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Category: Defense



  • No More Excuses or Taxpayer Money for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)

    David Williams on May 9, 2012

    The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is running out of time, excuses, and hopefully taxpayer funding.  This is happening while the evidence supporting the elimination of funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) keeps growing.  Originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, MEADS is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany with the Americans shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost.  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.  According to a letter from Frank Kendall (Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, if Congress cuts off funding for MEADS now, not only will there will be no termination costs,  the government will actually save money. » Read More
  • Defending the Country and Tax Dollars Becoming Non-Partisan

    David Williams on April 27, 2012

    In our current environment of hyper-partisan politics, it's rare that Republicans and Democrats publicly agree on anything (particularly moving into the heat of a presidential election). However, on March 12, 2012, a bipartisan group of senators, including John Cornyn (R-TX), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) penned an unexpected, yet necessary, letter (read here) to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.  The letter outlined grave concerns over a recent disturbing pattern by the Department of Defense (DOD) to use American tax dollars to procure military weaponry and aircraft from corrupt foreign countries hostile to U.S. national security interests, and from foreign companies supplying these corrupt nations (including Syria) with weapons used to commit mass atrocities against their own people.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) supports these senators and calls on the Obama administration to explain to the American people its reasons for taking such actions, which threaten the safety and security of thousands of men and women currently serving in the United States military.

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  • Expensive and Unnecessary Missile System Needs to be Terminated

    David Williams on April 24, 2012

    The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is a case study in a weapons system that is both not needed and expensive.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has written about the many problems with MEADS, including the cost overruns and congressional shenanigans, for the past year (read previous posts here and here).  But, terminating a weapons system is herculean work since there are usually congressional supporters that keep the program on life support system despite evidence that it should be terminated. The fiscal year (FY) 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) even states that this year’s funds of $400 million would be the last of the obligations, yet the Army requested $400 million for FY 2013.  Nearly $2 billion has already been spent by the U.S. on the design and development phase, and yet the program will never be built or used by the military.   A recent bi-partisan letter spearheaded by Senate Armed Services Committee members Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees gets to the heart of why funding for MEADS should terminated immediately.  According to the letter (read full letter with all the signatories and press release here), “The Department of Defense has stated that it does not intend to procure MEADS.  Facing a serious fiscal crisis, we cannot afford to spend a single additional dollar on a weapons system such as MEADS that our warfighters will never use.”

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  • The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program Has More Questions Than Answers

    David Williams on April 20, 2012

    The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program was supposed to make space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable.  Unfortunately, EELV program budgets have quadrupled since the Pentagon allowed Boeing and Lockheed to merge their launch business into a single monopoly provider, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), in 2006.   Despite this historic cost increase, on January 27, 2012, the United States Air Force announced its intention to award another $19 billion sole source contract to ULA.  Now, according to an April 17, 2012 article in Aviation Week(note that the article was published on Tax Day), “The Pentagon has declared that the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) project has exceeded its original projected per-unit cost by 58.4%, triggering a rigorous review under the Nunn-McCurdy program oversight law.” The Air Force’s own fiscal year 2013 budget documents show the gross unit cost for each ULA booster is $420 million.  This cost is at least more than four times higher than every other rocket in the world.

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  • Ten Ways Your Tax Dollars Are Wasted This Tax Day

    on April 16, 2012

    Tax Day

    This Tax Day, the federal government expects to rake in $945 billion in individual income tax payments from U.S. taxpayers. According to the Tax Foundation, the average American worked 32 days last year just to pay their income tax bill from Uncle Sam, and that doesn’t even include federal Social Security, Medicare or unemployment insurance programs, or any state or local tax burdens. As taxpayers across the nation rush to calculate their share of taxes and say a final goodbye to some of their hard-earned dollars, the same question crosses the minds of many Americans: “What is the government doing with all of this money?” Unfortunately, the answer is rarely anything useful, responsible, necessary, constitutional, valuable or meaningful.  With many states mandated to balance their budgets and many state legislatures reluctant to cut wasteful government spending, states and localities have recently begun going after the popular and fast-growing digital goods industry ("apps", song and movie downloads, and eBooks) as a source of new tax-revenue for their coffers.  The United States needs a national framework that would prevent consumers from being taxed more than once. This means more clarity for states and more protection for consumers.  So, in honor of tax day, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has identified 10 outrageous federal expenditures that cost taxpayers dearly, while providing little benefit in return.

