Sandra Fabry

YouCut - Cast Your Vote on Spending Cuts You Want to See Enacted

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 1:24 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

If you think the federal government is spending too much of your hard-earned money, check out the latest project launched by the Economic Recovery Working Group headed up by Republican Whip Eric Cantor:

YouCut allows you to vote on spending cuts you want the House of Representatives to enact. Until the end of the year, votes can be cast online or via text message, and the spending cut to receive the most votes will be announced on a weekly basis. House Republicans will then call for an up-or-down vote on that particular spending cut. 

Take a look, and let your voice  be heard!

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The Latest Taxpayer-Funded Boondoggle: The EPA's Video Propaganda Contest

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Friday, April 23rd, 2010, 4:59 PM PERMALINK

The EPA is at it again.

No, we’re not talking about the latest (and possibly biggest power grab yet - Oberstar’s Clean Water Act – but we’re talking about a shameless (and wasteful) propaganda video contest announced by the EPA last week.
The very agency that has been plotting to impose economically damaging regulations on greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is soliciting the public to submit YouTube videos explaining the alleged benefits of government regulations. The EPA’s implied reasoning it wants participants to convey: Regulations are swell because “almost every aspect of our lives is touched by federal regulations” – a pretty pathetic argument along the lines of we “already pay so much in taxes, so let’s raise them some more”!?
Now, I am not saying that each and every federal regulation is necessarily bad, but there are certainly scores of regulations or examples of regulatory overreach out there that are not only silly or useless, but potentially harmful and extremely economically damaging, and all of them have a price tag.  Did you know that the average American had to work 65 days in 2009 to pay for the cost of government regulation, which was estimated to consume 17.7 percent of national income that year? And that’s just a conservative estimate.
What is even worse about the EPA’s transparent propaganda move to push for more government regulation is the fact that there is a $2,500.00 prize for the “best”(or should I say most pro-regulation?) video. 
Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has taken issue with this and has sent President Obama a letter asking him to rein in his regulators and to instruct the EPA Administrator to rescind the offer of prize money.  Writes Blackburn:
In an era of ever mounting debt, a $2,500.00 prize for a YouTube video is truly not the best use of taxpayer dollars. I understand that in context of the trillions the federal government spends every year, $2,500.00 seems inconsequential. (…) Washington spends fifty times this amount every second. We must remember however, $2,500.00 is the total tax contribution for a working American making just under $30,000 a year. Do you believe that taxpayer wants the entirety of his or her tax contribution to be given away as prize money for a YouTube video?
The Congressman will be submitting her own video in the contest and is currently asking her friends on Facebook to send her stories on how federal rules and regulations have impacted their lives for inclusion in the video.  She has vowed to make sure the prize money goes towards debt reduction, should she win.
The folks at Americans for Prosperity, who share our concerns regarding regulatory overreach by the government, have also entered the contest with this video. Somehow I don’t think this is the type of video the EPA is looking for.
If you would like to submit your own video explaining to the EPA and the rest of the country why more government regulation might not be the way to go, here are the rules for the contest.

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ATR Supports Goodlatte Earmark Moratorium

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Friday, April 23rd, 2010, 12:30 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability today commended Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R, VA-6) and his 163 co-sponsors for sponsoring a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Democratic Members of the House should join Republican Members of the House in a total ban on earmarks for one year.

The resolution stipulates that discretionary spending should be reduced in the concurrent resolution on the budget for FY 2011 by the total amount spent on earmark requests in 2010. It further calls for the creation of a bipartisan/bicameral committee to review and overhaul the congressional budgetary, spending and earmark processes. Rep. Goodlatte announced the effort at a press conference held Thursday with several Members of House GOP leadership.

Says ATR president Grover Norquist:

Earmarks are the broken window of the federal budget. They may seem small in actual fiscal value when compared to the overall size to the budget, but they are emblematic of all that is wrong with the appropriations process. Ultimately, they represent an open invitation to the entrenched ‘you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours’ mentality.

