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Mitt Romney's Spending Proposals Compared to 2008 Presidential Candidates
Posted By:  - 05/14/12

And then there was one. 

With Ron Paul's decision to not contest any upcoming primaries, the way is now clear for Mitt Romney to become the Republican presidential nominee.  Last month, NTUF released its analysis of the spending proposals offered by the 2012 GOP presidential primary candidates.  Now with Romney the only active GOP candidate in the race, it provides an opportunity look at how Romney's spending platform compares with the leading candidates from the 2008 race at approximately the same point in time.

Comparison of Presidential Spending Platforms

Mitt Romney in 2012 versus Candidates in 2008

Type of Proposal

Mitt Romney

John McCain*

Hillary Clinton*

Barack Obama*

Spending Increase

3

14

108

66

Spending Cut

11

3

1

1

Unknown Cost

28

31

73

86

TOTAL

42

48

182

153

* Data for 2008 candidates is from NTUF’s June 3, 2008 release.

Source:  National Taxpayers Union Foundation

Comparison of Presidential Spending Platforms

Mitt Romney in 2012 versus Candidates in 2008

 (Dollar Amounts are in Billions)

Spending Category

Mitt Romney

John McCain*

Hillary Clinton*

Barack Obama*

Economy, Transportation & Infrastructure

-$4.3

$3.502

$74.493

$111.603

Education, Science & Research

N/A

$1.8

$18.996

$37.088

Energy, Agriculture & Environment

Unknown

$56.481

$64.451

$56.489

Federal Government Reform

-$383.409

N/A

N/A

N/A

Health Care

-$136.098

$1.137

$114.611

$100.848

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement

Unknown

$1.5

$4.557

$10.173

National Security & International Relations

$170.802

$3.917

$1.294

$13.808

Veterans

N/A

$0.60

$8.143

$2.76

Miscellaneous

N/A

N/A

$3.097

$10.817

TOTAL

-$353.005

$68.517

$289.642

$343.586

Note:  Totals may not add due to rounding.

* Data for 2008 candidates is from NTUF’s June 3, 2008 release.

The Federal Government Reform category was not used in 2008.

Source:  National Taxpayers Union Foundation

 

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California Dreamin'
Posted By: Brent Mead - 05/14/12

11, 16, 735

Those numbers aren't some trick to help you fall asleep, those are the numbers that show the stark reality facing California and the fiscal peril posed by Prop 29.

11: As in 11 percent unemployment, far above the national average of 8.2 percent. City Journal eloquently laid out the decades long policy trends that have driven job creators out of the state.

A more familiar statistic signaling California’s problems is its unemployment rate, which is now the nation’s second-highest, right after Nevada’s. Of the eight American metropolitan areas where the joblessness rate exceeds 15 percent, seven are in California, and most of them have substantial minority and working-class populations.

However, unemployment is the system, not the ailment. California’s economic woes are due to punitively high tax rates and an anti-business regulatory system. Tax Foundation ranks the state 48th in its Business Tax Climate Survey. Chief Executive, in their poll of Fortune 500 Company CEOs placed the state dead last. It is impossible to create jobs if the job creators face such disincentives for investment.

16: As in $16 billion. Governor Brown’s office released an update on the projected annual deficit numbers. Monday’s revision almost doubles the previous estimate of $9 billion. GOP legislators are spot on saying last year’s budget was a fraud from the moment it was signed. Governor Brown and his allies were counting on $4 billion in additional revenue through highly optimistic economic forecasts.

Additionally, the state spent $2 billion more than anticipated. Moreover, Governor Brown’s proposed budget would further increase spending. Of course, none of this has deterred the Governor from pitching his multi-billion dollar tax increase on the November ballot.

735: As in $735 million, the potential tax increase if Prop 29 is passed. None of the money will go towards paying down the $16 billion deficit. Instead it will go towards propping up a new unaccountable spending bureaucracy.

California cannot pay its current bills, much less the programs found in Prop 29. None of this touches on the over $2.5 billion in local bonding and tax increases found elsewhere on next month's ballot.

Today’s revenue numbers should be a call to action on spending reform and right-sizing government, not raising taxes.

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Speaking of Taxpayers (AUDIO): Sneak Peek of the Upcoming First Session BillTally Report
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 05/14/12

Pete & Doug sat down with NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady, author of a soon-to-be-released report on how much Congress proposed to save and spend in 2011. The results may surprise you!

