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Category: Congress



  • TPA Signs Coalition Letter Urging NDAA Conferees to Preserve FOIA Process

    Michi Iljazi on August 30, 2016

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    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2017 is still being negotiated as House and Senate conferees are working to put together a compromise bill. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has always been in favor of greater transparency when it comes to the Pentagon and currently there are provisions in the Senate version of the bill that could weaken the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, making it easier for government to get away with wasting taxpayer money.  At a time when deficits are on the rise and we see story after story that shows just how much money is being thrown away on defense, it is important that the FOIA process not be weakened by lawmakers, instead it should be strengthened so that all Americans are able to see exactly where their hard earned money is going. Keeping that goal in mind, TPA signed onto this letter, urging NDAA conferees to remove a particular section of the Senate’s version of the NDAA that would weaken the current FOIA process. As the NDAA moves through conference, TPA will be keeping an eye on what changes are made and how the negotiated version ultimately looks.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Taxpayers Should be Wary of False Sugar Reform Proposals

    David Williams on August 29, 2016

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    This article orginally appeared in The Hill on August 16, 2016

    The U.S. sugar lobby constantly reminds people that crony capitalism is alive and well in Washington, D.C., as they continue to protect their sweet deal of federal subsidies that come at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers. To make matters worse, the sugar lobby is promoting a plan (called “zero-for-zero”) to push all other countries to get rid of their sugar subsidies before we do anything about our own. If it sounds unreasonable, that is because it is. Not only is this so-called “zero-for-zero” proposal for sugar policy unreasonable, it is also highly unlikely that other nations will abandon their protectionist subsidies, especially when the country demanding this false reform has a sugar industry that is so highly subsidized. Clearly, the only real purpose of “zero-for-zero” is to give the U.S. sugar lobby an excuse for zero reform. As an organization committed to protecting taxpayers and holding government accountable, it is troubling that some members of Congress who bill themselves as conservatives are advocating this proposal on behalf of the sugar lobby. The fact is, to reform sugar subsidies, Congress needs to begin with our own subsidies. America should lead by example. The U.S. sugar program is in desperate need for reform. That is because there are few, if any, federal policies that mandate more government intrusion in the marketplace than the U.S. sugar program.

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  • TPA Joins Over 30 Organizations to Support Occupational Licensing Reform

    Michi Iljazi on August 23, 2016

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    The regulatory burdens that have been holding the economy back are a real problem, for businesses of all sizes. Another component of business that has been harmed by the increasing amount of regulations over the last several years is occupational licensing. Today the amount of jobs that require some form of occupational licensing has grown from five percent to twenty five percent. That kind of growth can be seen all over the country as millions of Americans are beginning to start small businesses, grow existing ones. The problem is the current laws for occupational licensing are costly both in terms of time and money. These laws are harming all Americans, especially women, young adults, and minorities. Right now there is legislation from Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) that would reform occupational licensing laws in Washington D.C. and the nation’s military bases. The bill is the Alternatives to Licensing that Lower Obstacles to Work (ALLOW) Act, and just last week Taxpayers Protection Alliance signed this letter with over 30 other groups, sent by Americans for Prosperity urging the Senate support the ALLOW Act. This bill should be the beginning of a new wave of reforms to current, and restrictive occupational licensing laws. The economy works better for all Americans when businesses are allowed to flourish without excessive regulations getting in the way of opportunity and growth.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Signs Coalition Letter Supporting the Final CHOICE ACT

    Michi Iljazi on August 19, 2016

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    The Obama Administration has presided over the worst economic recovery in more than six decades, and the policies they have been implemented are directly responsible for that weak recovery. Over the last several years wages have been stagnant, regulations have been growing, and the government is continuing the terrible practice of cronyism that picks winners and losers harming the free market. These policies have to end if there will ever be a fast-paced recovery that sees better job growth and higher wages for working Americans. There is legislation in the House of Representatives sponsored by Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that can fix some of the problems mentioned. The Financial CHOICE Act would help to halt cronyism and bring accountability to Washington by ending some of the worst practices that make bailouts and regulations a normal trend. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recently signed a letter supporting the Financial CHOICE Act, sent by the Institute for Liberty urging Congress to adopt the bill.

    Click 'read more' below to see the letter.

