December 26, 2016
A version of this op-ed was recently published in the Sun Prairie Star
Across the country, public officials are continuously duped into following the siren call of government-owned broadband systems. While it is certainly tempting to score political points with constituents who initially benefit from high-speed internet, these short-term gains are invariably canceled out by long-term costs that bedevil those same constituents. That’s why city officials in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin now have an opportunity to be trendsetters. Instead of pressing ahead with its current broadband initiative, they ought to carefully consider the examples of recent history and reverse course. When a project is government-owned, this also means it is taxpayer-funded and that’s a problem when construction costs skyrocket and subscription numbers do not keep up with projections. Guess who foots the bill when that happens? Taxpayers, or course. And, with a recent vote to approve an additional $4.5 M for project expansion in Sun Prairie, it is important to look at what has happened across the country with these projects.» Read More
December 23, 2016
This article appaeared in Inside Sources on December 21, 2016
As people celebrate the holidays in different ways across the country, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance is celebrating Festivus. The holiday created by the television show “Seinfeld” challenges all the normal rules of gift giving and decorations and is essentially a day of telling people why you’re upset with them about the choices they’ve made over the last year.
Airing of Grievances
The first tradition of Festivus is “the airing of grievances.” This part of Festivus expresses the ways that taxpayers have been disappointed over the last year. While there could have been an entire book written on taxpayer grievances, here are just a few grievances that taxpayers have with bureaucrats and lawmakers.» Read More
December 19, 2016
Finally, a government report that doesn’t fully embrace the notion of taxpayer-financed municipal broadband services. The Tennessee Advisory Group on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) recently posted a draft study (the final study is expected to be released some time early in 2017) on broadband access and investment on its website. The report outlines several municipal broadband failures and, while it does suggest that electrical cooperatives work with cities to provide broadband service directly to consumers, it strongly urges municipal leaders not to create their own taxpayer-financed networks.» Read More
December 17, 2016
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is closing out 2016 with a message for Congress and the incoming Trump administration: No More Excuses!» Read More
Over the past several years, Congress has dropped the ball in coming together on solutions to very real and solvable problems that are impacting taxpayers and businesses. Now, with the likely prospect of a Congress and White House that are seemingly aligned on some of the major issues facing the country, there is no reason that many of those problems can’t be solved over the course of 2017. Hence, no more excuses.
December 9, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yestrday, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a statement after the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through late April of 2017. The bill, which maintains the fiscal year 2017 spending cap of $1.07 trillion, now heads to the Senate where it is expected to pass. Lawmakers are slated to leave town this weekend for the remainder of the year ensuring no more action in what was, thankfully, a brief Lame Duck session.
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December 6, 2016
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Pentagon spending continues to be a focus for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and many other taxpayer advocates who care about fiscal responsibility. Recently, TPA President David Williams laid out the case for how President-elect Trump can make good on his promises to change Washington by tackling problems with the defense budget. Yesterday, a report came out detailing how the Pentagon has been wasting over $120 billion on bloated bureaucracy in recent years. Keeping all of that in mind, TPA signed this letter criticizing Congress for their continued gaming of the budget as it relates to Pentagon spending and specifically the authorization of an additional $3.2 billion as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that just passed Congress last week. TPA firmly believes that the best way to secure our nation and our people is to ensure that the financial resources we have are being used in the best way possible to protect against threats both foreign and domestic. Using budget gimmicks to plus-up Pentagon spending on wasteful programs doesn't make the country any safer.
Click "read more" below to see the full letter
November 30, 2016
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This week, continuing a tradition started by former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) released the second edition of his wastebook, Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball, Vol II. The report (here) details $247 billion in questionable spending and regulations. The Taxpayers Projection Alliance (TPA) applauds Sen. Lankford for carrying on what is not only a noteworthy tradition, but also a useful policy tool that can help guide the way on how to eliminate wasteful programs and expensive regulations.
