January 28, 2016
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy and Taxpayers Protection Alliance Release Report on Wasteful State Spending, Misuse of Taxpayer Funds
Charleston, W. Va. - Today, the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance released a new report entitled: Wild and Wasteful West Virginia: Exposing Waste, Fraud and Abuse of Your State Tax Dollars. The report (click here to read) exposes and highlights more than $330 million in wasteful spending spread across almost 60 different state programs. The examples cited in the report demonstrate that West Virginia has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. State lawmakers, who must now confront a $353 million budget shortfall, should look to cut wasteful expenditures instead of burdening the state’s already financially beleaguered residents with fees and tax increases.» Read More
January 26, 2016
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This article appeared in Inside Sources on January 20, 2016
With a great deal of fanfare from the National Football League (NFL) and the owner of the St. Louis Rams, the announcement was made on January 14 that the St. Louis Rams would be moving to Los Angeles. What was left out of that announcement was that taxpayers would still be on the hook paying for the Edward Jones Dome in. St. Louis. St. Louis and Missouri taxpayers paid the full $280 million cost of construction for the Edward Jones Dome in 1995. In an effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis, government officials tried to persuade the team to stay with the promise of $500 million for a new billion-dollar stadium. Rams owner, and billionaire, Stan Kroenke decided to move despite the generous taxpayer gift. The problem is that Missouri taxpayers aren’t off the hook because they will be paying $12 million until 2022 on the Edward Jones Dome.
January 14, 2016
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This op-ed appeared in the Sun Herald on January 2, 2016
Mississippi will receive $1.5 billion as part of its settlement from the British Petroleum oil spill. A new plan proposes to use a significant portion of that settlement to build a government-owned broadband "fiber ring" connecting several South Mississippi cities including Biloxi, Gulfport and D'Iberville. Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said the total cost of the network, which officials hope will eventually encompass 12 cities and three counties, could top $100 million. While broadband service is an important tool for students, business owners, job seekers, public safety and health care professionals, spending the BP settlement money on a network owned and managed by the cities is a waste of public funds and puts taxpayers on the hook for future financial exposure. And it is hard to imagine that residents in Biloxi will tolerate the delays the Fiber Ring installation will cause in the current infrastructure projects on the Point.
December 21, 2015
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This article appeared in The Daily Caller on December 18, 2015
Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas was a disappointment for fiscal conservatives who care about reckless federal spending, particularly at the Pentagon. If the previous debate was any indication, the prospect for a constructive conversation about the future of military spending showed real promise. During the previous debate on November 10th, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called out the GOP field because most of the candidates have spent the better part of this campaign season pledging to ramp up an already bloated Pentagon budget. “How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures?” Sen. Paul asked. “You can not be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs that you’re not going to pay for.” Paul’s comments turned out to be one of the highlights of that night back in November, and it seemed like a real opportunity to create momentum for a shift within the Republican party about the direction of Pentagon budget policy. But unfortunately, the Republican candidates slipped loudly back to their comfort zone during this week’s debate. Even Sen. Paul himself was silent on the issue, except for one coded line about being “willing to hold the line on all spending.” As for the rest of the candidates, it was an all-out field day of pledges to throw more money at the Pentagon without any talk of reform.
BREAKING: TPA Releases List of 365 Earmarks Worth $14.8 billion in Defense Appropriations in FY 2016 OmnibusMichi Iljazi on
December 18, 2015
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Earlier this week, Congress released an Omnibus-spending bill (click here for the full bill) for the next fiscal year that will cost approximately $1.1 trillion and will likely be passed by Congress before the weekend is over. Despite a change in leadership in the House of Representatives, the FY 2016 Omnibus continues the same trend of massive spending bills being passed just as deadlines approach. Though there were some important provisions included in the Omnibus, including an extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act and a lifting of the ban on crude oil exports, there were also some troubling provisions like more subsidies for solar and wind. This morning, TPA released a list of earmarks found in the Defense appropriations section of the more than 2,000-page bill (click here for the full list). There were 365 Defense earmarks totaling $14,833,435,000. This is a 25 percent increase in projects from last year’s CROmnibus, which contained 293 projects. It was also a 14 percent increase in cost over last year’s $13,063,116,000. There were more than a few familiar programs that were on the list, including three additional F-35 aircrafts, money for the still unwanted Abrams Tank, and the problem-plagued Littoral Combat Ship.