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  • House Republicans Talk About Bringing Back Earmarks

    on April 3, 2012

    On March 30, 2012, Reuters published an article “House Republicans discuss reviving earmarks,” that some taxpayers thought was an early April Fool’s Day joke.  According to the article, “In a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, [Mike] Rogers recommended reviving a proven legislative sweetener that became politically toxic a year ago.  Bring back earmarks, Rogers, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, told his colleagues.”  He was not alone. “Rogers' remarks in the closed caucus meeting in early March were echoed by two other Republican lawmakers, Representatives Louie Gohmert [Texas] and Kay Granger [Texas], according to some at the meeting.”   The sad truth is that Rep. Rogers (et al) said what many Republicans (and Democrats) have been thinking.

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  • Rep. Ryan Ups the Ante in Latest Round of Budget Poker

    David Williams on March 23, 2012

    The republicans in the House of Representatives and the White House have been playing a game of budgetary poker for the past two years and taxpayers have been paying the price.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget was the next card played in this high stakes game.  In FY 2012, Rep. Ryan showed his cards and went all in with spending cuts.  This year Rep. Ryan continues his aggressive stance as he doubles down on tax cuts.  All the meanwhile, the Senate has folded by not proposing a budget for more than 1,000 days.  And, according to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t even seem bothered by their lack of work.  “Senate Democratic leaders on Friday said they do not intend to bring a fiscal 2013 budget up for a floor vote. ‘We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year — it's done, we don't need to do it,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters on Friday.”  Rep. Ryan addresses both spending and taxes as he ups the ante on America’s fiscal future.

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  • Another Procurement Fiasco at the Pentagon

    David Williams on March 2, 2012

    The Department of Defense has struggled with awarding procurement contracts for many years.  The poster child for what can go wrong was the Air Force’s procurement for refueling-tankers (it took the Pentagon three attempts and eight years to get it right).  On February 28, 2012, the Air Force was once again in the middle of another procurement controversy when it admitted mistakes in awarding a contract for the Light Air Support aircraft to Embraer.  According to Reuters, “The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday abruptly canceled a $355 million contract awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp and Brazil's Embraer for 20 light-support aircraft, citing problems with documents used to make the decision.”  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was critical of the decision by the Pentagon to exclude American aircraft manufacturing company Hawker Beechcraft from competing for the project. In a baffling decision, Hawker's award winning AT-6 was disqualified from the Air Force Light Air Support (LAS) competition with no explanation, leaving only Embraer, a Brazilian company, as the sole-source winner. This exposed millions of tax dollars to waste, fraud, and abuse.  Now, it appears that TPA’s concerns were well founded (read full press release here).

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  • With Shrinking Defense Dollars Missile System Should be Scrapped

    David Williams on February 17, 2012

    The release of the President’s budget this week showed a shrinking Defense budget.  This economic reality has once again sparked a conversation about the controversial and expensive Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).  Originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, MEADS is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany with the Americans shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost.  Even though the Army doesn’t want the project, there was an additional $800 million allocated for the project through 2013 ($400 million in President Obama’s latest budget).  Taxpayer groups have expressed their opposition to funding the program over the past years.  Now, according to the Washington Business Journal (WBJ), “Defense officials are expressing doubts about the department's ability to meet its obligations to help fund an international missile defense system, despite President Barack Obama's support of the program in the fiscal 2013 budget proposal.”

