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Category: Congress



  • Taxpayers Are in Love With Tax Reform. What About Members of Congress?

    David Williams on February 8, 2016

    heart

    Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches.  With that in mind, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) launched a Valentine’s Day themed campaign designed to address the serious issue of tax reform for members of Congress. The “Love is Patient, Taxpayers Aren’t” campaign (click here for press release) sums up the desire for immediate tax reform.  Much like the holiday of Valentine’s Day, the campaign will be conducted with the passage of cards, candy and alluring messages.

    As part of the campaign, members of Congress and their staff will be sent a BuzzFeed-style personality quiz to see if their views truly are aligned with tax reform. The results of the quiz are simple - either the member of Congress is in favor of economy boosting tax reform, or they oppose tax.  TPA will also encourage Capitol Hill to utilize our snapchat filter that features conversation hearts adorned with tax reform messages such as “Tax Reform BAE (Before Anything Else)” and “Tax Reform 2016.”  Additionally, Congress will be sent eCards featuring tax reform memes with holiday-themed facts such as: “There are 75 thousand pages in the US Tax Code. That’s enough paper to write a love letter every day for the next 200 years.”

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  • IRS Credibility Gap Widens: Agency Admits to Deleting Hard Drives

    Michi Iljazi on January 25, 2016

    irs

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been no stranger to controversy over the last few years. Political targeting, hollow complaints about budget cuts, and continued stonewalling into investigations of impropriety and misconduct have been nothing short of damaging to the credibility of the agency. Now, another major story is brewing as news unfolded about information related to an ongoing court case.  And yes, the impropriety involves missing e-mails.   And, this new revelation about the IRS impacts an ongoing investigation that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is conducting. According to The Daily Caller, “Samuel Maruca, owner of the hard drive in question and a former senior IRS executive, participated in the IRS hiring of the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP allegedly to investigate Microsoft. Maruca left the IRS in August 2014, according to court documents.” The name of the IRS officials may not seem important but it is. Mr. Maruca was in charge of a key hire at the IRS, the prominent trial lawyer law firm Quinn Emanuel. The firm was hired to handle an audit the agency was conducting. The IRS then used taxpayer money to pay the $1000 per hour billing that Quinn Emanuel charged the agency.

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  • Still Time for Congress to Take Action on Patent Litigation Reform

    Michi Iljazi on January 22, 2016

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    In an election year there is rarely optimism about the ability of Congress to get big things accomplished.  This year has just begun, and while the campaign for the White House is in full swing there is still an appetite in Congress to get moving on important items including tax reform and trade. However, another area that Congress should focus their attention on and keep momentum going is patent litigation and venue reform. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) believes in the foundations of intellectual property (IP), the importance it has to the overall economic health of the economy.  Protecting IP will benefit taxpayers and ensure the success of small and large businesses. Laws that encourage innovation and creation are key to ensuring that IP can be abundant, and worth the time and investment from those in the private sector; which impacts jobs and economic output. That logic applies even when it comes to the rules that govern patents in the United States today.  Unfortunately, there are still some glaring problems with regards to how the law treats this area of IP.

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Urging Senate to Pass Permanent Ban on Internet Access Taxes

    Michi Iljazi on January 21, 2016

    comp

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to fight a number of battles in order to make certain taxpayers won’t have new or increasing taxes coming from federal and state governments. In the next few weeks Congress has an opportunity to end one potential new tax forever and that’s Internet access taxes. Passage of H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 by a vote of 256-158 in the House in late December was a critical step because legislation contained the "Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act" (PITFA), which will forever eliminate any threat of tax increases for Internet access. Now, the Senate must act in kind to end the threat of Internet access taxes permanently. Keeping that in mind, TPA signed onto this coalition letter (click here) this morning urging Senate leadership to keep the PITFA provision and pass the bill.

    Click 'read more' below to read the full letter

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  • The Deficit Soars While Washington Fiddles

    Michi Iljazi on January 20, 2016

    cash

    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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  • A Bipartisan Growth Fix? Comprehensive Tax Reform

    David Williams on January 19, 2016

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    This piece originally appeared on Real Clear Markets on January 11, 2016

    Welcome to the start of a New Year, a time when many Americans make resolutions to improve their quality of life. Invariably, one of those resolutions is being smarter when it comes to spending and saving money. One New Year's resolution that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has for Congress is to also be more fiscally responsible, and that means passing comprehensive tax reform. Simplifying the tax code and a commitment from lawmakers to do so is the blueprint to ease some of American consumers and businesses' financial woes and increase economic growth. Fortunately, certain Presidential candidates, and some leaders in Congress, are starting to understand the importance of tax reform and have pledged to make this issue a priority in 2016. But all talk will be hollow unless the candidates and lawmakers put their words into action.

