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Category: Spending



  • Federal Agency Concerned With Waste Caught Wasting Taxpayer Money

    Michi Iljazi on March 26, 2014

    epa

    There are times when federal agencies do the job they were supposed to do, unfortunately there are also many times when federal agencies do harm and cause pain to taxpayers. However, one thing is for certain: regardless of the manner in which federal agencies enact policy, there must always be oversight to ensure that taxpayer money isn’t going to waste on things that have nothing to do with the actual responsibilities of the agency and its employees. Recent examples at the General Services Administration (GSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using taxpayer money for lavish conferences and pointless promotional projects were alarming, and rightfully maligned by citizens and politicians alike. Now newly uncovered evidence shows more taxpayer waste from yet another federal agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A recent report from the EPA’s Inspector General details reckless spending by employees who spent money on frivolous items such as gift cards, gym memberships, and hotel space for events. Here are some highlights from the IG report.

    » Read More
  • MEADS Making a Comeback Via Ukraine Crisis?

    Michi Iljazi on March 25, 2014

    meads

    When it comes to issues dealing with international conflict and foreign engagement, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) rarely stakes out political or policy ground regarding debates that give way during these situations. However, one debate that is surfacing as a result of what is happening in Ukraine is the importance of missile defense in today’s global landscape. TPA is no stranger to this issue and there should be genuine concern from taxpayers that some may be using a crisis halfway around the world to try to drum up supportfor a defense program, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), that is so undesirable the bad reviews are not just domestic, but international. MEADS is an international missile-to-missile intercept program with the U.S. as the lead country funding the program. MEADS, which started in 2005, is a program so wasteful and so bad, that even the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibited the funding of the program in 20112012, and in 2013. The problems with MEADS, and why it is aptly named the ‘Missile to Nowhere,’ are because of the prohibitive cost, scheduling problems, and bad performance. The fact that anyone is even discussing a possible resurrection of MEADS at a time when we need budget constraint at the Pentagon is alarming. There is another reason that MEADS should be nowhere in the conversation of how we go about reassuring our allies in Europe, during what is clearly a delicate time for global community. MEADS wasn’t just a failure on the domestic side, it was a folly overseas too as we attempted to sell the program to allies in Europe.

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  • Unnecessary Defense Acquisitions are a Costly Mistake for the Pentagon, Taxpayers

    David Williams on March 19, 2014

    dod

    This article originally appeared on Townhall.com, March 17, 2014

    It may sound like a fairy tale, but once upon a time the federal government operated in the black, running surpluses that allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to make significant investments in experimental or future replacement equipment and weapon systems, without drawbacks, oversight or taxpayer scrutiny. Unfortunately, the clock has struck midnight and the budgetary fairy tale is long over. There is no question that investing in our nation is important. However, we are no longer living in the lap of defense spending luxury and taxpayers aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to wasting billions of dollars on unnecessary programs. And, regardless of the financial situation of the country, it makes no sense to continue to use taxpayer money on outdated and severely flawed programs. According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) defense acquisitions report, the Pentagon is set to spend $1.5 trillion to acquire 85 separate weapons programs in the coming years. The GAO also estimates that those 85 programs will experience a projected $411 billion in cost growth and average delays of 27 months. When it comes to consensus in Washington, there is often little. However, in a time where budget restraint should be the norm, billions of dollars of wasteful defense spending is not something either Republicans or Democrats are able to ignore. Realizing the federal government has been getting away with highway robbery of taxpayers, Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) are leading the charge to completely overhaul defense acquisitions. It’s time the Pentagon stop gambling billions of dollars on fantasy defense programs that will have little to no real impact on improving the systems our warfighters need to meet today’s threats, and start taking real reform seriously.