November 29, 2016
This article appeared in The Hill on November 22, 2016
The 2016 Presidential election is officially over which means that it’s time for Congress and the President elect to get to work. When lawmakers return from their five-week election hiatus they will decide on passing a short-term or long-term spending bill and whether or not to have a lengthy lame-duck session of Congress. As the end of the fiscal year approached in late September, Congressional leaders had to decide on how to keep funding the government before October; otherwise a shutdown would have occurred. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance and many other groups and individuals urged Congress to avoid a lame duck and fund the government past Christmas and into 2017. Lawmakers instead chose to pass a short-term spending bill to fund the government until Dec. 9, guaranteeing that Congress would have to return after the election in order to pass another bill to fund the government.» Read More
November 22, 2016
This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on November 16, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump has many challenges facing him as he prepares to take office in January. Perhaps his biggest challenge will be the Pentagon’s budget Even though Trump has talked about excessive spending and draining the swamp, his national security platform includes spending more on the military. Some estimate his increase will surpass $500 billion over the next 10 years, which is reckless considering the amount of waste at the Pentagon. Spending restraint at the Pentagon will not only be a challenge for Trump, it will be a challenge for Republicans reluctant to cut military spending.» Read More
November 18, 2016
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It’s only been ten days since the election, and already some in Congress are showing signs that they didn’t get the message from voters. This week, some Republicans in Congress were set to push a vote (in secret) to lift the ban on earmarks. The 2011 ban has been helpful in getting rid of most earmarks; unfortunately TPA still uncovers many of them in spending bills, but a proposal from Representatives John Culberson (R-Texas), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) would have brought them back for good. Fortunately Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) delayed the vote until after the new year, but TPA sent this statement to members before the announced postponement letting Congress know that lifting the ban was unacceptable and that it displayed a total disconnect from the signal that voters sent Washington in the Presidential election.
Click "read more" below to see the full statement
November 9, 2016
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) congratulates President-Elect Donald Trump for his victory last night. Without question, the country clearly spoke with a voice that wants change in Washington. With a $19 trillion debt, an economy that continues to struggle, agency regulations running wild, and an antiquated tax system, there are plenty of problems to solve and no time to waste. From more than $136 billion in improper payments to a wasteful and unnecessary catfish program, spending has spiraled out of control. Spending reduction and waste elimination must be a top priority for the new administration. Congressional earmarks are still a problem, despite a ban. Last year, TPA identified 365 earmarks worth $14.8 billion in the Defense spending bill. President-elect Trump must veto any spending bill with earmarks. Instead of increasing the Pentagon’s budget, President-elect Trump must insist on an audit of the Pentagon immediately. Auditing the Pentagon enjoys bipartisan support and it is the law of the land that must finally be followed. It is important for national and fiscal security to audit the Pentagon.Comprehensive tax reform is an absolute must for the new administration and TPA is encouraged by some of the things that have been said during the campaign.» Read More
Click "read more" below for the full statement
September 26, 2016
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With just more than six weeks until the 2016 Presidential election, tonight will mark the first of three debates between Republican candidate Donald Trump and the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. The event is expected to shatter ratings records because the race is tightening up and voters want to see the first one on one debate between the two candidates. There has been way too much rhetoric and not enough substance so far in the campaign. Voters want to hear about the issues, not personal attacks. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has a long list of issues to address, but there are four areas in particular that taxpayers want to hear about from the candidates.
September 16, 2016
Demian Brady is the Director of Research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. This article originally appeared on the National Taxpayers Union Foundation website on September 9, 2016.
This week Donald Trump released his defense policy plan that includes proposals to increase the size of the active-duty force of the Armed Services and to expand the naval fleet and size of the Air Force. His proposals would increase spending by at least $16 billion per year. However there is uncertainty regarding elements of his plan that could drive up the ultimate price tag. For example, Trump called for a total of 36 Marine Corps infantry battalions, currently the Corps has 24 active and eight reserve battalions. Adding four active battalions could cost up to $10 billion over the next five years. The total cost would be significantly higher if Trump intends to establish 36 active Battalions. In additional, there insufficient information to determine the cost of his plan to “build a state of the art missile defense system.” In a related speech, Trump said he will “ask Congress to fully offset the costs of increased military spending.” He outlined six proposals to offset the cost of the defense build-up, but the savings that could be quantified would only cover a portion of the increases. On an annual basis, reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition would cut spending by $3.7 billion and opening additional public lands to energy leasing would boost offsetting receipts by $170 million. Trump’s proposals to reduce improper payments and recover unpaid taxes could generate additional savings and tax receipts over the long-term, but would require additional spending in the short-term.