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Some In Congress Still Trying to Think Outside the Box
Posted By: Nan Swift - 05/01/12

In contrast to the Herd of Thirty, the GOP members who are asking House leadership to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank (Andrew writes about that sad tale here), there are some in Congress who are thinking outside the box and taking initiative when it comes to saving taxpayers’ money and reining in out of control spending.  We need more creative solutions like these:

  • NTU Taxpayers’ Friend Award Winner Rep.  Jeff Landry (R, LA-3) organized other freshmen members of Congress in giving back unused office funds to pay down the national debt.  Together, they returned almost $1.5 million.  Joining the Congressman were Reps. Jeff Duncan (R, SC-3), Tim Huelskamp (R, KS-1), Raul Labrador (R, ID-1), Mick Mulvaney (R, SC-5), Steve Southerland (R, FL 2), Joe Walsh (R, IL-8), and Kevin Yoder (R, KS-3).  While there’s no real incentive for a Congressional office to save money, it would be great if other offices followed suit and took such care with our money. On Fox News' "On the Record," Congressman Landry explains how this demonstrates the fact that Washington can live within its means:

  • Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Senator Rand Paul have each introduced bills in their respective chambers that do provide incentives for federal employees to identify wasted and unused funds.  Employees who do so “will get to keep as much as $10,000 of the budgetary savings if their suggestions are adopted.”

It’s notable that these fresh ideas are also coming from freshmen – but freshmen who are choosing not to recycle the same failed ideas ad infinitum.  

When compared with trillions of dollars of debt, these changes can seem like a drop in the bucket. But taken together, the savings do add up – and maybe more importantly the plans are a real culture change in Washington that both goes against the status quo flow the House and Senate leadership are pursuing and takes the idea of stewardship, when it comes to our tax dollars, seriously.

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"B-" Congressmen for Ex-Im Subsidies
Posted By: Andrew Moylan - 04/30/12

30 House Republicans have made waves in the ongoing saga of the odious Export-Import Bank by writing a letter to House Leadership urging its reauthorization. The Ex-Im Bank is almost universally opposed by conservatives and true supporters of free trade because it subsidizes exports on the backs of the American taxpayer, but the signers of the letter call themselves conservatives and much of the coverage of it has asserted the same. So, how conservative are the signers of this letter?

Of the 30 signers of the letter, their average score on NTU's 2011 Rating of Congress was a whopping 72.8%. Only two received Taxpayers' Friend Awards, meaning they scored higher than 85% for an A grade: John Campbell (R-CA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). Only five scored higher than 80%, while 13 scored somewhere in the 70s, and 12 scored in the 60s. In short, many of the signers have middling fiscal records.

The letter is full of the same pablum we've been hearing from the Chamber of Commerce and other supporters of subsidies for big business. Perhaps my favorite line is when the Members say, "it seems counterproductive to unilaterally disengage," meaning that it would be unwise for us to wind down our export subsidies while foreign countries like China maintain or expand theirs. This sort of a statement has intuitive appeal for some, but it's simply foolish.

China's export subsidies are an economic distortion that comes at the cost of their taxpayers and citizens and accrues to the BENEFIT of American taxpayers and citizens (and others that import things made in China). If the Chinese government insists on taxing its citizens in order to make the products they sell to us cheaper to purchase, the correct response to that is not to turn around and tax OUR citizens to make the products we sell abroad cheaper. The correct response is to say, "Thank you for the free money" (in the form of cheaper products for us) and shut down our damaging export and tariff programs.

Most conservatives understand that message. Apparently at least 30 of them need convincing.

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(AUDIO) Speaking of Taxpayers: “NTUF Presidential Candidate Budget Reports"
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 04/30/12

Hot off the presses! "Speaking of Taxpayers" is now "almost live" - recorded and released on the same day so you can catch up on the week's taxpayer news and notes (and Outrages!). Let us know what you think of the new equipment, format, and submit questions at studios@ntu.org.

This week NTUF Policy Analyst Dan Barrett joins Pete & Doug to chat about the GOP Presidential candidates fiscal blueprints. Also, a special update from Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift on the Export-Import Bank.

Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes.


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NTUF Release GOP Presidential Candidates Studies
Posted By:  - 04/26/12

In case you missed it...


Study of GOP Candidates’ Platforms Finds Romney Proposes Double Gingrich’s Budgetary Savings; Paul’s Blueprint for Cuts Dwarfs Others’ Plans

(Alexandria, VA)Mitt Romney’s spending cut agenda is twice as large as Newt Gingrich’s, while Ron Paul proposes double the reductions of his nearest challenger. Those are just some of the key findings of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) in-depth, line-by-line analysis of the 2012 GOP contenders’ federal budget proposals. NTUF has conducted studies of Presidential and Senatorial candidates’ fiscal policy platforms for more than a decade.