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  • President Obama's Budget: A Month Late and Trillions Dollars Short of Fiscal Responsibility

    David Williams on March 4, 2014

    wh budget

    TPA Responds to the White House FY 2015 Budget Release:

    Today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget.  The FY 2015 budget is a month late (which has become a tradition for this President) and trillions of dollars short of fiscal responsibility. The President continued his preference for spending more with a budget proposal that spends $3.9 trillion, which is an increase from the $3.8 trillion the federal government is planning to spend in FY 2014. The White House budget aims to confiscate more money from taxpayers and small business owners to fund a laundry list of big government programs disguised as “stimulus” and “infrastructure.” These new spending priorities are sure to be filled with waste and inefficiency, much like many of the programs funded by the 2009 stimulus package... Even though this is only the opening salvo in the budget war for this year, it is instructive to see that the President clearly doesn’t recognize the fiscal reality of a $17 trillion debt and an economy that remains stagnant. There is no way for taxpayers and entrepreneurs to succeed unless the White House gets serious on spending restraint and tax reform. This budget does neither and with no meaningful offers to cut spending, overhaul the tax code, or reform entitlements, this budget is simply a way to double down on the failed policies of big government spending that have been a hallmark of the Obama Presidency. There should be a clear path to fiscal responsibility through meaningful spending reductions and tax reform. That is clearly not the approach from this White House based on what we have seen today. 

    For the full response, click 'read more' below » Read More
  • TPA Sends Letter to Tennessee State Legislature Regarding New or Expanded Government Broadband Initiatives

    Michi Iljazi on March 4, 2014

    chat
    Chattanooga, TN (courtesy, Wikimedia)


    If there is one thing that government really enjoys and that is moving in on the private sector. There are always major problems, regardless of the project or the motives behind any such move by the public sector when it comes to encroaching on the private sector. One example is the continued attempts at government broadband expansion and TPA has written before about such initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee; and how taxpayers aren’t getting the bang for their buck when it comes to these programs. Now, there is talk in Tennessee that some form (or forms) of legislation may be forthcoming and TPA President David Williams decided to send a letter all members of the State legislature regarding any creation or expansion of government broadband projects.

    Click 'read more' below to read the full letter

    » Read More
  • Congress Watch: Taxpayers Underwater with National Flood Insurance Program

    Joe Jansen on March 3, 2014

    (Joe Jansen has a decade and a half of experience working as a staff member on Capitol Hill.  He has worked in almost every legislative capacity in both the House and Senate. Joe will be a frequent contributor to TPA’s blog.) The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) owes the treasury more than $24 billion.  In 2012, when NFIP’s debt was “only” $17 billion, Congress enacted a set of reforms to make the program more actuarially sound. The implementation of these reforms has begun and homeowners and local communities located in flood zones are beginning to feel their impacts.  The Senate has already bowed to the pressure and killed the reforms.  Taxpayers should demand better. Prior to 1968, when a flood occurred in the United States, the Federal government provided disaster relief funding to the flooded areas.  In an attempt to rein in spending, Congress enacted the National Flood Insurance Program.  Under the program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces flood maps. If your home is in a flood zone, you are required to obtain flood insurance in order to get a mortgage.  Unfortunately, the premiums paid by homeowners are not necessarily linked to risk.  As an inducement to enter the program, some homeowners were given subsidized rates – rates that were “grandfathered” to prevent increases from reflecting actual flood risks. In years without significant flooding, the premiums might cover the actual costs of the claims.  But, in years with significant events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the program is forced to borrow funds from the treasury to pay claims.  The program now owes more than $24 billion – an amount it is unlikely to ever be able to repay.

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  • TPA Joins Broad Coalition Urging End to Budget Gimmicks at the Pentagon through Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account

    Michi Iljazi on February 7, 2014

    dod

    Whether it’s adhering to spending limits set forth by sequestration, making meaningful reforms within the Department of Defense (DoD) budget, or taking a serious look at many of the programs and weapons systems that simply are not worth the taxpayer dollars funding them; Congress has seriously dropped the ball to reform Defense spending.  And, the result has been a disaster for taxpayers. The Abrams Tank, Joint Strike Fighter and MEADS are just a few examples of missed opportunities to save money and make DoD more prepared for future conflicts. TPA was proud to be a part of a coalition effort focusing on the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account and how it is being used as a way to increase spending that DoD hasn’t requested. Last month TPA documented over $7 billion in earmarks in the Omnibus spending bill that the Pentagon never requested, and now TPA has signed on to a trans-partisan letter along with American Friends, Service Committee, Americans for Prosperity, Campaign for America’s Future, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, Center for International Policy, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizen Outreach, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Come Home America, Council for a Livable World, CREDO, DownsizeDC.org Inc., Foreign Policy in Focus, Freedom Works, Friends Committee on National Legislation, GOProud, Kitchen Table Patriots, Less Government, National Priorities Project, National Security Network, National Taxpayers Union, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Peace Action, Peace Action West, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Project On Government Oversight, R Street Institute, Republican Liberty Caucus, Take Back Washington, Taxpayers for Common Sense, USAction, US Labor Against the War (USLAW), Win Without War, and Women’s Action for New Directions to express collective “disappointment at the continued use” of the OCO account to “circumvent the very spending caps that Congress itself put in place.“

