TPA Releases Statement on 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill

Michi Iljazi

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 2,100-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.

Identifying positive portions of the bill, Williams singled out three key components.

Crude Oil Export Ban Lifted
“TPA is pleased to see the inclusion of language that finally lifts the ban on crude oil exports. This ban is more than four decades old and has continued to be a policy that simply doesn’t make sense. Lifting the ban will boost the energy sector, which is critical to the economy.  And, it will provide relief to consumers on their energy costs. “

Internet Access Tax Ban Renewed
“In a win for consumers and taxpayers, the Omnibus extends the Internet access tax moratorium until September 30, 2016.  A permanent ban was in sight but the Senate is stalling on banning Internet access taxes permanently as a handful of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle try to keep it as leverage for passing an Internet sales tax.  The two are unrelated and should not be tied together in any way. Nonetheless, it is important to extend the ban as it is set to expire in just days, and the Omnibus provides the needed temporary extension. Hopefully the Senate will act to make that ban permanent as soon as possible.”

Obamacare:  Insurer Bailout Denied and Menu Labeling Delayed
“Taxpayers can be thankful that Congress stood firm on withholding any bailout for the health insurance companies who participate in the exchanges. Businesses can also be thankful that they will have more time before complying with onerous regulations on menu labeling that will cost billions of dollars. Obamacare continues to be a failure and a drag on the economy and the healthcare system as sign-ups remain flat, and co-ops are flat lining.”

Williams highlighted some of the bad provisions as well.

Defense Earmarks
“The House Rules Committee will file the complete conference language sometime after today, and we can expect to see a number of earmarks in Defense.  For example, there is an additional $1.3 billion for 11 more F-35 fighters, exceeding the Pentagon’s request.  ‘Defense Research’ alone received nearly $1 billion dollars, so expect to find money that the Pentagon didn’t ask for but Congress saw fit to earmark.”

Solar and Wind Subsidies
“TPA has been fighting to end the subsidies to solar and wind and the Omnibus just did the opposite. Even though there is a ‘phase out’ of wind and solar subsidies, this is actually a sleight of hand trick since solar subsidies were expected to expire and wind subsidies had already expired.  This is deeply disappointing as taxpayers continue to give billions of dollars of their money so that the government can prop-up failing technologies and risky business models.”

Essential Air Service
“In a slap in the face to taxpayers, Congress will spend $175 million for the Essential Air Service program. This is a program that keeps small and barely used airports in business with massive taxpayer subsidies. The government shouldn’t be subsidizing airports so that one plane can fly out of an airport that nobody uses.”

Finally, Willams expressed disappointment in the process.

“While we’re pleased that the ’72-hour rule’ which purports to allow three days for members and the public to read legislation will be adhered to with Friday’s vote, it is disappointing that we continue to see a repetition of past end-of-the-year scrambles by Congress where trillions of dollars are thrown into thousands of pages just days before a deadline in order to get these types of major legislation past the finish line faster.”

The pdf version of this statement can be found here.