Government Spending

Union bill will drive up counties’ costs of providing services

Municipal governments exist to provide essential services, such as law enforcement, firefighting, parks and recreation, street repairs and programs for the poor and homeless. But as pension, health-care and …

Teachers’ unions losing the long war over parental choice

Supporters of charter schools, homeschooling and other forms of school “choice” are so used to fighting in the trenches against the state’s muscular teachers’ unions that they often …

Three years in, what does the DATA Act tell us about agency spending?

Trying to figure out exactly how much money the federal government spends long has been an exercise in futility for those few brave souls who endeavor to try …

Greenhut on ‘damning’ UC audit

R Street Western Region Director Steven Greenhut was a recent guest on the John and Ken Show on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles to discuss his piece of …

Bullet train myopia driving local transit boondoggles

Over the past six years, California legislators and the governor have increased overall general-fund spending by $36 billion but couldn't find extra money to spend on road, freeway and other …

‘Damning’ audit showcases out-of-touch UC leaders

University of California students have to dig deeper to pay for tuition, thanks to a large increase approved by the Board of Regents this year. Taxpayers also are …

Napolitano deserves boot over latest UC scandal

The University of California warned Californians early this year that if tuition weren't significantly raised or public funding increased, education at the 10-campus system — with its staff …

ARTIC’s fiscal tundra is preview of other boondoggles

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin once allegedly remarked in private that: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic," which is something …

Rewarding public employees with new tax hikes on the private sector

Under the “leadership” of Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats, the state government has increased its spending a dramatic $36 billion over the last six years, but never managed …

Public employees — ever more untouchable

One of the most obnoxious trends in the nation, and one that is particularly acute in California, is the continued push to enshrine public employees as a special, …

Budgetary ‘kill lists’ are a good way to kill wasteful spending

Groups across the ideological spectrum have raised alarm about President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled budget blueprint that, as detailed last week by The Washington Post, targets numerous federal programs for elimination. While …

Costly veterans’ homes not serving broad population

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been a font of scandal in recent years, with various reports showcasing the way the agency charged with caring for our nation's veterans …

Thank you for killing PBS funding, President Trump

The hue and cry from critics protesting the proposed cuts to the Public Broadcasting System made in President Trump’s budget makes clear those same critics haven’t looked at …

Why infrastructure spending is not as simple as it seems

In a deeply divided America, infrastructure investment appears to be a rare area of political consensus. Donald Trump called for a major road-and-bridge program in his victory speech. …

Lessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting

Most of the attention around President Donald Trump's recent deregulation executive order focused on its “one in, two out” requirement mandating that agencies repeal two regulations for every …

Should we have a long-term budget for entitlements?

Federal law treats Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements as “mandatory” spending programs, which means they are not subject to the annual appropriations process like the rest …

State watchdog agency points to flaws in bond oversight

The Oroville Dam’s near disaster has ignited a long-overdue debate about the condition of California’s infrastructure, and the need for additional investments in its creaky system of dams, levees, …

Neeley addresses press conference on ‘Conservative Texas Budget’

R Street Southwest Region Director Josiah Neeley joined with Texas state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, and other members of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition at an Austin press …

Wackiness aside, unions still our biggest problem

When non-Californians think about what’s wrong with our lovely but dysfunctional state, they tend to think of some of the wackier stuff that routinely makes headlines here. The …

Newport deal shows how pensions are rigged against taxpayers

  A former Newport Beach deputy police chief’s parting pension deal may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of his lifetime — and serves as …

Why process matters in congressional appropriations

As recent legislative sessions repeatedly have ground to a halt with threats of government shutdown, we’re forced to wonder: what has gone so terribly wrong in the appropriations …

New report: Cal high-speed rail faces 50 percent cost overruns

California’s ongoing “high-speed rail” project connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco continues to run up against the same, recurring problem since voters gave the plan initial bond funding …

Moorlach wants to take pension reform back to the future

There isn’t anything fundamentally significant about 1990, from an ecological standpoint. Nonetheless, California officials long ago set that year as the benchmark against which greenhouse-gas-emissions reductions are judged …

Stormy Weather: Brown’s budget holds infrastructure hostage

My neighbors and I just survived a week of flood dangers, as something called an “atmospheric river” led to massive rains throughout northern California. The warmth of the …

Green Scissors Coalition letter to new members of the US House of Representatives

Dear Member: We, the member organizations of the Green Scissors coalition, congratulate you on your election to the United States House of Representatives. Founded in 1994, the Green Scissors campaign …

Anaheim’s election means victory over crony capitalism

While political observers wait to see whether President-elect Donald Trump will fulfill his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Anaheim’s new council majority is ready to do …

All the president’s propaganda

The following op-ed was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton, a professor in Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International …

Rethinking expanded WIC eligibility and enrollment

The attached policy study was co-authored by Douglas M. Call, a senior research analyst at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. This study was adapted from the …

Barron’s Mailbag: Chapter 11 for Social Security?

