December 21, 2018
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This article originally appeared in DefenseOne on December 17, 2018 and was co-authored with Mandy Smithberger, Director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The incoming Congress should tie defense budgets to accounting improvements. While the public is generally familiar with weapons manufacturers delivering fighter jets and other costly products behind schedule and over budget, similar overruns have now crept into service contracting as well. Fortunately, the Justice Department is starting to strike back against rampant misuse of taxpayer funds, seeking criminal indictments and civil penalties against some of the worst abusers of the system. Now Congress must do its part.
November 16, 2018
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on November 14, 2018.
Despite the pronouncements of the White House, wasteful government spending is endemic and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. The military, which accounts for half of all federal spending, is not immune. While the media like to remind people of the Pentagon spending $435 for a hammer or $640 for a toilet seat, accounts of true billion-dollar boondoggles often go virtually ignored.
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October 11, 2018
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This article originally appeared in the American Conservative on October 9, 2018.
Over the past decade, massive cybersecurity hacks have become yet another thing for America to worry about, especially if the IRS has information on you (read: everyone) or if you have a Social Security number (again read: everyone). Now we’ve learned that the problem starts right at the top. The Department of Defense (DoD) reportedly relied on compromised technology to undergird data centers and relay drone information—and Americans don’t even know how much of their data was exposed.
August 8, 2018
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This article originally appeared in the American Conservative on August 1, 2018.
The Pentagon is often described as a black hole of government spending. Just how bad is it these days? The Defense Department spent $21 billion in taxpayer money over two years without telling anyone what services were rendered or which companies benefitted. Normally, watchdog groups can at least identify the agency’s frivolous spending and tease out who the major beneficiaries are. But under something called Other Transaction Authority (OTA), the Pentagon can award money without the usual disclosures or due diligence normally required of federal contracts. Voila! A black hole.
March 23, 2018
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the President signs the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Defense Appropriations Act conference report, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has uncovered 642 earmarks totaling $29.8 billion (click here to see the full list) that were not requested by the Pentagon and inserted by members of Congress. That is a 58 percent increase in the 406 projects requested in FY 2017 and a 105 percent increase in total dollars from FY 2017.
March 16, 2018
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This article originally appeared in The American Conservative on March 14, 2018
As the recent spending debate in Congress made clear, the Pentagon isn’t exactly starved for cash. The latest budget agreement, reached by lawmakers back in February, blew the lid off of Budget Control Act spending caps, increasing funds to the Pentagon by 15 percent over the next two years. Of the requested $686 billion for the Department of Defense, $194 billion is slated for the Department of the Navy. In fact, the 2019 Navy budget is an astounding 18 percent higher than the 2017 levels, despite diminishing conflicts around the globe. Why a peacetime Navy demands a budget fit for the Cold War and Iraq War is a mystery. Even reliable defense hawks have begun questioning Navy spending in recent years.
March 1, 2018
This article originally appeared in the American Spectator on February 28, 2018
The Pentagon is a massive black hole of dubious spending, and its annual final budget never tells the entire story. Case in point: the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund is just one of the ways the military spends our money above and beyond their annual outlays. Supposedly, the OCO will be reduced significantly over the course of the next two years. But before you think the government is reining in spending, think again. » Read More
November 13, 2017
This article originally appeared in Real Clear Defense on November 7, 2017
The United States faces a grave and growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. With North Korea conducting two ICBM tests in July of 2017, Kim Jong-Un is a pariah intent on putting the United States and allies on the defense. For the first time, North Korea has demonstrated the ballistic missile technology necessary to directly attack the U.S. homeland. And these developments are not unfolding in a vacuum. Ballistic missile threats from Russia and China are ever-present and rapidly evolving. However, these pressing issues are no excuse to hand the Department of Defense a blank check. Only a smart and nimble national defense will prove capable in diffusing these threats and protecting the country. Reforming the military’s purchasing protocol by instituting multi-year procurement can accomplish that goal. » Read More
August 24, 2017
This piece was published in the Independent Journal Review on August 22, 2017.
