October 22, 2015
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The country is $18.4 trillion in debt and in less than two weeks (November 3) the country will hit the debt ceiling. With mere days to find a solution there is a real need to ensure the full faith and credit of the United States remains in tact with responsible legislation from Congress. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is hopeful Congress can pass legislation that will not only address the debt ceiling, but also make inroads towards real spending reduction. Washington has been here before and once again it is getting to a critical point where there are only days left to act. This is a growing trend and TPA is dismayed with last minute deals and the habit of governing by crisis. However, this most recent crisis has led to a number of serious proposals aimed at dealing with this problem in a responsible, reasonable, and long term manner. One plan has emerged in the House is H.R. 3771, The Terms of Credit Act (TCA), put forward by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) headed by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas). TCA is a comprehensive solution that puts forth a multi-pronged strategy to dealing with the debt limit.
October 19, 2015
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The GOP Presidential candidates have debated twice, but finally taxpayers were able to hear from the Democrat field of contenders running to replace President Obama. In their first nationwide debate, five candidates gathered on stage in Las Vegas to field questions about a wide range of issues the country is faced with today. Unfortunately, much of the discussion and the answers left much to be desired. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will not be endorsing a candidate for either party’s nomination, our goal is to analyze what all of the candidates are saying on the issues that matter most to taxpayers. In the first debate amongst the field of Democrats, those issues were largely ignored. Comprehensive tax reform is an issue that TPA has been working on for years, and each year the urgency has grown to get something done in Washington. Our tax code with regulations now totals more than ten million words, and there’s a good chance that number will continue to increase if Congress continues to do nothing. The five Democratic candidates only mentioned taxes in passing. No candidate delved into any specific plan for overhauling the tax code and the usual left-leaning mantra of “tax the rich” could be heard a time or two.
TPA Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging 'NO' Vote on NDAA, Citing Bad Process and Continued Taxpayer WasteMichi Iljazi on
October 5, 2015
Last week, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2016 passed the House of Representatives in a 270-156 vote. The future of the bill is still in doubt for a couple of reasons. First, the Senate must still pass the legislation. The vote could come as early as Tuesday but even if the bill passes there is still another hurdle to getting the NDAA (as reported out of conference) through, the White House. Last week the President issued a veto threat in response to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account to bypass the spending caps put in place through the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and sequestration. TPA has always said the OCO is a slush fund used to bypass the base budget and avoid the spending caps but the solution is not to break the caps (as the President wants), the best way forward on Pentagon spending is to slash the waste, develop an overall national security strategy, and then fund based on that strategy and the priorities that come with it. Keeping that in mind, TPA signed this coalition letter, along with twenty other groups, urging Congress to reject the bloated NDAA and the process that brought it this far.
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October 2, 2015
This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) applauded the House and Senate for passing a short-term spending bill that funds the government at levels that will remain within the budget caps that were part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The BCA caps are spending levels that Congress and the White House agreed upon and put into law, there is no reason to spend above those levels. TPA is calling on Congress to use the next few months to pass a spending bill that retains the budget caps, cuts spending, and ends the governing by crisis that has become too familiar in Washington. Congress ultimately needs to decide if they will get their act together and pass a full year CR or an Omnibus spending bill. Passing a year long CR will make it difficult (but not impossible) to add earmarks. An Omnibus spending bill is more problematic. Anytime a multi-thousand page bill is passed, there is always the temptation to add earmarks or provide funding for wasteful and unnecessary projects or resurrect dead programs like the Export-Import Bank. Of course, waiting to pass an Omnibus spending bill or multiple CR’s two moths after the beginning of the fiscal year is still a symptom of a larger problem of legislating by crisis versus not long term planning. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills so groups like TPA can evaluate each one based on its merits. Passing individual spending bills in a non-chaotic way also provides opportunities for members of Congress to offer amendments to cut wasteful and unnecessary spending. Getting back to “regular order” allows for more time to look at long term issues like comprehensive tax reform.» Read More
September 21, 2015
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The 2014 Senate takeover by the Republican party presented an opportunity for Congress to return to regular order and pass appropriations bills to fund the government. You know, the way it’s supposed to happen. That opportunity has been squandered and the country is now just days away, once again, from running out of money and a potential government shutdown. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) and others have been calling on Congress to pass appropriations bills instead of waiting for deadlines to nearly hit and passing short-term stop-gap spending measures. Unfortunately, those calls have been ignored and now a more important fight is creeping up: the debate over raising the Budget Control Act (BCA) spending level caps and undoing sequestration.
