November 23, 2015
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This article appeared in Rare on November 16, 2015
After the previous three Republican presidential debates devolved into a series of spectacles marked by petty infighting and general disorder, the most recent one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was marketed as the first real opportunity for substantive discussion. One exchange, in particular, did highlight an incredibly important topic for conservatives: Congress’ addiction to blindly giving the Pentagon as much money as it wants. In an exchange with Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rand Paul asked whether Rubio, and by extension other Republicans, could be true conservatives promising “to make the country safe” while supporting unlimited military spending that contributes to the national debt. The short answer is no, they can’t.
November 18, 2015
The last few weeks in Washington have been centered on a flurry of major news stories and events. The election of new House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the continuing Presidential debates for the 2016 nomination, a major budget deal, and now the Paris attack that killed more than 100 people last Friday night. Lost in the constant cycle of continuing coverage of these other things is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was passed (again) by both the House and Senate that is now awaiting President Obama’s signature before becoming law. The very little attention that was paid to the NDAA’s journey through Congress was mainly focused on the first time it passed when President Obama promptly vetoed it. Year after year President Obama has made veto threats but this was the first time that he actually made good on the threat. The reasoning behind the rare White House veto was detailed through a statement from the administration at the time of the signing on October 22.
October 28, 2015
This article originally apeared in The Daily Caller on October 27, 2015» Read More
It was announced on Monday night that congressional leaders and the White House have agreed to a two-year budget deal that lifts the budget caps by $80 billion. In addition to lifting the budget caps, the debt ceiling will be suspended until 2017. That’s not a compromise, that’s capitulation. The budget caps were put in place in 2011 because the country was faced with a debt-ceiling crisis. Sound familiar? The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which set the caps and ultimately led to sequestration, was Congress and the president admitting they couldn’t be trusted to be fiscally responsible. The spending caps set forth by the BCA and implemented through sequestration are the first nominal (real) cuts in spending that the federal government has seen in decades. The latest budget deal busts the caps by $80 billion; $50 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017. The increase would be equally divided between defense and non-defense discretionary spending, neither of which need more money.
October 19, 2015
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The GOP Presidential candidates have debated twice, but finally taxpayers were able to hear from the Democrat field of contenders running to replace President Obama. In their first nationwide debate, five candidates gathered on stage in Las Vegas to field questions about a wide range of issues the country is faced with today. Unfortunately, much of the discussion and the answers left much to be desired. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will not be endorsing a candidate for either party’s nomination, our goal is to analyze what all of the candidates are saying on the issues that matter most to taxpayers. In the first debate amongst the field of Democrats, those issues were largely ignored. Comprehensive tax reform is an issue that TPA has been working on for years, and each year the urgency has grown to get something done in Washington. Our tax code with regulations now totals more than ten million words, and there’s a good chance that number will continue to increase if Congress continues to do nothing. The five Democratic candidates only mentioned taxes in passing. No candidate delved into any specific plan for overhauling the tax code and the usual left-leaning mantra of “tax the rich” could be heard a time or two.
TPA Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging 'NO' Vote on NDAA, Citing Bad Process and Continued Taxpayer WasteMichi Iljazi on
October 5, 2015
Last week, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2016 passed the House of Representatives in a 270-156 vote. The future of the bill is still in doubt for a couple of reasons. First, the Senate must still pass the legislation. The vote could come as early as Tuesday but even if the bill passes there is still another hurdle to getting the NDAA (as reported out of conference) through, the White House. Last week the President issued a veto threat in response to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account to bypass the spending caps put in place through the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and sequestration. TPA has always said the OCO is a slush fund used to bypass the base budget and avoid the spending caps but the solution is not to break the caps (as the President wants), the best way forward on Pentagon spending is to slash the waste, develop an overall national security strategy, and then fund based on that strategy and the priorities that come with it. Keeping that in mind, TPA signed this coalition letter, along with twenty other groups, urging Congress to reject the bloated NDAA and the process that brought it this far.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter» Read More
September 22, 2015
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This article appeared in Rare on September 17, 2015
As the dust settles from last night’s Republican presidential debate, much of the media attention is still focused on winners, losers, and who offered the best zingers. But it’s important to point out that while many candidates talked about foreign policy and which countries they wanted to bomb, one important issue received scant attention: our bloated Pentagon budget. For years now, efforts to rein in out-of-control federal government spending have brought conservatives of all stripes together. The rise of the tea party and the ever-increasing influence of the libertarian strain of the GOP is evidence of that. But for some reason, the Pentagon’s seemingly limitless credit card has been barely mentioned by the Republican presidential hopefuls. What’s even more worrying is that some of the candidates think the Pentagon should have more money, despite the fact that we currently have no idea how effectively it spends what it is allotted now, and amid ample evidence of rampant waste, fraud, and abuse.
