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The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) was a law passed by Congress and President Obama during tense negotiations over the “debt ceiling.” The intent of the law was to provide fiscal discipline and reduce the long-term debt. One of the most important things the BCA did was to create discretionary spending caps to reduce the amount of money Congress can expend. When Congress can’t meet these caps, a mechanism called the “sequester” automatically reduces discretionary spending in an across-the-board fashion. While far from perfect policy, the BCA and sequester are important tools to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Spending is falling: Spending is on track to fall below $3.45 trillion by the end of FY13. This is the first time, since the end of the Korean War, federal expenditures have fallen two years in a row.
It’s important to remember though, that the sequester is only the first step toward getting our fiscal house in order. Larger bills loom on the horizon in the form of mandatory entitlement spending that threatens to bury our nation in debt. That’s why it’s so essential that we make the tough choices now, before the debt becomes unmanageable. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we must start by urging Washington to “Keep the Caps!”
To learn more about this important issue and take action, visit KeeptheCaps.com.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
NJ Senate Race: Booker, Lonegan Separated by $101 Billion
On Wednesday, New Jerseyans will vote in a special election to decide who will replace outgoing U.S. Senator Jeffrey Chiesa, a Republican and former state attorney general who was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to fill the seat vacated after Frank Lautenberg's death in June. Ahead of the election, National Taxpayers Union Foundation has released its line-by-line analysis of the proposals made by the leading candidates: former Newark mayor Cory Booker, who won the Democratic nomination in August, and his Republican challenger Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota.
During any election cycle, candidates propose and debate a variety of policies, which can give voters some insight into how they would spend (or save) the tax dollars they send to Washington. Unfortunately for taxpayers, it can be difficult to translate these proposals into specific dollar figures. Using data and methodology from the BillTally project, NTUF has analyzed the campaign promises of would-be Senators and Representatives since 2000 in order to make the budgetary implications of their agendas clearer for interested voters.
For the New Jersey election, NTUF sifted through each candidate's official campaign materials, public statements, and media appearances in order to determine which of their proposals could affect federal spending.
For links to analyses of each candidate's proposals, as well as a number of summary graphs and other information on the studies, check out today's special edition of the Taxpayer's Tab online here.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
That’s right, NTU is headed to New Orleans for another Keep the Caps event!
After a successful luncheon and protest in Little Rock, Arkansas, we’re excited to be partnering with our Louisiana friends from The Hayride blog and American Voice PAC next week to spread the word about Washington’s spending problem.
Here’s the plan:
We will gather outside Ernst Cafe at 3:30pm and walk four blocks toward Senator Landrieu's New Orleans office for a rally and protest. Shortly after, we will head back to Ernst Cafe for free food, beverages, giveaways, and more.
Our message? It’s past time to get a grip on out-of-control national debt and spending.
Just two years after creating common-sense, bipartisan caps on federal spending, some politicians in Washington, including Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, are trying to change the law and undo these sensible, bipartisan caps so they can continue to play games with your tax dollars.
The modest spending restraint of 3 cents on the dollar, imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011, is an important step in reining in our nation's out of control spending. So far, the sequester has been a success, with federal expenditures falling two years in a row – the first time since the end of the Korean War.
On October 17, Louisianans have an opportunity to make their voices heard. Let's tell Senator Landrieu, President Obama, and the rest of Washington to Keep the Caps!
Be sure to grab your free ticket and RSVP by clicking HERE. Tell your friends, and we’ll see you Thursday!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Government ‘Shutdown’: Day 10
Website waste: The now infamous and floundering government website for Obamacare cost taxpayers over $634 million to create. Despite knowing the October 1st deadline was coming for months, the site has been marred by poorly written code, glitches, and crashes. Read more at Digital Trends.
Overbuilt Courts: A new Government Accountability Office report reveals that most federal courthouses built from 2000-2010 were built larger than Congress authorized. The GAO found 3.56 million square feet of unneeded space costing taxpayers $835 million. More details at USA Today.
Extravagant charges: The director of a Washington state educational group for low income children has been using taxpayer money to buy “expensive meals, unnecessary flights and a hotel stay in a presidential suite.” To this day, Loueta Johnson remains on the job. KIMA TV has more details.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Vikings’ New Taxpayer Funded Stadium Already Hitting Fiscal Snags
It’s the same old story, but taxpayers can’t seem to duck sports owners pining for new stadiums for their teams. Wealthy owners continue to use questionable tactics to extract tax money from fans for funding their “palaces.”
Their argument is always that a new stadium will increase tourism, which will increase sales, which will make everyone the requisite profit needed to pay back in spades the tax money spent up front. Unfortunately for the countless cities who have tried it, the bargain quickly turns into a boondoggle.
The state of Minnesota is the latest state to to push taxpayers into the publicly funded stadium trap. The state and the city of Minneapolis have thrown in almost $500 million, which is over 50 percent of the total cost of a stadium, for the Minnesota Vikings.
A previous NTUF study concluded that when public contributions represented over 50 percent of the costs, as is the case with the Vikings, the stadiums will be $65 million more expensive on average. Recently, the Vikings, the city, and their fans are finding NTUF’s finding to be all too real.
