Taxpayers Protection Alliance
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Category: Congress

  • A New Year Means New Challenges and New Opportunities

    David Williams on January 3, 2012

    When the 112th Congress took over in January, 2011, there was quite a bit of excitement and anticipation that the newly elected members (including dozens of tea party members) would be aggressive in demanding real spending cuts and accountability.  With a near-miss government shutdown in April, a debt ceiling scare in August and the failure of the super committee in November, last year was filled with missed opportunities to institute real spending cuts.  With the federal debt eclipsing $15 trillion in 2011, Congress has quite a bit of work to do in 2012.  In addition to the annual budget fiascos that are typical of Washington, D.C., there are seven key areas (Agriculture, Defense, Energy, the Food and Drug Administration/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tax Reform, Telecommunications/Technology, and Transportation) that will determine if Congress and the President are serious about bringing spending under control and having a more efficient government.

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  • Congress Can't Resist Temptation to Add Earmarks to Spending Bill

    David Williams on December 27, 2011

    When Congress passed the multi-thousand-page Omnibus spending bill right before their Christmas vacation, they forgot to tell taxpayers about the earmarks hidden in the bill. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) uncovered 89 earmarks worth $3 billion in the Defense section of the bill (click here to see the full list) despite the insistence of both political parties that that the bill was free of earmarks and the claim that Congress stuck to their self-imposed ban on earmarks.  Government watchdogs and taxpayers had very little opportunity to scrutinize the spending bill since it was released early Thursday (12/15) morning and voted on Friday (12/16) afternoon.  The initial links to the legislation only contained legislative language and not report details.  The release of the conference report details occurred after votes by the House and the Senate.  This was a shameful lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility.   What was more disappointing is that Congress showed some bit of fiscal restraint in the bill, but the inclusion of earmarks shows that the temptation of earmarks will always be present.  One (of the many) New Year’s resolutions Congress should make is to truly ban earmarks and not be able to vote any piece of legislation that contains earmarks.

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  • Crisis Budgeting: Last Minute Deals End Up Hurting Taxpayers

    David Williams on December 14, 2011

    It is less than two weeks before Christmas and Congress has not finished work on fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations bills (they were supposed to be done by October 1).  This failure to get their work done should come as no surprise since 2011 has been filled with un-kept promises and crisis politics as Congress has waited until the last minute to finish most of their budgetary work in 2011.  The pseudo budget crisis in April when a government shutdown was threatened when Congress failed to pass a budget for FY 2011, the impending downgrade of the nation’s credit status in August with the raising of the debt ceiling (and the ensuing failure of the super committee in November), and the current looming government shutdown shows that when push comes to shove in Washington, D.C., the status quo pushes back and taxpayers get shoved.

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  • Identifying Wasteful Spending Doesn't Have to be Partisan

    David Williams on December 7, 2011

    Taxpayers have been accustomed to Republicans talking about government waste and identifying where to cut out the fat.  In some cases, Democrats have even given up on looking and claim that it is tough to identify where the waste, fraud, and abuse is occurring.  For example, after Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced his retirement he was interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC.  When asked about where government could cut, Rep. Frank responded that “People say we are going to cut out the fat as if the fat was made on the side. Yes, there`s fat, but it`s marbles. There`s inefficiency in any human activity --the waste, fraud, and abuse is so marbled throughout the government and the various bureaucracies that it is difficult to get rid of the waste.”  Besides the ridiculous story of a welfare recipient owning a $1.2 million house (read here), there are plenty of examples from members of both parties about where to trim the fat. » Read More
  • The REINS Act is a Common Sense Step Forward in Regulation Reform

    David Williams on December 5, 2011

    Regulations are crippling American businesses and burdening taxpayers with a bloated bureaucracy to enforce the regulations.  While some regulations are important, it is also critical to make sure that there is a system of checks and balances in the system.  The Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act would be that safeguard.  The REINS Act may not be as sexy as Bridge to Nowhere or the Solyndra loan scandal, but it is an important piece of legislation that is needed to put the brakes on unnecessary and burdensome regulations.   Before any regulation is imposed on the American people, the REINS Act would require Congress to take an up-or-down vote to approve regulations that have an economic impact of $100 million or more.  The birth of the REINS Act actually goes back to 2009 when Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) offered the legislation after talking to a constituent about excessive regulations.  This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is urging every member of the House to vote for the legislation (read the TPAPB here).  And, TPA urges everybody to call their member of Congress to tell them to vote for the legislation.  You can find your member here or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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  • Happy Anniversary Fiscal Commission: Another Exercise in Fiscal Futility

