Government Spending

Open Letter to President Trump: No To A Return of Earmarks

Andrew Roth - January 10th, 2018

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members from across the country, we urge you to reconsider your suggestion that Congress consider restoring earmarks.

Earmarks are the antithesis of the “drain the swamp” election that sent you to the White House. They are corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful.

Since 1991, according to CAGW’s Congressional Pig Book, there have been 110,605 earmarks costing taxpayers $329.9 billion. In 2006, one year after the 2005 highway bill had $24 billion in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, appropriations earmarks totaled a record $29 billion. That was also the year Republicans lost the majority in the House of Representatives.

When Republicans took back the House in 2010, they agreed to an earmark moratorium, and they have kept that majority for the past three election cycles. The loss of the majority and the incarceration of some of their former colleagues due to earmarks were fresh in their minds.

The distribution of funds for earmarks skews heavily toward those in power. In the 111th Congress, when the names of members who requested earmarks were included in the appropriations bills, the 81 appropriators who constituted 15 percent of the 535 members of Congress purloined 61 percent of the earmarks and 51 percent of the money for earmarks. Earmarks do not help members get along better; they unfairly benefit a select group at the expense of everyone else.

If you have been hearing that earmarks are essential to help pass bills, that claim has been debunked by the passage in the House of all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018. That achievement did not require resorting to the prior practice of “legalized bribery,” under which a few million dollars in earmarks were traded for votes in favor of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending bills.

Earmarks are a lazy, unfair and corrupt way to circumvent the authorization and appropriations process. They have been roundly excoriated by the conservative movement upon which Republicans depend for their political lives.

The American people have made it clear that they want an end to business as usual in Washington. Earmarks for teapot museums, indoor rainforests, and bridges to nowhere should not be restored; they should be permanently banned. We respectfully urge you to make it clear you agree with the taxpayers on this issue.

Sincerely,

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
National Taxpayers Union
FreedomWorks
Americans for Tax Reform
60 Plus Association
The Club for Growth
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Taxpayers for Common Sense
ALEC Action

Open Letter to Congress: Don’t Bring Back Earmarks

Andrew Roth - January 10th, 2018

Dear Members of Congress:

In 2011, your body spoke with a clear voice against the culture of waste and abuse endemic to Washington by passing a ban on the scandal-ridden earmark process.

Earmarks can feasibly increase the upward pressure on members of Congress to spend more to get their own pet projects approved.

Even though defenders correctly note that earmarks did not constitute a large portion of the federal budget, the primary problem with them remains as true today as in 2011: Earmarks incentivize waste on the dubious assumption that trading pet projects helps better legislation get passed.

Nostalgic supporters of earmarks might suggest a world in which Representatives were able to directly respond to district needs, but data suggests otherwise.

In 2011, researchers uncovered evidence that leadership regularly provided extra earmarks depending not on need but on how much of a reelection challenge particular members faced.

In 2010, a Harvard working paper found that when one of a state’s Senators becomes chair of a powerful committee, the number of earmarks to that state skyrockets by a startling 50%, while private investment and R&D spending are depressed.

Perhaps not all earmarks are “bridges to nowhere,” but bridges to reelection and political power are hardly reassuring in a time of ever-increasing deficits and debt.

To be clear, the status quo is in no way perfect, and opportunities for reform are abundant. In a time of dysfunction and even immobility on major legislation, it is not surprising that lawmakers might seek any available options for
making the wheels of government turn smoother. But relying upon cronyism and waste as the currency is indefensible.

We, as the undersigned organizations, strongly object to any move to bring back earmarks and urge further reforms of the process in order to ensure the fiscal sanity, accountability, and small government policy your constituents demand.

Sincerely,

Coalition to Reduce Spending
National Taxpayers Union
Alaska Policy Forum
ALEC
ALEC Action
American Commitment
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Center for Individual Freedom
Civitas Institute
Club for Growth
Concerned Veterans for America
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
FreedomWorks
Free the People
Frontiers of Freedom
Generation Opportunity
Goldwater Institute
Heritage Action
Independent Women’s Voice
Let Freedom Ring
The LIBRE Initiative
The Maine Heritage Policy Center
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Pioneer Institute
60 Plus Association
Republican Liberty Caucus
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Club for Growth Sends Letter to Tax Conferees

Rachael Slobodien - December 07th, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, Club for Growth President David McIntosh sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Ryan, and members of the tax conference committee.  An excerpt of the letter is below.  The letter can be read in its entirety here.