    To read the full letter, click 'read more' below

    » Read More
  • F! -35: Taxpayers Footing Bill for Plagued Joint Strike Fighter

    Michi Iljazi on February 4, 2014

    f35
    F-35C Lightning II (courtesy Wikimedia)

    The last few months have been filled with compromise in Washington, which may seem like a good thing.  But, for taxpayers, those compromises have translated into more spending and continued waste of taxpayer money. The need for reform couldn’t be clearer when looking at the $1 trillion Farm Bill, which does little to end subsidies and keeps in place an agricultural policy based largely on picking winners and losers instead of allowing the free market to work. Another painful example was the Omnibus spending bill that was passed last month where the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered more than $7 billion in earmarks. The Pentagon is filled with countless examples of some of the worst kind of waste that taxpayers have footed the bill for going back decades. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter gives new meaning to the word waste, yet there are still those defending (no pun intended) a project with problems that never cease to exist. The F-35 was created in 2006 and throughout the last eight years the program has been rife with delays and cost overruns that have maligned the integrity of the F-35 to the point where it has become known more for the problems associated with it, as opposed to what it is was originally designed to embody. A recently released report from the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation listed a variety of issues that detail just how wasteful and deficient this program has become less than ten years since it first took off.

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  • TPA Responds to the 2014 State of the Union Address

    David Williams on January 29, 2014

    In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated familiar themes that have resulted in a slow economic recovery over the past 5 years.  In a new and reckless move, President Obama promised to use his Executive power to enact initiatives that Congress wouldn’t pass such as a move to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors. This establishes a bad precedent that circumvents the system of checks and balances. The biggest missed opportunity was that there was no mention of how to rein in government spending.  In fact, the President seemed to suggest more spending on projects that could be classified as corporate welfare when noted that, “Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones.  That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel.“ One of the most bizarre parts of the President’s speech was his attack on last year’s sequestration (automatic spending cuts).  The President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which created sequestration.  If the President didn’t like sequestration, he shouldn’t have signed it into law.  Now, he has been left with no real plan to cut spending. President Obama mentioned Obamacare and the millions that have enrolled since the launch.  Obama did not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a broken website or the millions of Americans that lost their healthcare insurance due to Obamacare.  Millions of Americans found out the hard way last year that President Obama’s promise that “if you like your healthcare coverage, you can keep it,” was just a good talking point and not the truth.

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  • Governor O'Malley's Final Budget Increases Spending and Leaves Fiscal Mess to Successor

    Michi Iljazi on January 22, 2014

    o'malley
    Governor Martin O'Malley (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

    Taxpayers in Maryland have endured the tax and spend policies of Governor Martin O’Malley for seven years and as he prepares to leave office as leader of a state with, as a recent Tax Foundation study put it, one of the “least friendly business climates” in the nation, he has given Maryland residents his final annual budget and there’s really no surprise that it does exactly what a big spender like O’Malley would do: spend more taxpayer money. Last week, in the first major act of his final year in office, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley dropped his final annual budget (complete with a fancy power point presentation) and it was nothing less than more of the same from a chief executive who has presided over tax and fee increases, government spending increases, a disastrous state-based health care exchange, and increased deficits that show no sign of going anywhere soon. This is a blueprint that should concern taxpayers in Maryland who see the need for reforming the state so that small businesses want to invest for the future there and  an environment where private sector jobs are on the rise and government spending in on the decline. This budget does the opposite and doubles down on the failed policies of Governor O’Malley that have kept Maryland low on the economic totem pole throughout his tenure. Instead of finding ways to reduce the tax burden on businesses and individuals in the state that have come as a direct result of O’Malley’s actions, he does nothing to help small business and taxpayers while increasing government payrolls and government paychecks.