    David Williams on December 1, 2011

    One year ago on December 1, 2010, President Obama released the findings of The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform which was led by former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson (R-Wy.). The Commission released a report on potential spending cuts that would eclipse $2 trillion from 2012 to 2020.  Recommendations include: selling excess federal real property; repealing The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act which was created in Obamacare; and reducing net spending on mandatory agriculture programs.  The report was very candid when it stated that, “Our country has tough choices to make. We need to be willing to tell Americans the truth: We cannot afford to continue spending more than we take in, and we cannot continue to make promises we know full well we cannot keep.”  Instead of being used to cut spending, the report has been more useful as a virtual paperweight (I am not even sure of any copies were actually printed up).

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  • TPA Reacts to Super Committee Failure: Congress Fails Taxpayers with Collapse of Super Committee

    David Williams on November 21, 2011

    With the failure of the Super Committee to meet their deadline and find $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next decade, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) president David Williams released the following statement.  "Congress has once again failed the American taxpayer with the collapse of the Super Committee. It is time that our representatives in Washington do what we elected them to do-serve the American people and help get our economy up and running again. Instead, they continue to play political games while taxpayers are left holding the bill for our government's out-of-control spending problem. This failure to reach a compromise on an issue of such importance is just another reason why Congressional pay should be cut by at least ten percent. With a country that is $15 trillion in debt, Congress must come together and find a way to cut spending now.”  To read TPA’s Congressional Compensation Report and learn why taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth when it comes to Congressional salaries, click here.

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  • TPA to Congress: Go Big or Go Home

    David Williams on November 14, 2011

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

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  • Effort to Cut Congressional Pay Gains Momentum

    David Williams on November 7, 2011

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

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  • Taxpayers Want Honesty in Budgeting

    David Williams on October 21, 2011

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

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  • TPA Supports Rep. Flake to Keep Appropriations Process Open

    David E. Williams on October 17, 2011

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

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  • The Food and Drug Administration Needs to Tread Lightly With Any New Regulations

    David Williams on August 30, 2011

    The federal government is obsessed with controlling behavior, and despite President Obama’s call to repeal regulations with a projected cost of more than $1 billion, the federal government is also obsessed with regulating businesses, large and small.  One program that symbolized the obsession with controlling behavior was the creation and the expansion of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (see previous blog post).  Now, as part of an all-out assault on one industry through regulation, the federal government has its sights on new smokeless tobacco products.  Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and most are probably most familiar with chewing tobacco or snuff.  But there are two new forms of smokeless tobacco that show quite a bit of promise for smoking cessation, e-cigarettes and nicotine lozenges.

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  • Super Committee is a Super Bad Idea - Prepare for More Gridlock

    David Williams on August 12, 2011

    As part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling, members of Congress and the President agreed on initial spending cuts of $1 trillion.  The bill also requires the formation of a super committee that would have to find an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction (if no agreement is made then there would be across-the-board cuts).  Please note that I didn’t say spending cuts with the super committee because a tax increase could be considered as part of deficit reduction.  And, FYI, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is opposed to any tax increase.  First, the super committee is the coward’s way to deficit reduction with 523 members of Congress abdicating their responsibility to 12 members of Congress.  Besides the cowardice of even creating the super committee, there are a number of concerns that TPA has with the super committee:  the constitutionality of the committee, the ability to raise taxes and whether or not there will be any transparency so taxpayers can see what is taking place behind closed doors.

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  • Washington Plays Familiar Blame Game in Wake of Credit Downgrade

    David Williams on August 8, 2011

    By now, most people inside and outside the beltway have heard that Standard and Poors (S&P) has downgraded the United States’ credit rating.  In short, it means that, according to S&P, investing in the United States is riskier today than it has ever been.  Like any good crisis, both sides of the political aisle are blaming the other side for the downgrade.  Republicans have called for the resignation of Secretary Treasurer Tim Geithner and Democrats have blamed the Tea Party for the downgrade with the Vice President of the United of the States agreeing with a characterization that the Tea Party acts like terrorists.

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  • Congress Goes on Vacation As Taxpayers Continue to Work to Pay the Country's Bills

    David Williams on August 5, 2011

    Congress left for recess on August 2, immediately after they raised the debt ceiling and promised to cut spending.  With a month long vacation (they call it district time) and plenty of time on their hands, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) wants to know if you see your member of Congress at an official town hall meeting or at the local grocery store.  What is remarkable about their month-long absence is that they will have one month of “district time” and that they make $174,000 per year.  With very generous benefits such as retirement, pension and health coverage, their total compensation is roughly $285,000 per year (read the report here).  If you do run into your member of Congress we have a few questions you might want to ask.