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
click 'read more' below to read the full statement
December 8, 2015
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The following article appeared on Medium.com on October 26, 2015
Kevin R. Kosar is a senior fellow and governance project director for the R Street Institute
I worked at the Congressional Research Service for 11 years as an analyst and manager. I greatly enjoyed supplying congressional staff, committees, and members of Congress with nonpartisan research and advice. I got to help conceptualize legislation, assist committees with hearing preparation and testify before Congress. It was fun, heady work. I also wrote a lot of CRS reports, as did my beloved colleagues. Each year, the agency publishes about 1,000 reports, which cover general subject matter, like advertising by the federal government and cloture in the U.S. Senate. Congress, not the CRS, owns them. That means nobody at the CRS is free to distribute its reports to anyone outside Congress — not without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Unfortunately, our national legislature, as a matter of practice, does not publish all CRS reports in one place, like Congress.gov. CRS reports get posted here and there on various congressional webpages. Additionally, any member or congressional staffer can share reports with the public; it’s a congressional prerogative. As a result, there are CRS reports floating all over the Internet. By one count, there are 27,000 CRS reports scattered over 1,400 U.S. government websites.
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 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 13, 2015
Today, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) released its financial results detailing a loss of $5.1 billion for the 2015 fiscal year. As a continuation of the Postal Service’s financial meltdown, this year marks its ninth consecutive year-end loss of more than a billion dollars. In response to the figures released by the USPS and the subsequent analysis from their leadership, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President, David Williams, made it clear that more transparent management and accounting is needed to repair the agency.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the full press release
November 4, 2015
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a report in cooperation with the Animal Justice Project detailing the disturbing facts about drug experimentation on animals and what the practice is costing taxpayers. The report, Deadly Doses: Recreational Drug Experiments on Animals & How it Wastes Millions of Tax Dollars, examines animal drug testing programs that are being bankrolled by the American taxpayer. Studies that involve LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, other recreational drugs and what amounts to animal torture are being funded by the American taxpayer to uncover the secrets of the blink-rate of rabbits, the decision-making skills of monkeys, and other nonsensical research priorities. TPA President David Williams blasted the wasteful spending revealed in the report, and called out the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the outrageous waste of taxpayer money on these studies. » Read More
November 2, 2015
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The 2016 campaign continues to be a major part of the discussion as candidates from both parties travel across the country attempting to woo voters. The debates are supposed to be a platform where the candidates can separate themselves and provide clarity about what plans they have on specific policy areas. Unfortunately, the debates have not provided a real discussion on issues. Instead, they have become a melee of zingers and one-liners. Last week’s third GOP primary debate was one of the least substantive and what makes matters worse is that weeks of buildup centered around the promise that it would be focused on economic issues, an important topic of discussion as the economy struggles and the country is faced with a $18 trillion debt. In Boulder, Colorado last Wednesday ten of the remaining fifteen GOP candidates met on stage to debate what CNBC billed as a debate centered on economic issues. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was looking forward to hearing the moderators ask questions about tax reform, regulatory policy, entitlement reform, and pro-growth ideas. Frank exchanges about the candidates views and plans on these issues would have been a win for the candidates, CNBC, and taxpayers. But, instead, the audience of 14 million was treated to a bizarre debate where the moderators, as much as the candidates, failed to provide voters with any substance. Considering that a two-year budget deal that busted the budget caps was passed by the House and Senate last week, a golden opportunity to talk about fiscal issues was lost.
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 22, 2015
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The country is $18.4 trillion in debt and in less than two weeks (November 3) the country will hit the debt ceiling. With mere days to find a solution there is a real need to ensure the full faith and credit of the United States remains in tact with responsible legislation from Congress. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is hopeful Congress can pass legislation that will not only address the debt ceiling, but also make inroads towards real spending reduction. Washington has been here before and once again it is getting to a critical point where there are only days left to act. This is a growing trend and TPA is dismayed with last minute deals and the habit of governing by crisis. However, this most recent crisis has led to a number of serious proposals aimed at dealing with this problem in a responsible, reasonable, and long term manner. One plan has emerged in the House is H.R. 3771, The Terms of Credit Act (TCA), put forward by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) headed by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas). TCA is a comprehensive solution that puts forth a multi-pronged strategy to dealing with the debt limit.