In their Other Voices essay, Dudley Kimball and Robert Morgan said that Social Security will be insolvent in 2034. In the sense of having liabilities vastly greater than assets, …

States and cities are drowning in pension debts

One of the purest mysteries in public policy these days is that while there's a clarion call from every class of political leadership to do something about sea-level …

Report: Congress needs to examine rules for federal propaganda

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2016) – The federal government’s widespread use of advertising – a frequently ignored budget line-item – and other forms of communication carry significant implications for …

Teams kneel at the altar of tax subsidies

The debate over standing for the national anthem is back on center stage this week, now that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been given the greenlight …

Energy Subsidies: End them all!

R Street, along with our friends and allies at Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense, have put out a new letter on tax extenders as …

Congressional Earmarks: Are we better off without them?

When the GOP took back the House in 2010, it followed through on what many of its members had promised in their campaigns—banning earmarks. Earmarks are the district …

Ignoring pension past, state risks future problems

It’s one of the oldest ploys. After officials at a government agency or business are caught in an embarrassing situation, it’s typical for them to deny there’s anything …

California’s roads improve, but still are troubled according to new study

Despite its well-documented inefficiencies and travails, California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has managed to improve the state’s system of roads, bridges and freeways incrementally in recent years, according …

Pension mess can’t go on; that’s no reason to ignore it

President Richard Nixon’s economic adviser, the late Herbert Stein, still is known for his dictum: “If something cannot go on forever, it won’t.” It should be the rallying …

Suddenly, a shifting pension paradigm?

Last month, I wrote a dour column for the Spectator doubting that a significant new appeals court decision in a major pension case would ultimately change the financial …

Prop. 53 could have far-reaching consequences for state project financing – or not

Most California voters are unfamiliar with the inner workings of the municipal-bond process. Many are likewise unfamiliar with the differences between, say, “general obligation” bonds and “revenue” bonds. …

Court ruling opens avenue for pension reform

An Aug. 17 California appeals court ruling rejected a public employee union’s claim that its members had a right to “pension spiking,” which the court described as “various …

Will appeals ruling sober up state’s pension abusers?

California’s hardy band of pension reformers show many of the symptoms of “battered spouse syndrome.” No matter how often they are beaten and ridiculed, they cling to hope. …

FEMA proposes fed-funded projects be built on higher ground

From Construction Equipment: Some groups are coming out in favor of the new regulations. R.J. Lehmann, senior fellow at R Street Institute said, 'Disaster-related spending long has been a …

Why some congressional Republicans oppose rules meant to protect federal properties from flooding

From Inside Sources: Yet R.J. Lehmann, editor-in-chief of the libertarian R Street Institute, told InsideSources he doesn’t understand Mayer’s concern. “If you’re on a hill at a higher elevation, you …

What the GOP platform gets right about agriculture

Regardless one's thoughts on the 2016 Republican Platform’s planks on international trade, marriage equality, immigration and so many other issues, libertarians and small-government conservatives should be cheered that …

Capping crop insurance subsidies is a long overdue initiative

To hear the agricultural lobby and farm state representatives in Congress tell it, making any cuts to the subsidies farmers receive from the federal government to help them …

CalPERS’ earnings flop means belt tightening

Earlier this year, I watched in horror as my 401(k) earnings started a freefall right before I planned on shifting some assets into a lower-risk fund. Things corrected, …

Crumbling roads? Let’s build bike lanes!