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  • TPA Responds to President Obama's Final State of the Union Address

    Michi Iljazi on January 13, 2016

    Statement by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

    In response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address last night, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance released the following statement:

    “Last night, President Obama made the case that the American economy is finally turning the page on a chapter of recent history marked by anemic growth and a sluggish economic outlook. While the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) may disagree with that assertion, TPA does support the President’s call to remove the obstacles in the way of a healthy, vibrant business environment. The President and his counterparts on Capitol Hill have an opportunity this year to make real progress towards that goal by tackling comprehensive tax reform.

    Click 'read more' below for the full statement

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  • President Obama’s Final State of the Union Address Likely Heavy on Style, Not Substance

    Michi Iljazi on January 11, 2016

    sotu

    President Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address (SOTU) to the nation on January 12th.  The annual tradition of addressing a joint-session of Congress along with millions of Americans is often used to set the stage for the coming year and the battles with the legislative branch that the President assumes will be on the agenda. However, this year will be different for a several reasons and it is important for taxpayers and those watching the speech to understand why this speech (more so than others) will be weighted more on style and less on substance.

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  • Congressional Repeal of Obamacare is an Important Step Forward

    Michi Iljazi on January 8, 2016

    obamacare

    On March 23, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, was signed into law.  Now, less than two months away from its sixth anniversary, the United States Congress finally passed an Obamacare repeal bill that will be sent to President Obama.  While it is likely that the bill will be vetoed and unable to be overridden in the Senate, this is an important moment in the fight against Obamacare. This victory, while not fully realized without a President willing to sign the repeal bill, presents an opportunity for Congress to make their case on the best way forward to fix the problems that do exist within our healthcare system today. The House voted on Wednesday, January 6 240-181 to pass a repeal bill of Obamacare.  The same bill passed the Senate in December by a vote of 52-47 through a process called reconciliation.  TPA applauded House and Senate leaders for finally doing what had been promised for several years; get a repeal bill onto the President’s desk.

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  • TPA's 2016 New Years Resolutions for Washington!

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on December 31, 2015

    nye

    The time to say goodbye to 2015 has arrived as the New Year is upon us. From losing weight to reading more, it’s that time of year when millions of Americans make their resolutions for the coming year.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) put together a list of our own resolutions for Washington.

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  • Republican Attorneys General Need to Defend States' Right on Gaming

    David Williams on December 30, 2015

    online gaming

    This article appeared in Townhall.com on December 9, 2015

    In a 2014 video by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson argued that, “The founders created a magnificent document, our Constitution, that never intended” for the federal government to encroach on states’ rights. It’s a good message from a usually reliable conservative. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to square with Wilson’s October letter to colleagues asking his fellow attorneys general to support federal legislation mandating how states regulate gaming within their borders; a message that is irreconcilable with his insistence that Washington respect states’ rights. The measure in question is the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act” (RAWA), which would allow politicians in Washington, DC to decide state gaming policy.

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  • TPA Joins Coalition Urging Reform on U.S. Sugar Policy

    Michi Iljazi on December 29, 2015

    sugar

    As Washington prepares for the New Year, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is hard at work preparing to continue the fight against wasteful spending on policies and programs that have amounted to nothing more than cronyism and corporate welfare. One area that Congress could look at in 2016 is the U.S. sugar program, which TPA has been fighting to change for years. From import quotas to purchasing excess sugar to keep prices artificially high, the sugar program is filled with subsidies and in need of reform. In an effort led by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), TPA signed onto a letter with other taxpayer and free market organizations urging new House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to reform federal policy on sugar in the coming year.

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  • Congress' Omnibus Bill; Minus Few Lumps of Coal, Historic Win for U.S. Energy

    David Williams on December 22, 2015

    oil

    Last week, the 114th Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that has now been signed into law by President Obama.  As is the case with any government package this size, Congress’ omnibus bill contains its fair share of lumps of coal for taxpayers including 365 Defense earmarks worth $14.8 billion, solar and wind subsidies, and a wasted $175 million in taxpayer dollars for the Essential Air Services program. However, with that being said, the package also includes language lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Put simply, this provision—strongly supported by Democrats and Republicans—is being chalked up as a major win for America consumers. And for good reason. Maintaining the nearly 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports no longer makes sense. The U.S. is the leading producer of oil and natural gas globally, and has within reach the opportunity to become the world’s leader in energy resources. The benefits of allowing U.S. crude oil exports covers everything from increased economic benefits here at home, to downward pressure on gasoline prices,, to significantly increased diplomatic and security relations with our nation’s key allies.

