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Taxpayers Win in Pentagon Decision to Stop F-35 Engine
Posted By:  - 03/25/11

If cutting spending was the equivalent of the NCAA basketball tournament then the costly F-35 alternative engine program would be the ultimate Cinderella story. I’m not talking about the feel-good “small school taking on the big boys” type Cinderella, mind you, I’m talking about the “how in the world did they last this long with that kind of talent” type of Cinderella.

Fortunately for taxpayers, the F-35 Cinderella may have just been bounced from the competition to reduce our nation’s overspending problem. Having survived a White House veto, numerous congressional budget battles, and a bombardment of bills to defund the program, the Pentagon may have finally put an end to the alternative engine project.

Yesterday, the U.S. Defense Department issued a 90-day stop-work order to General Electric and Rolls-Royce, temporarily halting development of a second engine for the F-35. In a statement announcing the decision, the Pentagon called the program a “waste of taxpayer money that can be used to fund higher departmental priorities.”

This should come as great news to taxpayers who have been shelling out nearly $1 million a day to fund an engine program that many in Congress don’t want and the Defense Department says it does not need. Given this year’s $1.65 trillion deficit it simply makes no fiscal or logistical sense to continue to fund two design teams, two supply chains, and two production sites for what is expected to be no performance gains. If made permanent, ending the alternative engine program could save taxpayers up to $3 billion over the next 5 years.

The National Taxpayers Union has long pushed for this result, arguing that although the added competition may have achieved marginal potential savings, it would have come with enormous upfront cost to taxpayers. More recently NTU supported an amendment to H.R. 1 that would have stripped funding for the F-35 alternative engine, saving taxpayers $450 million over the remainder of the fiscal year. Although the 90-day stoppage is by no means a lasting solution, it is a long overdue step towards fiscal sustainability.

Having now survived two successive Presidential administrations, both of which have tried to eliminate its funding, the alternative engine program is a testament to the durability of pork. Fortunately, it’s Cinderella run appears over and taxpayers are all the better because of it.  

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NTU Urges End to Funding for the Unwanted MEADS Air-Defense Missile Program
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 03/09/11

The National Taxpayers Union has sent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates a letter pushing for an end to the Medium Extended Air Defense System. The project has been a joint effort between Germany, Italy, and the United States.

The program has already been deemed unnecessary and will not be pursued to fruition. However, it is still on schedule for the next development stage, set to cost $804 million.

The threat of $1 billion in penalties for terminating development is being used as an excuse to continue spending on unneeded stages of development. This odd contracting arrangement has led to questioning by Congress. Even so, experts disagree on the total, some estimating the termination cost at less than $500 million. Irrespective of the exact figure, the tripartite-cost-sharing arrangement (the U.S. at 58%, Germany at 25%, and Italy at 17%) should insulate the U.S. from paying the full penalty.

To read the entire letter click HERE.

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Fair Tax Act, Gun Control Bill Highlighted in Latest Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 02/24/11

Tab Insert

After our entitlement reform panel at CPAC and releasing our report on the President’s FY 2012 budget, NTUF has a new Taxpayer’s Tab with four newly scored bills. We’ve got a lot of research going on at the Foundation so be sure to keep up-to-date with @NTUF and be even more sure to support NTUF so we can get you the information you’ve come to expect!

One of the issues that have surfaced in the 112th Congress is tax reform. Many legislators are calling for tax simplification while others support a different stance: system replacement. The Fair Tax is one of those system alternatives that has gained more attention in the last few years. NTUF scored the Fair Tax Act at an $11 billion annualized savings. Check out the full Fair Tax description and how NTUF estimated the savings in the latest Tab edition.

Scored bills in Issue 6 of the Taxpayer’s Tab include:

  • HR 301, New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence
  • HR 25/S 13, Fair Tax Act of 2011
  • HR 308/S 32, Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act
  • HR 365, National Blue Alert Act of 2011
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Reflections on CPAC
Posted By:  - 02/12/11

Today is the third and final day of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives and libertarians in the nation. After three days of staffing a well-visited booth, meeting with dedicated activists, and listening to dynamic speakers, I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation, but also to what the future holds for the conservative movement.

This year’s CPAC had the highest number of attendees (11,000) in the history of the conference. CPAC speakers ranged from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee Chair, to Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a potential presidential candidate who gave, in my view, an outstanding keynote address, which you can read here. Also, CPAC 2011 featured a number of new participating organizations that focus on both activism and policy related to social, economic, and political issues at the federal, state, and local levels.

While attending CPAC, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of discussions about important tax and fiscal policy issues facing the United States. NTUF hosted a discussion about entitlement reform that featured experts such as Rep. Devin Nunes, Maya MacGuineas, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Steven Moore, and Dan Mitchell. The bottom line of their presentation was that we need to start tackling the problem of runaway entitlement spending before it’s too late.

But budget reform should not be restricted to social programs. CPAC also featured a panel on how the nation can reduce defense spending to a more manageable level without jeopardizing readiness. As a former military aide to a fiscally conservative Member of Congress, I was pleased to hear all of the views presented and the many ideas for maintaining an affordable defense posture. The passion the attendees displayed at the panels, and in conversations with me at the NTU table, was striking.  It bodes well for conservatives if these activists carry their views home and remain outspoken and active in the political process.

