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Category: Defense



  • TPA Joins Transpartisan Coalition to Reduce Wasteful Defense Spending

    David Williams on February 27, 2013

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

    on February 15, 2013

    Every two years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases its so-called high-risk list.  This is the list of areas of federal spending that are vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse.   And, this year, just 48 hours after the President’s State of the Union address, GAO released their update for 2013.  Titled, “High-Risk Series: An Update,” which details 30 high-risk areas of the federal government.  Two areas were removed and two new areas were added to the high-risk list.  The two areas that were removed included “Management of Interagency Contracting,” and “Internal Revenue Service Business Systems Modernization.”   The two new areas added to this list were “limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks” and “Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data.”  With 28 “repeat offenders,” the list clearly shows that there is quite a bit of work to do.  With all the talk of deficits, debt, and the sequester, there couldn’t be a better time to discuss options on making the government more efficient and save taxpayer dollars.

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  • TPA Reacts to the State of the Union

    David Williams on February 13, 2013

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

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  • TPA Joins Call To Strengthen Our Economic Security With Defense Savings

    David Williams on February 6, 2013

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

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  • TPA Signs Letter Urging More Whistleblower Protection

    David Williams on December 17, 2012

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance joined with 30 other groups across the political spectrum to urge conferees to retain Section 844 of the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act which would apply the stimulus and general corporate whistleblower standards to some $1.9 trillion of annual federal spending for government contracts, grants and Medicare.  Whistleblowers have always been the first line of defense against waste, fraud, and abuse.  The existing patchwork of laws contains gaping accountability loopholes, protecting only some contractors and federal-fund recipient employees who blow the whistle, and only under very limited circumstances.  Specifically, Section 844 would prohibit reprisals for disclosures to appropriate federal entities related to the implementation or use of federal funds regarding gross mismanagement, gross waste, substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, abuse of authority, or a violation of a law, rule, or regulation. It would protect the most common disclosures made by employees seeking to fix a problem—those made to a supervisor or internal compliance program.

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  • Missile System Should be First Program Thrown off Fiscal Cliff

    David Williams on December 4, 2012

    The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is struggling to remain relevant and alive as Congress looks at real spending cuts to avoid the fiscal cliff.   The Taxpayers Protection Alliance explained in a recent blog post that, “MEADS has rightly earned the moniker the ‘"Missile to Nowhere.’" And, according to a December 4, 2012 Politico article, “Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin said today he feels strongly that the Medium Extended Air Defense System is a ‘waste of money,…’”  Because of the prohibitive cost ($2 billion over budget), schedule delays (10 years behind schedule) and the system's poor performance, the U.S. Army has said it doesn't want MEADS and that it would never use the missiles.”  Now, in nothing more than a dog and pony show, there was a test of MEADS.  And, a misleading title of a news story, “MEADS Successfully Completes First Intercept Flight Test,” shows that even more education about this unneeded program is necessary.

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  • Report Exposes Department of Defense Waste

    David Williams on November 28, 2012

    Department of Defense?  Try Department of Everything!  In a recently released report entitled, “Department of Everything,” Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) reveals just how much our defense department is doing. . . that has absolutely nothing to do with protecting our country.  In the midst of the heated discussion and policy debates regarding sequestration, Senator Coburn’s report is particularly useful information.  And, the amount is mind boggling, $68 billion for what Coburn says is “’non-defense’ defense spending – spending that DOD can cut without cutting vital defense priorities.  For far too long many in Washington, D.C. have look at DoD as a sacred cow that one should do nothing to sacrifice.  But a Sen. Coburn’s report reveals, the truth is that DoD is not immune for the wasteful, superfluous, and unnecessary spending we see in almost all government programs.  When it comes to reigning in spending, not just because the fiscal cliff, but for the sake of our nation, serious cuts and reductions in spending must occur.  Thanks to this new publication, much of identifying why and what to cut has been done for members of Congress. » Read More
  • TPA Joins Sequestration Coalition

