Taxpayers Protection Alliance
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  • Taxpayers Need to Watch Out for the Mini Bus Getting Ready to Run Them Over

    David Williams on November 16, 2011

    On Thursday November 17, 2011, the House of Representatives is expected to vote (FINALLY!) on a triad of fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills rolled up into one.  The three bills, Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD), are included in one bill (H.R. 2112) and is affectionately known as a “mini bus” spending bill.  While the bill is relatively free of earmarks, members of the House of Representatives should vote against the legislation.  There has been very little time for debate and a provision to allow the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to increase its eligible loan limit to $729,750 is plenty reason enough to vote “NAY.”   According to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), “Tucked inside the 401-page bill was language to increase the limits for which the Federal Housing Administration can insure mortgage loans up to $729,750, effectively allowing the agency to back McMansions with taxpayer dollars. Adding further insult to hard-working taxpayers an independent audit revealed, just hours later, that there is a “close to 50 percent” chance the agency would run out of money and need a taxpayer bailout.” Another reason to vote against the mini bus is that the spending levels are above the House-passed budget offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) earlier in the year.

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  • TPA to Congress: Go Big or Go Home

    David Williams on November 14, 2011

    During the next two weeks taxpayers will see some of the elements of the of the August debt ceiling agreement come together with a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) and the report from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Super Committee).  In typical Washington fashion, there are two potential outcomes for both the BBA and the Super Committee.  A weak BBA and a discordant Super Committee could foreshadow a future filled with fake spending cuts and tax increases.

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  • TPA Investigates: Missile Program Needs More Scrutiny and Less Money

    David Williams on November 11, 2011

    The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) has been a hot topic of conversation at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.  MEADS, which was originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, 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.  Taxpayer groups have expressed their opposition to funding the program over the past years.  On October 3, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a briefing where MEADS was discussed as a primary program to be cut as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Super Committee) looks for cuts.  Now, it appears that there will be “test” of MEADS on November 17, a day before the federal government runs out of money and less than a week before the Super Committee presents its deficit reduction plan.  TPA is concerned that this test (which is really more of a demonstration than a test) is nothing more than a dog and pony show to boost the funding of the program and keep it off the chopping block. » Read More
  • Senate Set to Vote on Killing Net Neutrality

    David Williams on November 8, 2011

    UPDATE:  Today (November 10, 2011) the Senate voted along party lines (46-52) to allow the FCC to proceed with net neutrality regulations which will kill jobs and innovation. With all of the issues currently on the table regarding the economy- jobs, taxes, the debate on spending cuts- the last thing our country needs is for the federal government to be distracted.  It is ridiculous that Congress and the Senate have to spend time dealing with matters that aren’t really problems. But that is what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is forcing our officials to do. The FCC’s rules on net neutrality are due to take effect on November 20, despite opposition from both sides of the aisle and dissent from throughout the administration.  Having already been rebuked by the House, the Senate has a little less than two weeks to overturn the regulations.  Policymakers should realize that, right now, time is of the essence.  Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is trying to stop net neutrality in its tracks with legislation that would prevent the FCC from implementing the new rules.  With a vote expected on Thursday November 10, 2011, on “S. J. RES. 6:  Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to regulating the Internet and broadband industry practices,” the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a TPAPB to all Senate offices urging the Senate to vote for Sen. Hutchison’s legislation.  The House has already passed the bill overturning the FCC’s net neutrality rules.  The need for this vote to come soon is critical, as the regulations which the FCC is trying to institute are due to come into effect on November 20th.  TPA urges all taxpayers to contact their Senators and urge them to vote for "S.J RES. 6: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to regulating the Internet and broadband industry practices." (click here to find your Senator).

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  • Effort to Cut Congressional Pay Gains Momentum

    David Williams on November 7, 2011

    In July, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Our Generation released a report titled “Are Taxpayers Getting Their Money’s Worth? An Analysis of Congressional Compensation.” The report detailed the fact that members of Congress make $174,000 per year or $285,000 when benefits are included.  Considering that the country is on the verge of bankruptcy with a $14.9 trillion debt and Congress continues to bicker instead of passing spending bills, taxpayers deserve more from their elected officials.  Luckily, a bi-partisan group of members of Congress who think that a pay cut is in order and are encouraging other members to support their efforts.  Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) Mike Coffman (R-Col.), Jason Altmire (D-Penn.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging members of Congress to sign onto a letter that encourages the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the  Super Committee) “to reduce the deficit include savings from reductions in Member compensation.”  TPA urges you to contact your member of Congress and tell them to support this effort to cut congressional compensation.  You can find out who your member of Congress is and their phone number here.