NTUF analyzed all of the candidates’ key proposals outlined on their websites, in their official campaign documents, and touted in speeches. By referencing these plans with equivalent bills in Congress, items in the federal budget, and a variety of other cost sources, NTUF builds a comprehensive picture of the bottom line impact of the candidates’ budget-focused proposals. Some cost estimates are based on NTUF’s BillTally system, which since 1991 has served as a resource on thousands of pieces of legislation introduced each year that could affect federal expenditures.

All told, NTUF identified 151 proposals among the four Republican Presidential office seekers with a potential impact on annual federal outlays. Ninety-four of those impacts could not be accurately determined, generally because the candidates failed to provide sufficient detail to pinpoint a cost.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Spending Analysis

Type of Proposal

Newt
Gingrich

Ron
Paul

Mitt
Romney

Rick
Santorum

Spending Increase

6

2

3

6

Spending Cut

6

6

11

16

Unknown Cost

27

13

28

27

TOTAL

39

21

42

49


Source:  National Taxpayers Union Foundation

According to NTUF, GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s platform would reduce federal outlays by a net of $353.0 billion annually, Newt Gingrich’s extensive policy plans would shed $146.2 billion from the budget, and Rick Santorum had $670.6 billion in cuts on his radar prior to ending his campaign. Ron Paul seeks $1.2 trillion in yearly net reductions.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Spending Analysis

(Dollar Amounts are in Billions)

Spending Category

Newt
Gingrich

Ron
Paul

Mitt
Romney

Rick
Santorum

Economy, Transportation & Infrastructure

-$4.565

-$4.565

-$4.3

-$4.565

Education, Science & Research

-$60.056

N/A

N/A

$0.144

Energy, Agriculture & Environment

-$40.561

-$5.953

Unknown

-$2.465

Federal Government Reform

Unknown

-$1,173.0

-$383.409

-$647.158

Health Care

-$41.155

-$40.235

-$136.098

-$42.655

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement

$0.120

Unknown

Unknown

$1.148

National Security & International Relations

$0.052

Unknown

$170.802

$30.591

Veterans

Unknown

$2.704

N/A

N/A

Miscellaneous

N/A

N/A

N/A

-$5.637

TOTAL

-$146.165

-$1,221.0

-$353.005

-$670.597


Note:  Totals may not add due to rounding.

Source:  National Taxpayers Union Foundation

Key findings include:

  • Romney's plans to reform the federal government -- including proposals to limit federal spending to 20 percent of GDP and to reduce the number of government workers over time -- would save taxpayers an estimated $383.4 billion per year. The area in which Romney would propose the largest budget increase is national security with a boost of $170.8 billion. (PDF version)
  • Ron Paul’s single largest savings item is his multi-pronged effort to balance the budget – at $1.078 trillion in reductions, it is a stark reminder of the size of the current federal budget deficit. (PDF version)
  • Newt Gingrich’s moon base plans would cost at least $4 billion per year. His vision for new rocket propulsion technology could not be quantified at this time. (PDF version)
  • Rick Santorum’s largest individual savings item was signing off on a version of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would save $519.6 billion per year. A major assumption was that Santorum would abide by the terms of the Amendment he backed, which calls for limiting total federal expenditures to 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product. (PDF version)

“The field of candidates has often changed over the past year, but their ideas for federal spending and savings will continue to be debated as the campaign season evolves,” concluded NTUF’s Director of Congressional Analysis Jeff Dircksen. “Through it all, NTUF will be monitoring the candidates’ proposals – including those of President Obama – to inform the vital national conversation about the future direction of Washington’s fiscal policy.”

Note: The detailed NTUF analyses of Mitt Romney’s, Newt Gingrich’s, Ron Paul’s and Rick Santorum’s federal budget policy platforms are available online at www.ntu.org.

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Confessions of a Conspirator
Posted By: Andrew Moylan - 04/18/12

I have a confession to make. You are reading the words of a man knee-deep in one of the broadest political conspiracies in America today. I and my organization, the National Taxpayers Union, are deeply involved in a coordinated campaign to achieve certain goals. What are those goals? Glad you asked! We're so secretive about them that you can find them right on our website: fighting for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. In pursuit of those goals, we have long partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council. You'll find that they're quite secretive about their principles as well, but I'll let the cat out of the bag: they work towards free enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level.

As just one example of how the organization works, NTU and ALEC joined together to craft model legislation on spending transparency. At ALEC conferences, we worked with other like-minded groups and individuals to discuss best practices and potential pitfalls, heard from success stories in pioneer states, and developed a base for legislation that puts governments across the country on a path to publicly disclosing (in real-time, online, in searchable format) every taxpayer dollar spent.

