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Category: Congress

  • The Obamacare Bailout

    David Williams on April 25, 2016


    This article originally appeared in

    The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on April 15th to address yet another failure of Obamacare: the bailing out of insurance companies through the reinsurance program. Created to financially protect insurers during the early years of the implementation of the legislation, the Transitional Reinsurance Program established by the Affordable Care Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to deposit a certain portion of fees, $5 billion to be exact. The fee was to be collected by the Treasury for deficit reduction, but for the past two years, much of that has been illegally paid out to health insurers instead. It’s no surprise that Obamacare has been riddled with setbacks and broken promises. When the law was enacted, the President assured Americans that patients would come first and health insurers would be held accountable for providing affordable coverage, but the reality is quite the opposite. Patients don’t come first when it comes to Obamacare, insurance companies do.

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  • Coalition Outlines Billions in Specific Pentagon Spending Reforms for Congress

    Michi Iljazi on April 21, 2016


    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to believe that spending reform is one of the most pressing issues for elected officials in Congress today. As budget deadlines pass and Congress gets further away from getting back to regular order, it is critical that Washington find a way to reduce spending, in all areas. The budget of the Pentagon is filled with wasteful spending that should be trimmed both immediately and responsibly. Recently, TPA joined a broad coalition effort sending a letter to Congress not only urging spending reform, but outlining specific cuts that could be realized if politicians had the will to act. The savings proposed totaled $38.6 billion in taxpayer dollars. Those savings come from just seven reforms; imagine how much money taxpayers could be saved if Washington looked at every agency.

    Click 'read more' below to see the letter

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  • Happy Tax Day! Watch Your Assets!

    Michi Iljazi on April 15, 2016

    Tax Day 2016: Watch Your Assets

    Today is Tax Day 2016!  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) hit the streets and talked to folks from around the country about what they thought about taxes.  The last time there was comprehensive tax reform was 1986. A lot has changed since 1986, why hasn't the tax code? Many of the Presidential candidates have said that tax reform will be a priority if they are elected, but Congress has the ability to act now. This is a bipartisan issue, where both Republicans and Democrats agree that our outdated and cumbersome tax code needs to be reformed now. Taxpayers are sick of being in a time warp where yet another tax day comes and goes and nothing has changed. We need tax reform done in 2016.

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  • TPA Joins Broad Coalition Urging Congress to Move on ECPA Reform

    Michi Iljazi on April 14, 2016


    The issue of privacy has garnered a great deal of attention lately, particularly with events in the news related phone encryption and data breaches. Privacy is still a concern for all Americans as we move forward in this advanced technological age. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance shares these concerns, and this week we signed on to this letter, made up of a diverse coalition, urging Congress to move forward with reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The reforms would ensure that warrants are granted before law enforcement can collect any emails and/or contents of other private online communications. As technology advances, it is important to make sure that law enforcement has the necessary tools in order to do their job, while making sure to respect privacy concerns of groups and individuals.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Launches "Tax Day 2016: Watch Your Assets" Campaign

    Michi Iljazi on April 13, 2016

    Taxpayers Protection Alliance Launches “Tax Day 2016: Watch Your Assets” Campaign

    Man on the Street Style Videos Ask People About Taxes and Their Preferred Policies

    (Washington, D.C.)—On Monday, April 11th, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) launched a Tax Day 2016 campaign aimed at Capitol Hill and members of Congress in order to keep comprehensive tax reform a priority for policymakers. The campaign, “Tax Day 2016: Watch Your Assets,” will run from April 11 through tax day and feature man on the street style videos, share graphics and targeted emails to members of Congress and Hill staff. The last time there was comprehensive tax reform was 1986. A lot has changed since 1986, why hasn't the tax code? “Many of the Presidential candidates have said that tax reform will be a priority if they are elected,” said David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. “But Congress has the ability to act now. This is a bipartisan issue, where both Republicans and Democrats agree that our outdated and cumbersome tax code needs to be reformed now. Taxpayers are sick of being in a time warp where yet another tax day comes and goes and nothing has changed. We need tax reform done in 2016.”