    David Williams on November 12, 2012

    On Thursday November 8, 2012, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) joined with 21 other taxpayer and free market groups to urge Congress to stand firm and hold the line on the budget sequester set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011. With the federal government facing yet another year of projected deficit spending exceeding $1 trillion, Congress must keep in place the $109 billion in sequestration spending restraint scheduled for 2013. Delaying this action will only make it harder to get our fiscal house in order, in the process weakening our economy, saddling future generations with debt, and further undermining Congress’s credibility to lead. Our nation’s debt has increased by approximately $1.7 trillion since the current sequester mechanism was first developed in August 2011. Permitting these cuts to occur would represent merely a modest first step toward fixing our debt crisis. Even with the Budget Control Act’s sequester and spending caps, total government spending is still expected to grow, albeit at a slightly slower rate. Rather than attempting to subvert the sequester, Congress should be proposing additional cuts to discretionary spending and considering meaningful reform to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, which pose tremendous threats to our fiscal stability.

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  • TPA Goes Trick or Treating

    David Williams on October 29, 2012

    Trick or Treat

    Every Halloween children and adults alike get their fair share of tricks and treats.  The government doesn’t wait until the end of October to shower taxpayers with tricks or treats; it shares these treats or tricks all year long.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the tricks and treats from this past year.  This year’s tricks include:  non-profit environmental organizations receiving tax dollars, The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), government funded broadband, and a tax increase proposed by the World Health Organization.  Treats include:  the selling of wireless spectrum, The Department of Treasury trying to recoup money from a failed energy company, and the passage of enhanced whistleblower protection in the House of Representatives.  These are not the only tricks or treats by the government, but the folks at TPA were concerned that if we showed you too many tricks you may not be able to sleep at night, and it was really difficult finding many treats with a debt of $16 trillion and a Congress (especially the Senate) that refuses to cut spending.

     

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  • The Pentagon and Taxpayers Don't Need MEADS

    David Williams on September 26, 2012

    Before debunking the faulty arguments about why it’s supposedly necessary to continue funding the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), let’s take a look at the facts.  And while doing so ask the question about why $400 million in taxpayer dollars should be used to fund this defunct program.  Here are the facts. For starters, as John C. Hulsman pointed out in a recent opinion piece for the Christian Science Monitor, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) said itself that this air-defense program “will never be operational.”  Hulsman goes on to explain that “An original selling point for MEADS is its aspiration to have a 360-degree surveillance capability, as opposed to the Patriot or any previous missile-defense system. But if the Patriot system were equipped with three ‘multi-functional’ radar, it too, would have 360-degree coverage. In other words, MEADS in and of itself offers no new capability.” (Emphasis added).

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  • Some Members of Congress are Trying to Save Tax Dollars in TRICARE

    David Williams on September 21, 2012

    It’s pretty safe to say that instances of waste, fraud and abuse run rampant in nearly every entity of government and its programs. This means that every time Congress enacts a new law or reauthorizes or amends an old one, we should be on guard and begin to identify possible opportunities where taxpayer dollars could be misspent.  Unfortunately, far too often Washington isn’t proactive enough on this front.  Instead, members of Congress stand on the sidelines and wait to act or even address a problem until it has become too big to ignore.  And then the only impetus that prompts Congress to act is the size and magnitude of the issue.  Likewise, it’s a rarity and something that deserves recognition when members of Congress act swiftly in an attempt to nip a brewing problem in the bud.  That’s precisely what a bipartisan group of eight members of Congress – led by Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) – did in August when they sent a letter to the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting an audit of the mail-order pharmacy program that is offered through TRICARE, the health care program for military personnel, retirees and their dependents. Specifically, the members are concerned that recent policies and programs, which have encouraged the use of TRICARE’s mail-order pharmacy program, may “contribute to pharmaceutical waste and unnecessary expenditures for the Department of Defense.”

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  • The Proliferation of Executive Branch Earmarks

    David Williams on August 6, 2012

    Back in December of 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance uncovered earmarks in the Defense Appropriations Bill (read here) despite Congress’s self-imposed earmark moratorium.  That is disconcerting news for people who thought that earmarks were a thing of the past. Even though the practice of congressional earmarking has tapered off, there is a new kind of earmark that needs scrutiny, executive branch (President and agency) earmarks and they are picking up right where Congress left off.  It’s true that the Constitution grants Congress the unique power of the purse, but that doesn’t mean Congress won’t give the administration significant discretion when it comes to doling out money.  In fact, often times the greater the amount of wiggle room a member provides to agencies is directly correlated with the amount of money that agencies will end up putting in the member’s district.  The member of Congress certainly benefits from this arrangement because it serves the purpose of bringing tax dollars to their district.  Best of all, because the administration is the one that technically hands out the money the member of Congress is conveniently exonerated from any accusation that these grants come as earmarks that has been orchestrated by the member of Congress. 

