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Category: Earmarks



  • No, Resurrecting Earmarks Won’t Make Congress Work Better

    Ross Marchand on January 18, 2018


    This article originally appeared in The American Conservative on January 15, 2018


    Solutions to Congress’s unprecedented partisan gridlock are a dime a dozen these days. Recently, pundits have lined up to defend the idea, touted by the president and congressional leadership, of resurrecting earmarks as a way to foster legislative compromise. Prominent blogger and Bloomberg View columnist Tyler Cowen provides an interesting conservatarian take on why the earmark ban has harmed the functioning of government and the advancement of free-market policy. 

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  • Earmarks are Extinct, and Now's Not the Time for Jurassic Park

    Ross Marchand on January 12, 2018


    This article appeared in the Washington Examiner on January 12, 2018. 

    To citizens across the country, hopes of “draining the swamp” were fulfilled with the passage of comprehensive tax reform at the end of last year. With one step forward, however, the administration and Congress may decide to take two steps back. Earlier this week, the president and congressional leaders announced their willingness to bring back the destructive process of earmarking in an attempt to smooth out disastrous budget negotiations. In a rush to ditch continuing resolutions in favor of an actual budget, key leaders would be making a deal with the devil in bringing back earmarks. While President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are simply trying to jump-start the budget process in good faith, allowing earmarks would once again consign taxpayer dollars to a black hole of aimless funding and failed expectations.

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  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance Slams Congress and President Trump for Trying to Bring Back Earmarks

    David Williams on January 9, 2018


    Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) slammed President Trump and members of Congress who suggested bringing back legislative earmarks.  Congress banned earmarks in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the House.  Seven years later, with full control of the Legislative and Executive Branches the prospect of earmarks shouldn’t be an issue. Instead, the Administration and Congress are close to re-implementing a destructive policy that would proliferate waste in Washington. TPA President David Williams noted that, “Earmarking is an irresponsible way to allocate funds. In addition to the chaos it causes during the appropriations process, earmarks are behind some of the most wasteful programs and projects taxpayers have been bilked for over the years.  Earmarks have served as the bribery currency of Congress for many years, as both parties used them to buy votes." » Read More
  • Earmarks Are Still A Problem, Don’t Let Congress Make It Worse

    David Williams on March 20, 2017

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    This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on March 14, 2017

    Lawmakers in Washington are moving at a faster pace than they have been for several years. And while it is encouraging to see some progress on tax and health care reform, it is also problematic that there is movement to bring back earmarks. Congress banned earmarks in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the House. And now, six years later, with full control of the legislative and executive branches, the threat of earmarks shouldn’t be a problem. Not so fast. The fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill that passed the House last week contained 406 earmarks worth $14.5 billion. None of the earmarks listed were requested by the Pentagon, and instead inserted by one or more members of Congress.

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  • BREAKING: Taxpayers Protection Alliance Uncovers $14.5 Billion in Earmarks in Defense Spending Bill

    Michi Iljazi on March 6, 2017

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Defense Appropriations Act conference report, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has uncovered 406 earmarks totaling $14.5 billion (click here to see the full list) that were not requested by the Pentagon and inserted by members of Congress. That is an 11 percent increase in the number of projects and a one percent decrease in total dollars from FY 2016.  As some lawmakers push to return to officially bring back earmarks since they were banned in 2011, TPA continues to show that earmarks never died.  These earmarks are more alarming considering President Trump’s call for an increase Defense spending in FY 2018.

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  • TPA Releases Roadmap to Fiscal Sanity for 115th Congress

    Michi Iljazi on January 25, 2017

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    This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a series of issue briefs for the 115th Congress titled Roadmap to Fiscal Sanity.  The publication puts forward an aggressive reform agenda for Congress. The publication focuses on 14 different policy areas where reform is needed to help reduce the size of government, cut spending, enact tax reform, and help get the economy back on track.  Issues covered in the publication include Defense Spending, Earmarks, Energy, Health Care, Intellectual Property, Mergers, Regulatory Reform, Solar Subsidies, Tax Reform, Telecommunications Policy, Trade Policy, United Nations/World Health Organization and United States Postal Service Reform. TPA President David Williams said of the release, “The newly elected Congress has No More Excuses for not acting on real and meaningful reform when it comes to reducing spending and getting the debt under control. TPA’s Roadmap to Fiscal Sanity provides a path forward.”