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  • Coalition to Congress: No Tax Extenders in FAA Reauthorization Bill

    Michi Iljazi on April 7, 2016


    Congress has a great deal to get done before they take their extended vacation in the summer, seven weeks as opposed to the usual six. The House is in recess right now, but the Senate is in session and moving towards another last minute deal that could cost taxpayers billions. At issue is the inclusion of tax extenders as part of S. 2658, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. Congress has already addressed the issue of tax extenders, and now they want to retroactively include additional provisions that amount to little more than cronyism and corporate welfare. The Senate should reject this approach and the House should follow suit as they take up their own legislation on FAA reauthorization. TPA recently signed a letter sent by Americans for Prosperity calling on the Senate to oppose the inclusion of tax extenders in the FAA reauthorization bill.

    Click 'read more' below to see the letter

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  • TPA Applauds Legislative Efforts to Reform FCC Lifeline Program

    David Williams on April 5, 2016

    Some phones that might be included in a Lifeline plan

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is one of the more active regulatory agencies under the Obama Administration and many times their actions have come at a price to taxpayers and consumers. Net neutrality and municipal broadband expansion are two very public battles that the agency has been at the center of, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been fighting them every step of the way. TPA has worked hard to ensure that the taxpayers’ voice is heard as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler continues to expand the agency’s power through increased regulations. One program that has received some attention and notoriety is Lifeline. The program is part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is a tax on phone bills, provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. In 2005, the program expanded to pre-paid cellular phone services and now the FCC wants to expand the reach of the program to broadband services. The problem though is that the program is a mess, filled with rampant fraud and abuse.

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  • Coalition to Congress: Enact a Regulatory Budget

    Michi Iljazi on April 1, 2016


    Just weeks ago the House released a pair of budget proposals that put forth a path toward a balanced budget. Though each proposal was not perfect, particularly on Pentagon spending reform, the important work of getting a budget done is only helped by what the House Budget Committee and Republican Study Committee brought to the table. One way to make Congressional budgeting more effective for taxpayers is to implement a regulatory budget to address the costs of federal regulations. The impact of regulations on jobs and the economy has never been more apparent, and Congress can play a role in mitigating that impact or at least shedding more light on it. That’s why the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) joined a coalition effort led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) signing this letter urging Congress to move forward with a regulatory budget.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Puerto Rico's Toxic Landfills: Why Congress Must Act

    David Williams on March 31, 2016


    Puerto Rico’s official tourism slogan is “Puerto Rico does it better!”  But, with several House and Senate hearings recently on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, which has spotlighted the Island’s disastrous economic and fiscal management, that slogan should be updated.  Puerto Rico’s books aren’t the only example of poor governance.   There is also the environmental disaster building up in its toxic landfills.  This is personally troubling considering the 3 ½ years I lived on the Island. The media in Puerto Rico reports that 22 of the Island’s 27 municipal landfills are in violation of federal safety standards, and a cursory review of media reports shows that these landfills appear to have an unbroken record of violating safety rules since they were applied to Puerto Rico in 1994.  The small number of landfills that have been consistently in compliance with federal rules are all privately owned and managed.  Conversely, the long list of toxic landfills that have never managed to be in compliance are all owned by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, managed by municipalities with a green light from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and funded by taxpayers. As background, when Subtitle D of the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was applied to Puerto Rico in 1994, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) promised to close a majority of the landfills. Over the last 22 years, only three landfills have been shut down.

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  • Venue Reform Gets A Boost in the Senate

    Michi Iljazi on March 24, 2016


    The clock continues to run on the short calendar that Congress made for itself in 2016.  But, that doesn’t mean that important issues should be put on the shelf. One major issue that Congress can still make an impact on is patent litigation reform. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been advocating for reform in this area for years now, and Congress has made some progress with the introduction of bills in the House and Senate. Even though there may be difference of opinion in some areas of patent reform, one specific area that there seems to be genuine agreement on when it comes to patent litigation reform is the need for reform in where patent cases are heard.  More commonly known as “venue reform,” the place where a case is heard is a real problem.

