December 2, 2015
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Before Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) retired, he was known for being a taxpayer watchdog and his government waste report. Sen. Coburn would hold a press conference and shame government agencies and bureaucrats for the massive amounts of waste they perpetrated at the expense of taxpayers. This is one Washington tradition that should be carried on forever. Fortunately, Sen. Coburn’s successor, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), released his own report spotlighting excessive and wasteful spending as well as regulatory overreach from federal agencies. The report, entitled “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball,” details billions of dollars in spending and regulations that range from the idiotic to absolute bizarre. With more than $100 billion in waste and $800 billion in needless regulations, there are plenty of ridiculous examples that fill Sen. Lankford’s report.
November 11, 2015
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The growth of government comes in some of the most obvious and costly measures for the economy by way of wasteful spending and higher taxes. But, another way that big government wreaks havoc on the private sector is through regulations. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has been a repeat offender when it comes to using regulatory power to stifle growth and investment in certain parts of the telecommunications sector. Now, their reach is broadening beyond telecom and hitting in parts of the private sector that could have harmful consequences going forward for a variety of industries. In September, the FCC cited Lyft for what they deemed violations of consumer protections relating to automated messaging for mobile users.
November 3, 2015
The Obama Administration has been consistent in there increased use of the executive branch of government to undermine Congress, many times to the point where the courts have rebuked them for violating the law. Federal agencies have played a large role in this, with new regulations coming from cabinet departments on a daily basis costing taxpayers and the economy. One recent example of this alarming practice is a new “fiduciary rule” out of the Department of Labor (DOL), which would effectively give the agency the authority to, “greatly restrict investment choices for 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and other saving vehicles.” DOL has never had this authority and Congress has not granted it to them, yet here comes the Obama Administration making up new rules as they go along. The new rule would restrict the choices Americans have to choose who will handle their investments, and would make it harder for many families to even work with investment professionals. TPA is adamantly opposed to the rule recognizing the damage it would do to the financial services industry, and just a few weeks ago signed this letter from the Competitive Enterprise Institute along with more than 30 other groups. The coalition urges the House and Senate to defund any part of the DOL budget that would enforce this rule.
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October 13, 2015
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Congress has been slowly moving toward reforming many of the country’s outdated communications laws to better serve taxpayers and consumers. TPA has been agressive in calling for faster action on Capitol Hill, but unfortunately that has yet to materialize. However, recently the FCC took action on their own to make important changes to some of the rules that govern the video marketplace, but that doesn't mean Congress should abdicate their responsibilites to the federal agency. Keeping that in mind, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent the following letter to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It's imporant for Congress to maintain their proper role without letting the FCC take too much action.
Click 'read more' below to see the letter
September 29, 2015
Congress is headed towards the final weeks of the legislative calendar and as fights over funding the government and leadership elections consume much of the conversation in Washington, there are other issues that taxpayers need to be concerned about. One issue that continues to be floating in the halls of Congress is a federal ban of online gambling. Taxpayers Protection Alliance remains adamantly opposed to any such legislation and will fight it for as long as it takes. TPA President David has stressed that, “the federal government should not be dictating how states decide this issue nor should they be using this as a backdoor route for Internet regulations." Keeping that in mind TPA signed onto this coalition letter sent to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) thanking him for his leadership in opposing the crony H.R. 707, Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation as nothing more than corporate welfare to some in Las Vegas who want to shutdown competition.
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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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September 11, 2015
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Individuals and organizations should expect a modicum of privacy when it comes to certain personal or financial information. Unfortunately, that expectation has taken a hit recently as news of hacks have dominated headlines. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack was embarrassing for the federal government as more than twenty million public employees had their personal information exposed. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a had a less than stellar track record of late when it comes to keeping in line with protecting the interests of taxpayers and their record on privacy. Everyone knows by now the IRS targeting scandal that revealed a political witch-hunt within the agency that focused on harassing and delaying the tax classification free-market and conservative non-profits. However, this is not the only way in which the IRS is going after groups and individuals. The IRS has been looking for ways beyond the treatment of non-profits to widen their authority over individual taxpayers and organizations. Businesses have come under fire with increasing regulatory action from federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission but now even the IRS is starting to ratchet up the hostility towards the private sector.