Obviously I'm being a little facetious here, but I suppose that's because I just don't understand what all the fuss is about. You may have heard about ALEC in the news recently as bored liberal activists have made it their newest target for destruction after tiring of pillorying the Koch brothers for being wealthy and daring to be involved in politics and policy (apparently it's only acceptable if you lobby for higher taxes like Warren Buffett). In their strange world, the existence of an organization that provides a forum to educate state legislators and arm them with the tools to advance limited government solutions is unacceptable and they will stop at nothing to cripple it.

ALEC's opponents claim that its model of discussing, drafting, and distributing model legislation to address policy issues undermines democracy as we know it. Funny, I haven't heard the same concern about the existence of the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL is a similar organization that uses many of the same "tactics" (educating legislators and providing model language for them to use) as ALEC.

Are there differences? Sure there are! ALEC's opponents will point out that it has private sector members which, because business is evil and must be stopped, makes it quite different. But don't be surprised if they neglect to mention the fact that NCSL is the beneficiary of $10 million (well more than ALEC's budget) in taxpayer money! Which do you find more offensive to the interests of democracy: an organization that has private sector members freely choosing to be involved (or not), or an organization that gets your tax dollars to fund its activities whether you support it or not?

I, for one, find it pretty darn offensive that my state of Virginia sent more than a quarter million taxpayer dollars to an organization that just came out this week in favor of the odious corporate welfare program known as the Export-Import Bank. Yes, NCSL supports the same Ex-Im bank that conservative AND liberal organizations have opposed because it doles out taxpayer money to wealthy corporations in order to subsidize their export activities. But remember, conservatives are the corporate shills.

So, is the existence of ALEC's private sector membership really driving all of this? I doubt it. Another similar organization, the National Caucus of Black State Legislators, allows for businesses (and labor unions) to be members. On their website, they tout the fact that they have "over 120 corporations and labor unions" as members, worth $1.2 million (at least) to their annual budget. Yet, strangely, I haven't come across any complaints about NCBSL's business model as being corrupt or damaging to democracy. Perhaps that's because, generally speaking, they advocate for liberal policy positions rather than conservative ones. Like ALEC, NCBSL attracts public and private sector membership based on the principles they stand for. I may disagree with some of NCBSL's positions, but I see nothing untoward with their model just as there's nothing untoward about ALEC's model.

What's really going on here is pretty simple. Liberal activist groups hate the limited government principles of ALEC and other organizations like it and they are intent on stamping them out of existence. I hope that ALEC, its member organizations (which includes NTU), and the state legislators across the country that are involved in it and support its work will stand up to these intimidation tactics. ALEC as an organization and the principles for which it stands are too important to give up without a fight.

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Caterpillar Rebounds: No Need to Reauthorize Ex-Im After All
Posted By: Nan Swift - 04/18/12

Despite our fragile economic recovery, Caterpillar, maker of ubiquitous yellow construction equipment, is doing better than ever! 

Caterpillar has money to spend. The company reports first quarter earnings on April 25, with analysts expecting $2 billion of profit on $16 billion in sales, or a 47 percent increase in earnings over the entire course of 2009. Revenue this year is expected to top $71 billion, which would be $20 billion more than the company reaped in 2008.

"We came out of the recession much stronger and faster than expected," Caterpillar Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman said in a company report in March. "I'm not one for passing up sales, so we really had to ramp up production quickly."

Key to this optimism is Caterpillar's record order backlog of $30 billion, three times higher than it was in 2009. Some customers will not get trucks they have ordered until as late as 2014.

To anyone paying attention to the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) reauthorization debate, it’s easy to see how this could come as a surprise.  Fans of the bank go on at length about how Ex-Im helps small businesses, businesses that wouldn’t be able to sell things if it weren’t for the bank – the way they go on, one would expect trade and capitalism as we know it to collapse without their loans.

So what is so surprising about Caterpillar’s recent success?  Caterpillar is one of the Ex-Im’s largest beneficiaries. In fact, it ranks in the top 10 largest recipients of Ex-Im and taxpayer largess with $453,897,359.95 in total disbursements.  Though to hear Ex-Im defenders, it would be easy to think that Ex-Im’s customers would go under without the bank, not that Ex-Im funds have contributed to less than one percent of Caterpillar’s expected revenue this year.

Remind me again why the government should be giving handouts to private businesses in this way?

A closer look at Caterpillar’s neighbors in the top dollar ranks doesn’t answer where Congress has the authority to be doing this – but it does explain why these companies got such big bucks and a big part of why Ex-Im continues to operate.