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  • Contact Lenses are About to Get More Expensive if this Legislation Passes

    David Williams on August 15, 2016

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    This article originally appeared in Independent Journal Review on August 2, 2016

    At times, the government has an uncanny way of coming up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make any sense, but it happens. When the federal government uses its power to micromanage a perceived problem, it hurts the very people it means to protect. The Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (S.2777), put forth by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), purports to protect contact lens consumers from health problems associated with using lenses and not following accepted protocol when wearing them. The truth is that this legislation would have the opposite effect by limiting choice and increasing the cost of contact lenses.

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  • Can You Have Your Subsidized Peanut Butter Cake and Eat It, Too?

    Veronique de Rugy on August 10, 2016

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    Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist. This article appeared on Mercatus.org on July 28, 2016


    The federal government is packed full of crony programs, such as the Export-Import Bank and the ethanol mandate. When it comes to the unhealthy marriage between government and the private sector, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may take the cake. With the exception of food stamps, which should have nothing to do with the farm bill, every program in the agency is meant to subsidize or boost the profits of farmers. We have such programs as the Dairy Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. The former effectively guarantees profits for dairy farmers, and the latter is a complicated program meant to drive up milk prices to benefit small-scale dairy farmers. Then there are sugar tariffs, which are meant to artificially boost the profits of a few companies by keeping the price of sugar high in the United States at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. In the same vein, we also have the peanut programs. The USDA recently announced that U.S. peanut farmers will produce 6.1 billion pounds this fall, on top of 2.9 billion pounds in leftover stockpiles. Total peanut demand isn't that high, and we will start the next year with a 3.2 billion-pound stockpile. And unless you like your peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of government subsidies, you should care.

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  • Do You Know Who is in Charge of Your Health Care Decisions?

    David Williams on August 8, 2016

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    This article appeared in The Hill on July 28, 2016

    When it comes to Medicare, most seniors rightfully assume that the representatives they elect to Congress are the ones making critical decisions that affect their health care. After all, it’s one of the largest government programs in our country accounting for more than $500 billion in federal outlays and responsible for the health of America’s seniors. What many patients and voters don’t realize, however, is that there is another body in Washington whose power and influence over the future of this program is growing: The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). MedPAC (established by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997) is an independent congressional agency whose mandate is to advise Congress on issues affecting Medicare (quite broadly) and provide recommendations. Though this mandate and the commission itself aren’t inherently problematic, a closer look at their role reveals the weight their recommendations carry in Congress and the ability they may have to transform the Medicare program in ways that will impact all beneficiaries.

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  • House Lawmakers Fish for Relief from Catfish Regulations

    Elizabeth BeShears on August 5, 2016

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    Elizabeth BeShears writes for The Heartland Institute, this article originally appeared on the Heartland Institute's website on July 29, 2016


    In the wake of the U.S. Senate voting to lower trade barriers on catfish meat imported from other countries, a group of U.S. House lawmakers are blocking a vote on repealing food inspection rules currently in effect. The House’s inaction leaves in place an Obama administration decision effectively protecting American agricultural businesses against competitors in other countries by increasing the costs of complying with trade regulations. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a rule on imported catfish meat that requires it to be tested for quality by USDA instead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—a federal agency whose mission statement includes the goal of “ensuring the security of the food supply”—before allowing the fish to be sold in the United States. FDA already inspects imported seafood. USDA’s regulations on catfish imports are more stringent than FDA’s import regulations, and they are much costlier. FDA’s catfish inspection program costs taxpayers $700,000 per year, but the USDA regulations will cost taxpayers $14 million annually, plus an additional $20 million in one-time costs.

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  • TPA Signs Bipartisan Coalition Letter Urging NDAA Conferees to Strengthen Military Whistleblower Protections

    Michi Iljazi on August 1, 2016

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    Congress remains in recess, but there will be plenty of work to do when the return in September. Putting together a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in conference with House and Senate members is a top priority and Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is hopeful the conferees will get that done. This year’s bills in both the House and Senate versions contain specific provisions to strengthen the integrity of military whistleblower protections. Whistleblowers are an important line of defense against waste, fraud, and abuse and it is critical to ensure whistleblowers that are civilians, government employees, or military are able to be protected, and not intimated. Recently TPA signed a bipartisan coalition letter urging NDAA conferees to maintain the provisions included in the House and Senate NDDA bills, so as to “solidify common sense protections for military whistleblowers facing retaliation and incentivize internal whistleblowing within the Department of Defense.”