The resolution follows a unilateral self-imposed GOP conference-wide moratorium on all earmarks for FY 2011. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders had announced a partial ban on earmarks benefiting for-profit entities.

Continues Norquist:

Taxpayers appreciated the GOP conference-wide moratorium, and have taken it as a signal that Members of Congress are beginning to question their own spending habits - as well they should. House Democrats would be well-advised to join Republicans in this effort, and the House should use the opportunity to reform the broken appropriations process while the moratorium is in effect.

Click here for a PDF of the press release.

Photo credit: The Pug Father

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Regulatory Overreach in the Making

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, 12:08 PM PERMALINK

In what could be the latest example of regulatory overreach, the U.S. Senate seems set to vote next week on a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would effectively ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA). 

You may not be familiar with the chemical's name, but you've most certainly come into contact with it, as it is one of the most commonly used chemicals found in a whole host of plastic products including food containers, as well as metal cans.  Before you start to worry - it is considered safe.

The FDA has long said it's safe as currently used.  Just a few weeks ago, the FDA updated its findings, again saying it's safe.  (In fact, the quote from a commissioner was: "If we thought it was unsafe, we would be taking strong regulatory action.") The European Union's regulators (who tend to be a lot more stingy when it comes to these things and generally tend to make environmental policy decisions based on suspected risk and not on evidence) say it's safe. A whole body of regulators around the world - backed up by science - says it's safe.

But apparently the substance has been sufficiently vilified by environmentalists and part of the media, because all the findings deeming BPA safe for use in current low quantities do not seem to sway Sen. Feinstein and her nanny statist friends who continue their crusade - which is not only unneccessary, but potentially hazardous, as BPA is a chemical that prevents food spoilage and contamination. Without it, metal cans, for example, could not withstand high temperatures needed for sanitation purposes - and there is currently no safe alternative available.

Never mind, says Sen. Feinstein, we'll go ahead and ban it anyway.

ATR and CFA have called on Senators to reject the ban.

Click here for our press release, and here for more background information.

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Signing of Health Bill on Tuesday Would Violate President's "Sunlight Before Signing" Promise

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 12:09 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama is expected to sign the healthcare bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late on Sunday, March 21, into law on Tuesday, March 23. In doing so, he would violate his promise to post on the Internet all non-emergency legislation that lands on his desk for a full five days before signing them into law.

On his campaign website, the “Sunlight Before Signing” promise reads as follows:

Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

And while he may claim that the bill that was passed this weekend has been online for quite some time since it was the Senate-passed bill, the President’s commitment extended explicitly to bills after they have been sent to him. In this video clip from his Presidential campaign he says:

“When there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you, the public, will have five days to look online, to find out what’s in it, before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing.”

Says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform:

“When the President signs the bill on Tuesday, he will have broken yet another one of his promises to American people. But what’s another broken promise? In the context of his healthcare-related promises alone, negotiations were held behind closed doors and not on C-SPAN, and lobbyists did have access to the White House – so why should he bother beginning to keep his promises now? Taxpayers, who were promised more openness and transparency from their government, however, will take note.”

Click here for a pdf version of the press release.

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ATR and CFA Support Earmark Moratorium

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010, 4:26 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

Tomorrow, the House GOP Conference will meet to discuss a self-imposed unilateral earmark moratorium for FY2011. We're supporting the effort, because, as we've stated in our letter:

Taxpayers have become increasingly frustrated with the Congressional practice of earmarking. The process lacks transparency and accountability and the results are often frivolous and wasteful.    
While overall spending levels and a lack of general spending discipline continue to be the main problem, earmarks have become emblematic of what taxpayers perceive as the problem in Washington, DC.  

Click here for a PDF version of the letter.

Photo credit: John Morris

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ATR and CFA Support the Spending Limit Amendment

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Thursday, March 4th, 2010, 3:16 PM PERMALINK

As federal spending has been growing at unsustainable rates, and with entitlement spending on an explosive trajectory, Reps. Hensarling, Pence and Campbell have put forth a proposal for a Constitutional amendment which would limit federal spending to one-fifth of the economy. 