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  • Washington’s Dirty Little Secret – Earmarks are Still Alive

    David Williams on February 7, 2012

    On December 20, 2011 the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered $3 billion in earmarks in the Defense appropriations bill (see full list here).  Last week, legislation (S. 1930, The Earmark Elimination Act) sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed in the Senate.  Now, today, the Washington Post reports that, “Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation. Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.”  Even though most of the earmarks reported by the Washington Post were requested before the self-imposed moratorium in 2010, it shows a lack of understanding of how much taxpayers became frustrated with earmarks after the Bridge to Nowhere became a symbol of earmark largess in 2005.  Some analysts even believe that the Bridge to Nowhere and the increase in earmarks from 1995 to 2006 was a contributing factor to Republicans losing control of the House of Representatives in 2006.

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  • More Bad News for Space Launches

    David Williams on February 3, 2012

    Last September, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report about concerns with the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.  Now, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expressing more concerns about EELV.  According to a January 31, 2012 Congressional Quarterly (CQ) article, “Arizona Sen. John McCain, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, in a Jan. 27 letter to the Air Force secretary, said the government should develop its own price estimates for the booster cores of the Expendable Evolved Launch Vehicle (EELV) based on certified data provided by the contractor, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and its subcontractors. He added that the Pentagon should use its own analysis — and not the contractor’s — to determine how many booster cores to buy.”  All of this is troubling considering that a fact sheet by Vandenberg Air Force Base states that, “EELV is designed to improve our nation's access to space by making space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable.”

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  • 2012 Defense Earmarks: The Rest of the Story - Abrams Tank Upgrade

    David Williams on January 9, 2012

    (The Taxpayers Protection Alliance will be investigating the individual earmarks in the 2012 spending bill in the coming weeks/months) Last month the House and Senate approved (and President Obama signed) a $1 trillion spending bill that included $3 billion worth of earmarks in the Defense section of the bill.  Looking through the list (read full list of earmarks here), the projects may not seem too controversial or look like the next Bridge to Nowhere.  The truth is that each earmark has a story.  The first earmark listed is $255,000,000 for the Abrams Tank Upgrade Program and has a story to tell.  The biggest mystery of the earmarks added to the Pentagon’s spending bill were the members of Congress who requested them.  Congress passed transparency legislation in 2007 (that went into effect in 2008) that required members to put their names next to earmarks.  This worked reasonably well for a couple years and then Congress decided to ban the process of earmarking all together by agreeing to a moratorium on all earmarks.  Even the most naive Congressional observer didn’t believe that Congress would give up their earmarks so quickly.

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  • It is Time to Look at Every Agency for Spending Cuts

    on January 6, 2012

    President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a new Defense strategy on January 5, 2012.  The new strategy involves hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts.  The mysteries in these cuts are the specifics.  According to the Austin Business Journal, “President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave few specifics about program cuts at the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] during a briefing Thursday on DOD’s strategy…”  This is problematic because as much as the Pentagon budget needs to be cut, it should be done responsibly with the Pentagon still having the ability to meet the defense needs of the country.  In addition to the Defense cuts, President Obama should also require all federal agencies to do the same and come up with target cuts.

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  • A New Year Means New Challenges and New Opportunities

    David Williams on January 3, 2012



    When the 112th Congress took over in January, 2011, there was quite a bit of excitement and anticipation that the newly elected members (including dozens of tea party members) would be aggressive in demanding real spending cuts and accountability.  With a near-miss government shutdown in April, a debt ceiling scare in August and the failure of the super committee in November, last year was filled with missed opportunities to institute real spending cuts.  With the federal debt eclipsing $15 trillion in 2011, Congress has quite a bit of work to do in 2012.  In addition to the annual budget fiascos that are typical of Washington, D.C., there are seven key areas (Agriculture, Defense, Energy, the Food and Drug Administration/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tax Reform, Telecommunications/Technology, and Transportation) that will determine if Congress and the President are serious about bringing spending under control and having a more efficient government.

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  • Taxpayer Group Urges Pentagon to Ground Faulty Aircraft Procurement

    David Williams on December 29, 2011

    On Friday November 18, 2011, the Obama Administration and the Pentagon made a decision to ship jobs overseas and put a critical defense project at risk by disqualifying aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft from the Light Air Support and Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance (LAS/LAAR) procurement competition.  That leaves only one company left to fulfill the order, the Brazilian company Embraer.  On December 29, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) supported Hawker Beechcraft’s federal suit to get answers from the Pentagon and urged the Pentagon to halt the procurement and provide answers to taxpayers and the country as to why Hawker Beechcraft was disqualified.