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  • TPA Supports the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016

    Michi Iljazi on March 22, 2016


    The national debt continues to grow, currently at $19 trillion, and Congress still hasn’t figured out how to get to serious spending reduction. Loosening spending caps and consistent failures to move back to regular order for the appropriations process are part of the real problems why Washington can’t get the budget under control. However, spending on unauthorized programs is also a problem. Today, there is more than $300 billion annually being spent on programs that aren’t authorized by Congress. This week on the TPA podcast, Chair of the Republican Conference Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) joined the show to talk about her new legislation to solve the problem of unauthorized spending (click here to listen). Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers’ legislation, the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016, would put in place mechanisms for imposing cuts on programs not authorized and eventually letting them sunset. TPA supports this legislation and that is why we joined with National Taxpayers Union and other groups on a coalition letter expressing our support.

    Click "read more" below to read the full letter

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  • Budget Proposals Offer Ideas for Ways Forward on Balancing the Budget

    Michi Iljazi on March 21, 2016


    This is the time of year when Congress begins work on a budget for the coming fiscal year, and last week marked the introduction of a pair of budget proposals from the both the House GOP and the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Both proposals are far better than President Obama’s eighth and final budget (click here to read more) released in late January. Each of the proposals released last week lay out a structure for a budget that will be balanced over the next decade by implementing spending cuts and enacting a series of reforms on spending programs and entitlements.

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  • TPA Signs Coalition Letter Urging Death Tax Repeal Vote in the Senate

    Michi Iljazi on March 17, 2016


    One of our nation’s founders, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But who thought that combining the two would be good policy? The first time the government imposed a form of the Death Tax was back in the late 1700s with the Stamp Act.  A century later the tax was used to help finance the Civil War (as an inheritance tax).  And then again in 1916 when the Revenue Act became law (ushering in income tax), the estate tax (aka the “Death Tax”) came with it. Like before, when conflict arose in World War I (WWI), the tax became the vehicle for revenue generation. However unlike the previous two, the post –WWI Death tax was not repealed and is the foundation for what is in the current tax code. There has been momentum to repeal the Death Tax, and the broad coalition fighting for repeal continues to grow in size and diversity. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recently signed onto a letter sent by the Family Businesses Coalition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging action in the Senate to repeal the Death Tax. The House has already acted on Death Tax repeal by passing the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, sponsored by current House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). The time for the Senate to act is now and there is legislation ready to be brought to the floor, S. 860, sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). It is important to get a repeal bill of the Death Tax onto the President’s desk sooner rather than later.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • LEADS Act Awaiting Action as Privacy Concerns Mount

    Michi Iljazi on March 15, 2016


    The intersection of issues can be found in places you never expect, but sometimes it is right there in plain sight. Privacy concerns have been gaining momentum over the last few years with major stories that have broken on government surveillance, data breaches, and terrorism. While disagreements on how to proceed on many of these issues become even more complicated as events take over the narrative, privacy remains a priority for all individuals and that privacy extends to taxpayers, consumers and businesses. One thing that Washington can do to help alleviate the concerns that many have when it comes to their privacy is to pass the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act).  The legislation was introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Chris Coons (D-Conn.), and would provide better tools for the United States government to obtain needed information abroad in criminal pursuits, but at the same ensure privacy protections for Americans while respecting the laws of other countries.

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  • Tax Reform Key to Vibrant NH Business Environment

    David Williams on March 14, 2016


    This article appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader on March 6, 2016

    According to exit polls, the economy remains a top concern with three-quarters of both Democrats and Republicans expressing concern. As well it should be. While recent jobs reports provided some encouraging news for the nation, more must be done before we can turn the page on a chapter of recent history marked by anemic growth and a sluggish economic outlook. One of the biggest warning signs of a sputtering economy was a disappointing 0.7 percent growth in the economy in the last quarter of 2015. If President Obama truly wants to leave a legacy behind and remove obstacles in the way of a healthy, vibrant business environment (as he pledged in his State of the Union address), he and his Capitol Hill counterparts have a golden opportunity to make real progress toward that goal by passing comprehensive tax reform. The U.S. tax code has become a complicated mess of loopholes, selective exemptions and sky-high rates. In fact, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world at more than 39 percent, putting our competitiveness at risk. Meanwhile, the average tax rate worldwide has fallen seven points to under 23 percent.

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  • To Fix Our Broken Tax System, Sunset the Tax Code

    Michi Iljazi on March 11, 2016

    IRS Headquarters, Washington, D.C. 