In his State of the State address earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to California’s deferred infrastructure maintenance as “staggering” and put the price tag for repairs at …

Farmers feed the world

As the U.S. Senate debated the farm bill in 2012, one of the measure's authors – Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. – took to the floor to defend it …

House kills zombie earmark (again)

From National Taxpayers Union: NTU was pleased this year’s vote of 268-153 garnered broad bipartisan support, growing by 16 new backers. In addition to NTU, this amendment was supported …

Some Ag Committee members draw millions in farm subsidies

Who benefits from farm subsidies? R Street long has been critical of our federal farm-support system, a massive boondoggle that disproportionately funnels taxpayer dollars to wealthy agribusinesses rather …

Secretary King is wrong: ESEA was not a civil-rights law

As Flypaper readers know all too well, newly arrived Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., is in hot water with Congress, state governors, and various school reformers. The …

Scandal dampens Sacramento’s world-class designs

I have a simple observation after years of writing about local-development issues: Whenever civic boosters talk about creating a “world-class city,” their city is by definition not one …

Coalition letter on the USDA catfish inspection program

Dear Senator Ayotte, As organizations that represent millions of taxpayers across the country, we write to support your efforts to repeal the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish …

As rocket wars wage in DC, a cautious move towards competition makes sense

On the morning of Aug. 12, 1998, a Titan IV-A rocket exploded about 40 seconds after launch. The explosion – caused by a short circuit in the guidance …

Is Jerry Brown California’s savior?

It may be news to many of us living here, but California — according to a recent Newsweek issue — apparently no longer faces intractable budgetary, debt, infrastructure, business, …

Alabama Legislature could turn BP settlement into roadkill

Rather than paying off money they've already spent, our politicians always seem to find one reason or another to spend on something else. Six years after the Deepwater …

Orange County’s political divide has officials seeing red

The real division in the Golden State isn’t between Northern California and Southern California; it is between the coastal cities and the grittier inland. That’s true even at …

Better ways to handle unwanted animals

The last time I was in an animal shelter, I adopted a furry 8-year-old puss named Gus. The shelter was clean but depressing: It was filled with whelping …

Senate could sneak wasteful energy subsidies into FAA reauthorization

What does the Federal Aviation Administration have to do with renewable-energy subsidies? Not much, except that senators are trying to sneak extensions of expiring green-energy tax credits into …

No adults left in the State Capitol

After his first incarnation as California governor in the 1970s and ’80s, Jerry Brown spent a few years in the 1990s as a radio talk-show host. His Oakland-based …

Paying for a better watchdog

R Street recently signed on to a bipartisan coalition letter, addressed to the chair and ranking member of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, expressing support for additional …

5 environmental topics a new GOP working group should tackle

At what would prove to be the final presidential primary debate in which he'd participate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was asked to respond to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s …

California already is building a wall — of debt

During a speech Monday to union organizers at a Sacramento dinner, California Gov. Jerry Brown made one of his characteristic off-the-cuff jokes. “If (Donald) Trump were ever elected, …

Why are farmers telling kids what to eat?

The attached policy short was published in the March 17, 2016 edition of Politico.   The law governing America’s school lunches is up for renewal this year, and the 210-page …

Dispatching the federal government’s ‘zombie’ spending

Congress spent $310 billion last year on more than 250 programs that were no longer authorized. This week, the House Republican Conference took important steps to kill these …

Coalition to Congress: Support the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act

Dear Chair McMorris Rodgers: On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our organizations, we write in support of the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016. Your legislation is needed …

Free-market and environmental groups to Congress: Support crop insurance reforms in the 2017 Budget

March 3, 2016 Dear Member of Congress, As taxpayer and environmental advocates, we write to express our unified support for the cuts to the federal crop insurance program outlined in …

Inappropriate Appropriations: How Congress spends without authorization

Congress spent $310 billion last year on some 250 agencies and programs that were no longer — as required under the law and Congress's own rules — authorized …

Countries don’t go bankrupt? The 20th century proves otherwise

How risky is sovereign debt? One memorable answer, "Countries don't go bankrupt," is attributed to Walter Wriston, the most prominent banker of his day and the chairman of Citibank …

A reversal of belief in central banks is healthy

Sir, John Plender bemoans central banks’ waning credibility (Insight, Feb. 17). In fact, belief in central banks was foolish in the first place and its reversal is healthy. …

You’ll never guess who’s targeting federal disaster spending

Politicians of both parties have learned in recent decades the perils of being seen handling a disaster poorly — as was the case with George W. Bush following …

Alabama pays 14 workers more for mileage than cost of a car

In Fiscal Year 2015, Alabama paid 14 individuals enough in-state mileage reimbursement to literally buy each of them a new car. Nobody pays much attention to the details of …

