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  • Healthcare pricing mandates are no substitute for shopping around

    Ross Marchand on January 10, 2019

    Image result for money pharmacy
    This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on January 7, 2019. 

    It's easy to pay without thinking twice. On trips to the supermarket, consumers can see the price of any product and decide whether or not to buy accordingly, forcing sellers to keep costs as low as possible. A consumer who wouldn’t think much of a $2 price tag for a dozen eggs wouldn’t buy the same product for $20.  But if that same customer had someone else’s credit card, and no credit limit, then what does it matter if eggs are $2 or $20 a dozen? Sadly, that’s how markets work right now in the medical sector, where the government and third-party insurers are the primary payers and individuals have no incentive to shop around. » Read More
  • Top Twelve Things You Should Know About the USPS

    Ross Marchand on January 8, 2019

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    Across the federal government, dysfunctional agencies are a dime-a-dozen. Yet few agencies are as braggadocios or thin-skinned as the United States Postal Service (USPS). In a January 7 tweet, the USPS asked its followers “How well do you know our organization? Here are the top 12 things you should know about the U.S. Postal Service!” The accompanying article(which may be trying to imitate a BuzzFeed list) waxes on platitudes such as “social responsibility,” “all hearts,” “heroes,” and “zero tax dollars used,” despite the agency’s sorry state of affairs and, yes, reliance on taxpayer dollars. To make sure that mail consumers actually get to know their friendly neighborhood Postal Service, here’s a rebuttal and further explanation for each item on USPS’s list:  » Read More
  • Minnesota county sells its government broadband network for pennies on the dollar

    Johnny Kampis on January 8, 2019

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    This article originally appeared on Watchdog.org on January 7, 2018.

    The long, sordid tale of the taxpayer sinkhole (aka Lake Connections) ended recently when the Lake County Board of Commissioners in Minnesota agreed to sell the municipal broadband network to a private provider. The commission accepted the bid of $8.4 million, the highest submission for the network, from Pinpoint Holdings Inc. of Cambridge, Nebraska. Lake Connections is one of the biggest taxpayer-supported, government-owned broadband boondoggles, with taxpayers left holding the note on tens of millions of dollars in debts.

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  • Why I Care About Harm Reduction

    David Williams on January 7, 2019

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    This article originally appeared on Inside Sources on January 6, 2019.

    As president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, I don’t usually write about policy from a personal perspective (even though I am a taxpayer). Over the past two years, TPA has written extensively about the Food and Drug Administration and its unique position to approve harm reduction products that help people switch from traditional cigarettes to reduced-risk products, such as vaping and heat-not-burn products like IQOS. » Read More
  • FCC combats fraud as inspector general finds more than $300 million in improper payments in Lifeline program

    Johnny Kampis on January 3, 2019

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    This article originally appeared on Watchdog.org on December 21, 2018.

    A recent audit found that waste, fraud and abuse in the Lifeline subsidy program has increased exponentially as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) transitions the program from focusing primarily on landline telephones to wireless and broadband internet. The examination from the FCC’s Inspector General (IG) discovered that improper payments in the Lifeline program rose from $40.65 million in Fiscal 2016 to $336.39 million in 2017, a more than eight-fold increase. Auditors also found the improper payment percentage in the program was nearly 22 percent, more than double the statutory limit established by the Office of Management and Budget. The IG examined all four programs under the umbrella of the Universal Service Fund and none of them saw close to the amount of waste as Lifeline, with the Schools & Libraries program (also commonly known as eRate) the next highest with an improper payment percentage of 4.34 percent.

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  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance Welcomes Chip Baltimore to TPA Watchdog Team

    Chip Baltimore on January 2, 2019

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    Des Moines, Iowa and Washington, D.C.
    – The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) announced the addition of Chip Baltimore as a Senior Fellow effective January 1, 2019. TPA is a rapid response non-profit, non-partisan taxpayer group dedicated to educating the public through the research, analysis and dissemination of information on the government’s effects on the economy. TPA will hold government officials accountable at all levels of government. 