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  • BREAKING NEWS: Watchdog Group Uncovers $7 Billion in Earmarks in Defense Appropriations

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on January 16, 2014

    pentagon

    ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 186 earmarks worth $7 billion (click here to see the full list) in the Defense Appropriations Bill that was part of H.R. 3547, the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, aka the Omnibus appropriations bill. Among the 186 earmarks is $90 million for the Abrams tank, a classic case of Congress spending money the Pentagon doesn’t want or need. According to a Daily Tribune article, “The Pentagon had proposed halting tank production for five years in 2013 as a cost-saving measure.” This omnibus bill was set in motion when Congress passed the Ryan-Murray budget which increased spending and gutted the sequester. In 2010, Congress pledged to give up earmarks, but this latest spending bill shows that earmarks have come back with a vengeance The picture has become clearer with each ‘bipartisan’ agreement we get from Congress: the sequester is on its way out; increased spending and appropriations is on the way back in. What is even more disappointing is to hear the rationales from elected officials who try to make excuses as to why increased spending is either ‘not really an increase’ or why ‘we’re cutting future growth’ so as to mask the present day spending.Members of both parties and chambers are responsible for these earmarks and should be ashamed of themselves. TPA will keep looking through the whole Omnibus for more earmarks and continue to urge the Senate to vote against this pork-filled spending bill and return to regular order. » Read More
  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance Urges Rejection of $1 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill

    Michi Iljazi on January 15, 2014

    ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urged Congress to reject the $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill for fiscal year (2014). On Monday January 13 (unlucky for taxpayers),Congress released a 1,500-page spending bill crafted by House and Senate appropriators. There’s not much to praise when looking at both the substance of the bill and the manner in which it was delivered. In what has been a disappointing string of bipartisan agreement, taxpayers will once again be left on the hook for spending that likely includes programs that are neither needed nor wanted. Another problem with the appropriations bill is that the sequester was “altered” in way that reverses cuts on both domestic and Defense spending. The Omnibus also funds and increase for Head Start and Obamacare. Defense appropriations contains a $5 billion increase for the Overseas Contingent Operations (OCO) account, which is immunized from sequestration.  The Ryan-Murray budget deal was just the beginning of the end for the sequester.  We have now seen another “tweak” less than a month later that reverses automatic cuts agreed to by Congress and the White House just a few years ago.

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  • Failure to Launch! Mississippi Senators Force NASA to Waste Taxpayer Dollars on Rocket Engine Testing Facility

    Michi Iljazi on January 14, 2014

    nasa

    Congress is in the middle of budget debates including the release of a 1,500 page Omnibus spending bill and a debt limit that is set to be reached in February. But, it seems like some members of Congress are clueless to the dire financial straits of the country. For example, last week, Bloomberg News reported that NASA will forge ahead with plans to complete a project early this year that will build a structure to test rocket engines at Stennis Space Center in the state of Mississippi. However, there are two issues: first, the finished program will cost taxpayers $352 million; second, NASA doesn’t need it! There is no reason why $352 million should be used to fund the construction of a facility in Mississippi that the agency responsible for the project has said won’t even be able to be used. Unfortunately, in Washington, D.C. politics trumps common sense. Due to the efforts of both of the state’s Senators, Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), the testing facility was put on a continued track for completion despite the fact that there are no rocket engines that currently exist which warrant such a facility be built for testing purposes.

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  • GROUNDED: Funding for MEADS Denied in Defense Authorization Bill

    Michi Iljazi on January 6, 2014

    MEADS
    MEADS Battle Manager

    The final weeks of 2013 gave way to a flurry of activity from Congress as they threw together compromise legislation that found its way to the floor before many folks had time to look over the details of the bills.  This was done all for the sake of getting things done before the holidays. One such piece of compromise legislation was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is used to set the budget of the Department of Defense. Though the House had originally passed a comprehensive defense appropriations bill last summer, the Senate bill was delayed and eventually scrapped altogether in favor of a compromise bill with limited process for debate all in the hopes that it would pass before elected officials adjourned for the remainder of the year. Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been outspoken in advocating for a reduced budget at the Pentagon that would allow for responsible cuts that would eliminate waste while preserving the national security interests of the United States. A specific program that TPA has long-identified as outdated and wasteful is the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), otherwise known as the ‘Missile to Nowhere’. The program, which began in 2005, saw it’s funding prohibited in 2011, 2012, and in 2013 by way of the NDAA; and while President Obama kept the program out of the Pentagon’s budget, that didn’t stop Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from shelling out $380 million in continuing resolution (CR) funds in 2013 to continue funding design and development of MEADS. Now, just in time to start the new year, there looks to be a major victory for taxpayers as funding for the aptly named “Missile to Nowhere” was left out of the defense appropriations bill signed by President Obama just after Christmas.

