TPA's New Year's Resolutions for 2015!
December 31, 2014
The New Year is upon us and it’s time for millions of Americans to make their resolutions for the New Year. Many folks vow to lose weight by eating a healthier diet and going to the gym. In a twist on that time-honored tradition, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is urging Congress to get it’s fiscal health back in shape. We put together a list of our own resolutions for Washington and those politicians who will soon be returning for a new Congressional session.
In 2014 Congress larded up the Defense Appropriations Bill with earmarks and the National Defense Authorization Act lacked transparency with the Senate allowing very few amendments. In 2015, Congress needs to pass a more fiscally responsible Pentagon budget with increased transparency. Read more about defense spending here.
In 2014, TPA launched an aggressive educational campaign to exposing schemes in the solar panel industry designed to take advantage of tax credits given to consumers on the national and state levels. Part of that campaign was the launch of solarsecrets.org. TPA will urge all levels of government to wean the solar panel industry off of subsidies. If the solar panel industry is to survive, it should do so, without taxpayer subsidies. Congress, and state officials, need to end solar subsides as soon as possible. Read more about solar here.
In 2014 the Keystone pipeline was stalled, but with a new Congress and time running out, there is a chance this much needed project will finally begin and help increase jobs while lowering energy prices for working families nationwide. Congress should pass the Keystone XL Pipeline quickly. Read more about energy here.
United States Postal Service (USPS)
TPA spent the latter half of 2014 showcasing just how bad the USPS was doing at getting their fiscal house in order. As the agency continues to lose money each quarter, the need for reform grows and in 2015 there may be opportunities to have real cost-saving changes at the USPS. More oversight of USPS is needed and Congress needs to make sure that the USPS doesn’t overreach its mission with package delivery and other ideas that intrude into the private sector. Read more about the USPS here.
Operation Choke Point
In 2015, the Department of Justice will begin a new era of leadership with the confirmation process of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General set to begin in January. This year TPA will look to end DOJ’s abusive and intrusive Operation Choke Point program. Congress and the new Attorney General have a real opportunity to stop this destructive and invasive program dead in its tracks. Read more about Operation Choke Point here.
INTELLECTUAL PROPRTY (IP)
The new year always has a tendency to bring about new opportunities for many individuals who want to contribute with new innovations and ideas that could very well become key components to the overall economic success of the country. Over the years IP-intensive companies have been responsible for trillions of dollars in economic output annually. TPA continues to believe that strengthen our IP laws and reforming the patent legal system are important resolutions that Congress should put on their 2015 list. Read more about IP here.
Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank
Last year, taxpayers nearly saw the end for the Ex-Im Bank and their harmful impact on jobs and trade for American businesses. In 2015 Congress should allow the bank’s charter to expire and TPA will be working hard to make this resolution happen. Read more about Ex-Im here.
This past year tobacco was a target of intellectual property (Plain Packaging) and increased taxation for many countries, including Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. For example, the United Nations (UN) World Health Organization conference in the Fall attacked the industry with increased taxes. TPA joined with 22 organizations from 15 different countries in demanding a halt to international taxation schemes. There is no doubt that 2015 will see more fights against Plain Packaging and massive taxation that could harm consumers and taxpayers worldwide. The federal government should take a more active role in protecting the intellectual property of all companies and Congress needs to stop the UN from imposing any new taxes on the American people. Read more about tobacco here.
A newly elected Senate could be far less hostile to the free trade agenda sought by President Obama and with Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement still on the table. The good news is that 2015 may be the year that Washington moves forward on these important international initiatives. Trade Promotion Authority and the TPP need to be approved immediately in the new Congress. Read more about trade here.
Corporate Tax Reform
Next year could be a big year for tax reform, specifically the corporate tax rate. Former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have laid the groundwork for tax reform. The new Congress and Senate need to reform the tax code, restructuring individual rate levels and reducing the corporate tax rate. Tax reform is long overdue. Read more about the corporate tax here.
Internet Sales Tax
Last year, Congress rightly rejected attempts to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) aka an Internet sales tax. Even though the Republicans won control of the Senate in November, MFA passed with bipartisan support in the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declared MFA dead on arrival, but TPA will be fighting to make sure it stays dead in 2015 and beyond. The easiest for Congress to do is nothing, which means no Internet sales tax. Read more about the internet sales tax here.
Communications Act Update
Early last year Congress began working towards an update to the Communications Act of 1992. TPA welcomed this effort because the current law is woefully outdated and is substandard in its ability to provide the right guidelines for today’s current digital landscape. Although there were some slight improvements with the advancement in the Senate of the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA), there is still a great deal of work to be done and this is something that Congress must resolve to finish in 2015. Read more about the Communications Act update here.
TPA fought hard in 2014 to expose the continuing failures of government broadband in states like Louisiana, Utah, and Tennessee. Next year is already shaping up to be another year of battles and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler appears ready to go up against states that don’t want government forcing taxpayer-funded broadband and its massive costs on their residents. Congress needs to stop this abuse of power by the FCC and allow states to decide. Read more about broadband here.
The battle to stop Internet access taxes was one of TPA’s hardest fought fights this year. There were temporary victories in September and December that have achieved the goal of preventing a massive tax increase on millions of Americans who use the internet. However, there is still more to be done and in 2015 the push for a permanent moratorium on internet access taxes will be a key resolution for TPA in 2015. One of the first orders of business should be to pass a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes. Read more about Internet taxes here.
The FCC and President Obama have been looking at net neutrality for years and in 2014 there were court decisions, public filings, and even White House actions all impacting the fight over net neutrality. In 2015 it is likely that this issue will continue to dominate the tech/telecom sector but rest assured, TPA will be on the front lines working to prevent any reclassification of the internet to Title II. Congress needs to step in and make sure that any policy decisions that could impact the future of the Internet are based on what’s best for the Internet and not government regulators. Read more about net neutrality here.
A new auction in 2015 for government spectrum mark the last on our list of resolutions. With much of the best spectrum owned by the feds, the time is now to free some of that spectrum onto the market and allow businesses to better serve the public and consumers by having an open auction process where the spectrum can be obtained for the highest value, giving the best return to taxpayers. Read more about spectrum here.
That’s all for our resolutions list, and TPA hopes that Congress will be able to get the message! New leadership has given the Senate and House a unique opportunity to make good on some of these resolutions and work on some new ones too! From all of us at TPA, have a safe and happy New Year!