    Tax reform
    is critical to ensuring our economy recovers from the sluggish growth it has been experiencing.   Real individual and corporate tax reform will boost the middle class and encourage more business investment at home. President Obama, members of the House and Senate, groups like the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), and individual Americans have all weighed in on how to get tax reform done. There is agreement that the code needs to be overhauled.  There is also agreement that the corporate tax rate is too high. There is now a new path forward with legislation in the House that guarantees something will be done when it comes to fixing our broken tax code. H.R. 27, the Tax Code Termination Act, introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), puts in place a blueprint to get rid of the current code, have a timetable for a new code to be approved, and then have that new code ultimately adopted.

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  • Coalition to Congress: Make Crop Insurance Reform Part of Budget Deal

    Michi Iljazi on March 8, 2016


    It’s budget season in Washington. D.C. and while there are some obvious hurdles, there is work being done to get Congress to come up with a budget that works for both chambers. The House will begin work in committee next week, and though the Senate has delayed work until April, there is still hope for a bicameral budget deal. There are many things that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) would like to see (and not see) in any budget deal. There should be a clear line on spending caps, there should be no earmarks, and there should be an effort to reduce spending wherever possible both on defense and domestic sides. One particular area where TPA and others believe there is opportunity for reforms that include reduced spending is the Crop Insurance program. President Obama’s budget, while mostly political optics, did include some meaningful reforms to the Crop Insurance program. These reforms would save $18 billion over the next decade. With that in mind TPA signed this letter, in an effort led by the R Street Institute, urging Congress to adopt the reforms when putting together a budget deal.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Effort Urging Easier Public Access to CRS Reports

    Michi Iljazi on March 4, 2016


    Transparency is an important issue for taxpayers, and a key tool in the fight for good governance. One issue that merges both transparency and good governance is the movement to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports more accessible to the public. CRS reports are funded through taxpayers, but the easy access goes to Congress and staff, not taxpayers. The reports are important resources of information on policy, and there is now bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the House and Senate to make them available to the public. This would increase transparency and that is why the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) signed onto this letter, urging lawmakers to make CRS reports more accessible to the public.

    Click 'read more' below to read the full letter.


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  • Venue Reform Critical to Improving Patent Guidelines in the United States

    Michi Iljazi on February 26, 2016

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recently placed Congress on notice reminding them of the opportunity for and importance of getting something done on patent litigation reform. Reforms would help to strengthen intellectual property (IP), which would boost the competitive economy all while benefitting consumers, businesses and taxpayers. As part of any legislation there are many parts and “venue reform” remains an important component to any legislation that would move through Congress. Venue reform refers to moving the current patent litigation system away from courts that generally favor patent trolls. Patent trolls are generally one or two individuals hiding behind a fictitious shell corporation. They scour the Internet trying to find vague, near-end patents, buying them up with the goal of filing lawsuits to extort settlements from businesses or individuals who can’t afford the high cost of litigation. They issue threatening letters, demanding payment through licensing fees for the use of ambiguous or commonly-utilized technologies, or threaten to sue. Most small businesses can’t afford the steep costs of litigation and instead are bullied into paying excessive licensing fees. Right now most patent disputes are dealt with in just one court in Texas, that’s right a single court hears most patent disputes in the country. In 2015 the Eastern District of Texas handled 2,540 cases of the total 5,830 (43.6%). That is a higher percentage than of all districts outside the top 3 (41.9%).

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  • Tax Reform – Not Higher Taxes – Will Bring Economic Growth

    David Williams on February 22, 2016


    This article appeared in Morning Consult on Feburary 16, 2016

    Two significant documents were delivered to Congress last week:  President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report. The President’s budget is a $4.1 trillion plan containing $2.6 trillion in tax hikes.  And it’s not surprising that it’s a repeat of his previous plans – more spending and tax increases.  When it comes to the latter, one proposal in particular has garnered the most ink and discussion: a $10 per barrel tax on oil produced in the United States. As always, it will be consumers on the losing end of this deal, which many on Capitol Hill have called “dead-on-arrival.”  And for good reason.  It’s estimated that President Obama’s $10 per barrel tax on oil would add almost 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, hitting middle class and low-income families particularly hard.  But it’s not just the pump where Americans will feel the pinch.

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