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September 15, 2016
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As Congress continues to move toward the possibility of a lame duck session, there is still time left for important work to get done in the coming weeks. Catfish repeal, National Defense Authorization Act, funding the government, and appropriations bills are all still left to be completed. The need for greater accountability is also something that is necessary and doable in the current Congress. One way lawmakers can achieve that aim is by moving forward with a rule change that would require committees to have recorded votes on legislation that would authorize or appropriate $100 million or more. This would be similar to H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act), which Taxpayers Protection Alliance has supported, and has passed the House already. This week, affirming our support for greater transparency and accountability on spending, TPA signed a coalition letter sent to Congress by FreedomWorks calling for this very change in House rules. Taxpayers are tired of seeing their money so carelessly wasted by their elected officials, and the more they know about who is supporting these massive spending measures, the better prepared they can be to hold those members accountable.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter
August 12, 2016
Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recently released a report and survey results on government owned internet networks (GONs) showing the cost of these failed networks that taxpayers have been paying for, as well as attitudes towards the idea of government spending money on these vanity projects. The survey showed that a majority of respondents don’t want to go into debt for these boondoggles, and that the government can’t do a better job than the private sector of providing quality, affordable internet to consumers. Unfortunately, the trend of these GONs popping up in cities around the country is continuing and this week TPA sent a letter to the Decatur City Council in Illinois urging them against using taxpayer money to expand government broadband.
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August 4, 2016
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The Republican National Convention (RNC) and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) have both concluded, with taxpayers kicking in $50 million on security costs for each, and the campaign for President is now in that limbo period where nothing is really supposed to happen until the debates. However, there are a lot of issues that the candidates could and should be talking about. Three issues in particular that are critical, but have been largely ignored by Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, are tax and spending reform and the national debt. While the candidates have made comments on these issues in passing or during interviews, the focus throughout this campaign so far has lacked a meaningful conversation on taxation, spending and the debt. The conventions were no exception.
May 19, 2016
Last night the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, by a vote of 277-147. The issue of Pentagon spending is important to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) and making sure that elected officials are working with the Defense Department to put forward the best policies to provide for the national defense is critical. Unfortunately, wasting taxpayer money is not something that is in the best interests of national security. Time and again TPA has exposed billions of dollars in earmarks buried in defense spending, we continue to call for an end to wasteful programs like the F-35 and Abrams Tank, and there is also the issue of budget gimmicks like the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Account. Yesterday, TPA joined a broad coalition letter led by Taxpayers for Common Sense supporting an amendment to the FY 2017 NDAA that “codifies criteria developed by the Office of Management and Budget in 2010 to clarify when military spending should be designated as contingency operations and properly be part of the Overseas Contingency Operations budget.” The bipartisan amendment was sponsored by Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Barbara Lee (R-CA), and Mark Sanford (R-SC) and adopted in a voice vote with several other amendments. TPA will continue to keep an eye on defense spending related bills, including the coming Defense Appropriations bill, which is likely to include more earmarks, as it has in years past.
Click 'read more' below to see the full letter» Read More
March 29, 2016
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance and the Animal Justice Project USA joined to release “Deadly Doses: Exposing the Federal Government's Funding of the Slaughter of Millions of Dollars and Countless Creatures,” which uncovers the improper use of tax dollars being spent conducting scientifically dubious experiments regarding the effects of recreational drugs and alcohol on animals. The report is the second in a series exposing examples of taxpayer-funded animal abuse, and is available here. The ten experiments featured in the report killed thousands of animals and wasted more than $78 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. These experiments, which often force animals to consume large amounts of drugs and alcohol, are largely worthless because they are rarely applicable to humans. UCLA, the University of California-Berkeley, Cal Tech and the University of Texas are among the prestigious universities and research centers engaging in these cruel and expensive studies. Animal Justice Project USA and the Taxpayers Protection are giving the public the ability to vote on the most outrageous and offensive example of taxpayer-funded animal abuse uncovered in the report. The poll is available here.
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Click 'read more' below to see the full release
March 22, 2016
The national debt continues to grow, currently at $19 trillion, and Congress still hasn’t figured out how to get to serious spending reduction. Loosening spending caps and consistent failures to move back to regular order for the appropriations process are part of the real problems why Washington can’t get the budget under control. However, spending on unauthorized programs is also a problem. Today, there is more than $300 billion annually being spent on programs that aren’t authorized by Congress. This week on the TPA podcast, Chair of the Republican Conference Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) joined the show to talk about her new legislation to solve the problem of unauthorized spending (click here to listen). Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers’ legislation, the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016, would put in place mechanisms for imposing cuts on programs not authorized and eventually letting them sunset. TPA supports this legislation and that is why we joined with National Taxpayers Union and other groups on a coalition letter expressing our support.
Click "read more" below to read the full letter
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March 21, 2016
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This is the time of year when Congress begins work on a budget for the coming fiscal year, and last week marked the introduction of a pair of budget proposals from the both the House GOP and the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Both proposals are far better than President Obama’s eighth and final budget (click here to read more) released in late January. Each of the proposals released last week lay out a structure for a budget that will be balanced over the next decade by implementing spending cuts and enacting a series of reforms on spending programs and entitlements.