California is known for trend setting such as ham and pineapple pizza and surfing. Unfortunately, California is also becoming known for other trends, ballot propositions. One of the latest propositions, Proposition (Prop) 29 might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If the proposition passes California’s tobacco tax will increase by $1.00 per pack, making the total tax $1.87 per pack. The additional revenue is supposed to be used for cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement. In reality, the additional revenue will be used to expand an already bloated bureaucracy and do nothing to help the state out of its financial mess. The federal government already spends $6 billion a year on cancer research and any research on a serious disease like cancer should be coordinated at the national level rather than a patchwork of research done at the state level.
When President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget on February 13, 2012, there were many nagging questions by taxpayers. The budget predicted deficits as far as the eye could see with a feeble attempt at cutting spending (read more here). What many people didn’t see was a step backwards in transparency with the budget secretly stripping three anti-lobbying provisions from last year’s appropriations bill. One federal program ready to take full advantage is The Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is no stranger to using taxpayer dollars to lobby for higher taxes and has already spent more than $1 billion towards “wellness programs.” The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is very concerned that tax dollars may once again be used to lobby for bigger government (read press release here).
After seven extensions to the last transportation authorization bill, the 2005 Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), Congress is poised to pass a transportation authorization bill in 2011. The recent talk about spending cuts and shunning earmarks will make this authorization bill even more interesting than previous ones. A transportation authorization bill is important to enable the federal government to fund the transportation needs of the country. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, transportation authorization bills have been politicized and earmarked without regard to transportation needs. A recent editorial by the new Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), is either good news for taxpayers or just more rhetoric.
TRANSPARENCY ALERT!! Department of Education Shuns Transparency in Favor of New Unnecessary Regulation
A critical element in bringing back fiscal responsibility and government accountability is transparency. When President Obama took office in 2009 he pledged to have “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” That is why the Taxpayers Protection Alliance was so dismayed when it found out that the Department of Education (DOEd) may be side-stepping transparency in its recent regulatory actions on gainful employment rules. DOEd proposed “gainful employment” rules which require for-profit schools to prove their graduates are either paying back loans or are capable of doing so. If not, the schools will lose access to federal student aid. The process has been a mess, to say the least. DOEd was supposed to release the regulations in September 2010 but delayed the release because of an overwhelming number of petitions that were opposed to the regulation.