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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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  • TPA Releases Statement on 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill

    Michi Iljazi on 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.

    click 'read more' below to read the full statement

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  • Paris Pledge: Obama Bypasses Congress, Opting for More Regulations

    David Williams on December 15, 2015

    obama

    Late last week, leaders from around the world concluded a major gathering in Paris where they discussed, negotiated, and ultimately reached a global agreement on how to deal with climate change.  The meeting, the Conference of Parties (COP) 21, was organized by the taxpayer-funded United Nations (UN).  With the UN as the center of the meeting, there was even more skepticism about any good outcomes.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance  (TPA) has been highly critical of the UN with its lack of transparency and previous attempts to impose international taxes (click here for TPA’s previous work on the United Nations). After all the hoopla was done, this was yet another conference with the usual solution, more government intervention.  This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen increased bureaucracy as the “silver bullet” to stop something terrible. Specifically focusing on the environment, the Paris agreement just turned out to be another round of proposals calling for new regulations on countries and businesses that will likely do little to improve the environment and do a great deal to damage the economic output of partner nations, including the United States.  And, with more than 50,000 attendees, the irony of the carbon footprint made by those traveling to Paris should not be lost.

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  • TPA to Congress: Support H.R. 644 and Make the Ban on Internet Access Taxes Permanent!

    Michi Iljazi on December 10, 2015

    Taxpayers Protection Alliance is committed to seeing relief for taxpayers whenever victories appear to be sight, and lately taxpayers haven’t had too many victories. That could all change over the next few days as Congress considers legislation that will permanently extended the moratorium on Internet access taxes. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 by a vote of 256-158. This legislation contains measures regarding our trade agenda, but it also contains a positive taxpayer provision, the "Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act" (PITFA), which will forever eliminate any threat of tax increases for Internet access. PITFA will give millions of Americans the certainty they need on a looming tax increase that can finally be eliminated for good. The conference report contains language that will ban those online taxes nationwide permanently.  TPA and many other groups have been working and fighting for years to have the moratorium (which has been extended on a limited basis continually since 1998) made permanent. The Internet is critical to businesses, and working families that cannot afford any new tax increases, particularly one that would reach every jurisdiction in the country, which would amount to more than 10,000 different possible new increases around the country. Individuals and businesses use a number of tools to access the web, including smart phones, tablets, TVs, and computers; all of those mediums would be impacted by these new tax increases. E-commerce is paramount to growing our economy, and this is a tax that would absolutely damage the internet-based economy. Here is an important refresher; the video TPA posted where folks from all over the country weighed in on what they thought Congress should about Internet access taxes.

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  • TPA Leads Coalition Urging Repeal of USDA Catfish Inspection Program

    Michi Iljazi on December 9, 2015

    catfish

    While Washington continues to move closer to their Christmas vacation, with much left to be done, TPA continues to remain hard at work looking at ways lawmakers and agencies can save taxpayers money this holiday season and beyond. Once program that continues to be prime for elimination is the unnecessary and wasteful Catfish Inspection program by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has a program in place for inspection of imported catfish. Unfortunately, taxpayers are already out $30 million dollars and it is estimated the duplicative USDA program will cost tens of millions of dollars annually. With that in mind, Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a coalition letter signed by Campaign for Liberty, Center for Individual Freedom, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Frontiers of Freedom, Independent Women’s Forum, Independent Women’s Voice, Institute for Liberty, Less Government, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and Taxpayers for Common Sense calling on Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, Shaun Donovan, to do what can be done in order to get rid of the wasteful program, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly recommended.

    Click 'read more' to read the full letter » Read More
  • 15 Reasons Congressional Research Service Reports Should Be Public

    Kevin R. Kosar on December 8, 2015

    usc

    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.

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  • Republicans And Democrats Prepare To Revive Bank Of Corporate Welfare

    David Williams on December 7, 2015

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    This article appeared in The Daily Caller on December 3, 2015

    On Tuesday, bipartisan members of Congress struck a deal that included renewal of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank into the five-year, $305 billion highway funding bill. What export financing and transportation highway funding have in common is anyone’s guess, but this is exactly why Americans distrust Washington. These political games revived government-sponsored crony capitalism that no one needs and many agree is a waste of taxpayer resources. In today’s hyper-partisan Congress, it seems the only thing our elected officials seem to agree on is more corporate welfare for Fortune 500 companies at the taxpayer’s expense. It’s all but inevitable now that the corrupt Ex-Im Bank will be resurrected from the dead. Boeing and GE must be giving a sigh of relief. They’ll still be able to count on their golden goose to fund $10.9 billion dollars’ worth of loan guarantees, with $8.3 to Boeing and $2.6 to GE last year. It’s called “Boeing’s Bank” for a reason; they alone consistently receive 40 percent of Ex-Im’s total authorizations and received a staggering $66.7 billion from 2007 to 2013. And, just think, Boeing and GE only had to spend $46.9 million to lobby on the bank’s behalf.

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