September 8, 2015
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Yesterday, folks from around the country enjoyed the Labor Day holiday by relaxing with their families at the end of long weekend. But while many people had the day off Monday, many businesses were still processing a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that could have a lasting negative impact on millions of jobs. On Thursday, August 27, the NLRB voted along party lines to expanded the liabilities of employers as “joint-employers” and changed decades of labor policy that will impact how many companies have do business and will likely lead to harmful consequences for many workers. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, “Previously, the NLRB had a direct-control standard, meaning that a company was a joint employer only if it actually gave orders to the workers or controlled their working conditions. Now, a company may be a joint employer even if it merely reserves the right to influence working conditions.” The case involved Houston-based waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries and whether or not they were responsible for contract staffing they utilized for a facility in California. The NLRB ruled that Browning-Ferris was responsible for the contract employees, and in doing so set forth a precedent going forward that will cause many businesses to rethink how they operate with regards to contract staffing and franchises. The 3-2 ruling is bad news for small businesses and franchisees.
August 25, 2015
Parliament House in Canberra, Australia
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been sounding the alarm on various attempts by governments around the globe to institute plain packaging policies for tobacco. Australia was the first country to pass legislation mandating plain packaging of tobacco and after just a few years, the impact has been exactly what TPA warned they would be: greater tobacco consumption, increased illicit trade, and loss of revenue. Last week, the following submission was made to the Australian Parliament for public comments regarding the plain packaging laws. You can also download the full submission by clicking here.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full comment
August 20, 2015
Food & Drug Administration Building in Silver Spring, MD
Taxes are often the biggest barrier to business and innovation, but regulations have also been a major problem for the private sector. Burgeoning industries are faced with so many hurdles when it comes to growing and becoming profitable that onerous regulations can become too damaging for any venture to succeed. One industry that has been on the upswing over the last few years is the alternative to traditional nicotine products called “vaping.” The term was even made the word of the year in 2014 by Oxford Dictionaries. As many consumers have been turning to vaping products, the numbers show just how popular vaping has become.
August 14, 2015
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Last week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) began the 2015 Summer Reading series that focuses on issues Congress will need to tackle when they return from the August recess. The first installment analyzed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This week, TPA is taking a look at the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. This legislation is critical to reform the increasing regulatory apparatus that federal agencies have imposed over the last several years. Whether it is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or even a specific law like Dodd-Frank overflowing with new rules, REINS will give Congress the necessary tools to stop costly job killing regulations.
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.
August 5, 2015
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Here we go again. Another election season is quickly approaching and the first sign of the 2016 election is the first debate. On Thursday August 6, ten republicans will square off in the first of many debates in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of republican voters. Thursday’s debate in Ohio will be the first (and certainly not the last time) for the presidential hopefuls to tell the voters why they should be the party’s nominee for President. Even though the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will not endorse anybody for President, we do have a Top Ten list of issues should be addressed by the candidates.
August 4, 2015
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This article appeared in Inside Sources on August 2, 2015
If “Schoolhouse Rock” were to recreate its famous “I’m Just a Bill” cartoon short of yesteryear to reflect accurately how a bill becomes a law in today’s Washington, the cartoon would be longer and darker. It would need significantly more characters; some of them shady, and probably earn an “R” rating. While our adorable little bill sits on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, a bevy of distasteful, possibly even illegal activity, is taking place in its name behind closed doors. The lobbying tactics behind the effort to pass the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) shows just how cynical and corrupt passing a law can be. RAWA would ban online gaming in the United States and would prohibit states’ use of some lottery games to raise revenue. And, instead of an intellectual philosophical debate, RAWA proponents are using sneaky and possibly illegal tactics.
