September 4, 2018
This article originally appeared in the American Spectator on August 31, 2018.
The mainstream and tech media are pointing to Verizon’s throttling of the data speeds of the Santa Clara County Fire Department as it battled blazes in California as another reason why net neutrality is needed. But upon closer examination, the situation points to the opposite. While Verizon erred in this case, the concept of throttling data after a cap is met is a practice that generally benefits consumers. » Read More
August 31, 2018
By now, lawmakers should have put gas in their car, triple-checked Waze directions, and bid adieu to their constituents in preparation for the Fall session. It wouldn’t be surprising if some lawmakers are dragging their feet in making travel preparations for Washington, DC; members of Congress, after all, are experts in defer and delay. It doesn’t help that there’s a “yuuuge” pile of unfinished work left for members of Congress to attend to, ranging from spending bills to passing a fiscally responsible Farm Bill. This list doesn’t even take into account the other issues like intellectual property protection or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) reform. To help lawmakers procrastinate just a little while longer before getting back to work, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) prepared a Summer Reading to enlighten members of Congress on the issues they need to tackle before the midterm elections. » Read More
August 29, 2018
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Trent Seibert, 47, most recently the founder of The Texas Monitor, was found dead in his Houston home on August 23. In a posting about Trent, The Texas Monitor said the death was apparently of natural causes. Trent was known for his skills as an investigative journalist, and he plied his trade literally from coast to coast – he spent his early career working jobs in New Jersey, where he grew up, and later spent a short stint at the San Diego Union-Tribune. It was during his stay at The Tuscaloosa Newsin Alabama, where he served as city editor in 2004, that I met Trent. He pushed me to do what I still consider the best work of my career investigating allegations of voter fraud in west Alabama.
August 27, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) reacted critically to President Trump’s announcement that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be dissolved. President Trump made the announcement this morning at a White House event with Mexican President Enrique PeñaNieto joining by conference call. » Read More
August 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amidst news of the passing of Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) praised the lawmaker and his outstanding legacy. The senator, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last year, succumbed to his illness on Saturday. TPA president David Williams commended Sen. McCain: “Sen. McCain spent years of hard work defending taxpayers across the country against wasteful spending and a corrupt earmarking process. Sen. McCain often waged a lonely battle, fighting against profligate programs supported even by his fellow Republican lawmakers. Colleagues recall a senator unafraid to loudly voice his opposition to wasteful spending, while still embracing the civility sorely lacking in today’s political climate.” » Read More
August 24, 2018
This late in the summer, most lawmakers will soon begin the process of packing up their FDA-approved sunscreen and heading back to Washington, DC, burying their noses in proposed legislation and avoiding a government shutdown at the end of September. But with flight delays aplenty and chronic traffic surrounding the capital, members of Congress better hope they have internet access while sitting idly by. Fortunately, regulatory reform at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the past year ensures that even the people living in the boonies or by the beach will soon have the lightning-fast internet access currently enjoyed in cities across America. But not all lawmakers have gotten the memo, criticizing the FCC’s moves and defending the status-quo of onerous broadband and internet access regulations. For the lawmakers holding on for dear life to their temperamental internet connections, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance suggests ditching the smartphone and picking up our Summer Reading instead.» Read More
August 22, 2018
This article originally appeared in Economics21 on August 21, 2018.
As wildfires burn through hundreds of thousands of acres in California, Idaho, and Nevada, policymakers are wondering whether America is doing all it can to tame the embers. The President’s recent series of tweets on the issue suggest that states could be doing more to put out the flames, accusing California of magnifying the crisis through “bad environmental laws, which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized.” Following these pronouncements, the media and wildfire experts rushed to discredit President Trump’s linkage of water rights and wildfires. CNN, for instance, quoted University of Tennessee climatologist Henri Grissino-Mayer claiming “California does NOT divert water to the ocean. Ridiculous."
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August 21, 2018
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For more than a century, the United States has consistently led the world in technological development. From automobiles to iPhones, America has helped to create new industries and raise the standard of living worldwide. But game-changing developments in medicine, communication, and transportation wouldn’t be possible without assurances that inventors would benefit from their contributions. The driving force in promoting innovation is protecting intellectual property (IP) through thorough patent, copyright, and trademark enforcement.
August 20, 2018
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This article originally appeared in Watchdog.org on August 15, 2018.
The dynamic screens at the Venetian sports book list the various odds of the day, and the Atlanta Braves at 16-1 are a tempting pick to win the World Series. Although the team leads the National League East and faces lesser competition in the senior league, their youth and experience could trip them up if they make the playoffs. Sharps across the country will soon be making such value judgments from their home states. Bettors in places like New Jersey and Mississippi will no longer have to travel to Nevada to make legal wagers; instead they’ll be able to purchase those tickets in casinos in their home states – or even online. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the 1992 law that prevented sports wagers in every state but Nevada, many states have already legalized sports books or have plans to do so. But experts warn them not to overtax the games, lest they chase bettors back into the black market.