September 4, 2015
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It was a productive August for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), providing Congress with reading material during their August vacation with the 2015 Summer Reading series (click here for more). The final installment for this summer focuses on what’s ahead for lawmakers in September with the looming budget deadline of September 30. The House and Senate have major work to do in order to pass a spending bill that will keep the government funded to avoid a shutdown. And, as usual, there won’t be much time for them to get it done. In fact, Congress will only be in session for 12 days in September, making the budget deadline more ominous. Let’s start with how Congress ended up in this familiar situation. The last several years have been marked by multiple stop-gap spending measures that seem to get passed at the last minute. This has been a trend because the annual appropriations bills never made it out of both chambers. Though the House has been working to pass all the needed appropriations bills, the Senate has failed to pass spending bills. The government will run out of money at the end of September, so there will have to be some kind of funding bill passed in order to avoid a shut down. There are some key issues driving the debate over what any short-term funding package will look like, but TPA is calling on Congress to avoid using this must-pass legislation as a vehicle for irresponsible spending. The most preferred way to resolving the budget impasse is for both chambers to pass appropriations bills; but that option is no longer on the table. Another option would be a major budget deal; that is also off the table due to the lack of time before government funding expires. In lieu of those two preferred pathways, House and Senate leaders will likely move another short-term spending measure that will fund the government from anywhere from one day to a year.
August 18, 2015
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This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on August 12, 2015
The future of the Republican approach to foreign policy and national security was on full display during the first presidential debates. The candidates made pledges to take on the Islamic State and to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, but unfortunately, they failed to offer a grand vision or strategy on how to deal with the security challenges of today and the years to come. They also failed to address Pentagon spending and how to reform the Pentagon to be more equipped fiscally and physically to fight the next war. Instead, many simply reiterated false narratives and stale talking points to justify throwing more money at the military.
May 29, 2015
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Earlier this week TPA discussed the House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2016, and how the Senate should now approach the legislation. Citing concerns on spending and process transparency, the post (which you can read here) included a coalition letter from a wide array of groups urging Congress to use the NDAA to bring down wasteful spending in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, along with some specific amendment requests. This week Taxpayers Protection Alliance signed a coalition letter on NDAA urging the Senate not to adopt language that would harm the process for obtaining Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the Department of Defense (DOD). FOIA’s are critical to keeping an eye on what government is doing, and TPA was pleased to sign the letter. Next week the House will hold a hearing on the FOIA process, and TPA has submitted information to staff on the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on the matter.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter
May 26, 2015
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2016 by a vote of 269-151. TPA continues to be encouraged by the open process the House uses in markup and on amendments because it is important for taxpayers to see what Congress is doing when it comes to spending their hard earned money, while preserving the importance of national security concerns that come with the NDAA. While TPA has continued to praise the open process, there are still issues with spending, which were addressed in a recent coalition letter (below) from groups across the ideological spectrum. As the NDAA moves to the Senate, TPA is hopeful that concerns on spending can be addressed. Unfortunately, the concerns that groups have on transparency will not be satisfied, as Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has made clear that the committee will continue the long-standing tradition of keeping the process closed. As we start a new week just after the Memorial Day holiday, it is imortant to keep in mind the sacrifices made by those who have fought to defend our freedoms. TPA will continue to press for action on greater transparency and more responsible spending when it comes to defense, because spending taxpayer money wisely can be one of the most effective tools utilized not just by the Pentagon, but all federal agencies.