July 31, 2015
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President Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Bill
Iain Murray is the Vice President for Strategy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
This post appeared on the CEI website on July 21, 2015
Today is the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, better known as Dodd-Frank. As the Mercatus Center revealed this week, it may be the biggest law ever written, because it gives the administration so much discretionary power to make secondary law. It has harmed consumers by reducing choice in financial services and failed to solve the problems it was purported to solve, as I outline in my new paper, How Dodd Frank Harms Main Street. One of the worst examples of this stems from the Durbin Amendment, a last minute addition to the bill that gives the Federal Reserve the power to cap interchange fees charged by debit and credit card networks. An interchange fee is a facility fee paid by a merchant when a customer pays using an electronic card network like MasterCard or Visa. The customer gets the convenience of using a card rather than cash, the merchant gets paid with protections against fraud, the card issuing bank gets an incentive to keep issuing the cards, and the card network gets some money to reinvest in improving the efficiency and security of its network. The merchant, bank, and network all get some profit and the customer gets an item of value. All parties see some gain from the trade. So far, so much Adam Smith. Yet unfortunately merchants all over the world bridle at having to pay the fee. In yet another example of Bastiat’s “seen and unseen,” they see the fee and have formed powerful lobby groups all over the world aimed at persuading governments to impose limits on the fees. Merchants argue they will be able to cut prices once a cap is introduced and that the fee is a hidden charge on the consumer.
July 3, 2015
This weekend, families all across America will celebrate America’s independence with fireworks, swimming pools, friends, family, libations, hamburgers and hot dogs, and a whole host of foods. However the government is likely going to make that more difficult for future holidays as new regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ban artificial trans fats, could have an enormous impact on taxpayers, the economy and what choices individuals make when it comes to what to eat not just on the 4th of July, but every day. This new regulation is a clear government over reach and in poor taste. Will donuts and fried chicken become illegal and considered contraband? There are several problems with what the FDA is doing, and regardless of any good intentions the agency may or may not have, another regulation is absolutely not the answer to any concerns over the safety of trans fats. The first problem is that at the core, individuals can make their own choices about what food products they want to put in their body, as opposed to an outright ban that prevents people from making that choice Taxpayers will be hit with an enormous cost as the FDA bureaucracy Is expanded» Read More
May 6, 2015
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The increasing power of federal agencies through regulatory and rulemaking pressure is one of the most troubling signs in the growth of big government over the last decade. During the Obama Administration there have been a number of instances where federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have used their authority to circumvent Congress in order to put in place regulations that would otherwise go nowhere in the normal legislative process with the House and Senate. Recent events surrounding the failed merger between Comcast and Time Warner have only served to reinforce the fear of the heavy regulatory hand of government agencies. Last year, Comcast announced a $45 billion bid to merge with Time-Warner Cable (TWC). The deal was set to bring more opportunity for consumers and better quality service to a product from two of the industry’s major innovators. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was just one of many observers who supported the merger moving forward with due diligence and felt it would be a wrong for regulators to stand in the way. There is no reason why the proposed merger should have been subject to any different treatment that what other major transactions have faced in terms of careful examination as it moved through the regular review process. The merger faced opposition from those who felt it would harm the market, but those criticisms couldn’t be further from the reality of today’s economy and landscape. The potential deal between Comcast and Time-Warner would have been a net positive for the economy and consumers.
April 20, 2015
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Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to approve a net neutrality plan proposed by Chairman Tom Wheeler that was more than 300 pages long. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was quick to criticize the proposal as completely antithetical to the innovative nature that has been a hallmark of the Internet for nearly two decades. Even though the rules have been published in the Federal Register and are set to take effect on June 12, 2015, there is a long road ahead and the battle over the future of the regulation is still far from being resolved. As expected, the FCC decision sparked a number of lawsuits questioning the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet under Title II (click here to read a previous blog posting on Title II). Currently, a total of seven legal actions have been taken against the FCC and their plans for net neutrality. This is not the first time the FCC has been challenged on net neutrality rules in the courts. Last year the FCC lost in Federal Appeals Court against Verizon in which the court held the FCC exceeded their authority with new rules on internet providers.
April 6, 2015
EPA Adminstrator Gina McCarthy
Last month the Taxpayers (Protection Alliance (TPA) wrote about legislation from Tennessee and West Virginia that would protect consumers and taxpayers from proposed 111(d) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These new rules on greenhouse gases from existing power plants, which mandate a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030, have become a de facto battle in the larger fight for federalism against federal agencies in recent years. The EPA wants to use the decades-old Clean Air Act as proxy authority to force states into compliance with the new rules, which would damage state and local economies with potential tax hikes. State legislatures and governors around the country are acting to reclaim authority so that the EPA would be powerless in their attempts to enact what could potentially be an extremely damaging regulation for taxpayers and small businesses. Two states, Nevada and Oklahoma are the latest to offer legislation that would states to retain power, not the EPA.» Read More
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.