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  • Cutting Corporate Taxes Will Spur Economic Growth

    David Williams on November 3, 2011

    America was built on the ability to out-compete and out-innovate the rest of the world. Both of these advantages are under threat with excessive taxation and tax compliance that fills volumes of books and billions of hours of tax preparation.  As a result, job creation has suffered and any economic recovery is threatened.  The corporate tax rate of 35 percent (the second highest in the world) is an example of an outdated tax system and a burden this country can no longer bear.  This rate is higher than every one of America’s major European trading partners and is higher than China or Canada. In fact, since 1992, the average OECD combined statutory rate has been lower than America’s and it has continued to fall. Today, it is nearly 10 percent lower (25.1 percent) than America’s 35 percent. Add in the state and local taxes that U.S.-based companies pay and the gap widens even further.

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  • The Wireless Tax Fairness Act - Taxpayers and Consumers Win!

    David Williams on November 1, 2011

    It’s not very frequently that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) reports on a victory, but this evening (November 1) was a banner moment for everyone that owns a cell phone.  The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1002, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act.  This bi-partisan bill, with 236 co-sponsors, freezes all new state and local taxes and fees on wireless for 5 years.  The official scoring entity of Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), scored it as no additional cost to any level of government.  A true win!  Mobile devices are becoming a popular way to purchase books, music, or just download any content via the Internet.  The Wireless Tax Fairness Act stops states and local governments from imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on these items.

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  • HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Taxpayer-Funded Halloween Handouts

    Drew Johnson on October 31, 2011

    Halloween is a fun occasion for kids to dress up and go door-to-door looking for handouts of candy and other goodies. What taxpayers don’t realize is that all levels of government celebrate Trick or Treat all year long by handing out tax dollars to unnecessary programs and projects. The scary part is that taxpayers almost always end up tricked.  As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance wraps up a week-long celebration of Halloween (read previous blog postings here, here, and here), today’s offering of Trick or Treats features five frightening examples of Halloween-themed tricks on taxpayers, featuring a jack-o’-lantern carve out, subsidies for scary movies, a high-priced Halloween party, a punkin’ chuckin’ pork project and a government-subsidized corn maze. WARNING!! We repeat, we advise strong parental guidance because some material may not be suitable for children since they are the ones that will ultimately be paying for these tricks.

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  • Trick or Treat! Healthcare and the Food and Drug Administration

    on October 28, 2011

    This Trick or Treat highlights Healthcare and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Without a doubt, the biggest trick played on taxpayers was the passage of Obamacare.  As part of Obamacare, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel of 15 “experts” to slow the growth of Medicare, was passed.  IPAB will be a board of 15 unelected members who, according to the American Medical Association, would “extend Medicare solvency and reduce spending growth through the use of a spending target system and fast-track legislative approval process.”  In reality, IPAB will be nothing more than a way to ration health care for seniors.  Even though the FDA is “responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation,’ the FDA is quickly becoming the silent killer of the economy and the free market. WARNING!! We repeat, we advise strong parental guidance because some material may not be suitable for children since they are the ones that will ultimately be paying for these tricks.

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  • Trick or Treat! Defense Spending

    David Williams on October 26, 2011

    As the second installment of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance's Trick or Treat extravaganza, this one highlights defense spending but in essence is brought to you by the Department of Defense and the Super Committee. As part of the August 2, 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) was created to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  If the Super Committee doesn’t come up with recommendations for deficit reduction there will be across-the-board spending cuts and that won’t bode well for the Pentagon.  Any cuts in Defense spending must be done wisely to ensure the safety and protection of our troops.  Today’s Tricks or Treats should be a guide for the Super Committee as they finalize their plans to find spending cuts.  WARNING!! As always, we advise strong parental guidance because some material may not be suitable for children since they are the ones that will ultimately be paying for these tricks.

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  • Trick or Treat! Telecommunications Policy

    David Williams on October 24, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is celebrating Halloween all week long as we present the Tricks or Treats of the federal government over the last year.  Taxpayers should be frightened as Washington, D.C. continues to waste money and pass onerous regulations that will prolong the economic downturn.  The first creepy installment are the Tricks or Treats of telecommunications policy.  Net neutrality and retransmission continue to be the tricks and there is some treat (that may easily turn into a trick) with the Universal Service Fund.  Be sure to check back on Wednesday and Friday for two more sets of Tricks or Treats.  WARNING!! We advise strong parental guidance because some material may not be suitable for children since they are the ones that will ultimately be paying for these tricks.