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  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    David Williams on August 1, 2011

    Congress is preparing to vote on a new deal to raise the debt ceiling.  The deal was negotiated over the weekend after intense negotiations between the White House and the leaders of the House and Senate.  The deal would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion (which would be enough to last through the 2012 elections) and require immediate spending cuts.  The first round of cuts would total $1 trillion over ten years.  The second tranche would involve a “super committee” of 12 members of Congress and involve an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion.  The weakest part of the deal is that there is no requirement that a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) be passed.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) does not believe there are enough provisions to protect the taxpayer and urges the House and Senate to vote “NO” on the deal.

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  • Senate Kills Cut, Cap, and Balance - Gang of Six is Still NOT the Answer

    David Williams on July 22, 2011

    On Tuesday July 19, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act of 2011 (click here, here, and here to read previous posts on CCB).  On Friday, the Senate cut off debate on its version of cut, cap and balance, effectively killing the legislation.  If it had been passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the legislation would have forced Congress and the President to cut spending, cap spending and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.  On the same day that the vote on H.R. 2560 took place, the Senate’s Gang of Six proposal was released. Named after the three Republican senators; Tom Coburn (Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (Georgia), and Michael Crapo (Idaho) and three Democratic senators; Kent Conrad (N.D.); Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Mark Warner (Virginia), the Gang of 6 plan is supposed to be THE bi-partisan answer to raising the debt ceiling and addressing future deficits and debt.  In reality, the plan contains massive tax increases.

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  • Game Day - Senate Set to Vote on Cut, Cap, and Balance

    David Williams on July 22, 2011

    On Tuesday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, the only plan that finally forces the federal government to live within its means. Today (Friday July 22) the bill will be voted on in the Senate, and we need your help to pressure vulnerable Democratic Senators to support it!  (click here, here, and here to read previous posts on CCB).  There are eight Democratic Senators that may hold America’s future in their hands.  If they allow the Senate to thoroughly debate and discuss the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act– and the American people to fully engage themselves as they watch – the bill will have a fair chance to pass the Senate.  Call them all RIGHT NOW and ask them to support the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act! Senator Jon Tester- 202-224-2644; Senator Ben Nelson- 202-224-6551;Senator Joe Manchin- 202-224-3954; Senator Mark Pryor- 202-224-2353; Senator Bob Casey- 202-224-6324; Senator Debbie Stabenow- 202-224-4822; Senator Claire McCaskill- 202-224-6154; and Senator Bill Nelson- 202-224-5274.

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  • Cut, Cap and Balance - House Set to Vote on Landmark Legislation

    David Williams on July 19, 2011

    Today is the day:  the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act of 2011.  This legislation will force Congress and the President to cut spending, cap spending and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. Even though Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supports cut, cap, and balanced budget, he has his own plan that he wants passed.  Sen. McConnell’s plan (dubbed Plan B) would give the President the power to raise the debt ceiling three times to the tune of $2.5 trillion which would be enough to get them past the 2012. McConnell’s plan does not require spending cuts, that is why it is imperative to tell your member of Congress to stop the over spending and sign the cut, cap, and balance pledge.  Go to or call the main switchboard of the Capitol at 202-224-3121 and urge your member of Congress to vote for H.R. 2560.

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  • Debt Ceiling Negotiations - Sen. McConnell Blinks

    David Williams on July 15, 2011

    Debt ceiling negotiations are at a critical point.  The deadline for default is quickly approaching (even though some say it is a fake deadline, including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance) and the House republican leadership has stood its ground by insisting that tax increases should not be a part of any deal.  A coalition of more than 200 groups from across the country (including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance) has been promoting an idea called Cut, Cap, and Balance (click here for previous blog posting) as a way to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.  It is simple: cut spending; cap spending, and pass a balanced budget amendment.  A bill proposed by Sens. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), Pat Toomey, (R-Penn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) mirrors the principles of cut, cap, and balance by allowing a debt ceiling increase as long as if there were spending cuts, enforceable spending caps and a balanced budget amendment.  The House of Representatives also plans a vote on cut, cap, and balance.  Great news for the taxpayers, but then comes along Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to throw cold water on all the progress that had been made during the debt negotiations.   Sen. McConnell’s plan (dubbed Plan B) would give the President the power to raise the debt ceiling three times to the tune of $2.5 trillion which would be enough to get them past the 2012 elections.

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