ATR and CFA support the amendment. From our letter of support:

It has become abundantly clear that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path with spending having increased to 24.7 percent of the economy. While this in itself is staggering in light of the fact that the historical average of post World War II federal spending has been hovering around 20 percent of GDP, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The outlook is much gloomier as federal spending is set to explode over the course of the next decades unless thoroughly overhauled.
Your amendment seeks to establish a national consensus over a necessary limit to the size and scope of government via a Constitutional amendment.  
It remains debatable whether the optimal size of government lies at 20 percent of GDP or lower. However, limiting federal spending to no more than 20 percent relative to the size of the economy is not only crucial if we want to get our fiscal house in order, it is also a very attainable goal. In fact, according to historical data provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), federal spending was kept around or under 20 percent of GDP in every year from 1996 to 2007. 
While enforcing the Spending Limit Amendment will involve some tough choices, these are important choices to be made as our spending and debt crisis will not go away and most certainly cannot be solved by enacting damaging tax increases. The Spending Limit Amendment provides for a reasonable hard limit on the size and scope of government and would set the necessary parameters to force a serious national debate over how to rein in discretionary spending, and reform our nation’s entitlement programs prudently and in a sustainable fashion.

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More "Stimulus" Boondoggles - Social Engineering and Lobbying for Higher Taxes

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, 3:08 PM PERMALINK

Early on, when opponents of the "stimulus" argued that the trillion dollar spending and debt package was nothing but a costly hodgepodge of politically motivated spending, those pushing for its passage vehemently objected. 

However, this is exactly what the package has turned out to be. It has clearly failed to meet its stated goals (after all wasn't the unemployment rate not supposed to go above 8 percent with its passage?). Instead, taxpayers have had to watch helplessly as their money is being doled out to prop up government rather than stimulate job creation in the private sector, and is being spent on questionable projects under the even more questionable - and debunked - claim of "saving and creating" hundreds of thousands of jobs.

One of the more questionable "stimulus" spending programs called "Communities Putting Prevention To Work" (CPPW) is being administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, specifically the Centers of Disease Control (CDC).  Under one of their "stimulus" grants programs, Connecticut was one of the latest states to announce having received about $1.3 million in federal money for social engineering purposes - to "help residents quit smoking, reduce obesity among children and provide other health initiatives in schools and communities."

This is the latest advance of government seeking to expand control over people's lives and to make consumption decisions for its constituents - which clearly is not its role. 

Leaving aside the fact that the rationale of saving and creating" jobs through such expanded government programs is questionable at best, what is even worse is that taxpayers are ultimately paying for the government to lobby for higher taxes on products generally perceived as "sinful."  

The CDC suggest a handful of "evidence-based strategies" to be utilized by grant recipients relating legislative and regulatory changes regarding "media, access, point of purchase/promotion, price, and social support and services."  For tobacco products, the "price" component suggests using "evidence-based pricing strategies to discourage tobacco use" - and if you look at which references they use in their supporting documentation it becomes clear what that means - tax increases. And for "nutrition," the suggested strategy involves "increasing the price of less healthy foods relative to the prices of more healthful choices," which may sound familiar if you're following the soda-tax or snack tax efforts in the states.

And of course, the states are going for it. According to the HHS website, Delaware, for example, is receiving $1,022,792 to"

educate leaders and decision-makers about the benefits of increasing the price on other tobacco products such as cigars and smokeless tobacco to equal the price on cigarettes.

Translation: to lobby for higher taxes on these products.

Likewise, Oregon is receiving $3,000,000 to

(...) support a policy proposal to increase tobacco price.

Again, translation: to lobby for higher taxes on these products.

Yes, you heard right, your "stimulus" dollars are going towards lobbying for damaging tax increases, draining even more money out of the private sector and productive use.