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  • Taxpayers Want Honesty in Budgeting

    David Williams on October 21, 2011

    With a threatened government shutdown in April averted with a deal to cut spending and an agreement to cut spending as a requirement to raise the debt ceiling in August, budget hawks thought that there would be a decrease in government spending.  A recent article in Investor’s Business Daily threw cold water on that notion when it reported on October 17 that “In fact, in the first nine months of this year, federal spending was $120 billion higher than in the same period in 2010, the data show. That's an increase of almost 5%. And deficits during this time were $23.5 billion higher.”  Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute warned of fake spending cuts in the deal to raise the debt ceiling in an August 1, 2011 blog posting, “The ‘cuts’ in the deal are only cuts from the CBO ‘baseline,’ which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending. And even these ‘cuts’ from the baseline include $156 billion of interest savings, which are imaginary because the underlying cuts are imaginary.  No program or agency terminations are identified in the deal. None of the vast armada of federal subsidies are targeted for elimination.”  This makes taxpayers even more frustrated as politicians try to take credit for non-existent victories and continue to use one budget gimmick after another to try and confuse taxpayers and increase spending.  Above and beyond real spending cuts, taxpayers ultimately want honesty in budgeting (and all government).  It’s easy to find a member of Congress who supports this but the tough task is finding somebody who will put legislation where their mouth is.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has taken the first step in taking real action in trying to bring honesty in budgeting with his aptly named “Honest Budget Act.”  This legislation will get rid of budget tricks and lay the foundation for real budget reform to take hold.

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  • Pentagon Launch Program Needs More Scrutiny, Less Money

    David Williams on October 19, 2011

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a report on the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program that is problematic for taxpayers and space launches.  According to a fact sheet by Vandenberg Air Force Base, “EELV is designed to improve our nation's access to space by making space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable.”  Not so fast.  The 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, in 2006.   And now ULA  is pushing the Pentagon to write the company a $15 billion check for a five-year, sole source deal that will, according to GAO, commit DOD to more rockets than it needs at a higher price than it needs to pay.

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  • TPA Supports Rep. Flake to Keep Appropriations Process Open

    David E. Williams on October 17, 2011

    Yet again, Congress is behind schedule in passing appropriations bills.  Ok, let’s be honest, Congress is beyond late, and there is very little hope for an orderly process to resolve this problem.  There is already discussion about an omnibus appropriations bill.  An omnibus bill is one of those multi-thousand page pieces of legislation that contains multiple appropriations bills and could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.  In order to bring some sort of sanity back to the fiscal year 2012 spending process, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is urging his colleagues to keep the process of crafting, and voting on, an appropriations bill “open.”  What this means is that Rep. Flake wants to make sure that there is an opportunity to offer amendments to the omnibus before it is voted on.  On October 14, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a letter of support for Rep. Flake’s efforts.

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  • Deadline Looms for Super Committee

    David Williams on October 13, 2011

    As part of the August 2, 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) was created to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  This is in addition to an initial $1 trillion in spending cuts that was instituted immediately after the deal was signed.  Many believed that mid-November was the deadline to contact the Super Committee about specific ideas.  It now appears that taxpayers have once again been misled.  Multiple news reports indicate that October 14, 2011 is the real deadline to make formal recommendations to the Super Committee.  Many groups have been offering advice on where to cut spending.  In fact, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a Defense briefing on October 3 with representatives from the Lexington Institute, National Taxpayers Union, and Americans for Tax Reform to discuss potential spending cuts in the Department of Defense that wouldn’t affect national security.  The panelists recommended eliminating funding the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (read previous blog postings here and here).  TPA has also recommended eliminating Community Transformation Grants funded through the Centers for Disease Control (read previous blog posting here).  Even with all these superb ideas coming out of TPA, and other groups, Congress doesn’t have to look much further than the Congressional Budget Office, President Obama and the National Commission on Fiscal Reform and Integrity for ideas.