 

“As conference discussions begin, Club for Growth wants to ensure that the most significant pro-growth provisions in the House and Senate legislation are preserved and not lost in an effort to appease special interests pleading to retain their particular tax benefit.  In other words, we want to make sure that what comes out of the conference committee is more pro-growth and not less than what went into it. 

 

Club for Growth urges the conferees not to increase any marginal tax rates.

 

  1. Stand firm and keep the corporate rate at 20 percent. 
  • We believe lowering the corporate rate to 20 percent is among the most pro-growth components in both versions of the legislation.  As the Tax Foundation has found, cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent will increase our nation’s GDP by 3.1 percent in the long run.  It will also increase the size of the U.S. economy by nearly 4 percent and result in 3 percent higher wages for American workers.

 

  1. Adopt at least the Senate’s top individual marginal tax rate and reject the House’s proposal.  Further reductions in the top individual rate would create even more economic growth. 
  • Lowering this rate benefits all Americans by spurring more investment and thereby creates economic growth and jobs throughout our country.  The Tax Foundation has found that lowering income tax rates by 10 percent – a similar reform to the Senate proposed rates – would further boost the economy by 1 percent. Additional reductions in income tax rates would provide even greater benefits to all Americans.

 

  1. Include the Senate’s repeal of the individual mandate.
  • This provision will allow over $300 billion in additional tax cuts, making the overall bill even more pro-growth.  This should not be a point of contention.  The Senate included the repeal of the Obamacare mandate in their version, and the House has repeatedly voted to repeal it in previous years.

 

Conference meetings inevitably require tradeoffs to rectify the differences between the legislative texts.  In making those tradeoffs, Club for Growth strongly urges conferees to stand strong and fight for the most pro-growth policies that benefit all Americans and not diminish them by giving in to class warfare or social engineering arguments.” 

 

Coalition Letter: Don’t Raise Debt Ceiling Without Significant Reforms

Andrew Roth - September 06th, 2017

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy, Whip Scalise, and Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers:

We, the undersigned conservative organizations, strongly oppose any attempt to raise the national debt limit without significant reforms that put our nation on a path to fiscal balance. The conservative activists and members our organizations represent are frustrated by the failure of congressional Republicans to keep their promises to repeal ObamaCare and rein in federal spending.

A debt limit increase – which is effectively another broken promise – risks more frustration in the conservative movement with congressional Republicans at a time when it is critical to gain momentum to pass fundamental, pro-growth tax reform.

In 2011, each of you were clear that a debt limit increase was fiscally irresponsible and could not pass the House of Representatives without corresponding spending cuts. Indeed, the debt limit increase was rejected by an overwhelming margin, without a single Republican vote. The common theme at the time was that Congress should not increase the national debt unless it also addresses our dire fiscal situation.

Mr. Ryan: “[W]hat we say is that for every dollar that the President wants to raise the debt limit we need to cut more than a dollar in spending. It’s really simple. So if he wants $2 trillion in debt limit increase then we’ve got to cut more than 2 trillion in spending. We’ve already offered a budget to cut $6.2 trillion in spending so we’ve shown the President plenty of areas in the government where we can cut spending.”

“In order to do that – if you want to create jobs you’ve got to get the fiscal situation under control. So it’s really about cutting spending, balancing the budget, getting the debt on the right path, and getting job creation, and those are the things that we are talking about.”

Mr. McCarthy: “Today’s vote sends a clear message to President Obama and Congressional Democrats that their plan to continue down a path of trillion dollar deficits is not an option. As I’ve said from the beginning, there’s not a single House Republican willing to vote to increase our debt limit without significant spending reductions and reforms to address our $14.28 trillion national debt.”

