February 3, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continued our work on looking at how the United States Postal Service (USPS) is mismanaging time and resources, including taxpayer dollars, on services they should not be involved in. Last week, TPA submitted public comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in response to the agencies Annual Compliance Report for the year 2014. The comment stresses the need for “more thorough reporting and transparency with regard to Postal Service product cost attribution,” with the ultimate goal being that the USPS “fulfill its mission to deliver letters.”
Click ‘read more’ below to see the full comment» Read More
February 2, 2015
Today, President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget. Unfortunately, this budget will harm taxpayers and do more damage to the country’s national debt. Just like Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted 6 more weeks of winter, taxpayers will see many more years of deficit spending with the President’s budget. The bad news is that there are projected spending increases in both discretionary and mandatory accounts. “The FY 2016 budget request from President Obama offers nothing in the way of spending restraint at a time when our debt is $18 trillion and climbing. In fact it does the opposite by adding $3 trillion to the national debt between 2016 and 2020. As working families continue to make hard financial choices that are necessary to everyday Americans, the President is looking to ask those same working families to send more money to Washington and undo the spending limits he and Congress put in place only a few years ago,” said David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full response from TPA
January 28, 2015
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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
Last week, newly sworn in Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) released his fiscal year 2016 spending plan. Though the budget must be passed ultimately by the Democrat-controlled State legislature, the details of the first budget proposal from Gov. Hogan show that he is making moves towards getting the state’s fiscal situation under control by addressing spending. This is a step forward following eight years of the tax and spend policies of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Gov. O’Malley’s budget grew by more than $10 billion from $28.8 billion in 2007 to $39 billion in 2014. Gov. Hogan’s $39 billion budget for FY2016 puts an emphasis on spending cuts that will help save the state money to make up for the $700 million budget gap left by Gov. O’Malley.
January 26, 2015
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There is probably no agency feared or disliked more in the federal government than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS can make one phone call and wreak havoc on the lives of any working American, striking fear at a moments notice. Much of the disdain for the agency has grown in recent years as IRS bureaucrats have wasted taxpayer money on spoof seminar videos and lavish conferences, while others have been targeting political opponents in an attempt to stifle free speech. Now, the agency is complaining about recently passed budget cuts. The budget cuts the IRS is lamenting were actually passed by the House back in July of 2014, under an amendment from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
January 14, 2015
TPA PRESIDENT DAVID WLLIAMS: MUNICIPAL BROADBAND IS AFFORDABLE LIKE OBAMACARE IS AFFORDABLE
Taxpayers Protection Alliance leader discusses the cost of Internet access ahead of President Obama’s trip to Iowa
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams released the following statement today in advance of President Obama’s Iowa speech addressing the need to increase access to high-speed Internet across the country: “Municipal broadband is affordable like ObamaCare is affordable – in other words, it is not. Cedar Falls boasts that it offers its citizens the ‘gold standard’ in broadband connections. This gold standard comes at a steep price of nearly $140 per month for rural residents. In contrast, the costs soar to almost $1,000 a month for businesses, subsequently causing a significant impact on the amount of money small businesses will have to reinvest in their own growth. Access to high-speed Internet is hailed by big-government spenders as a pseudo human right, but what they gloss over are the enormous costs to taxpayers that are not recouped when broadband networks fail or are sold.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full statement from TPA
January 5, 2015
A new session of Congress begins this week, and the new Senate will look different in more ways than the obvious one of Republicans taking control. One significant change will be the absence of now former Sen. Tom. Coburn (R- Okla.). Sen. Coburn’s legacy will be that he exposed government waste wherever it was. The annual ‘Wastebook’ released by Sen. Coburn’s office highlighted billions in government waste across a wide array of federal agencies, leaving no department untouched. Though the ‘Wastebook’ has seen it’s last release from Sen. Coburn’s office, the Senator made sure to leave Capitol Hill delivering one last shot at bloated government with a detailed report on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In short, the report stated that, “Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions.”
December 2, 2014
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The latest example of President Obama’s reliance on rhetoric over substance was in full view earlier last month after Republicans reclaimed control of the Senate in the midterm elections. The President tried to use language to soften up the American electorate by speaking to the fact that, unlike the last six years, he has plans for Democrats and Republicans to work together during his last two years in office. He focused on two issues—tax reform and infrastructure improvement—precisely because they are the only pressing issues around which there is broad agreement that changes must be enacted. But, the President has fallen short on a solution for both tax reform and infrastructure by tying the two issues together. He noted, “Traditionally both parties have been for creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, bridges, ports, waterways…I think we can hone in on a way to pay for it, through tax reform that closes loopholes and makes it more attractive for companies to create jobs here in the United States.” His comments went on to suggest that he favors closing the gaps in the in the Highway Trust Fund with revenues from a corporate tax holiday. A corporate tax holiday, or repatriation, would allow companies to bring profits made overseas back to the United States at a reduced tax rate. This gimmick would serve to plug a temporary hole but fix none of the underlying structural issues with our tax code. With both Republicans and Democrats seemingly willing to work together, an opportunity like tax reform should not be so limited in scope.