August 17, 2018
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For the past few summer recesses, lawmakers have been dismayed to find that there is no longer “sweat proof” or “instant protection” sun tan lotion on sale to keep the harmful rays at bay. These choices were taken off shelves across the country because of regulations finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than six years ago banishing broad sunscreen claims without evidence. This is just one of countless regulatory battles that the FDA has engaged in over the years, ranging from cosmetics rules to e-cigarettes. While the agency has furthered important consumer protections since its creation in 1906 and recently allowed a quicker “right to try” process for medications (and medical procedures), the FDA has also repeatedly overstepped its bounds and diminished innovation in the process. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has enough Summer Reading on the subject to keep members of Congress occupied for hours on the beach, hopefully under the protection of an umbrella instead of a government bureaucrat.
August 15, 2018
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on August 13, 2018.
In less than two years, the federal government will embark on a time-honored, decennial ritual: the U.S. census. One could be forgiven by thinking, that, 230 years and nearly two dozen censuses later, Washington, D.C. knows how to count people. Yet, despite a declining number of individuals per household and the rise in low-cost digital correspondence, the cost of the census is rising far above the rate of inflation. According to the Government Accountability Office, “the average cost for counting a housing unit increased from about $16 in 1970 to around $92 in 2010.” The report further notes that, over the past three years, the U.S. Census Bureau has underestimated how much it will cost to conduct the 2020 census.
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August 14, 2018
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on August 5, 2018.
According to green energy advocates, U.S. cities are on the cusp of large-scale electric bus purchases, paving the way for a greener and zero-emissions future. This year, for instance, San Francisco committed to a fully-electric vehicle fleet by 2035, before testing electric buses on the hilly routes of the city. San Francisco is hardly alone; Seattle signed onto an international pledge to only use electric buses starting in 2025. Dallas unveiled their own electric fleet, introducingseven vehicles for downtown services with the help of more than $7 million from the Federal Transit Administration (aka federal taxpayers).
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August 13, 2018
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This article originally appeared in the Daily Caller on August 3, 2018.
It’s easy to groan about ever-shrinking airline seats that have little latitude for reclining. Some are taking it a step further, arguing that smaller seats 30,000 feet in the air actually harm passengers’ health and impede emergency evacuation efforts. With Congress considering reregulating airplane seat sizes via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), consumers may soon see a change in width and legroom. This misguided crusade for “passengers’ rights,” however, ignores the right and ability of passengers to choose from a smorgasbord of seat size and pricing options. For the loyal consumers of low-cost carriers, the bargain fares made possible by bargain seating are preferable to more luxurious options. By keeping regulation off the table, Congress and the FAA can keep travel prices low for millions of Americans desperate for a summer vacation by not meddling in the size of seats.
August 10, 2018
Anyone who has been on the Eastern seaboard recently will notice that a torrential downpour can ruin even the best-laid beach plans. Should the unthinkable happen, tanners can at least retreat to their ocean chateaus and turn on a movie. Be careful when watching a movie sequel because the only movie sequel that even comes close to being as good as the first is Rocky II. But, with Tax Reform 2.0 just around the corner, there could be another sequel where the underdog (taxpayers) win. » Read More
August 9, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) expressed alarm over the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) $889 million in controllable losses this quarter, up from $587 million during the third quarter of last year. The total net loss of $1.5 billion for the quarter demonstrates the Postal Service's dire state of fiscal mismanagement. » Read More
August 8, 2018
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This article originally appeared in the American Conservative on August 1, 2018.
The Pentagon is often described as a black hole of government spending. Just how bad is it these days? The Defense Department spent $21 billion in taxpayer money over two years without telling anyone what services were rendered or which companies benefitted. Normally, watchdog groups can at least identify the agency’s frivolous spending and tease out who the major beneficiaries are. But under something called Other Transaction Authority (OTA), the Pentagon can award money without the usual disclosures or due diligence normally required of federal contracts. Voila! A black hole.
Free Market and Taxpayer Groups Send Letter to House Republicans Urging Rejection of the Title II CRADavid Williams on
August 7, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), along with 33 conservative groups, sent a letter to House Republicans urging them to reject a pending Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure that seeks to re-implement overreaching, anti-consumer internet regulation from the Obama Administration known as “Title II.” » Read More
August 7, 2018
On August 1, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to the CEOs of nine contract pharmacies that participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The letters, which bring attention to the “diversion and duplicate discounts” and lack of oversight by covered entities, are a powerful reminder that the program is failing to live up to its promise. As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has previously discussed in blog pieces, letters, statements, and social media, the 340B Program has morphed into a paradigm for government waste and is in desperate need of reform. » Read More
August 3, 2018
For this edition of Summer Readings, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) suggests that lawmakers hone in on the issue that touches all other issues, intellectual property (IP). The right to ideas can encompass a variety of forms, from patents to trademarks to copyrights. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of protecting IP and we urge Congress to follow in their footsteps. IP remains critical to boosting economic growth, and with more than 40 million jobs in the United States directly and indirectly attributable to IP intensive industries, policymakers must take this issue seriously. The recent NAFTA discussions demonstrate that protecting IP is far more than just a domestic concern for Congress and the President. » Read More
August 2, 2018
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As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has documented, Medicaid fails patients at an astronomically high cost to taxpayers. Reasons abound for Medicaid’s failures; one commonly cited reason is the low reimbursement rates given to physicians. Though most of this issue is formulaic, a little-known loophole results in hundreds of millions of dollars being skimmed off the top of Medicaid reimbursement payments in eleven states. Generally, Medicaid payments are required by law to go directly to medical care professionals after being allocated to states. But, the previous administration allowed a nice little carve out for unions.