Citizens Against Government Waste Lists Taxpayer Tricks and Treats For Halloween 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318

October 24, 2018
 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 18th annual compilation of scary, surreal, and spine-tingling taxpayer tricks and treats:

Trick:  Attempting to bring pork-barrel earmarks back from the dead.  After the House of Representatives failed to renew its earmark moratorium in 2017, the House Rules Committee opened hearings in January 2018 to consider the return of the ghastly practice.  CAGW President Tom Schatz testified before the committee and warned against an earmark resurrection.  Even under a moratorium, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) fiercely defended on September 6, 2018, zombie earmarks are multiplying at a frightening rate.  The 2018 Congressional Pig Book exposed 232 earmarks costing taxpayers $14.7 billion, more than double fiscal year 2017. 

Treat:  Tax reform lights a fire under America’s economy.  On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law and relieved the tax code of decades-old bureaucratic skeletons that hampered millions of tax filers every year.  After passage, hundreds of companies boosted wages and gave their employees bonuses.

Trick:  The federal deficit Frankenstein grows.  While tax reform has led to an explosion in economic growth, Congress’s addiction to spending has caused fiscal peril.  After Congress annihilated the budget caps by $300 billion and failed to pass a mere $15 billion rescissions package, the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget deficit surged to $779 billion, a 17 percent increase from FY 2017.  On September 26, 2018, CAGW released the antidote to this spending addiction, Prime Cuts 2018.  This comprehensive annual report contained 636 recommendations for reining in the rampaging deficit Frankenstein by saving taxpayers $3.1 trillion over five years.

Treat:  The FCC sets the internet free.  On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to replace antiquated, Depression-era regulations on the internet with a consumer-focused, light-touch framework.  By removing these regulatory chains, the internet is once again free to be the engine of innovation it has been for more than two decades.

Trick:  States try to drag the internet back in time.  In response to the FCC’s vote to free the internet, 150 state and local governments proposed new draconian rules that would put the world wide web back in the regulatory dungeon.  California’s highly-restrictive law drew an immediate lawsuit from the Justice Department because of its dubious constitutional standing. 

Treat:  HHS lifeboat rescues consumers from astronomical Obamacare costs.  On August 1, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new rule allowing Americans the option of purchasing low cost, short-term health insurance plans.  The rule took effect on October 1, 2018 and allows consumers to save potentially hundreds of dollars per month in premiums. 

Trick:  Congress’s secret harassment slush fund remains after tsunami of allegations.  Amid the unearthing of Capitol Hill’s toxic workplace culture came the revelation that 17 million taxpayer dollars had been used to settle and keep secret vile episodes of harassment and misconduct in the halls of Congress.  Both the House and Senate have failed to reconcile two bills that address this situation, thereby allowing the secret taxpayer settlements to continue.

Treat:  Compensation for musicians moves out of the dark ages.  On October 11, 2018, President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act into law, which updates ancient music copyright laws for the digital era and ensures artists and publishers are fairly compensated.

Trick:  Supreme Court opens the floodgates for online sales taxes.  On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that states can begin forcing companies outside of their borders to collect taxes on remote sales.  The decision places a gargantuan burden on all online companies, particularly small businesses, to act as tax collectors and slog through a tangled web of more than 10,000 individual tax jurisdictions.

Treat:  Supreme Court slays restrictions on sports betters and workers.  On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court ended the prohibition on sports gambling, overturning state laws that snuffed out a thriving twenty-first century industry.  On June 27, 2018, the Court ruled in favor of workers in Janus v. AFSCME, upholding a worker’s right to choose whether to make payments to a union.

Trick:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still leaching off taxpayers.  On September 6, 2018, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac surpassed the 10 year mark under government conservatorship.  During that decade, the mortgage giants have sucked more than $190 billion from taxpayers while refusing to reform their operations, rein in their excessive spending, and wean themselves off the federal dole.

Treat:  Department of Interior untangles and decentralizes.  The Department of the Interior has embarked on a historic reorganization plan to consolidate regions from more than 50 down to 13, dramatically reducing the control of the federal behemoth and transferring more authority to state, local, and tribal governments. 

Trick:  The continuing calamities of the F-35.   Nearly 17 years into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s (JSF) tortuous acquisitions odyssey, the program is approximately $170 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule.  A May 2018 House Armed Services Committee report revealed that the Navy’s JSF may lack sufficient range to function adequately in a future war.  On October 11, 2018, the Pentagon temporarily grounded all JSFs after one crashed in South Carolina.  Despite its consistent and costly failures, lawmakers showered it with $2.7 billion in earmarks in FY 2018, an increase of 435 percent from FY 2017.

Treat:  Community banks escape Dodd-Frankenstein.  On May 22, 2018, Congress passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.  The law allows small and medium-sized banks to be released from the burdensome regulatory regime imposed by Dodd-Frank and more easily facilitate economic growth and investment.

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