September 18, 2015
This article appeared in The Courier-Journal on September 17, 2015
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Governments at all levels have squandered billions of dollars on wasteful and unnecessary projects. At the federal level pork-barrel earmarks funded everything from indoor rainforests to tattoo removal programs to gigantic subsidies for the solar energy industry. At the state and local level, Boston taxpayers watched as Boston went $10 billion over budget for the “Big Dig,” one of the biggest transportation infrastructure boondoggles in U.S. history. Today some of the most egregious cases of taxpayer waste are government-owned broadband networks. In fact, Kentucky is working to secure $324 million for a government-owned network (GON) that the state will, despite a partnership with an Australian financial firm, maintain and operate. State taxpayers will contribute $30 million to this project while federal taxpayers will kick in another $23.5 million. This project is a bad idea for five reasons: the state’s partner on this project, the likelihood of cost overruns, consumer cost considerations, privacy concerns and the weight of competing government spending priorities.
September 12, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Releases New Report on NFL Stadium Financing
Washington, D.C. - This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report, “Sacking Taxpayers: How NFL Stadium Subsidies Waste Money and Fall Short on Their Promises of Economic Development” detailing the public financing deals for NFL stadiums across the country. The report examines the economic impact of taxpayer-financed NFL stadiums on the people who pay the taxes that fund the construction of those very stadiums. Since 1995, a staggering 29 of the 31 stadiums that house NFL teams received public subsidies for construction, renovation or both. Over the last twenty years, taxpayers have been forced to spend nearly $7 billion subsidizing NFL stadium construction and renovation projects. “Americans love watching the NFL and football fans love going see their team play each week at stadiums across the country,” said David Williams, TPA President. “Unfortunately, beneath all of the glitz and glamour, these venues are nothing more than monuments to corporate welfare and taxpayer handouts. These stadiums have been built on the backs of taxpayers who had no or little say in the matter and in many cases have benefitted little or not at all.” The report comes as the NFL opens its 2015 season, which began on Thursday night September 10 as the Pittsburgh Steelers were defeated by the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The game was played in Gillette Stadium, which was built using $72 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.» Read More
September 9, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Releases New Report on NFL Stadium Financing
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report, “Sacking Taxpayers: How NFL Stadium Subsidies Waste Money and Fall Short on Their Promises of Economic Development” detailing the public financing deals for NFL stadiums across the country. The report examines the economic impact of taxpayer-financed NFL stadiums on the people who pay the taxes that fund the construction of those very stadiums. Since 1995, a staggering 29 of the 31 stadiums that house NFL teams received public subsidies for construction, renovation or both. Over the last twenty years, taxpayers have been forced to spend nearly $7 billion subsidizing NFL stadium construction and renovation projects. “Americans love watching the NFL and football fans love going see their team play each week at stadiums across the country,” said David Williams, TPA President. “Unfortunately, beneath all of the glitz and glamour, these venues are nothing more than monuments to corporate welfare and taxpayer handouts. These stadiums have been built on the backs of taxpayers who had no or little say in the matter and in many cases have benefitted little or not at all.” The report comes as the NFL prepares to open its 2015 season on Thursday night September 10 as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The game will be played in Gillette Stadium, which was built using $72 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.» Read More
August 30, 2015
August 29th marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in the Gulf Coast. Katrina’s aftermath brought a legacy of physical and emotional damage to a region that is still working to rebuild a decade later. There is also another unfortunate legacy that was left in the wreckage of the devastating natural disaster: government waste. One of the most memorable symbols of government failure was the thousands of pounds of ice sent to Louisiana that was eventually sent back and than melted at a cost of $12.5 million. The recovery for residents in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi has been a long process and still ongoing for many. However, the taxpayer money that has been wasted is something that gets little attention in the coverage yet it’s critically important to understanding the level of waste so that when future disasters occur taxpayer money can be better spent. » Read More
August 26, 2015
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Flooding in New Orelans, LA caused by Hurricane Katrina
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in the Gulf Coast. Katrina’s aftermath brought a legacy of physical and emotional damage to a region that is still working to rebuild a decade later. There is also another unfortunate legacy that was left in the wreckage of the devastating natural disaster: government waste. One of the most memorable symbols of government failure was the thousands of pounds of ice sent to Louisiana that was eventually sent back and than melted at a cost of $12.5 million. The recovery for residents in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi has been a long process and still ongoing for many. However, the taxpayer money that has been wasted is something that gets little attention in the coverage yet it’s critically important to understanding the level of waste so that when future disasters occur taxpayer money can be better spent. The incompetent response to the disaster was apparent immediately. The waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer-funded aid following Hurricane Katrina was apparent to government watchdogs less than a year after the storm. Eric Lipton wrote an extensive piece for the New York Times in June of 2006 detailing many of the worst offenses of taxpayer waste related to the post-Katrina recovery.