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  • Section 230, Not Social Media Regulation, Key to Free Speech

    Ross Marchand on December 28, 2018


    This article appeared in Inside Sources on December 26, 2018. 


    If 2018 had an adage, it would go something like: one man’s cute cat video is another man’s Nazi propaganda video (minus the gender references, of course). Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been proactive in creating guidelines  that try to ensure  “over the top” content is banished from their sites, and unruly users expelled. But surprise — “over the top” is a hard concept to define, and overly broad content restrictions tend to hurt conservatives more than liberals. While it’s tempting to take route of social media bashing and call for more government “oversight,” fealty to a free society means allowing the Twitters and Facebooks of the world to moderate at their own promise or peril.

     
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  • How to Save the Postal Service Without Hiking Mail Rates

    Ross Marchand on December 27, 2018


    This article appeared in The American Conservative on December 19, 2018. 

    All is not well at the United States Postal Service (USPS). After an astounding net loss of $3.9 billion over the past fiscal year (its twelfth consecutive annual loss), nearly everyone admits that something needs to be done. One favorite solution of agency leaders is to hike prices, and proposed rate increases that take effect on January 27 would amount to the largest price hikes since 1991. Instead the USPS should pursue deeper structural reforms that put the agency on a path to solvency.

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  • Section 230, Not Social Media Regulation, Key to Free Speech

    Ross Marchand on December 27, 2018

    iPhone X beside MacBook
    This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on December 26, 2018.


    If 2018 had an adage, it would go something like: one man’s cute cat video is another man’s Nazi propaganda video (minus the gender references, of course). Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been proactive in creating guidelines  that try to ensure  “over the top” content is banished from their sites, and unruly users expelled. But surprise — “over the top” is a hard concept to define, and overly broad content restrictions tend to hurt conservatives more than liberals. While it’s tempting to take route of social media bashing and call for more government “oversight,” fealty to a free society means allowing the Twitters and Facebooks of the world to moderate at their own promise or peril.

    » Read More
  • Pentagon Needs Better System to Track Fraudulent Spending

    Ross Marchand and Mandy Smithberger on December 21, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in DefenseOne on December 17, 2018 and was co-authored with Mandy Smithberger, Director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). 


    The incoming Congress should tie defense budgets to accounting improvements. While the public is generally familiar with weapons manufacturers delivering fighter jets and other costly products behind schedule and over budget, similar overruns have now crept into service contracting as well. Fortunately, the Justice Department is starting to strike back against rampant misuse of taxpayer funds, seeking criminal indictments and civil penalties against some of the worst abusers of the system. Now Congress must do its part.

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  • TPA submits public comments on utilizing international price controls in Medicare Part B

    David Williams on December 19, 2018

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    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), representing millions of consumers and taxpayers across the country, urges the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to rescind its proposed rule to subject drugs administered under Medicare Part B to a new “International Pricing Model” (IPI). Such a change would drastically decrease the availability of current, life-saving drugs, as well as the research and development (R&D) necessary to create future therapies for a variety of ailments. » Read More
  • Watchdog Group Condemns Surgeon General’s Call for More Vaping Rules and Taxes

    Ross Marchand on December 18, 2018

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    Washington, D.C. -Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) reacted to a rare advisory from Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who called for more government restrictions on vaping products.  In the advisory, issued Tuesday morning, Dr. Adams called for additional taxes to deter use, in addition to indoor vaping bans by municipalities. The call comes amidst misguided efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use scarce taxpayer dollars to enforce wide-ranging restrictions on the sale of healthier, safer alternatives to regular tobacco products. 

    » Read More
  • NASA’s new missions: Short on insights, high on costs

    Ross Marchand on December 17, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on December 10, 2018. 

    Taxpayers justifiably balk at giving money to Uncle Sam without a clear purpose in mind. When free-market groups and lawmakers publish long compendia of wasteful government spending, the line-items are typically over-the-top and bereft of purpose. Case in point: the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which spends more than $1 billioneach year to seek “technical assistance, research, and education” for soil quality, grassland, rangeland, etc. But at least this service, which was featured in Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” waste report, and which came under criticism from congressional Republicans, still provides some small benefit to taxpayers. It studies ground and dirt that could be useful to farmers and ranchers. 