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  • Time for the Senate Appropriations Committee to Eliminate MEADS

    David Williams on August 2, 2012

    There is quite a bit of talk about getting rid of Defense sequestration (automatic spending cuts) that was voted on by Congress and signed by the President last year as part of the agreement to raise the debt ceiling.  In truth, sequestration is a lazy way to cut spending.  What Congress needs to do is cut Defense spending and cut it wisely.  One program that should be eliminated immediately is the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The House Appropriations Committee has zeroed out MEADS’ funding, and the National Defense Authorization Act in both the Senate and the House struck additional funding for it as well.  Now is the time for the Senate Appropriations Committee to eliminate funding. MEADS has rightly earned the moniker the "Missile to Nowhere." Because of the prohibitive cost ($2 billion over budget), schedule delays (10 years behind schedule) and the system's poor performance, the U.S. Army has said it doesn't want MEADS and that it would never use the missiles.

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  • TPA Supports Amendment to Cut Taxpayer-Funded Sports Sponsorships

    David Williams on July 18, 2012

    NASCAR

    On July 17, 2012, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance was proud to support a bi-partisan amendment by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that would end sports sponsorships by the Department of Defense.  According to a letter by Rep. McCollum, “I ask for your support of a bipartisan amendment that eliminates millions of taxpayer dollars we spend on sports sponsorships in the name of military recruitment. In this year alone, Pentagon plans to spend nearly $80 million dollars on sports sponsorships, including but limited to NASCAR, professional bass fishing, and mixed martial arts. At a time of fiscal crisis, wasting taxpayer dollars cannot be acceptable in the Pentagon or anywhere else in the federal government.” Taxpayers should be proud of their bi-partisan efforts to end these needless subsidies as Congress struggles to find spending cuts.  

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  • Bio Fuel Mandate is Foolish

    David Williams on June 27, 2012

    After billions of dollars spent on a myriad of subsidies and year after year of failed policies, the government has now found a new way to force an uncompetitive industry into the marketplace.  This time it is forcing the Navy to increase the consumption of biofuels.  Like the government’s previous attempts, this one is bound to fail.  Washington has no right to demand the type of fuel the Navy chooses for its fleet.  Coercing the Navy and other branches of the armed services to use a product to prop up an industry for the sake of furthering a political agenda is not only imprudent, it’s downright bad public policy. Given that other attempts to create a market for biofuels have and will continue to fail, the government has discovered that there’s no better way to guarantee a market, albeit an artificial one, than to implement a policy forcing the purchase of a product.  Not only is it an unwise use of taxpayer dollars, the attempt to force an industry into commercialization before the market has a demand for it is a futile effort.  There’s no hindrance that precludes the private sector from moving forward with building out the biofuels industry if it were in fact economically viable.  The government understands that on its own the market has not taken to biofuels, and this is how it justifies the contrived need to get the industry off the ground by having the Navy increase its consumption. 

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  • TPA Joins Opposition to Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility

    David Williams on June 25, 2012

    On June 22, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance signed a letter (read here) with 10 other groups to Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) with concerns about the funding of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.  President Obama requested no funding and the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees in both Chambers provide no funding for this project. The Administration, the Appropriators, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory itself believe that this nearly $6 billion proposed facility is not needed at this time. The project is a waste of taxpayer money and should be canceled.  According to theweek.com, “’Pit production enabled by CMRR-NF is not needed to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons for decades to come’ writes former Sandia Laboratories Vice President Bob Peurifoy. ‘As a result, the Nuclear Facility might just sit there with nothing to do.’  Not only is CMRR-NF unnecessary; there's also evidence that the project won't create jobs, undermines America's commitment to reduce its nuclear arsenal through the new START treaty, and could be vulnerable to earthquakes.”