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  • Taxpayer New Years Resolutions for 2017

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on January 2, 2017

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    The New Year has begun, and after saying goodbye to 2016, taxpayers are ready to welcome 2017.  While many people resolve to shed a few pounds and break some bad habits, this year’s list of resolutions highlights all of the major issues that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will focus on throughout the year.


    Congress


    The resolution for Congress in 2017 is clear: No More Excuses. Washington (including the incoming Trump administration) have no more excuses for not getting things done for taxpayers. On a wide range of issues, including tax reform and regulatory reform, members of the House and Senate can longer make excuses for not doing the necessary work to fix some of the major problems impacting taxpayers. It is time for Congress to get to work. For more on Congress, click here

    Click "Read Blog" below to see all of TPA's 2017 Resolutions!

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  • Lame Duck session is the Wrong Response to the Election

    David Williams on November 29, 2016

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    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.

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  • TPA's 2016 Taxpayer Turkeys

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on November 23, 2016

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    Thanksgiving
    in upon us, and that means it’s time for families to get together for good times, great food, and a few football games. It also means that it’s time for Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s (TPA) annual Taxpayer Turkeys! This year TPA has been paying close attention to what elected officials are doing and how they are hurting taxpayers. Here’s our list of turkeys for this year and you can also hear about them on the latest TPA podcast (click here to listen).

    Click "read more" below to see the 2016 Taxpayer Turkeys!

    » Read More
  • TPA's 2016 Taxpayer Turkeys

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on November 21, 2016

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    Thanksgiving
    in upon us, and that means it’s time for families to get together for good times, great food, and a few football games. It also means that it’s time for Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s (TPA) annual Taxpayer Turkeys! This year TPA has been paying close attention to what elected officials are doing and how they are hurting taxpayers. Here’s our list of turkeys for this year and you can also hear about them on the latest TPA podcast (click here to listen).

    Click "read more" below to see the 2016 Taxpayer Turkeys

    » Read More
  • TPA Warns Congress Not to Lift the Ban on Earmarks

    Michi Iljazi on 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

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  • TPA Finds $10 Billion in Earmarks in Senate Defense Spending Bill

    Michi Iljazi on June 21, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.
    – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a list of earmarks stuffed into the fiscal year 2017 Senate Defense Appropriations Act.   TPA combed through the Bill and found 235 earmarks totaling $10.1 billion (click here to see the full list). As with the House version, there were many familiar wasteful projects that once again found their way into the Senate bill. Failed programs like the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the Abrams Tank all had earmarked money included in the Senate bill. The continued waste at the Pentagon shows the real need for more transparency.  It is becoming increasingly clear that Congress is continuing to earmark money for their pet projects even though there is an earmark ban in the House and Senate.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full statement

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  • TPA Reminds House of $11 Billion in Earmarks in Defense Spending Bill

    Michi Iljazi on June 15, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. –
    As the House moves closer a final vote on more than $500 billion fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations Act, it is important to remind lawmakers of the waste that is in the bill. TPA combed through the legislation and found 235 earmarks totaling $11.1 billion (click here to see the full list) that were not requested by the Pentagon and inserted by members of Congress. These earmarks show that Congress’ self-imposed earmark ban is nothing more than a lie to taxpayers.  There were many familiar wasteful projects on the list, including the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the Abrams Tank. All of these programs have been notorious for their waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars and have not been requested by the Pentagon.

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  • TPA Uncovers $11 Billion in Earmarks in Defense Appropriations Bill

    Michi Iljazi on May 19, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. –
    Earlier this week, the House released their initial markup for the fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations Act that will spend more than $500 billion. TPA combed through the report and found 235 earmarks totaling $11.1 billion (click here to see the full list) that were not requested by the Pentagon and inserted by members of Congress. These earmarks show that Congress’ self-imposed earmark ban is nothing more than a lie to taxpayers. There were many familiar wasteful projects on the list, including the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the Abrams Tank. All of these programs have been notorious for their waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars and have not been requested by the Pentagon.

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Supporting OCO Amendment to FY2017 NDAA

    Michi Iljazi on May 19, 2016

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    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
  • The Deficit Soars While Washington Fiddles

    Michi Iljazi on January 20, 2016

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    On January 12, 2016, President Obama, with his rose-colored glasses, wanted to put the nation at ease about the overall track of the country with his final State of the Union Address.  But, as far as the economy is concerned, nobody should be buying what the President is selling. The job market is struggling and the earning power of families nationwide continues to lag throughout the duration of the Obama era. Now, even more troubling for the economy is the news from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the budget deficit is about to balloon to $544 billion this year, with the deficit increasing over the next decade.