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  • To Fix Cyber Mess, The U.S. Postal Service Must Get Its Priorities Straight

    Ross Marchand on December 13, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in the Daily Caller on November 28, 2018.

    When mailing letters and packages to loved ones this holiday season, consumers have to place an awful lot of trust in their mailers. This trust isn’t just about the safety of the paper-clipped check or expensive new gadget that passes through the hands of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees. Often, consumers give phone-numbers, e-mail addresses, and multiple addresses to the Postal Service with the understanding that their information will be protected.

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  • Green Groups Continue to Push for Costly, Unfair Net Metering Schemes

    Ross Marchand on December 11, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on November 26, 2018. 

    Over the last few months, lawmakers, regulators and consumer advocates have been fighting the good fight against forced, expensive solar energy. Advocates of “net metering,” or the cross-subsidization of residential solar power at the expense of the poor, have had a tough time persuading lawmakers to back their flawed policies. In New Hampshire, a bill expanding net metering was vetoed by Governor Chris Sununu, who called the policy a “handout” to developers. Meanwhile, Arizona’s Arizona Corporation Commission nixed net metering all together in September as the state implements its “Value of Solar” decision issued two years ago.
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  • TPA Urges Members of Congress to Push Back Against Redskins Subsidies

    David Williams on December 10, 2018

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    This morning, TPA sent a letter to Members of Congress regarding an issue with the upcoming spending bill. According to an article in The Washington Post on December 7, 2018, “Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is getting help from District officials, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration as he tries to clear a major roadblock to building a new, 60,000-seat stadium on the site of RFK Stadium.” TPA urges every Member to vote against a spending bill that contains this provision. » Read More
  • FDA Delay Costs the Lives of Smokers

    Ross Marchand on December 6, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in the American Spectator on December 4, 2018. 

    For companies trying to bring potential life-saving products to the market, the least they can ask for is a responsive, timely bureaucracy.  Unfortunately, approving reduced harm technologies in a prompt manner seems to be beyond the ability of American regulatory agencies, with product evaluations often blowing past statutory deadlines and reasonable expectations of timeliness. Case in point: the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) tedious review of the pre-market tobacco product (PMTA) and modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) authorizations for IQOS, a heat-not-burn product that provides the sensation of smoking without many of the health pitfalls. » Read More
  • Watchdog Group Praises Much-Needed Postal Task Force Recommendations

    David Williams on December 5, 2018

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    WASHINGTON, D.C
    . – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) praised the recommendations of the Task Force on the United States Postal System (USPS). The report, which was released yesterday afternoon, covered an array of topics ranging from postal pricing models to retiree benefits. The findings come shortly after an abysmal fiscal year 2018 financial statement in which the USPS reported a net loss of $3.9 billion. » Read More
  • TPA Leads Coalition Advocating for Television White Space Technology

    Grace Morgan on December 4, 2018

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    TPA spearheaded a coalition of twelve free-market groups, sending a letter to Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advocating for the availability of adequate spectrum as soon as possible for white space broadband use. Television White Space (TVWS) technology can help bring broadband access to underserved rural areas, helping to give substantially more Americans access to the internet. » Read More
  • WHO’s Misguided Anti-Alcohol Crusade Would Create More Capones

    Ross Marchand on December 3, 2018

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    This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on November 15, 2018. 


    When asked to fund “global health” efforts, money should gravitate toward disease eradication, water provision/purification, and pollution abatement. But when donors (read: taxpayers) don’t get the choice on where their money is spent, bureaucrats at the helm of international organizations lose all sense of priority. Case in point: the World Health Organization’s effort against conditions not caused by infectious agents, i.e. non-communicable diseases. On its website, the WHO lists “tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets,” brought on “rapid unplanned urbanization, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles and population aging.”

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