Click 'read more' below to see the coalition letter» Read More
April 29, 2015
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Budget Conferees are nearing a deal for a budget resolution that will be voted on by the full House and Senate. The House and Senate each passed versions of their budgets and over the last few weeks members of Congress have been working to meld the two together into one overall budget proposal. The good news is that (if passed) this would be the first time in six years that a budget resolution was approved by Congress. Unfortunately, it isn’t all good news as there are serious problems with the budget including the plan to increase Defense spending. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been critical of House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) over past remarks intimating that spending caps need to be lifted due to national security concerns, And, both chambers still seem to be addicted to using the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account as a way of getting around spending levels set forth by law.
April 28, 2015
This week the U.S. House of Representatives will markup the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. While TPA has continued to praise the House of Representatives for their strides on transparency with an open process that allows for amendments and debate to be shown to the public, the Senate has yet to embrace the notion of that same open process. In the Senate, the biggest change may come with long-needed transparency that matches the House process by having an “Open-NDAA,” a process by which the public can see what actually happens. TPA has been a vocal voice advocating for an open-process for the NDAA in the Senate and once again TPA joined a transpartisan coalition letter (below) urging new Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to adopt an open and more transparent process for the Senate’s procedures on this year’s NDAA markup. Sen. McCain is a supporter of having an open-process for NDAA, but it remains to be seen if that position will win once the markup occurs in a few weeks.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter» Read More
April 17, 2015
It’s been just a few weeks since Congress passed a budget, and in that time TPA has been watching to see what will happen next. Just this week, both the House and Senate voted to set up a conference on the budget so that each Chamber’s version can be formed into one that can be voted on for final passage. Although Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recognized some positive reforms sought after in the budget resolution, there continue to be problems for taxpayers. Right now the key issue is in the Pentagon spending portion and specifically the money in the House version allocated for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account. Last week, TPA joined a coalition effort led by Taxpayers for Common Sense urging the conferees to adhere to a Senate point of order “against Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending that exceeds the generous level included in the budget request, roughly $58 billion.” The letter was also signed by Campaign for Liberty, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, Niskanen Center, and R Street Institute. TPA will be watching the conference closely and will keep you updated as more develops.
Click read more below to see the full letter» Read More
April 10, 2015
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Even though Congress passed a budget before their Spring Break, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) expressed concerns with Defense spending. The problem is that that the budget includes a spending request higher than what the President wanted. One particular problem is that the Overseas Contingency Operations Account (OCO) is still being used by Washington as a slush fund to get around spending caps is still a problem. In addition to OCO, there are plenty of opportunities for cutting waste and TPA was part of coalition urging specific ways to save money on Pentagon spending, without jeopardizing national security. Now, there is more news of money being wasted overseas funded through the OCO. Nobody’s interests are being served when men and women risk their lives overseas while billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted.
March 24, 2015
Last week House Budget Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) released a $1.017 Trillion Budget. Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recognized some positive reforms sought after in the budget resolution, but there are some key problems that should worry taxpayers. While the plan utilizes spending caps as an important way to rein in spending, there still needs improvement in the Pentagon spending portion. Last week, TPA joined in a transpartisan coalition letter urging responsible cuts to certain programs contained in the Pentagon spending piece of the budget. These cuts would help to rein in spending, make the agency more efficient, and ensure taxpayers are getting the greatest return on investment while preserving the national security concerns shared by everyone during these challenging times for the country.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter» Read More
March 20, 2015
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House GOP FY 2016 Budget Resolution
The $1.017 Trillion Budget released this week by House Budget Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is a major step forward in fiscal responsibility. The most important takeaway from this budget is that the House GOP does see that spending caps are an important way to rein in spending and having a responsible blueprint in order put the country on a path to major deficit reduction. The one area that still needs improvement in the budget is Defense spending. While the Chairman has kept Pentagon spending at its $523 billion cap, there is a $90 billion request for the Overseas Contingency Operations Account (OCO), which is essentially a slush fund that is used year after year to fund pet programs and other various projects that really have no value to taxpayers or the Defense of the country. The legislation struggled to get out of the Budget Committee on Thursday, but a promise from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that an additional $20 billion that was balked at by some Republicans was promised to be put back in during the Rules Committee mark up. That $20 billion was supposed to be offset with spending cuts, but a handful of Republicans refused to vote for a bill that didn’t include the additional $20 billion. At least one Republican saw through the charade. According to The Hill, “’Finding an additional $20 billion of waste should not be a serious problem,’ said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), a Budget member who opposed getting rid of offsets.”