Alongside Caterpillar are companies like John Deere ($544,452,847.89 in Ex-Im disbursements), Ford ($500,000,000.00), and GE ($213,352,417.29). Like Caterpillar, all are well known for their cronyism and rent-seeking tactics (though, to Ford’s credit they did resist the siren song of the Auto Bailout.)  At one time, they were all members of USCAP, the United States Climate Action Partnership – a big business/big government partnership that lobbies for cap and trade.  Caterpillar, John Deere, and Ford all left USCAP, only when the policies the group was advocating for became policies that might hurt their bottom line.  GE, the company of Obama-BFF Jeffrey Immelt, is still a proud member because their profits would skyrocket when customers are forced to buy their expensive “green” products.

It is also notable that two of the biggest advocates for Ex-Im, the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, have board members that also sit on the boards of or work for Caterpillar, GE, Ford, and Boeing.  Though not a member of USCAP, Boeing is the single largest recipient of Ex-Im funds with total disbursements approaching $30 billion, and received more than 40% of total Ex-Im financing in 2010. It probably doesn’t hurt that Boeing CEO Jim McNerney “chairs the president’s Export Council.” Or that “Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley served on Boeing’s board of directors…”

And that’s not the end of the crony capitalism.  The Washington Free Beacon reports that the bank Candidate Obama said was “corporate welfare” is “run by political donors for the benefit of political donors.”

The bank’s board of directors—appointed by the president and approved by the Senate—is stocked with large political donors and campaign bundlers.

Ex-Im Bank chairman and president Fred P. Hochberg, for example, has personally given more than $100,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since 2007, including almost $10,000 to President Obama.

That is on top of the money he bundled for the Obama campaign in 2008—between $100,000 and $200,000.

Vice chair Wanda Felton has given more than $9,000 to Democrats since 2007, nearly all of which went to the Obama campaign.

They are joined by ex officio members Ron Kirk, the president’s trade representative, and John Bryson, who Obama recently appointed Secretary of Commerce.

Kirk bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama in 2008, and personally contributed more than $7,000 to the president’s campaign.

With new examples emerging weekly of taxpayer dollars wasted on bad bets like Solyndra and co., or used to bailout private corporations and homeowners, or to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two entities that, like Ex-Im, were supposedly independent, self-funding, and no risk to taxpayers), it is difficult to see why anyone in Congress would continue to abuse their responsibility towards taxpayers and continue to expose our hard earned dollars to increasing amounts of risk, especially in light of the fact that the companies who receive the most are exactly the companies that don’t need cheap government loans and loan guarantees. 

These are resources that should be provided by private banks and institutions, not the government.  And if the loans made by Ex-Im are as profitable and safe as proponents claim, there is no reason (other than the fact that Ex-Im distorts the marketplace and they might not be able to compete with Washington’s cut-rate cash) why private investors wouldn’t be thrilled to make the same kind of proceeds.

As frustrating as it is, in the face of so many bad examples and flagrant corporate welfare,  there are still those in Congress, people who should know better and who claim to stand for limited government, that are still fighting for Ex-Im to be reauthorized.  Last week, RedState.com revealed that Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pushing a deal to re-up Ex-Im:

Roll Call is reporting that Eric Cantor is negotiating with Steny Hoyer in an effort to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which is set to expire May 31.  What’s worse is that GOP leadership is seeking Democrat support for a “compromise” to circumvent the lonely 50-70 Republicans who might block the reauthorization:

The finely calibrated deal under discussion, as described by lobbyists and aides working on the issue, would grab enough Democratic votes to overcome a bloc of 50 to 70 Republicans who strongly oppose reauthorizing the bank’s lending authority. Such a result would signal at least an appearance of centrism.

“We are working to formulate a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank that includes needed reforms and accountability measures,” Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said.

Even worse, the article goes on to state that a group of RSC members, members of the conservative Republican Study committee, are “preparing a letter supporting the bank’s reauthorization.”

It is no coincidence, that after leading a vocal outcry against Ex-Im, Delta is one of the latest recipients of Ex-Im subsidies.  One can only imagine what Ex-Im and its allies have offered these others for their support.

Still, not all in Congress are so easily bought. In the House, Congressmen Amash and Flake, and in the Senate, Senator Paul, are offering “Terminate Ex-Im” legislation that provides a dignified death to an institution that has overstayed its welcome.  These legislators, and those that side with them, should be applauded for their leadership on this issue – especially when even their erstwhile allies are undermining them.  All three are 2011 NTU Taxpayers’ Friend Award winners and it is clear they deserve this title.

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