Right now in Washington congressional leaders are crafting spending bills to continue the funding of the government and there is always a temptation when writing an appropriations bill to fill it with unnecessary spending. This is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon but there are ways to combat this overspending and Congress has even played a role at times. Last week, in an effort led by the National Taxpayers Union, TPA joined several other free-market and taxpayer groups in urging the Congress to follow the spending limits set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BAC) and the House passed budget when it comes time to pass appropriations bills. In a time where we are facing serious debt and deficit problems, it is crucial that Congress does not break their own rules and exceed the spending limits set forth in the Sequester, and in fiscal year 2014, compliance means a reduction in total discretionary spending by 2 percent to a level of $967 billion… Congress must adhere to this limit to show taxpayers that fiscal discipline is feasible in a time when it is absolutely necessary. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance will be following all the latest developments as it relates to the upcoming appropriations bills and we hope that Congress will act responsibly.
When members of the Senate debated the 2013 Farm Bill, theu were faced with many difficult choices. Senators from rural states were naturally protective of their farming constituents when crop insurance was debated. Senators representing urban areas were sensitive to the cuts in the Food Stamp program (for TPA's work on the Food Stamp issue click here). But, there was absolutely no excuse for the Senate failing to eliminate a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that would duplicate efforts to inspect catfish already in place in the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This USDA program wastes $30 million in taxpayer funds annually and provides no food safety benefit whatsoever.
The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) has had a rocky road over the last two years and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance has chronicled most of that (read previous postings here and here). MEADS has rightly earned the moniker the "Missile to Nowhere." And, according to a December 4, 2012 Politico article, “Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin said today he feels strongly that the Medium Extended Air Defense System is a ‘waste of money,...’” Because of the prohibitive cost ($2 billion over budget), schedule delays (10 years behind schedule) and the system's poor performance, the U.S. Army has said it doesn't want MEADS and that it would never use the missiles. Now a German publication (click here to read the article in German) has dealt MEADS another blow. According to the June 4 article, “Despite the beautiful promotional images, the Ministry of Defense currently does not know whether the system can ever hit missiles from the sky. In fact, the Ministry does not know what the development will be as designed. In his last report to the Defence Committee he says: "The original development agreement ... contained ...no requirement for a fully comprehensive documentation and archiving of development results " OUCH! This latest German criticism comes at a time when Congress is debating another Defense authorization bill. In the interest of taxpayers and national security MEADS must be terminated immediately and given DAS BOOT (the shoe not the ship)!
On Friday, May 31, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance urged the Senate to end the government’s duplicate catfish inspection program, which wastes $30 million in taxpayer funds annually. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already inspects imported catfish, a food it labels as “low risk” for contamination. However, as a payoff to the domestic catfish industry, language was added to the pork-laden 2008 Farm Bill to add a second inspection under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the Government Accountability Office and the USDA, preparing for the program’s implementation cost taxpayers $19.8 million in fiscal year (FY) 2012 – all without a single inspection. Similar amounts were likely spent in FY 2013, according to Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). TPA applauds Senators McCain and Shaheen, as well as the 11 other senators from both parties, who are leading the fight to repeal this provision. Doing so today would save taxpayers $165 million in future spending, according to the Government Accountability Office.” Visit http://repealcatfish.com/ for more information on the USDA’s catfish inspection program.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance Delivers Coalition Letter On Tax Reform To Chairman Baucus and Chairman Camp
This morning the Taxpayers Protection Alliance delivered a Joint letter on Tax Reform to the offices of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). We are joined in the letter by Taxpayers Protection Alliance, 60 Plus Association, Americans for Job Security, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Individual Freedom, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Less Government, Let Freedom Ring, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute,and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council in calling for comprhensive tax reform that benefits individuals and businesses nationwide.
Click 'read more' below to read the full letter.
For the past year the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been investigating the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system, which inflates the cost of construction by millions of dollars per building without providing proof of any environmental or energy-efficiency benefits. Since 2010, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal government’s landlord, has mandated LEED gold standards for all new federal buildings. The federal government, 35 states and over 170 cities now require LEED certification or give builders tax breaks for building to LEED specifications. The driving force behind LEED is the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a 13,000-member non-profit run by activists, architects, builders and building suppliers that collects up to $35,000 in fees for each LEED certification.
As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to follow developments on the Farm Bill, including the bill clearing the Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday, TPA President David Williams sent a letter to the House Agriculture Committee yesterday in response to a proposed amendment weakening oversight of the wasteful Rural Utilities Service Broadband Loan Program. The letter outlines opposition to the program and calls on the committee to reject an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) further providing taxpayer funding to a program rife with problems. When it comes to wise use of taxpayer dollars, RUS has a troubled history. RUS's primary goal is to provide loans to help bring Internet broadband service to unserved rural communities, which are generally defined as communities with populations of less than 20,000. In a March, 2009 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) observed that while the 2008 Farm Bill modified the broadband program and narrowed the definition of "rural area," the RUS continued to issue loans in exurban and suburban areas. Also, according to a report by the USDA on April 23, 2012, "We found that RUS had not maintained its focus on rural communities most in need of Federal assistance. This is largely because its definition of 'rural area,' although within the statutory guidelines, was too broad to distinguish between suburban and rural communities. As a result, RUS issued over $103.4 million in loans to 64 communities near large cities." TPA will continue to monitor this and other provisions in the Farm Bill.
To see the full letter, click read more below
As the House and Senate ramp up their work on the Farm Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will be in high alert so taxpayers won’t be left with a laundry list of wasteful programs that have amounted to nothing more than cronyism and corporate welfare run amuck. One issue in particular that is emblematic of what is wrong with agricultural policy is the U.S. sugar program, which is prime for reform. From import quotas to purchasing excess sugar to keep prices artificially high, the sugar program is just one massive corporate welfare program. Led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TPA was proud to sign onto a letter with nine other taxpayer and free market organizations opposing sugar subsidies.
Led by Heritage Action For America, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance joined with other taxpayers and free-market organizations representing millions of individuals across the nation to oppose wasteful spending in the Farm Bill. The Senate and House appear ready to start legislative work on the Farm Bill as early as this week, and it is important to call attention to the habitual waste of money that has become too commonplace in the Farm Bill. There is tremendous need for reform. Current subsidy programs are rooted in the 1930s, when prices for crops and livestock bottomed out and farm families were desperate for income. Agriculture today could not be more different. Farmers are pulling in record-high levels of income and carrying record-low levels of debt. Technology has eliminated many of the risks that once plagued farming, and the profitability of crops that go without subsidies demonstrates that independent agriculture is viable. So there is just no way to justify funneling tens of billions of dollars to farmers who, by and large, are better off than most of the taxpayers who are shelling out the subsidies. The letter highlights twelve of the most egregious examples of waste to taxpayers. The groups are urging both Chambers of Congress to not continue to spend trillions of dollars on what amounts to simply a laundry list of “subsidies, welfare payments, and environmental patronage.”