August 18, 2015
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This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on August 12, 2015
The future of the Republican approach to foreign policy and national security was on full display during the first presidential debates. The candidates made pledges to take on the Islamic State and to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, but unfortunately, they failed to offer a grand vision or strategy on how to deal with the security challenges of today and the years to come. They also failed to address Pentagon spending and how to reform the Pentagon to be more equipped fiscally and physically to fight the next war. Instead, many simply reiterated false narratives and stale talking points to justify throwing more money at the military.
August 12, 2015
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(MacMillin Slobodien is the Executive Director of Our Generation, a grouop dedicated to research, educate and promote long-term, free market solutions to today’s public policy concerns.) Today, a growing number of Americans rely on the Social Security program as an income source when they reach an age where they can no longer work. Two thirds of seniors depend on Social Security for a majority of their retirement income, and one third of seniors rely on it for at least 90 percent of their income. Payroll taxes are supposed to finance Social Security programs. These taxes are imposed on employers and employees and are collected and paid to the taxing jurisdiction by the employers. These taxes are deposited into a trust fund the Department of Treasury manages. The way the Department of Treasury manages the trust fund suggests that there is no real money in the trust fund. Instead, it appears to consist of IOUs that are not worth anything unless people continue to buy United States’ national debt. Most Americans believe there is an actual trust fund with money in it. Instead there are IOUs to be paid with debt or current taxes. For the last 30 years, Congress has raided the Social Security Trust Fund. More than over $2.6 trillion has been taken from the trust fund to feather the nests of politicians. In addition, the total unfunded liabilities of the United States government exceeds any reasonable ability to pay. Beneficiaries need financial security and transparency for Social Security.
United States Postal Service Doubling Down on Mismanagement by Planning Expanded Grocery Delivery ServiceDavid Williams on
June 23, 2015
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On June 22, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that they wanted to expand their grocery delivery service to New York City. This announcement comes on the heels of unanswered questions about previous attempts at grocery delivery service, a quarterly loss of $1.5 billion, and a plan to spend $6 billion on a new fleet of trucks. Instead of trying to compete with the private sector to deliver groceries and buy new trucks, the USPS needs to get their fiscal house in order and focus on their core mission: delivering mail. Last October, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance submitted comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) warning about expansion of grocery delivery without knowing the full fiscal impact of such a move. In those comments TPA noted, “Perhaps even more startling, the USPS is near a point of financial collapse losing millions of dollars a day and billions of dollars every year. Earlier this month, the agency once again defaulted on their $5.5 billion pre-payment for their employee healthcare benefits. The USPS needs to definitively show that the previous 60-day test of grocery delivery services was successful and that the USPS did not lose money on this project. They should not be moving into new and unknown markets before understanding the possible consequences.”
May 28, 2015
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John Kasich was a member of Congress that conservatives could trust when it came to fiscal issues. His co-sponsorship of the Penny/Kasich plan (named after former Democrat Tim Penny from Minnesota and John Kasich), which would have cut spending and eliminated the deficit, showed that he understood spending. Unfortunately, his recent actions as Governor may be a sign that he may need a refresher course on tax policy. In February, Gov. Kasich delivered his fiscal year 2016 budget to the Ohio legislature. In the State of the State Address, he described the proposal as “a message to job creators around the state, around the country and around the globe that Ohio is open for business.” Unfortunately, the $5.2 billion increase in sales, commercial activity, and energy and tobacco taxes packaged in the plan is hardly a welcome mat for economic growth. Not surprisingly, the plan drew immediate and acute criticism.