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Opposing New Regulation for Backdoor Student Loan Bailout

    Michi Iljazi on July 26, 2016

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    While Congress is home for their annual summer recess, federal agencies and the Obama Administration continue their output of new rules and regulations meant to give the executive branch greater authority, putting taxpayers at risk. The latest rule is the “Defense to Repayment Regulations” rule and comes from United States Department of Education (US ED). The new rule is said to protect students, but in reality it will cost taxpayers and is merely a bailout for student loans. The rule would “prohibit pre-dispute arbitration agreements and class action waivers and create a stampede to file claims for loan forgiveness based on a newly broadened, vague standard.” This is unacceptable and TPA believes Congress should be the authority on any commitment of taxpayer dollars for repayment of student loans. This new rule would cost anywhere from $2 billion to $43 billion according to the US ED’s own analysis, rule-making of that scale must not be done through agency declaration. Keeping that in mind, TPA joined a coalition led by American Commitment signing this letter sent to US Ed Secretary John King opposing the rule and calling on Congress to make any decision regarding student repayment.

    You can read the full letter below:

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  • With Lots to Do and Not Much Time Left, Congress Takes a Seven-Week Break

    David Williams on July 22, 2016

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    This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on July 21, 2016

    Last week the heat index in the nation’s capital reached 104 degrees, meaning summer is definitely in full swing in Washington. And, just as the temperature heated up, Congress cooled down and headed home for their annual summer recess. Unfortunately for taxpayers, lawmakers still have a great deal of work to do in an already abbreviated calendar that will only be shorter once they return in September, that’s right, September. There are many fiscal problems that are gripping the country, including a deficit that is expected to reach $600 billion this year. Now, while Congress can’t wave a magic wand and solve every problem, there are things that they have the power to do and should have gotten done before they decided to leave town for a month and half.

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Opposing New MMA Regulatory Bill

    Michi Iljazi on July 21, 2016

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    Government overreach and increasing regulation has been a hallmark of the last several years. Right now regulations are costing the economy trillions of dollars annually and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The latest example of regulatory overreach by the government is new legislation to interfere with a new, growing, and increasingly popular sport. H.R. 5365, the “Muhammad Ali Expansion Act,” would regulate mixed martial arts (MMA) and it would put government bureaucrats in charge of ranking fighters and matchmaking. There is no need for this bill when the private sector is doing just fine, all one needs to look at is the continuing growth in popularity and prosperity of MMA in the United States. With that in mind, TPA signed onto a coalition effort led by Frontiers of Freedom sending this letter to Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce opposing the MMA regulation legislation. This is a bad solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist, and TPA strongly urges Congress to kockout H.R. 5365.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • IP Concerns Continue to Grow for FCC AllVid Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on July 19, 2016

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    FCC Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    It should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is having a hard time selling their AllVid (set-top box) proposal. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to oppose the proposal, which would require traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices. The cost and negative impact the proposal would have on consumer choice have been well documented.  Now, voices of concern continue to grow about the problems with the weakening of intellectual property in the new regulation. Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC Commissioners appeared on Capitol Hill as the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on oversight of the agency. The set-top box rule was one of many topics that came up during the nearly five-hour hearing (which can be seen here). Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle expressed their reservations about the new FCC regulation. One critical piece of information revealed at last week’s oversight hearing was that there are concerns coming from another government agency, the Copyright Office.

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  • TPA Submits Coalition Materials in Response to Postal Reform Legislation

    David Williams on July 18, 2016

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    Dear Members and Staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) and numerous like-minded policy groups seek to submit a series of materials to the Committee in response to the Postal Reform legislation introduced by Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) and its allies find that this latest attempt at Postal Reform amounts to nothing more than window dressing for reform and is a handout for the United States Postal Service (USPS) at the expense of postal customers and taxpayers. By failing to institute structural reforms, the Committee's bill unfortunately amends or maintains several problematic features of the Postal Service that will continue its path toward fiscal insolvency and harming postal consumers.