March 9, 2015
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It’s budget season in Washington D.C. and that means elected officials will be looking at another attempt to break the spending levels that have been set into law by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which ultimately led to sequestration. One of the biggest challenges seems to be Pentagon spending due to the continued calls for increased spending and ending of sequestration by some of the most influential members in Congress. Recently, the Chairman of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) called for defense spending levels over that which President Obama requested. Keeping that in mind, TPA singed onto a letter sent by Taxpayers for Common Sense, cosigned by Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, Niskanen Center, and the R Street Institute to House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) calling on Congress to ensure that any budget/spending legislation maintain the spending levels set forth by law.
Click 'read more' below to see the letter
March 6, 2015
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Environmental Protection Agency HQ (Washington, D.C.)
States are often burdened by the federal government with crippling regulations that usually come in any number of disguises, including public health and safety. Newly-proposed 111(d) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding greenhouse gases from existing power plants are the new battleground for states’ rights. The regulation would use the outdated Clean Air Act in order to force states into compliance with the new rules, in turn harming local economies through potential tax increases. This has spurred action by state legislatures and governors who knew that if they didn’t act, these regulations could be damaging to taxpayers statewide. Last week, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) showed his leadership by signing HB 2004, which would shift authority over submission of compliance plans with EPA regulations. The legislation stated that, “The new bill, HB 2004, amends the existing law to make the DEP [Department of Environmental Protection], as a state agency, unable to submit the state's compliance plan to the EPA. Instead, the plan would first have to be submitted to the Legislature for approval.” Following in the footsteps of West Virginia, legislation introduced by Tennessee State Rep. Kelly Keisling (R), TN HB 0868, would ensure that any plans for compliance with the new EPA rules would be subject to approval of the state legislature. In short, Tennessee would have more authority on how they implement energy policy, not the EPA.
February 2, 2015
Today, President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget. Unfortunately, this budget will harm taxpayers and do more damage to the country’s national debt. Just like Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted 6 more weeks of winter, taxpayers will see many more years of deficit spending with the President’s budget. The bad news is that there are projected spending increases in both discretionary and mandatory accounts. “The FY 2016 budget request from President Obama offers nothing in the way of spending restraint at a time when our debt is $18 trillion and climbing. In fact it does the opposite by adding $3 trillion to the national debt between 2016 and 2020. As working families continue to make hard financial choices that are necessary to everyday Americans, the President is looking to ask those same working families to send more money to Washington and undo the spending limits he and Congress put in place only a few years ago,” said David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full response from TPA
February 2, 2015
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In Washington, there are rare occasions when competing political parties and opposite branches of the federal government share a similar goal and work together to achieve it. Unfortunately, the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Pentagon budget, which breaks the spending caps set by sequestration, might be a time for bi-partisan agreement. The Defense spending caps is set at $499 billion; but President Obama appears to be preparing to send to Congress a Pentagon budget request of $534 billion, which will be coupled with a request of $51 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to fund conflicts in the Middle East. That additional $35 billion could present a problem because that increase could mean an automatic trigger in mandatory cuts. The $534 billion request for Pentagon spending is the highest base budget ever submitted. The $534 billion is a 7.9 percent increase over the $495 billion FY15 base budget. When adding in OCO funds, this budget is the largest since 2012.