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
October 2, 2015
This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) applauded the House and Senate for passing a short-term spending bill that funds the government at levels that will remain within the budget caps that were part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The BCA caps are spending levels that Congress and the White House agreed upon and put into law, there is no reason to spend above those levels. TPA is calling on Congress to use the next few months to pass a spending bill that retains the budget caps, cuts spending, and ends the governing by crisis that has become too familiar in Washington. Congress ultimately needs to decide if they will get their act together and pass a full year CR or an Omnibus spending bill. Passing a year long CR will make it difficult (but not impossible) to add earmarks. An Omnibus spending bill is more problematic. Anytime a multi-thousand page bill is passed, there is always the temptation to add earmarks or provide funding for wasteful and unnecessary projects or resurrect dead programs like the Export-Import Bank. Of course, waiting to pass an Omnibus spending bill or multiple CR’s two moths after the beginning of the fiscal year is still a symptom of a larger problem of legislating by crisis versus not long term planning. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills so groups like TPA can evaluate each one based on its merits. Passing individual spending bills in a non-chaotic way also provides opportunities for members of Congress to offer amendments to cut wasteful and unnecessary spending. Getting back to “regular order” allows for more time to look at long term issues like comprehensive tax reform.» Read More
September 21, 2015
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The 2014 Senate takeover by the Republican party presented an opportunity for Congress to return to regular order and pass appropriations bills to fund the government. You know, the way it’s supposed to happen. That opportunity has been squandered and the country is now just days away, once again, from running out of money and a potential government shutdown. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) and others have been calling on Congress to pass appropriations bills instead of waiting for deadlines to nearly hit and passing short-term stop-gap spending measures. Unfortunately, those calls have been ignored and now a more important fight is creeping up: the debate over raising the Budget Control Act (BCA) spending level caps and undoing sequestration.
September 18, 2015
This article appeared in The Courier-Journal on September 17, 2015
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Governments at all levels have squandered billions of dollars on wasteful and unnecessary projects. At the federal level pork-barrel earmarks funded everything from indoor rainforests to tattoo removal programs to gigantic subsidies for the solar energy industry. At the state and local level, Boston taxpayers watched as Boston went $10 billion over budget for the “Big Dig,” one of the biggest transportation infrastructure boondoggles in U.S. history. Today some of the most egregious cases of taxpayer waste are government-owned broadband networks. In fact, Kentucky is working to secure $324 million for a government-owned network (GON) that the state will, despite a partnership with an Australian financial firm, maintain and operate. State taxpayers will contribute $30 million to this project while federal taxpayers will kick in another $23.5 million. This project is a bad idea for five reasons: the state’s partner on this project, the likelihood of cost overruns, consumer cost considerations, privacy concerns and the weight of competing government spending priorities.
September 12, 2015
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Releases New Report on NFL Stadium Financing
Washington, D.C. - This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report, “Sacking Taxpayers: How NFL Stadium Subsidies Waste Money and Fall Short on Their Promises of Economic Development” detailing the public financing deals for NFL stadiums across the country. The report examines the economic impact of taxpayer-financed NFL stadiums on the people who pay the taxes that fund the construction of those very stadiums. Since 1995, a staggering 29 of the 31 stadiums that house NFL teams received public subsidies for construction, renovation or both. Over the last twenty years, taxpayers have been forced to spend nearly $7 billion subsidizing NFL stadium construction and renovation projects. “Americans love watching the NFL and football fans love going see their team play each week at stadiums across the country,” said David Williams, TPA President. “Unfortunately, beneath all of the glitz and glamour, these venues are nothing more than monuments to corporate welfare and taxpayer handouts. These stadiums have been built on the backs of taxpayers who had no or little say in the matter and in many cases have benefitted little or not at all.” The report comes as the NFL opens its 2015 season, which began on Thursday night September 10 as the Pittsburgh Steelers were defeated by the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The game was played in Gillette Stadium, which was built using $72 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.» Read More