, Brian Fung in the Washington Post wrote last week warned of a possible ban on “public internet.” That’s nonsense because nobody is trying to ban anything from the public. The real problem here is that government broadband is a lackluster substitute for a private sector product that not only works better, but actually ends up costing less for the consumer (and taxpayer).
July 21, 2014
This article originally appeared in Breitbart London on July 15, 2014» Read More
Ireland's government recently took steps toward becoming the first EU country to require plain packaging for tobacco products, and the UK would like to follow its lead. In light of recent reports coming out of Australia, the only country to enact the measure, showing the law is not achieving its intended effects, it is paramount these governments reconsider. Free market and taxpayer groups are concerned about the consequences of such extreme laws, not just in terms of health and safety of consumers, but their impact on national treasuries. As reported in the Sun newspaper the UK Government faces a potential compensation bill of between £9-11 billion if it proceeds with the removal of internationally protected trademarks and intellectual property. Already Indonesia is threatening to introduce plain packaging for beers, wines and spirits. And if other countries followed their lead this could have a significant effect on the Britain’s £38 billion alcohol industry which directly employs around 650,000 people. But the Ireland and the UK still have a chance to stop this bad policy.