Now, Team officials say they will have to cut out certain amenities from the proposed stadium just weeks before the groundbreaking. “We only have $975 million in the budget, and there’s only so many things you can get under that number,” said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. Among the casualties of the soaring costs is a parking garage and escalators. The team is also imposing $2,500 personal seat licenses for three fourths of the stadium’s seats. Is this an attempt to get more taxpayer money, or just part of accessing contingency funds? We’ll have to wait and see. Surely taxpayers who are shelling out more than half the stadium’s cost will not shed a tear over this “problem.”
As was the case in Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Washington; taxpayer funded sports stadiums don’t solve local woes. Owners and politicians pitch these stadiums as a ‘short term cost, long term profit’ venture for fans. But for taxpayers there’s ‘short term cost, long term debt’.
Sources: Deadspin.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune, National Taxpayers Union Foundation0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Government ‘Shutdown’: Day 9
‘Shutdown’ Theater: Fox News compiled a list of seven operations that were halted over the last nine days that saved practically no taxpayer funds. The list includes scenic spots on the sides of roads to jogging paths that happen to be on public land.
Obamacare phones: The state of Tennessee’s healthcare co-op is offering new enrollees in the healthcare exchanges free smart phones if they enroll. The plan originally received a federal grant of $73 million. Read more at the Daily Caller.
Failure to report: One in five companies that received taxpayer assistance from the state of Wisconsin have not filed a report detailing where the money went. The reporting system was created in response to the revelation of $12 million of overdue loans from previous years. Find out more details from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Given the work that National Taxpayers Union and NTU Foundation pursue every day, it becomes all too easy to focus on the public faces of the organizations: those who are representing the taxpayers’ cause in the media, on Capitol Hill, or with the policy community.
Yet, we should also acknowledge and value the contributions of those who aren’t in front of Congress, or a camera. It is with much sadness but much more fondness that we do so now, by pausing to remember our Director of Finance and Accounting Bill Fey, who passed away Sunday peacefully after a brief illness.
Bill had served NTU and NTU Foundation since 2006, bringing with him decades of experience in the intricacies of for-profit and nonprofit financial operations, including stints with a leasing company, a law firm, and two associations prior to joining us. He also had a top-notch education in his field through a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and an M.B.A. (finance) from American University.
Though he could have deployed his talents toward more lucrative pursuits, Bill chose to give his steady hand to our operations, ranging from standard accounting to the task of interacting with outside auditors. These obligations are vital enough at organizations like ours that espouse (and pride themselves on) financial accountability, but Bill was more than a bookkeeper. He brought with him other skills that we came to rely on, including personnel policy development, property management, investment strategy, and conference planning. In short, he helped to provide some of the vital infrastructure that enabled NTU’s and NTU Foundation’s activities to proceed full speed ahead.
Bill was also a true compatriot in our endless struggles on behalf of limited government. He offered useful anecdotes from his past interactions with bureaucracies, and pointed out interesting news developments that might be useful in our outreach to taxpayers. He also never failed to maintain a wry sense of humor that reminded us to take our daily travails in stride and have confidence in the course our movement was charting.
Bill’s devotion to NTU and NTU Foundation was evident in his insistence upon imparting as much of his knowledge as possible to those who had to carry on his duties. His wife, son, daughter, and others who knew him can be proud of this dedication. Perhaps also they can take some comfort in the words of Walt Whitman, which seem appropriate as we reflect on the passing of a former Naval Academy man:
“O we can wait no longer
We too take ship O soul,
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores …”
We wish Bill’s loved ones less difficult days ahead. Though we will miss him, we know he has joyously, fearlessly reached another shore.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!
NTUF's Demian Brady joins the podcast to talk Debt Ceiling and the federal budget, and the Outrage of the Week! hammers one government so-called "shutdown" casualty that should concern taxpayers.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Government Shutdown Day 7:
Tribal fraud: An internal audit of Native American tribal areas across America has revealed extensive waste and fraud totaling tens of millions of dollars. “Embezzlement, paychecks for do-nothing jobs and employees who over-billed hours and expenses,” were commonplace, yet the acts have gone unpunished for years. Read more at WSLS.
Parking lot shutdown: The National Park Service has closed the parking lot at the home of George Washington, Mt. Vernon due to the government shutdown. Although, the park is privately owned and remains open. Read more shutdown stories at the Daily Caller.
Furniture fiasco: An investigation of Chicago public school contracts showed major discrepancies. Certain furniture ordered by schools was not up to specifications when delivered and overcharging routinely occurred. As a result of a local news investigation, the schools have instituted major reforms and are investigating the issues. ABC7 has more details.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Latest Taxpayer's Tab: Debt Ceiling Debate Looming
The federal government is currently in the second week of its shutdown, due to Congressional disagreements over which parts of the government to fund -- and more importantly, at what levels. However, a larger and potentially more disruptive issue is looming should Congress fail to act in the coming days. The U.S. Treasury says our debt will eclipse the statutory debt limit of nearly $16.7 trillion on October 17, and that could have negative ripple effects throughout the global economy.
In the latest Taxpayer's Tab, NTUF offers a bit of background on the debt limit and how recent spending patterns have played into the budgetary debates on Capitol Hill. Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett put together an infographic with some perspective on the composition of our debt and where it's been over the years. There's also discussion of a blog post on mandatory vs. discretionary spending trends and how the steady rise in mandatory spending as a percentage of federal outlays has shaped the debate over how heavily we should finance government activities with debt.
In addition, NTUF continues to score bills as part of our BillTally project & the latest tab features some of the research that's been happening on that front. In this week's edition, NTUF looked at: