March 25, 2016
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This article appeared in Independent Journal Review on March 13, 2016
When you’re on a mission to secure government favors needed to prop up costly, inefficient, taxpayer-funded boondoggles, you may be inclined to manipulate economic figures. You also might be inclined to convince the public and the news media that these figures flow from a detached, objective analysis when in fact they are produced by advocates with a vested interest in public policy choices. This is clearly what happened in the latest annual Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation, which concluded that the solar industry is contributing to “robust” U.S. job growth, and left-leaning outlets are already starting to champion the report as evidence that we the solar industry is booming and merits further investment. Don’t buy it. The Solar Energy Industries Association is the trade association tasked with promoting the development and expansion of solar power, predominately staffed by former solar company and trade association lobbyists with ties to government solar advocacy programs. So let’s all agree here that they are not exactly objective.
March 18, 2016
This article originally appeared on MinuteManNewsCenter.com on March 15, 2016
Americans today are relieved to be paying less than $2 for a gallon of gas. President Obama, though, thinks that’s just not enough. In his recent budget request to Congress, the president proposed a $10.25-per-barrel fee on crude oil to fund transportation projects. If implemented, this new tax would paralyze the economy, undermine our competitiveness in the global energy market, and raise prices at the pump by more than 10 percent. The timing of the president’s proposal couldn’t be worse. The oil industry supports 9.8 million jobs in the United States and accounts for 8 percent of the economy. It’s suffering from its worst financial crisis in 25 years thanks to a 70 percent drop in the price of crude oil over the past year and a half. Consequently, energy companies have had no choice but to let people go. Shell has cut its workforce by 10,000. BP recently announced it will eliminate 3,000 jobs. Haliburton has laid off 22,000 workers since the beginning of 2015.
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February 22, 2016
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This article appeared in Morning Consult on Feburary 16, 2016
Two significant documents were delivered to Congress last week: President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report. The President’s budget is a $4.1 trillion plan containing $2.6 trillion in tax hikes. And it’s not surprising that it’s a repeat of his previous plans – more spending and tax increases. When it comes to the latter, one proposal in particular has garnered the most ink and discussion: a $10 per barrel tax on oil produced in the United States. As always, it will be consumers on the losing end of this deal, which many on Capitol Hill have called “dead-on-arrival.” And for good reason. It’s estimated that President Obama’s $10 per barrel tax on oil would add almost 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, hitting middle class and low-income families particularly hard. But it’s not just the pump where Americans will feel the pinch.
February 9, 2016
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Washington, D.C.- Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) reacted to the final budget proposal from President Barack Obama. The budget, released on Tuesday calls for $4.1 trillion in spending for Fiscal Year 2017, an increase over the previous proposal from the White House which sought $3.99 trillion for FY 2016. With calls for new taxes and no meaningful reform on spending, it is hardly a proposal that moves the needle in the right direction.
February 3, 2016
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As the march towards Election Day 2016 continues, the current crop of presidential candidates are getting more specific with their tax policy proposals. And, in the process, they are trotting out their favorite campaign trail sound bites that may sound attractive in theory, but in reality would be a disaster for the nation’s economy. A perfect example of this is presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). On Friday, his campaign released five steps he would take in reforming the corporate tax code, and unsurprisingly, targeting the energy industry was near the top of his list. According to the plan, “Sen. Sanders would repeal dozens of loopholes and tax subsidies throughout the federal tax code that benefit oil, natural gas, and coal special interests, saving more than $135 billion over the next decade.” Sen. Sanders is simply wrong on the facts. The traditional energy industry doesn’t receive subsidies; however, they do take deductions. A subsidy is a direct payment from the government, typically to help prop up an industry. A deduction is taken to write off legitimate business expenses which the energy industry takes along with practically every company listed in the S&P 500. Interestingly, the Sanders plan makes no mention of repealing subsidies for the renewable energy sector which have increased to record levels under President Obama’s watch. The Obama administration’s record of renewables subsidies took place despite the fact that renewables accounted for only 11.4 percent of America’s primary energy production while fossil fuels accounted for 78.5 percent in 2013, according to the Congressional Research Service.
January 29, 2016
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy
Entering the final year of the Obama Administration, there are many priorities the President has and one of the biggest is a lasting legacy when it comes to environmental policy. The biggest component of that legacy domestically is the ill-conceived Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is not only an attack on traditional fossil fuels; it’s a de facto giveaway (or redistribution) to the renewable energy industry. Setting massive targets for carbon reduction and forcing states to comply with the new rule will only ensure that green energy schemes like solar and wind will reap the benefits of new and existing incentives designed to artificially prop-up those failed technologies. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been sounding the alarm on the plan for nearly two years now, as have many others. Just last week, TPA joined a coalition led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) submitting comments (click here for the PDF version) to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the dangers of the CPP.
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December 22, 2015
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Last week, the 114th Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that has now been signed into law by President Obama. As is the case with any government package this size, Congress’ omnibus bill contains its fair share of lumps of coal for taxpayers including 365 Defense earmarks worth $14.8 billion, solar and wind subsidies, and a wasted $175 million in taxpayer dollars for the Essential Air Services program. However, with that being said, the package also includes language lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Put simply, this provision—strongly supported by Democrats and Republicans—is being chalked up as a major win for America consumers. And for good reason. Maintaining the nearly 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports no longer makes sense. The U.S. is the leading producer of oil and natural gas globally, and has within reach the opportunity to become the world’s leader in energy resources. The benefits of allowing U.S. crude oil exports covers everything from increased economic benefits here at home, to downward pressure on gasoline prices,, to significantly increased diplomatic and security relations with our nation’s key allies.
December 16, 2015
Taxpayers Protection Alliance Notes Good, Bad, and Ugly on Omnibus
Watchdog Group slams process while noting wins and losses for taxpayers
(Washington) – The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), representing millions of taxpayers across the country, reacted to the agreement reached by lawmakers to fund the government over the next fiscal year with the release of an Omnibus spending package worth more than $1 trillion. TPA President David Williams made the following comment after the 2,000-page bill was released to the public: “The good, the bad, and the ugly is the best way to classify this bill. Despite recent changes in House leadership, there’s been no change to a process that has continued to let down taxpayers. A massive spending bill filed as deadlines to fund the government are running out has become an all too familiar way to pass major legislation. Congress is throwing a bunch of presents under the tree for taxpayers the night before Christmas and there’s more than a few lumps of coal in taxpayers’ stockings.” The 2,009-page Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (full text here) was a mix of both good and bad news for Americans.» Read More
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December 15, 2015
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Late last week, leaders from around the world concluded a major gathering in Paris where they discussed, negotiated, and ultimately reached a global agreement on how to deal with climate change. The meeting, the Conference of Parties (COP) 21, was organized by the taxpayer-funded United Nations (UN). With the UN as the center of the meeting, there was even more skepticism about any good outcomes. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been highly critical of the UN with its lack of transparency and previous attempts to impose international taxes (click here for TPA’s previous work on the United Nations). After all the hoopla was done, this was yet another conference with the usual solution, more government intervention. This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen increased bureaucracy as the “silver bullet” to stop something terrible. Specifically focusing on the environment, the Paris agreement just turned out to be another round of proposals calling for new regulations on countries and businesses that will likely do little to improve the environment and do a great deal to damage the economic output of partner nations, including the United States. And, with more than 50,000 attendees, the irony of the carbon footprint made by those traveling to Paris should not be lost.
December 4, 2015
Energy policy is one of the most important components to the United States economy, impacting taxpayers and businesses everyday. Congress has been working to pass a comprehensive energy bill that makes critical reforms to the system and this week lawmakers finally moved forward with legislation. Yesterday, by a vote of 249-174, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R. 8) was approved by the House and will soon move over the Senate. While President Obama has already issued a veto threat of Rep. Fred Upton's (R-Mich.) bill that lifts the decades-old ban on crude oil exports, TPA sent a letter this week urging Congress to pass the legislation.
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November 16, 2015
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This article orginally appeared in The Washington Examiner on November 5, 2015
Late last month, a group of leading Senate Democrats launched a new initiative that would overhaul the nation's energy policies through a package of tax measures and, of course, a vast new program of government subsidies for pet clean energy technologies. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., described this legislative push as a "a technology-driven pathway to a clean energy future." This so-called pathway is, not by accident, aimed at derailing efforts from Republicans and oil patch Democrats who have sensibly pushed for policies that would increase the availability and affordability of the energy the economy actually needs. This plan is not tax reform and will not help the country be more competitive. A key element of the Democrats' plan is to use the tax code to further disadvantage domestic energy producers and funnel taxpayer funding to pet green energy companies. But to make these crony capitalist schemes more palatable to the public, they trot out the canard about oil and gas firms receiving subsidies and corporate welfare.
November 9, 2015
Last week’s announcement by President Obama that he would reject the Keystone XL Pipeline was not surprising, but nonetheless, it was a disappointing decision because of the economic and energy security benefits that will be lost. The most troubling aspect of the decision is the reasoning behind the rejection. At a press conference, President Obama cited environmental concerns and an upcoming climate conference in Paris as major factors in his reasoning, despite findings that the pipeline would not significantly harm the environment. Lost jobs and the economic growth that Keystone could have brought to the U.S. will be the most significant repercussions of the decision. It’s estimated that more than 42,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs would have been created through Keystone. With an economy still reeling from the recession, those jobs are much needed by Americans who continue to struggle to find work. It is also worth noting that $2.2 billion that would have been put into the pockets of those workers will be lost. In addition to bringing jobs and wages, the project would have also contributed $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).» Read More
October 29, 2015
Halloween this weekend so that means families all over the country are getting ready to celebrate with candy and costumes. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) however, is getting ready for the scary season by keeping our eye on what government has been doing to taxpayers over the past year. That’s right, it’s time for TPA’s annual Taxpayer Tricks and Treats! This year, there’s plenty for taxpayers to be frightened of with threats of government shutdowns, uncertainty with spending bills, and a host of other ghoulish scares that Washington is bringing to working families this year.» Read More
October 26, 2015
Halloween is just around the corner so that means families all over the country are getting ready to celebrate with candy and costumes. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) however, is getting ready for the scary season by keeping our eye on what government has been doing to taxpayers over the past year. That’s right, it’s time for TPA’s annual Taxpayer Tricks and Treats! This year, there’s plenty for taxpayers to be frightened of with threats of government shutdowns, uncertainty with spending bills, and a host of other ghoulish scares that Washington is bringing to working families this year.» Read More
October 23, 2015
This article originally appeared in the Morning Consult on September 30, 2015» Read More
There are political charades by hired guns, billions of dollars in loan guarantees and taxpayer subsidies, and advocacy groups funded by Silicon Valley’s mega rich engaging in guerilla-like campaign tactics. This might appear to be a movie or an episode of House of Cards, but this is reality and it’s all in a day’s work for the new Wall Street get-rich scam of rooftop solar leases. At the center of all of this deceit and fleecing of taxpayer dollars is innovative entrepreneur turned subsidy king, Elon Musk. At the heart of big solar’s worries and Musk’s shenanigans is the policy of net metering, which requires utility companies to purchase electricity from solar power companies. Enacted years ago to spur the growth of distributed generation like rooftop solar, net metering reimburses homeowners with solar panels for the energy they produce. Net metering has become nothing more than a subsidy given to give solar companies as an unfair competitive advantage.