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  • Tax Reform Blueprint Sets the Stage for 2017

    David Williams on July 15, 2016

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    This article originally appeared in Morning Consult on July 14, 2016

    Today, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will hold a public hearing where multiple stakeholders will give their input on Treasury’s recently proposed rules and their potential impact.  For those unfamiliar, Treasury announced early this spring that, in an effort to combat corporate inversions, it would propose that under Section 385 of the Internal Revenue Code, related intercompany debt could re-defined as equity, changing the tax consequences of the transaction. Business groups along with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have warned Treasury about the broad reach of the rules, which will sweep up even companies with no intention to move abroad.  The groups and Congress also warned about the consequences of increased business costs and that the new rules would be an obstacle to job and economic growth.

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Urging Fiscal Reforms in NDAA Conference

    Michi Iljazi on July 12, 2016

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    Congressional lawmakers will soon be headed to a seven week recess break, there are still many appropriations bills that need to be passed and other issues that the House and Senate have yet to take up with the legislative calendar winding down on 2016. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is one of those issues, and after passing House and Senate versions the bill is now headed to conference where members of both chambers will put together a final version to be voted on later this year. TPA has continued to call for greater transparency, reforming or eliminating the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account, and spending reductions in the NDAA. Recently, TPA joined Taxpayers for Common Sense and National Taxpayers Union on this coalition letter urging the NDAA conferees to make major reforms. The letter outlines specific ways that will responsibly reduce spending while making sure to preserve our national defense.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Hosts Bipartisan Tax Reform Hill Briefing

    Michi Iljazi on July 8, 2016

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    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) 

    Yesterday, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a briefing on Capitol Hill on comprehensive tax reform titled “Independence Day 2.0: Freedom from our outdated tax code.”  There was a lot of interest in the event which is not surprising because tax reform is one of the largest policy discussions happening today. While everyone has a different opinion on how it should be accomplished, there is one thing that nearly all of us can agree on and that is that comprehensive tax reform is long overdue. The event began with opening remarks from TPA President David Williams and a short clip of TPA’s 2016 Tax Day Man on the Street video (you can see the full version here). The video showed attendees and members of Congress that working Americans are frustrated and Congress to fix the broken tax code. Two distinguished members of Congress, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), spoke at the briefing. Chairman Brady laid out specific details of the tax reform blueprint that he released just a few weeks ago. Chairman Brady stressed the key components of the blueprint including simplifying the code, reducing the corporate tax rate, reforming the IRS, and repealing the death tax.  Rep. Flores (R-Texas) discussed the need for comprehensive tax reform and introduced one of the panelists, Rebecca Boenigk.

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  • TPA Urges Both Political Parties to Unite and Pass Tax Reform

    David Williams on July 7, 2016

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    This article originally appeared in The Hill on July 7, 2016

    For the last 30 years, the American people have had to endure a tax system that is overly complicated and stifles the growth and opportunity for workers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. If the United States plans on continuing to be the predominant global economic power, the tax code needs a complete overhaul with new ideas that simplify the entire process and lowers rates across the board so we can unburden taxpayers and allow citizens to live the American Dream. Simply put, we need comprehensive tax reform and we need it as soon as possible.

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  • Financial Services Appropriations Bill Presents Path Toward Regular Order

    Michi Iljazi on July 6, 2016

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    Congress is back from their Fourth of July break and the House is moving closer to a vote on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations (Financial Services) Bill.  Aside from the obvious benefit of moving another appropriations bill forward and getting Congress closer to regular order, there are some very noteworthy pieces of the 2017 Financial Services appropriations bill that benefit taxpayers, consumers, businesses and the overall economy.  The overall spending levels in the bill show that the House of Representatives is serious about cutting spending.  The 2017 Financial Services appropriations bill provides $21.7 billion, which is $1.5 billion below FY16 and $2.7 billion below the President’s request.

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  • How Government Cronies Redefined the Catfish

    Veronique de Rugy on July 1, 2016

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    Veronique de Rugy, Ph.D., is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a monthly columnist for the print edition of Reason. This article originally appeared in Reason on June 30, 2016

    Cronyism is the ugly marriage between special interest groups and politicians, which results in an abuse of the government's power to grant special privileges to a few winners—for example, unfairly preventing competition or doling out subsidies and bailouts at the expense of taxpayers. Though cronyism is always outrageous, the way cronies go about achieving their goals is sometimes oddly funny. Case in point: the government's changing the definition of catfish to classify the fish as—wait for it—meat, not seafood.

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