November 25, 2014
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With the Congress in a short Lame Duck recess (slated to return next week) and the government running out of funding on December 11th, it is nearing the point where there will be some type of legislation needed to keep the government open for the remainder of the year and into 2015. The real question right now is what type of stopgap funding measure will there be from Congress to make sure the government remains open for business after the latest Continuing Resolution (passed in September) expires. Will it be another CR? Or will there be a massive omnibus spending bill headed to the President’s desk? If it is the latter, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will be concerned and taxpayers should be too with the possibility of earmarks being inserted into the bill. Though earmarks were banned, lawmakers have found a way around the process and they continue to be a problem. Right now the tide appears to be with the Omnibus, and there are reports out that show there’s not even interest in a short-term Continuing Resolution. John T. Bennett of Defense News said this much last week in an article Thursday.
November 17, 2014
This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on November 14, 2014
For many years, earmarks were business as usual in Washington, D.C. That changed in 2006 when Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives partly due to their excessive spending on earmarks. Responding to that voter pressure, Congress instituted transparency rules for earmarks starting in 2008 and then in 2010, the House and Senate agreed to a two-year moratorium. The moratorium was extended and most earmarks disappeared, except for the defense spending bill. In fact, TPA uncovered 186 earmarks worth $7 billion (click here to see the full list) in the Defense Appropriations Bill that was part of H.R. 3547, the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, aka the Omnibus appropriations bill. One member of Congress tried to unsuccessfully bring back earmarks. A post from Redstate.com on November 14 noted that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) tried to introduce an amendment to House rules that “would allow an exception to the earmarks ban for ‘State, locality (including county and city governments), or a public utility or other public entity.’”» Read More
November 12, 2014
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Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for taxpayers, along comes another way for government to waste money, broadband in national parks. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has documented the lousy track record the public sector has when it comes to government broadband and with examples like the ones in Tennessee, Louisiana and Utah (read here, here, and here), it defies logic why more attempts would be made. Just last week, reports surfaced about another proposed expansion of government broadband, but this time in national parks. For example, Yellowstone National Park is on the verge of adding to an already established broadband apparatus as part of the “Go Digital” campaign. This proposal comes at the same time that Yellowstone is in the midst of considering a fee increase that would hit the millions of annual visitors to the park. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for providing broadband in the national parks. A trip to a national park should be spent enjoying the natural beauty of nature, not posting nature “selfies” to social media.
November 10, 2014
National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting
Stephen Adkins is a research fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Which governors do best at protecting taxpayers’ money and controlling state spending? That’s the questions answered by the Cato Institute’s 12th biennial “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” Residents of North Carolina, Kansas, Maine, and Indiana are in good hands, according to the report card. The study finds that, while some state executives responded to widespread upticks in state revenues by lowering tax burdens on their constituents, others, predictably, have decided to go on spending sprees. » Read More
November 6, 2014
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The midterm elections took place this week and with the lame duck session of Congress coming next week (click here to see TPA’s wish list for that session) there are already warning signs of troubling policy initiatives that taxpayers may get from these rushed remaining congressional working days of the year. For example, tomorrow the White House will be meeting with Senate and House leaders to discuss the long-term agenda for the new Congress, but also the short-term agenda for the lame duck. There is already word on a move with corporate taxes that will be bad for taxpayers and small businesses. Speaking yesterday in his first press conference since the midterm elections, President Obama once again called for a transportation bill that would be paid for by corporate tax reform.
October 23, 2014
The Department of Defense has long been seen as one of the primary areas where reform is needed when it comes to how taxpayer money is spent. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has highlighted not only the wasteful spending practices that exist in the Pentagon, but there is also the fact that transparency and accountability at the agency is lacking and has been for quite some time. Unfortunately, another example of waste and mismanagement has been uncovered showing once again that taxpayers aren’t being best served by DOD. Andrea Shalal of Reuters reported in early October on a fleet of planes for Afghanistan, which came courtesy of American taxpayers, is being sold for scrap.
October 21, 2014
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Kathleen Sebelius, Dr. Francis Collins, President Obama (courtesy nih.gov)
The recent developments on the Ebola crisis in West Africa have impacted the US in some troubling ways as there have been multiple potential cases reported over the last few weeks. In Dallas, Texas there have been multiple confirmed cases of Ebola and around the country there have been many who have been tested for the virus. The politics of Ebola have begun to take hold and you see many looking to take aim for who is to blame for the response by both the federal and state officials. Unfortunately, there is great deal of hypocrisy and theatrics in much of the blame game. Nobody should be taken more to task than National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, who leveled an unfounded attack on why the agency has been less than prepared on the response to the recent cases of Ebola here in the US. Last week, Dr. Collins told the Huffington Post that stagnant federal spending has led to a delay in having a vaccine ready to combat Ebola.