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  • TPA's New Year's Resolutions for 2014

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on December 31, 2013

    nye

    Every New Year millions of Americans resolve to change their ways and improve their lives by making New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight or changing their behavior to live a healthier lifestyle.  In the spirit of those resolutions, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urges Congress and the whole federal government to resolve to go on a fiscal diet and change their wasteful spending and regulatory habits.  And, we will be following up on each and every one of these issues (and more) in 2014. The list TPA put together includes a wide range of issues that lawmakers have been involved with and the need for action on many of these is more than obivious. The issues include: Telecommunications/Technology, Defense, Taxes, Energy, and Wasteful Spending.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full list of TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014!

    » Read More
  • Senator Coburn's 'Wastebook 2013' Reminder of DC's Worst Spending Habits

    Michi Iljazi on December 30, 2013

    nato
    Residence of US Ambassador to NATO in Brussels (Courtesy 'Wastebook 2013')

    There has been a long tradition of wasteful spending in the nation’s capital for decades and the problem has only gotten worse as each year passes. A recent tradition has done wonders to expose just exactly how bad the spending habits out of Washington have become and how much taxpayers are shelling out for things that they clearly shouldn’t be paying for. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) left an early Christmas present for all the big spenders on Capitol Hill this week when he released his ‘Wastebook 2013’ report highlighting a plethora of examples of how taxpayer dollars have been wasted over the last year. The more than $30 billion dollars the report cites is just the first of many reasons taxpayers should be hoping that politicians get a handful of coal as they return home for the remainder of the year.  This report is even more troublesome considering that agencies spent money on these projects despite the fact that agencies instituted furloughs because of sequestration. The rushed worked of Congress over the last few weeks has given way to a slew of less than desirable pieces of legislation. First, the Murray/Ryan Budget Deal altered the sequester caps and set a dangerous precedent for spending cuts moving forward. Next, the compromise National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate last night after passing the House last week. Finally, an agreement to push final  Farm Bill passage to January 2014; with details scarce.  There is very little hope that  the Farm Bill will contain much real reform. The ‘Wastebook 2013,’ released by Sen. Coburn’s office this week, is nearly 200 pages of ridiculous and unnecessary spending that everyone should read.

    » Read More
  • TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on December 27, 2013

    new years

    Every New Year millions of Americans resolve to change their ways and improve their lives by making New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight or changing their behavior to live a healthier lifestyle.  In the spirit of those resolutions, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urges Congress and the whole federal government to resolve to go on a fiscal diet and change their wasteful spending and regulatory habits.  And, we will be following up on each and every one of these issues (and more) in 2014. The list TPA put together includes a wide range of issues that lawmakers have been involved with and the need for action on many of these is more than obivious. The issues include: Telecommunications/Technology, Defense, Taxes, Energy, and Wasteful Spending.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full list of TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014!

     

    » Read More
  • Senator Coburn's 'Wastebook 2013' Reminder of DC's Worst Spending Habits

    Michi Iljazi on December 26, 2013

    romance
    National Endowment for the Humanities' "Popular Romance" project (courtesy 'Wastebook 2013')