May 26, 2015
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2016 by a vote of 269-151. TPA continues to be encouraged by the open process the House uses in markup and on amendments because it is important for taxpayers to see what Congress is doing when it comes to spending their hard earned money, while preserving the importance of national security concerns that come with the NDAA. While TPA has continued to praise the open process, there are still issues with spending, which were addressed in a recent coalition letter (below) from groups across the ideological spectrum. As the NDAA moves to the Senate, TPA is hopeful that concerns on spending can be addressed. Unfortunately, the concerns that groups have on transparency will not be satisfied, as Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has made clear that the committee will continue the long-standing tradition of keeping the process closed. As we start a new week just after the Memorial Day holiday, it is imortant to keep in mind the sacrifices made by those who have fought to defend our freedoms. TPA will continue to press for action on greater transparency and more responsible spending when it comes to defense, because spending taxpayer money wisely can be one of the most effective tools utilized not just by the Pentagon, but all federal agencies.
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May 19, 2015
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On May 12, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed north of Philadelphia while en route to New York. In the aftermath of the damage done, eight individuals lost their lives, and more than 200 others were injured. The event immediately dominated the news on the internet, television, radio, and print with folks looking for answers and brave first responders doing what they could to get passengers away from the wreckage to safety. Unfortunately, amid the chaos and bravery in the aftermath of the accident there was a horrid display of selfish political cowardice from some who sought to use the tragedy as means to make a political point, as well as a play for taxpayer money.
May 18, 2015
This week the Senate will vote on whether or not to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a critical tool needed in order for the Obama Administration to finalize trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Taxpayers Protection Alliance supports TPA (yes, you read that right) and we are encouraged by recent developments in Congress as we near votes on this important legislation. However, there are still some things that are causing problems for the U.S. with some of our potential trade partners and one of those is the wasteful and duplicative USDA catfish inspection program, which TPA has continuously fought against. It has already had an impact on negotiations for the TPP as ten Asia/Pacific countries have written to the United States Trade Representative calling the program an obvious violation of international law. The program itself will cost taxpayers a minimum of $170 million dollars but the impact on bilateral trade could be almost incalculable. With that in mind, TPA joined with Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, and Taxpayers for Common Sense to show our support for efforts in the Senate, particularly those of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), to get rid of the program.
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May 11, 2015
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Another fiscal quarter for the United States Postal Service (USPS) has come and gone, and unsurprisingly, the outcome has proven more of the same. After maxing out their $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury and sustaining $50 billion in losses over the last eight years, there is no end in sight to USPS’s financial decline. The latest quarterly deficit totaled $1.5 billion, which means they are now more than $2.2 billion in the red for 2015 and yet are still continuing to operate beyond their means. With these figures, the U.S. Postal Service has run a deficit in 24 of the past 26 quarters. The agency was originally created to provide letter mail delivery service to everyone in the country, no matter where they live, at a reasonable rate. Delivering letter mail represents the core function of the Postal Service. According to their most recent Annual Compliance Report, standard mail letters and first class mail both cover their costs by more than 200 percent. Instead of focusing on money-losing ventures like deliveries of flowers and groceries, the U.S. Postal Service needs to focus on their main responsibility – mail delivery.
May 8, 2015
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The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is set to run out of cash on May 31, 2015. Established nearly sixty years ago by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, the HTF is a federal fund for transportation projects and programs that derives money from the federal gas tax (18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline, 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel, and other related excise taxes). As Congress prepares to replenish the trust fund, some members of Congress (from both parties) are looking at options to raise taxes to keep the fund solvent. A bad idea that would do little to solve America’s transportation problems. Last month, USA Today reported that Democrats in Congress and their union allies are fighting to pass a gas tax increase before the end of May. But it isn’t just Democrats, there is legislation in Congress introduced by Rep. James Renacci (R-Ohio) that, “would allow gas taxes to rise as high as necessary to cover funding shortfalls, unless Congress agrees to an alternative solution by the end of 2016.” Raising the federal gas tax is a copout. The truth is that Americans are not just paying 18.3 cents per gallon, there are also state taxes on gasoline that need to be taken into account.
April 17, 2015
It’s been just a few weeks since Congress passed a budget, and in that time TPA has been watching to see what will happen next. Just this week, both the House and Senate voted to set up a conference on the budget so that each Chamber’s version can be formed into one that can be voted on for final passage. Although Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recognized some positive reforms sought after in the budget resolution, there continue to be problems for taxpayers. Right now the key issue is in the Pentagon spending portion and specifically the money in the House version allocated for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account. Last week, TPA joined a coalition effort led by Taxpayers for Common Sense urging the conferees to adhere to a Senate point of order “against Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending that exceeds the generous level included in the budget request, roughly $58 billion.” The letter was also signed by Campaign for Liberty, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, Niskanen Center, and R Street Institute. TPA will be watching the conference closely and will keep you updated as more develops.
Click read more below to see the full letter» Read More