October 13, 2014
The federal government has a nasty habit of inserting itself into the marketplace when it is neither wanted nor needed. Many times their involvement harms private sector stakeholders who are at a limited capacity when it comes to the advanatages the federal government has in order to cripple private competition, regardless of the usual lower quality service the government provides at taxpayer expense. Recently the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced plans to expand their grocery delivery service beyond current markets and sought public opinion on the proposal. Last week, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) submitted comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission on this matter and pointed out the unfair advantages, sorry financial state of the agency, and lack of clarity for how this will impact the marketplace and the US Postal Service.
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October 8, 2014
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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
States are constantly looking for ways to get more money from taxpayers, and no matter how many times a tax increase fails to generate the desired result, we see this tactic repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, now comes yet another disappointment from a state legislature looking to fix problems with budget shortfalls. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania recently moved in a bipartisan manner to increase cigarette taxes by $2 with the approval of the state’s Republican Governor. The move comes under the heading of aiding a troubled education sector in Philadelphia. While there’s nothing wrong with improving education standards for children in areas where the improvement is needed, the way in which those reforms are achieved can become problematic. The tax increase the Governor signed is designed to fund the school district to help Philadelphia public schools but the negative impact that tax increases can have may end up putting the state in real jeopardy of falling short in terms of fulfilling their commitment to the schools and students in that district. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a vocal critic of this type of tax increase and there is reason to show why it can actually do more harm than good on multiple levels.
September 17, 2014
Tonight, the House of Representatives passed yet another short-term spending bill to keep the government open, by a vote of 319 to 108. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a statement saying, in part: Tonight, the United States House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11, 2014 and the legislation is on its way to the Senate for likely passage and then to the President for his signature. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is extremely disappointed in this latest half-measure to fund the government that not only ensures continued protection for the crony Export-Import Bank, but also leaves in doubt whether or not taxpayers will be able to be protected from Internet Access taxes in the long-term. TPA has several issues with this continuing resolution but there are a few that stand out. First, the extension of the Export-Import Bank that is included in the CR is a troubling development on a fight that has been taking up a great deal of debate on Capitol Hill over recent months. The extension goes well into 2015, leaving the possibility that a long-term extension for Ex-Im may be in the works. TPA opposes extension of the bank because it is a major enabler of the worst kind of corporate welfare that leaves taxpayers at risk, costs American jobs, and undercuts the very idea of free-market principles in a global economy. Second, the bill includes only a mere five-week extension to the moratorium on Internet Access taxes. The moratorium was originally set to expire on November 1, 2014; now it is slated to expire in early December. This sets up yet another debate on the issue and TPA is very concerned there will be an attempt to couple a permanent extension with passage of an Internet Sales tax. The two issues are separate and should not be handled in a lame duck session of Congress, when politicians are unlikely to be held accountable.
To read the full statement, click 'read more' below » Read More
August 29, 2014
This week the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), in partnership with Our Generation, released a report detailing the costs of congressional compensation and the sobering figures of how much the taxpayer is paying when it comes to pay, and benefits for elected officials. The report, “Are Members of Congress Overpaid? An Analysis of Congressional Compensation” (which you can read here) shows that in addition to a salary of $174,000 per year, which by itself puts DC representatives among the highest-paid 5 percent of US workers, members of Congress also receive more generous benefits than typical employees, with total congressional compensation including benefits adding up to $286,000 per year. The report also reveals that members of Congress make 3.2 times more than the average full-time American worker. With a $17.7 trillion debt and budget deadlines nearing, there is something to be said about the quality of work being done by Congress in comparison to their compensation. The report details specific attempts made in the past year to scale-back pay for Congress, even as some members say they are “underpaid.” TPA encourages everyone to take a look at the report so that more attention can be brought to this very underreported issue. » Read More
August 26, 2014
This morning the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), in partnership with Our Gerneration, released a report detailing the costs of congressional compensation and the sobering figures of how much the taxpayer is paying when it comes to pay, and benefits for elected officials. The report, “Are Members of Congress Overpaid? An Analysis of Congressional Compensation” (which you can read here) shows that in addition to a salary of $174,000 per year, which by itself puts DC representatives among the highest-paid 5 percent of US workers, members of Congress also receive more generous benefits than typical employees, with total congressional compensation including benefits adding up to $286,000 per year. The report also reveals that members of Congress make 3.2 times more than the average full-time American worker. With a $17.7 trillion debt and budget deadlines nearing, there is something to be said about the quality of work being done by Congress in comparison to their compensation. The report details specific attempts made in the past year to scale-back pay for Congress, even as some members say they are “underpaid.” TPA encourages everyone to take a look at the report so that more attention can be brought to this very underreported issue.
Click 'read more' below to read the full report » Read More
August 19, 2014
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Former Secretary of State Clinton still traveling on taxpayer dime (Wikimedia)
As Labor Day approaches, folks across the United States prepare to to take that one last vacation before the end of summer. Whether it’s planning a road trip in the car or flying to their vacation spot, Americans carefully plan the financial logistics of where to go and what they can afford. A new report by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation shows that current and former federal agency officials and senators don’t have those financial worries as they use taxpayer money to fund their personal travel. According to data complied by the Sunlight Foundation, nearly 25 percent of the 100 member U.S. Senate spent $1 million in taxpayer money on chartered flights in 2013.