    There has been a long tradition of wasteful spending in the nation’s capital for decades and the problem has only gotten worse as each year passes. A recent tradition has done wonders to expose just exactly how bad the spending habits out of Washington have become and how much taxpayers are shelling out for things that they clearly shouldn’t be paying for. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) left an early Christmas present for all the big spenders on Capitol Hill this week when he released his ‘Wastebook 2013’ report highlighting a plethora of examples of how taxpayer dollars have been wasted over the last year. The more than $30 billion dollars the report cites is just the first of many reasons taxpayers should be hoping that politicians get a handful of coal as they return home for the remainder of the year. This report is even more troublesome considering that agencies spent money on these projects despite the fact that agencies instituted furloughs because of sequestration. The rushed worked of Congress over the last few weeks has given way to a slew of less than desirable pieces of legislation. First, the Murray/Ryan Budget Deal altered the sequester caps and set a dangerous precedent for spending cuts moving forward. Next, the compromise National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate last night after passing the House last week. Finally, an agreement to push final  Farm Bill passage to January 2014; with details scarce.  There is very little hope that  the Farm Bill will contain much real reform. The ‘Wastebook 2013,’ released by Sen. Coburn’s office this week, is nearly 200 pages of ridiculous and unnecessary spending that everyone should read. » Read More
  • National Defense Authorization Act: Bad Process Yields Bad Legislation

    Michi Iljazi on December 24, 2013

    dod

    Late on Thursday December 19, 2013 the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate and was sent to President Obama for his signature just moments before he left for Hawaii on his annual Christmas vacation. The bill made its way through the House of Representatives twice, once last summer and another time a few weeks ago, before getting stalled in the Senate due to the question of how exactly the Senate would go about moving the massive defense spending legislation through the chamber. The process was rushed and limited; and in turn produced a massive ill that left much to be desired in the way of meaningful reforms to some of our most costly defense programs.  Passing a Defense authorization bill is critical to defending the nation but also defending tax dollars. As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) pointed out in December of 2011, once appropriators get a hold of the bill there is no telling what will happen (read previous blog posting here).  In December 2012 Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) revealed just how much our defense department is doing that has absolutely nothing to do with protecting our country in his report titled, “Department of Everything.” Oh by the way, the total that Sen. Coburn tallied was $68 billion. During last summer, the National Defense Authorization Act moved through the House of Representatives, and TPA was quick to analyze every one of the amendments that was up for consideration to be added to the bill.  Even though TPA preferred many more amendments, the fact that the House of Representatives was able to allow a process that put 100 amendments on the table was reason to applaud and be optimistic of real reform at the Department of Defense. The amendment process is one of the few ways that real and meaningful reform can be achieved and when dealing with legislation the size and scale of the National Defense Authorization Act, it is extremely important that every opportunity be given to make improvements to the bill and allow for a process that gives lawmakers a full and free range of input on exactly what will (and will not) be a part of final language. There were many amendments that TPA had expressed opposition to and many we urged members to support, including an amendment sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Jared Polis (D-Col.), and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that “Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act” which received the most attention of any amendment. TPA was proud to be a part of numerous bi-partisan coalitions commenting on both the process and the content of the bill.

     

    » Read More
  • Senator Coburn's 'Wastebook 2013' Reminder of DC's Worst Spending Habits

    Michi Iljazi on December 20, 2013

    green ninja
    NASA's "Little Green Man" (courtesy 'Wastebook 2013')

    There has been a long tradition of wasteful spending in the nation’s capital for decades and the problem has only gotten worse as each year passes. A recent tradition has done wonders to expose just exactly how bad the spending habits out of Washington have become and how much taxpayers are shelling out for things that they clearly shouldn’t be paying for. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) left an early Christmas present for all the big spenders on Capitol Hill this week when he released his ‘Wastebook 2013’ report highlighting a plethora of examples of how taxpayer dollars have been wasted over the last year. The more than $30 billion dollars the report cites is just the first of many reasons taxpayers should be hoping that politicians get a handful of coal as they return home for the remainder of the year. This report is even more troublesome considering that agencies spent money on these projects despite the fact that agencies instituted furloughs because of sequestration. The rushed worked of Congress over the last few weeks has given way to a slew of less than desirable pieces of legislation. First, the Murray/Ryan Budget Deal altered the sequester caps and set a dangerous precedent for spending cuts moving forward. Next, the compromise National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate last night after passing the House last week. Finally, an agreement to push final  Farm Bill passage to January 2014; with details scarce.  There is very little hope that  the Farm Bill will contain much real reform. The ‘Wastebook 2013,’ released by Sen. Coburn’s office this week, is nearly 200 pages of ridiculous and unnecessary spending that everyone should read.

    » Read More
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