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  • Military Bands Are Not Sweet Music to Taxpayers

    Jessie Wright on June 11, 2012

    In May, the House of Representatives passed an amendment limiting Pentagon spending on military bands. The amendment, part of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 Defense Authorization Bill, will limit the military to a $200 million budget for music bands if passed by the full Congress. The amendment was spearheaded by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who recently showed her allegiance to taxpayers by co-sponsoring an amendment that ends military sponsorship of pro-sports (read previous blog posting here).  The Pentagon has allotted $388 million for their music arsenal in FY 2013, which McCollum says is unacceptable in a time of financial crisis.   According to a May 21, 2012 Washington Post article, “The Army maintains 99 bands and intends to spend $221.1 million on them next year. That’s up $3.3 million from this year. The Navy has 14 bands that will cost an estimated $55.6 million next year, while the Marine Corps has 12 bands that will cost $53.6 million in 2013.”

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  • Rep. Hal Rogers: One Member Who Never Lost His Appetite for Pork (Part I)

    David Williams on May 31, 2012

    (This is the first part in a two-part series on Rep. Hal Rogers [R-Ky.].  Tomorrow’s blog will detail his involvement with the United States Enrichment Corporation) When Congress passed its earmark moratorium, there was good reason to think earmarks would become a thing of the past.  But as is now apparent, it was wishful thinking to ever believe that Washington could be capable of giving up pork, cold turkey.  The longer the period of addiction, the more difficult it is to end.  This is especially true since many members of Congress had become so accustomed to and so enjoyed these kickbacks that benefited their districts, and ultimately their campaign coffers.  One of the most adept practitioners of earmarking has been Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY).  It’s no wonder then that Rep. Rogers confronted quite a challenge when Congress passed the two-year earmark moratorium.  But as the following example makes clear, when a member of Congress wants something bad enough, they figure out a way to make it happen.  Just like the addict in the rehab center determined to get his fix, so too are some members finding ways to sneak in earmarks hoping they go undetected.  On May 19, 2012, The New York Times exposed a specific example of waste and favoritism in earmarks benefiting Rogers’ district.  According to The New York Times, Hal Rogers arranged for the Army to purchase about “$6.5 million worth of ‘leakproof’ drip pans in the last three years to catch transmission fluid on Black Hawk helicopters.”  The cost to the taxpayer was $17,000 per drip pan compared to a similar pan from another company that costs only about $2,500. 

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  • The Military's NASCAR Sponsorships Net No Recruits While Speeding Off With Tax Dollars

    Jessie Wright on May 30, 2012

    NASCAR

    One of the most obvious symbols in NASCAR is the prominent sponsorship that is displayed on each car.  From candy bars to beer, the intent of these sponsorships is to increase product awareness (to hopefully increase sales) and give racing teams the much needed cash to field a team to be able to compete on a weekly basis.  Many NASCAR fans have become accustomed to seeing military sponsorship on these cars.  On May 18, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) released her most forceful argument yet against military sponsorship of NASCAR race teams. McCollum found that, despite spending $26.5 million to sponsor the race car driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the National Guard signed zero new recruits in 2012 as a result of the sponsorship. None. » Read More
  • Taxpayer Coalition Applauds House for De-funding the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)

    David Williams on May 15, 2012

    The House of Representatives is poised to pass the National Defense Authorization Act this week.  The final Authorization bill totals $554.2 billion, $8 billion above the caps set in the Budget Control Act agreed to last year.  The Appropriations Committee identified billions in unnecessary spending, bringing their bill in $45 billion below the Armed Services Committee mark. One of the bright spots of the bill was that the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) was not funded. Even though the Army doesn’t want the project, there was an additional $800 million allocated for MEADS through 2013 (including $400 million in President Obama’s latest budget). One of the biggest roadblocks to halting the program was the potential termination costs to be incurred by American taxpayers.  However, a new report by the Pentagon shows Congress that they can defund the program without the fear of termination costs.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance co-signed a letter (read here) with Americans for Tax Reform, the Cost of Government Center and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste to applaud the steps that the House Armed Services Committee has made to eliminate waste and urge them to inject more restraint in defense spending.

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