Mr. Scalise: “It would be irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without dramatic spending cuts that address our current financial crisis and get our country back on the path to fiscal responsibility. President Obama and liberals in Congress need to get the message that their reckless spending spree is over, and we will not allow Washington to continue spending money we don’t have. We need to have an honest conversation about how we can solve our country’s spending crisis, and the time for that conversation to begin is now.”

Mrs. McMorris Rodgers: “Congress should not raise the debt ceiling again unless it’s accompanied by significant cuts in government spending and fundamental budget reform. The debate over the debt ceiling is just getting started, and in the weeks ahead, we will have a unique opportunity to change the current course and incentives in our nation’s capital to smarter spending and a smaller role for the federal government. For the sake our children and grandchildren, we have to get our national debt under control, and we need to do it urgently.”

The United States’ fiscal situation has only gotten worse. Since rejecting a debt limit increase in May 2011, the total public debt has grown by roughly $5.5 trillion, from $14.344 trillion to $19.844 trillion. Moreover, the long-term unfunded liabilities threaten economic growth and prosperity.

With such an ominous picture facing our country, a debt ceiling increase would send a signal that congressional Republicans are not serious about tackling these challenges and that past words were only convenient rhetorical tools with which to criticize a Democratic administration.

We, and our supporters, strongly oppose an increase in the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts or significant regulatory relief and expect Congressional leaders to be consistent and fight for fiscal responsibility, not for more government spending.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President
FreedomWorks

David McIntosh, President
Club for Growth

Michael Needham, Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment

Richard Manning, President
Americans for Limited Government

Jonathan Bydlak, President
Coalition to Reduce Spending

Judson Phillips, President
Tea Party Nation

Wayne Crews, Vice President for Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Brooke Rollins, CEO
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Club for Growth Leads Coalition Urging President Trump to Stand Firm against Special Interest Pressure to Drop Ex-Im Pick

Rachael Slobodien - August 07th, 2017

“It is beyond audacious that the recipients of the Bank’s subsidies believe they can select the person to run the very agency that will hand the goodies out to them.”

Washington, DC –Today, Club for Growth sent a coalition letter to Senator Michael Crapo, Senate Chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, to denounce special interests who seek to strongarm President Trump into dropping the appointment of Scott Garrett as the next president of the Export-Import Bank.  Additionally, the conservative organizations announce opposition to any nomination (or slate of nominations) to Ex-Im’s board if Garrett’s nomination is not considered.

The letter can be read in its entirety below or can be viewed in pdf version by clicking this link.

**

Dear Chairman Crapo,

On behalf of the following organizations representing millions of Americans, we write to strongly denounce the special interest business groups that are urging the White House to drop the appointment of Scott Garrett as the next president of the Export-Import Bank.

It is beyond audacious that the recipients of the Bank’s subsidies believe that they, not the President, can select the person to run the very agency that will hand the goodies out to them.  This is regulatory capture at its worst.

Cronyism and corruption have long plagued the Bank’s operations.  When special interests publicly demand their spoils in such an egregious manner, it only further erodes the public’s confidence in their government.

President Trump has successfully appointed reformers to lead other agencies – like Scott Pruitt at the EPA and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education.  His appointment of Garrett is in keeping with his courageous reform agenda to “drain the swamp.”  For special interest groups to dictate the terms of his appointments is precisely the wrong message to send to the American people.

As recently as 2015, the Bank had almost 800 fraud claims levied against it.  There have been 85 indictments, 48 criminal judgements, and 66 years of prison sentences brought to bear because of the Bank’s activities.  Letting special interests continue to control the Bank’s leadership and operations will only extend this disastrously corrupt track record.

We’re extremely hopeful that President Trump will ignore the special interests that are so desperate for their Export-Import Bank gravy train to continue.  To that end, our groups and the people we represent, will vocally oppose any nomination (or slate of nominations) to Ex-Im’s board if Garrett’s nomination is not considered.

Regards,

David McIntosh, President
Club for Growth

Michael A. Needham, Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America

Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
FreedomWorks

Rick Manning, President
Americans for Limited Government

Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Colin A. Hanna, President
Let Freedom Ring USA

Daniel Schneider, Executive Director
American Conservative Union

Tony Perkins, President
Family Research Council