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  • Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Has an Opportunity to Eliminate a Wasteful Government Program

    David Williams on October 11, 2011

    The federal government is obsessed with two things (at least), spending money and behavior control.  There is no program more representative of this then the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recently announced Community Transformation Grants. The Prevention and Public Health Fund, which funds this CDC program along with its predecessor, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, was originally created under the stimulus bill. It has little to do with job creation and more to do with expanding government’s reach into society. So far, the government has put more than $1 billion towards these “wellness” programs under The Prevention and Public Health Fund, including, $3,000,000 to label calories on restaurant menus in New York; $1,000,000 to the Boston Public Health Commission to “support the successful implementation of the state's calorie posting regulation;” and $63,265 to the Cascade Bicycle Club, Washington, for “Complete Streets” which will “emphasize that new and reconstructed roadways meet the safety and mobility needs of all travelers.  The good news is that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meets on Wednesday October 12 and they can bring some common sense back to spending and the government’s proper role in our lives by defunding this program.  On October 11, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance wrote a letter urging the HELP Committee to defund the program.

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  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance Joins Coalition to Stop E-Verify

    David Williams on October 7, 2011

    The federal government is obsessed with collecting information.  The problem with this is that any attempt to collect information is costly to taxpayers and puts everybody’s privacy at risk. The worst example of this was the attempt to establish a national identification system known as Real ID.  Passed in May 2005, the Real ID Act for the first time set federal standards for authenticating and securing state-issued driver’s licenses.  Real ID is a costly mandate that cash-strapped states can’t afford with weak privacy controls.  Now, the federal government wants a system that mandates the use of an electronic employment verification system by every employer in the U.S. for every person seeking employment in the U.S.  Known as E-Verify, this mandate creates a de facto national I.D. System (even for citizens); violates individual civil liberties such as the right to work and free speech; mandates a costly job-killing regulatory burden that cripples small business; requires employers to become enforcement agents of the federal government; and encourages identify theft of law-abiding citizens.  On September 15, 2011 a coalition of almost 30 groups (including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance) sent a letter to Congress urging them to scrap the program.

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  • Opposing Net Neutrality Regulations Should be Bi-Partisan

    David Williams on October 4, 2011

    The new net neutrality rules are set to go into effect on November 20, just a few days before Thanksgiving.  Instead of giving thanks for these new regulations, taxpayers, consumers, and all web surfers will be given the bird by the federal government.  Net neutrality is the wrong solution to a non-existent problem. “Net neutrality,” which is loosely defined as a system that allows information on the Internet to move freely without regard to content is in reality, a not so subtle attempt to regulate the Internet.  The battle over net neutrality has typically been with proponents of net neutrality being on the left side of the political spectrum and those opposing being on the right side of the political spectrum.  The reality is that opposing these regulations should be bi-partisan.  Besides the potential cost to taxpayers and the lack of need to regulate a dynamic industry, the most compelling argument against net neutrality is what happened in Egypt ten months ago when the government denied Internet access to its citizens in the wake of their revolution. » Read More
  • U.S. News and World Report Cites TPA in its “11 Things Wrong With Congress.”

    David Williams on September 30, 2011

    To say that there is a high level of frustration with Congress is an understatement.  In fact, a recent Fox  News poll had Congress’ job approval at a whopping 11 percent.  On September 28, 2011, U.S. News and World Report published it’s “11 Things Wrong With Congress” blog posting and there were very few surprises.  Third on the list was “Gold-plated benefits.”  According to the article, “A recent study by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonprofit research group, found that fringe benefits for members of Congress are worth about $82,000 per year—which raises total compensation to well over $250,000. There may be a retirement crisis in many parts of America—but not on Capitol Hill.”  The $250,000 number is a reference to a July 27 report released by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Our Generation (read full report here).

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  • Senate Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012 Contains Earmarks and Continued Funding for an Unnecessary and Expensive Program

    David Williams on September 27, 2011

    As the first group to uncover NASA earmarks in the 2011 Continuing Resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2011 and earmarks in the FY 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has found more earmarks, this time in the FY 2012 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill.  TPA has preliminarily found 62 earmarks worth $2.8 billion.  In addition, the Senate also funded the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).  In addition to the other problems with MEADS (click here and here), according to language in the Senate bill,  “The Committee is concerned with the historical management of the MEADS program and that it has taken the Department 3 years, following the 2008 program Preliminary Design Review, to conclude that with a production delay of at least 4 years and a U.S. investment of $1,160,000,000 required in addition to the $804,000,000 budgeted in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the program was simply unaffordable. As such, the Committee echoes the concerns voiced in section 807 of S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, as reported.” The Senate Defense Appropriations Bill is funding unrequested earmarks and a project (MEADS) that the committee is concerned about.  Not a smart way to fund the Department of Defense.

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