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  • Congress Can't Resist Temptation to Add Earmarks to Spending Bill

    David Williams on December 27, 2011

    When Congress passed the multi-thousand-page Omnibus spending bill right before their Christmas vacation, they forgot to tell taxpayers about the earmarks hidden in the bill. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 89 earmarks worth $3 billion in the Defense section of the bill (click here to see the full list) despite the insistence of both political parties that that the bill was free of earmarks and the claim that Congress stuck to their self-imposed ban on earmarks.  Government watchdogs and taxpayers had very little opportunity to scrutinize the spending bill since it was released early Thursday (12/15) morning and voted on Friday (12/16) afternoon.  The initial links to the legislation only contained legislative language and not report details.  The release of the conference report details occurred after votes by the House and the Senate.  This was a shameful lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility.   What was more disappointing is that Congress showed some bit of fiscal restraint in the bill, but the inclusion of earmarks shows that the temptation of earmarks will always be present.  One (of the many) New Year’s resolutions Congress should make is to truly ban earmarks and not be able to vote any piece of legislation that contains earmarks.

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  • BREAKING NEWS: TPA FINDS EARMARKS IN DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

    David Williams on December 20, 2011

    Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 89 earmarks worth $3 billion in the Defense Appropriations Bill that was part of the 1,200 page Omnibus Bill passed by Congress last week (click here to see the full list).  This discovery proves that even though members of Congress pledged to not fund earmarks they just can’t resist the temptation.  Government watchdogs and taxpayers had very little opportunity to scrutinize the spending bill since it was released early Thursday (12/15) morning and voted on Friday (12/16) afternoon.  The initial links to the legislation only contained legislative language and not report details.  The release of the conference report details occurred after votes by the House and the Senate.  This was a shameful lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility.  All of the projects listed by TPA did not receive a budget request by the Department of Defense.

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  • TPA Scores a Major Spending Victory! The Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine is Dead

    David Williams on December 2, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) (and taxpayers) have scored a major spending victory with General Electric (GE)/Rolls Royce announcing that they are giving up their efforts to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.  According to a December 2, 2011 article in Aviation Week, “The move comes after an Oct. 31 meeting between GE Aviation leadership and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in which ‘it became clear that the [Defense Department] would not support the FET self-funding effort,’ says GE.”  TPA highlighted the wasteful alternate engine in an October 3, 2011 briefing on Capitol Hill and numerous press releases and blog postings.

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  • Happy Anniversary Fiscal Commission: Another Exercise in Fiscal Futility

    David Williams on December 1, 2011

    One year ago on December 1, 2010, President Obama released the findings of The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform which was led by former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson (R-Wy.). The Commission released a report on potential spending cuts that would eclipse $2 trillion from 2012 to 2020.  Recommendations include: selling excess federal real property; repealing The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act which was created in Obamacare; and reducing net spending on mandatory agriculture programs.  The report was very candid when it stated that, “Our country has tough choices to make. We need to be willing to tell Americans the truth: We cannot afford to continue spending more than we take in, and we cannot continue to make promises we know full well we cannot keep.”  Instead of being used to cut spending, the report has been more useful as a virtual paperweight (I am not even sure of any copies were actually printed up).

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  • The Pentagon Chooses Politics Over Jobs and Fiscal Common Sense

    David Williams on November 21, 2011

    On Friday November 18, 2011, the Obama Administration and the Pentagon made a decision to ship jobs overseas and put a critical defense project at risk, all funded by American tax dollars with zero benefit to American workers or the economy.  The disqualification of aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft from the Light Air Support and Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance (LAS/LAAR) aircraft for the United States Air Force leaves only Brazil’s Embraer to fulfill the order.  With Embraer under investigation for corruption, it appears that politics is more important to this Administration than protecting the country and job creation   The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has voiced its support for Hawker Beechcraft over Embraer to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in two separate letters (here and here) because of its ability to protect taxpayers and the country.

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