Way to "stimulate" the economy, right?

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CFA Urges Opposition to "Jobs Package" - Will Rate Vote Against

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Monday, February 22nd, 2010, 3:36 PM PERMALINK

Today, Sen. Reid has scheduled a cloture vote on his "jobs package."  Taking virtually everyone by surprise before the President's Day recess, Sen. Reid had pulled a bipartisan proposal at the last minute and replaced it with his package. The Center for Fiscal Accountability informed Members of the Senate of our intentions to rate the bill in our annual Congressional ratings.

From our vote alert:

The Center for Fiscal Accountability urges all Members of the U.S. Senate to vote “No” on Sen. Reid’s $15 billion “jobs package.” After weeks of talk about openness and bipartisanship, Senator Reid opted against exactly that and scrapped the initial jobs package, scheduled a cloture vote without allowing for debate or amendments.

Both the surface transportation reauthorization and the Build America bonds have less to do with job creation than with misguided priorities and handouts to labor unions and local governments. The extension Build America bonds will leave taxpayers to pay the tab for decades-long interest buy-down, while the extension of the expiring highway funding authorization disregards the underlying problems with financing transportation programs.

Extensions would not be necessary if transportation spending wasn’t riddled with waste and fraud – however SAFETEA-LU funded over $20 billion worth of earmarks. Beyond that, however, the package authorizes a one-time transfer of $19.5 billion from the general fund to the highway trust fund, and permanently increases the authorization level by modifying past rescissions of highway authority. Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirement imposed on surface transportation projects further unnecessarily inflate the burden borne by taxpayers.

What’s worse, while some tax cut provisions are excluded, the package amounts to a net tax increase overall.

Taxpayers deserve better - vote “No” on Sen. Reid’s “jobs package”!

Click here for a pdf version of our alert.

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Tax Hikes a Foregone Conclusion Under Obama's Tax-and-Spend Commission

Posted by Sandra Fabry on Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 11:23 AM PERMALINK

Today, President Barack Obama signed an executive order announcing the creation of his “debt commission,” modeled after the infamous “Conrad-Gregg commission” plan the Senate voted down in January. The Administration has already announced that the panel will be headed up by former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson.

While a United States Senator, Simpson voted for two “bipartisan deals” which had real tax increases and phony spending cuts. The first was the 1982 “TEFRA” bill which promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The second was the 1990 “Read My Lips” deal struck at Andrews Air Force Base, which promised $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. In both cases, every penny of the tax hikes went through. Also in each case, the spending restraint never materialized.

Says ATR President Grover Norquist:

Taxpayers have every reason to be concerned. Alan Simpson has a history of walking into a room with the stated goal of reform – and in both cases he voted for higher taxes and higher spending, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. There is no reason to believe that things would be different this time around – when you put everything on the table, including damaging tax hikes, taxpayers will more than likely be sold out.

Reform commission proposals that would not run the risk of being hijacked by tax increase proponents have been put forth in both the U.S. House and Senate. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has sponsored the CARFA Act, which is modeled after the successful BRAC base closure commission, just like a similar bill, the FAPRAC Act sponsored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) in the House. Both of these bills focus only on Federal spending and leave no room for tax increases. Rep. Patrick McHenry’s (R-NC) CORE Spending Act, while setting up a differently focused commission, protects taxpayers by incorporating a clear prohibition of tax increases or new taxes.

Norquist continues:

Rather than falling into the old “everything’s on the table” trap where tax increases are a foregone conclusion, Congress and the Administration should look to enact a BRAC-style spending reform-only commission or the CORE Spending Act all of which would take increases off the table. The BRAC process would not have worked if it had been tasked with either closing unnecessary bases or raising taxes to pay for unnecessary bases. It worked precisely because it had one job: to save taxpayer money by closing unnecessary bases, and along these lines, we should focus only on the real culprit of our fiscal problems – out-of-control spending.

Click here for a pdf of the press release.

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