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  • BREAKING: TPA Releases List of 365 Earmarks Worth $14.8 billion in Defense Appropriations in FY 2016 Omnibus

    Michi 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.

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  • NFL Stadiums, Broadband, and the Dangers of Taxpayer-Funded Shiny Objects

    Michi Iljazi on September 30, 2015

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    Politicians and bureaucrats know that the easiest money to spend money is somebody else’s. There are countless examples of this, but taxpayer-funded NFL stadiums and municipal broadband system show that spending other people’s money is even easier when it is spent on these shiny objects. Recently, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a report detailing the reality of taxpayer-backed NFL stadiums in cities across America. TPA has also been exposing taxpayer funded broadband networks across the country that are costing taxpayers billions of dollars and failing at an alarming rate. TPA’s NFL stadium report documented the use of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to build stadiums that were aimed at boosting local economies. In 60 percent of the cases examined the poverty rate increased and the median household income decreased.  These were hardly the results that those securing the financing predicted.  And, most certainly, not the results taxpayers envisioned with their money being used as the basis for building these venues. Government broadband is another troubling example of this ‘shiny object’ syndrome that state and local legislators have been taking part in for years. The scam is pretty simple, and horrendously expensive to taxpayers. State governments, prodded on by the Obama administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), propose plans for a government-owned broadband network (GON) and use taxpayer dollars to build the infrastructure and maintain the network. Those backing the plan promise it will bring a faster, better, and cheaper internet.  Once the “shiny object” is dangled in front of the press and lawmakers, the network is built and then the frenzy to show its success begins.. Unfortunately, the story takes an awful (and expensive) turn when the network is unsustainable and taxpayers have to provide more money. The GONs are usually failures for reasons that range from unworkable to unmarketable, because despite what some proponents say there is already competition and GONs usually offer service at lesser quality at a similar or higher cost.

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  • Time for the GOP Presidential Candidates to Get Serious on Pentagon Reform

    David Williams on September 22, 2015

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    This article appeared in Rare on September 17, 2015

    As the dust settles from last night’s Republican presidential debate, much of the media attention is still focused on winners, losers, and who offered the best zingers. But it’s important to point out that while many candidates talked about foreign policy and which countries they wanted to bomb, one important issue received scant attention: our bloated Pentagon budget. For years now, efforts to rein in out-of-control federal government spending have brought conservatives of all stripes together. The rise of the tea party and the ever-increasing influence of the libertarian strain of the GOP is evidence of that. But for some reason, the Pentagon’s seemingly limitless credit card has been barely mentioned by the Republican presidential hopefuls. What’s even more worrying is that some of the candidates think the Pentagon should have more money, despite the fact that we currently have no idea how effectively it spends what it is allotted now, and amid ample evidence of rampant waste, fraud, and abuse.

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  • Summer Reading: Budget and Spending

    Michi Iljazi on September 4, 2015

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    It was a productive August for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), providing Congress with reading material during their August vacation with the 2015 Summer Reading series (click here for more). The final installment for this summer focuses on what’s ahead for lawmakers in September with the looming budget deadline of September 30. The House and Senate have major work to do in order to pass a spending bill that will keep the government funded to avoid a shutdown.  And, as usual, there won’t be much time for them to get it done.  In fact, Congress will only be in session for 12 days in September, making the budget deadline more ominous. Let’s start with how Congress ended up in this familiar situation. The last several years have been marked by multiple stop-gap spending measures that seem to get passed at the last minute. This has been a trend because the annual appropriations bills never made it out of both chambers. Though the House has been working to pass all the needed appropriations bills, the Senate has failed to pass spending bills. The government will run out of money at the end of September, so there will have to be some kind of funding bill passed in order to avoid a shut down. There are some key issues driving the debate over what any short-term funding package will look like, but TPA is calling on Congress to avoid using this must-pass legislation as a vehicle for irresponsible spending. The most preferred way to resolving the budget impasse is for both chambers to pass appropriations bills; but that option is no longer on the table. Another option would be a major budget deal; that is also off the table due to the lack of time before government funding expires. In lieu of those two preferred pathways, House and Senate leaders will likely move another short-term spending measure that will fund the government from anywhere from one day to a year.

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