For the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk in the media about differences in the conservative movement over certain policies and suggestions that these differences spell certain doom the conservative movement.  After three days of observing conservatives of all stripes from across the country, I can unequivocally say that reports of destructive differences among conservatives are greatly exaggerated. In fact, I would argue that the conservative movement has never been stronger and ready to bring real solutions to the many serious problems facing the nation.

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Tune into NTU's State of the Union Coverage tonight
Posted By:  - 01/25/11

Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, the National Taxpayers Union's crack government affairs and policy analysis teams will provide special online coverage of the President’s State of the Union Address, and we want you to be there and be a part of the discussion. We will be breaking down the President's proposals and what they will mean for taxpayers. Details on how you can join the conversation are below.

  • If you have a Twitter account, use the hash tags #NTUSOTU and #SOTU to link to our discussions and analyses. Hash tags are like keywords for Twitter. Just use them in each of your messages to link to the ongoing dialogue. Remember to also follow @NTU and @NTUF for all the latest commentary!
  • You can also log onto NTU’s Facebook page, where we will constantly update our newsfeed with links, comments, and memorable quotes. Be sure to join our page by clicking "Like"!
  • Even if you don’t have a Twitter of Facebook account, you can still share your thoughts and opinions by going to our special chat room. Join the chat here.
  • NTU will also be updating our blog, Government Bytes, as the night progresses. You can comment on each post as well! Just click on the “Post a Comment” link and speak your mind.

We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!

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Presidential Travel Study Update
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 12/03/10

President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan last night and into today. The 26-hour round trip from Washington D.C. to Bagram Air Base will cost taxpayers at least $4.7 million in Air Force One costs alone. The cost includes maintenance, fuel, and aircraft overhauls. However, the figure does not include the security entourage or vehicles accompanying the President.

This trip to Afghanistan will total 16 foreign trips, totaling 56 days. President George H. W. Bush is the next most traveled President at 54 days during his first two years in office.

Calculations for Air Force One flight hour costs were included in NTUF’s latest Issue Brief #161: Incredible Journey: How Barack Obama Became the Most-Traveled President His First Two Years in Office by Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. The paper is a survey of international travel made by Presidents Eisenhower through Obama and the costs associated with operating Air Force One in the past two decades.

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NASA and Haiti Reforestation Acts Covered in Taxpayer’s Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 11/17/10

Tab Insert

As legislators head into the Lame Duck session and taxpayers begin to make holiday plans, NTUF continues its efforts in bringing officials and citizens the most up-to-date potential spending picture.  

The latest edition of The Taxpayer’s Tab covers a wide range of topics and policy goals. One bill already signed into law is the NASA Authorization bill. Many have voiced their positions on whether space travel should remain in the realm of the government agency or privatized to let NASA focus on science and traveling to other planets. Budget hawks have cited the large bureaucracy and lack of direction shows NASA needs to be reformed. S. 3729 provides more money to NASA, on average $1.1 billion in the next three years, for more science, more encouragement of private rocket competition, and another shuttle mission.

Legislation covered in the new Taxpayer’s Tab includes:

  • S 3729/HR 5781, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010
  • S 3742/HR 2221, Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2010
  • HR 2103/S 987, International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009
  • S1183/HR 4206, Haiti Reforestation Act of 2010
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$572 Million Net Federal Spending in Taxpayer’s Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 11/09/10

Tab Insert

The NTU Foundation’s Taxpayer’s Tab is back to its regular schedule and format, highlighting four newly scored Congressional bills.

Covering veterans educational benefits, the Most Expensive Bill of the Week would allow certain service members to transfer benefits to their dependents. The Least Expensive Bill of the Week would establish a comprehensive energy plan, including more domestic oil exploration, alternative technology development, and a natural gas vehicle demonstration project provision. The House version of the Prevention First Act was found to increase federal spending by $417 million in the first year.

Bills covered in the latest Taxpayer’s Tab include:

  • HR 3577, Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents (EARNED) Act of 2009
  • HR 3505, American Energy Production and Price Reduction Act
  • HR 463/S 21, Prevention First Act
  • S 3078/HR 4757, health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2010
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NTU Joins with Liberal Group to Identify $600 Billion in Waste
Posted By: Andrew Moylan - 10/28/10

Today, NTU joined with the liberal group U.S. PIRG to release a report called "Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide to Reduce Spending." This report debuts a list of $600 billion worth of specific federal spending reductions. With all the talk about debt and deficits, we saw an opportunity to put together a true left-right coalition in order to begin the conversation about the difficult choices we’ll have to make as a nation. We thought it would be useful to reach across the ideological divide to identify specific items that we could cut from the federal budget without reducing the quality of government services or neglecting the government's basic commitments.

The U.S. PIRG and NTU study identifies 30 specific, actionable items to cut in federal spending, including:    

  • $62 billion in savings by eliminating wasteful subsidies to farmers and large corporations.
  • $354 billion in savings from reforming inefficient contract and acquisition procedures.
  • $77 billion in savings by improving execution of existing government programs as well as eliminating unneeded programs.
  • $108 billion in savings from ending low-priority or unnecessary weapons systems, along with rightsizing other programs.

While we're under no illusions that every group or individual on the left and right will agree with our list, we think that it can serve as something of a consensus document from which Congress and the President's Fiscal Commission can work. Simply stated, we can't continue to kick the can down the road on reducing the size of the federal government.  In order to head off a debt crisis like that facing Greece today, we need to begin scaling back our unsustainable spending habits.  This list can help to do that without starting a political food fight.

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