Whether it’s subsidized loans through the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank or their latest trade dispute with Bombardier, Boeing has an uncanny knack to look for government help instead of doing things for themselves. In particular, Boeing’s allegations before the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) to try Bombardier before the U.S. Commerce Department on antidumping and countervailing duty charges brings light to a decades-old fight over international aircraft subsidy programs within a new atmosphere of protectionism in Washington. » Read More
July 7, 2017
Taxpayers have grown accustomed to astronomical spending figures tossed around matter-of-factly at the Department of Defense (DoD). The Pentagon, for instance, is expected to pour an astounding $1.5 trillion into the F-35 over the life of the program. The Overseas Contingency Fund continues to be a budget buster, despite declining operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, unlike other federal departments, watchdog organizations and concerned citizens have no official way of distinguishing “legitimate” spending programs from wasteful operations. The Pentagon has shielded its books from audits, taking advantage of an exemption from a process that all parts of government are expected to undergo each and every year. As a result, taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for erroneous expenses without knowing the full extent of the waste. » Read More
June 27, 2017
Congress has seen more than its fair share of Pentagon budget kurfluffles over the past decade, ranging from sequester showdowns to the dysfunctional (and expensive) F-35 program. But, members of Congress across the ideological spectrum can agree that the string of forlorn, nearly-vacant military bases across the nation ought to be shuttered or consolidated. Talk has increased of another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), in which a commission studies military bases and recommends closures subject to congressional approval. The notion of taxpayers footing the bill for nearly-abandoned installations is an unpopular one, and for good reason. A letter signed by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 44 other groups across the political spectrum reinforced the bipartisan idea of closing more bases. » Read More
March 20, 2017
This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on March 14, 2017
Lawmakers in Washington are moving at a faster pace than they have been for several years. And while it is encouraging to see some progress on tax and health care reform, it is also problematic that there is movement to bring back earmarks. Congress banned earmarks in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the House. And now, six years later, with full control of the legislative and executive branches, the threat of earmarks shouldn’t be a problem. Not so fast. The fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill that passed the House last week contained 406 earmarks worth $14.5 billion. None of the earmarks listed were requested by the Pentagon, and instead inserted by one or more members of Congress.» Read More
March 6, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Defense Appropriations Act conference report, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has uncovered 406 earmarks totaling $14.5 billion (click here to see the full list) that were not requested by the Pentagon and inserted by members of Congress. That is an 11 percent increase in the number of projects and a one percent decrease in total dollars from FY 2016. As some lawmakers push to return to officially bring back earmarks since they were banned in 2011, TPA continues to show that earmarks never died. These earmarks are more alarming considering President Trump’s call for an increase Defense spending in FY 2018.» Read More
January 25, 2017
This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a series of issue briefs for the 115th Congress titled Roadmap to Fiscal Sanity. The publication puts forward an aggressive reform agenda for Congress. The publication focuses on 14 different policy areas where reform is needed to help reduce the size of government, cut spending, enact tax reform, and help get the economy back on track. Issues covered in the publication include Defense Spending, Earmarks, Energy, Health Care, Intellectual Property, Mergers, Regulatory Reform, Solar Subsidies, Tax Reform, Telecommunications Policy, Trade Policy, United Nations/World Health Organization and United States Postal Service Reform. TPA President David Williams said of the release, “The newly elected Congress has No More Excuses for not acting on real and meaningful reform when it comes to reducing spending and getting the debt under control. TPA’s Roadmap to Fiscal Sanity provides a path forward.”» Read More
January 5, 2017
Andrew Langer is the President of th Institute for Liberty. This op-ed appeared in The Washington Examiner on January 3, 2017.
President-elect Trump is going to have plenty of messes to clean up when he sweeps into the Oval Office, but the first might have to be at the Defense Department. Far removed from the forces in the field, the bloated bureaucracy at the Pentagon has become its own special miasma of waste and excess, as proven by a study by the Defense Business Board that detailed $125 billion in administrative waste in the Pentagon's business operations. The report essentially detailed how the Pentagon could save $125 billion over five years by streamlining its bureaucracy.» Read More
January 2, 2017
The New Year has begun, and after saying goodbye to 2016, taxpayers are ready to welcome 2017. While many people resolve to shed a few pounds and break some bad habits, this year’s list of resolutions highlights all of the major issues that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will focus on throughout the year.
The resolution for Congress in 2017 is clear: No More Excuses. Washington (including the incoming Trump administration) have no more excuses for not getting things done for taxpayers. On a wide range of issues, including tax reform and regulatory reform, members of the House and Senate can longer make excuses for not doing the necessary work to fix some of the major problems impacting taxpayers. It is time for Congress to get to work. For more on Congress, click here.
Click "Read Blog" below to see all of TPA's 2017 Resolutions!» Read More
December 30, 2016
Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a columnist for Reason magazine and the Washington Examiner, and blogs about ecomomics for National Review. Click here to contact her, and follow her on Twitter: @veroderugy. Click here to read previous columns. This piece originally appeared on Noozhawk.com on December 23, 2016.
In his 1986 memoirs, The Triumph of Politics, David Stockman wrote: "The politicians were wrecking American capitalism. They were turning democratic government into a lavish giveaway auction. They were saddling workers and entrepreneurs with punitive taxation and demoralizing and wasteful regulation." For the four years he served as President Ronald Reagan's budget director, Stockman fought for his vision of sustained economic growth and social progress through sound money, lower tax rates and curtailment of federal spending, welfare and subsidies to private interests. Unfortunately, he lost his dream of a true Reagan revolution because many congressional politicians refused to implement the big spending cuts that had to be matched with the big tax cuts.» Read More
December 6, 2016
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Pentagon spending continues to be a focus for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and many other taxpayer advocates who care about fiscal responsibility. Recently, TPA President David Williams laid out the case for how President-elect Trump can make good on his promises to change Washington by tackling problems with the defense budget. Yesterday, a report came out detailing how the Pentagon has been wasting over $120 billion on bloated bureaucracy in recent years. Keeping all of that in mind, TPA signed this letter criticizing Congress for their continued gaming of the budget as it relates to Pentagon spending and specifically the authorization of an additional $3.2 billion as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that just passed Congress last week. TPA firmly believes that the best way to secure our nation and our people is to ensure that the financial resources we have are being used in the best way possible to protect against threats both foreign and domestic. Using budget gimmicks to plus-up Pentagon spending on wasteful programs doesn't make the country any safer.
Click "read more" below to see the full letter
November 23, 2016
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Thanksgiving in upon us, and that means it’s time for families to get together for good times, great food, and a few football games. It also means that it’s time for Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s (TPA) annual Taxpayer Turkeys! This year TPA has been paying close attention to what elected officials are doing and how they are hurting taxpayers. Here’s our list of turkeys for this year and you can also hear about them on the latest TPA podcast (click here to listen).
Click "read more" below to see the 2016 Taxpayer Turkeys!
November 22, 2016
This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on November 16, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump has many challenges facing him as he prepares to take office in January. Perhaps his biggest challenge will be the Pentagon’s budget Even though Trump has talked about excessive spending and draining the swamp, his national security platform includes spending more on the military. Some estimate his increase will surpass $500 billion over the next 10 years, which is reckless considering the amount of waste at the Pentagon. Spending restraint at the Pentagon will not only be a challenge for Trump, it will be a challenge for Republicans reluctant to cut military spending.» Read More