October 9, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urges the House of Representatives to pass H.R.702, a bill to adapt to changing crude oil market conditions. The bipartisan legislation is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). This historic vote to repeal the ban on U.S. crude oil exports will be good for consumers and taxpayers. Banning exports of U.S. crude oil is bad policy that has been in place for 40 years. Lifting the ban will allow the nation to move towards a more secure energy and economic future. The ban prohibiting America from exporting its crude oil is often referred to as “outdated” and “impractical.” Simply put, this is an understatement. Changing this policy will foster free trade, a principle that is beneficial for both taxpayers and the whole economy. An analysis conducted earlier this year found American crude oil exports could add 300,000 new jobs and increase America’s GDP by $20 billion as soon as 2020. In addition, the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office recently stated that allowing exports of American crude oil would result in diminished pressure on crude oil and gasoline prices, serving a big win for consumers. It’s clear that everyday Americans will see the benefits of ending the ban on crude oil exports. This ban is restricting the expansion of the U.S. energy economy, which is thriving and delivering lower-cost energy to consumers. We applaud the U.S. House for holding today’s vote and TPA urges the Senate to remember that a vote to repeal the ban is a vote to build a stronger and more internationally competitive America, for current and future generations.» Read More
September 28, 2015
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This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on September 22, 2015
As if Solyndra’s monumental failure was not enough of a blow to taxpayers, a new report from the Department of Energy inspector general four years in the making finds the infamous solar company deliberately deceived Energy to secure millions of dollars from the federal government (read: taxpayers). What’s more, it appears the Obama administration was at the helm of the scandal. There’s no surprise that the administration refuses to see the truth about solar power considering that the vice president pledged an additional $102 million grant program for companies, universities and research laboratories to further expand solar power use. It is clear that the administration is ignoring all warning signs and doing whatever it can to shovel more tax money to an unproven and financially risky power source. Solyndra quickly became synonymous with wasteful spending and government absurdity after it received $535 million from taxpayers then went bankrupt. And, when news broke in 2011 that Solyndra was laying off 1,100 employees, just two years after receiving the loan guarantees, much of the American public was outraged.
September 25, 2015
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Showing herself to be a shrewd politician but a terrible judge of economic and energy policy, Democratic presidential candidate (and former Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton came out in opposition to the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline this week. The move comes after years of dodging and silence on an issue that is critical to the nation’s economic outlook and overall energy strategy. The fact that Sec. Clinton waited this long, and then did so right during an historic U.S. visit by Pope Francis, shows that she’s well aware this decision is not only unpopular with much of the public, but that it is also bad policy. The proposed construction of the pipeline provides the capacity to move more than 700,000 barrels of oil each day. The increased production would provide thousands of jobs and help lower energy costs for working families nationwide.
September 24, 2015
There are times when policy simply becomes outdated, and there’s no better example of that than the ban on crude oil exports that has been in place since the 1970’s. Spurred by an energy crisis that occurred four decades ago, the United States instituted the ban on crude oil exports but now the time has come to end the ban. Doing so would help spur job growth in the energy sector and expand the energy economy for the entire country. TPA has been an ardent supporter of lifting the ban, and part of the effort includes this Americans for Prosperity-led coalition letter urging Congress to repeal the antiquated ban.
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August 7, 2015
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Last year, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) featured a series of posts during the congressional summer recess called “Summer Reading.” The weekly posts focused on specific issues that House and Senate should work on after returning from their summer break. This year TPA is bringing back Summer Reading and the first installment of 2015 centers on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the energy initiative announced on Monday by the White House. CCP is the latest in a series of harmful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory measures that will bring economic harm to taxpayers, states and working families. According to the Obama Administration, the $8.4 billion plan is aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants by implementing a new regulatory rule using section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The new rule would force states to adopt their own plan in order to meet certain carbon reduction requirements.