After latest F-35 setback, time to consider a replacement

Just when the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter project appeared it couldn’t get any worse, it went and did exactly that. The case study in how not to …

Puerto Rico needs a financial control board

The government of Puerto Rico is broke. Having run a long series of constant budget deficits, financed by escalating borrowing, it has accumulated about $71 billion in debt …

Testimony to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on postal reform

My name is Kevin R. Kosar, and I am director of the Governance Project at the R Street Institute, a think tank here in Washington. Some of you …

Gov. Bentley’s beach house blunders

The 2010 BP oil spill damaged plenty of things along Alabama's Gulf Coast. The governor's beach house wasn't one of them. But here we are, spending BP money to …

For energy markets, tax and budget talks include good, bad and ugly proposals

R Street has a longstanding commitment to highlight wasteful government spending, programs and market restrictions. The end-of-year negotiations on the budget deal and tax extenders have highlighted some …

The EPA’s illegal propaganda

The Environmental Protection Agency misused tax dollars in the service of public propaganda, according to a legal opinion just handed down by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The …

A small silver lining in Ex-Im renewal’s black cloud

As it had long been clear he would, President Barack Obama has signed H.R. 22, the five-year, $305 billion federal highway bill that also revives from the dead …

Transportation bill would undo billions in crop insurance savings

The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) is aptly named, but for all the wrong reasons. The process for getting to final passage for the federal transportation …

Letter to congressional leadership on federal flood standards

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader Reid: SmarterSafer, a coalition of environmental organizations, taxpayer advocates, insurance representatives, housing organizations and mitigation experts that advocates for environmentally …

Facing up to government sprawl

Reducing the size of the federal workforce has become a hot political issue this year. When the House and Senate drew up their budget plans this spring, both chambers …

Federal prize incentives to innovation could save money and lives

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2015) – The federal government should establish an “innovation savings program” (ISP) – rooted in familiar prize structures in the public and private sectors – …

Using prizes to spur innovation and government savings

In myriad sectors of the U.S. economy, from military technology to medical care, the federal government serves as the single-largest spender. As such, many of the innovations, inventions …

DOD spent millions so sports teams would ‘support the troops’

I have, at least as far as I can tell, never been paid to be patriotic. I mean, it's not as though I've wanted to be paid to hang …

Coalition urges Congress to reject tax increases

Dear Congressman: As the end of the Congressional session approaches, you will face many calls to raise taxes in order to "pay for" higher levels of spending and debt. …

Finding a path to fix unsustainable federal spending

Some time next month, the federal government is set once again to hit its debt limit. If Congress does not agree to raise the statutory debt ceiling, the …

So… this is Nixon’s fault?

Anyone watching Congress trying to negotiate the U.S. budget might wonder who could possibly have designed such a process. Thanks to an endlessly complicated scheme of resolutions and …

Coalition opposes the Export-Import bank discharge petition

Dear Representatives: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of Americans we represent, we write to express our deep concern about efforts to resurrect the Export-Import Bank. Ex-Im is …

The Ex-Im Bank battle continues

Conservatives declared victory this summer when the Export-Import Bank closed up shop because Congress refused to renew the government-backed bank's charter. Those in the free-market movement view this …

The F-35 isn’t the only military procurement failure

When people want an example of how broken the military-procurement system really is, most usually point to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That program has become a textbook …

How the American government is trying to control what you think

NASA tweeting that Congress should give it more money so our astronauts won’t have to ride on Russian rockets. Recovery.gov reporting overly optimistic statistics on jobs saved and …

Don’t let shutdown fight undo spending limits

Every day closer to Oct. 1 marks another step toward a potential government shutdown. Even though Republicans maintain control of both the House and Senate, there has been …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

Discouraging Marriage: The hidden cost of means-tested government ­benefits

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Neil Gilbert.   Traditional marriage is in big trouble in the United States. Between 1960 and 2011, the share of …

The EPA’s propaganda machine

A little over a century ago, U.S. Rep. Frederick Gillett, R-Mass., read something in The New York Times that vexed him. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of …

Protect taxpayers from another Fannie/Freddie bailout

We, the undersigned organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans fed up with government spending and overreach, urge members of Congress to pass H.R. 1673, the Enterprise …

Finding a General Fund budget out of Alabama’s shell game

If you're getting the feeling that Alabama's General Fund budget is more and more like a carnival shell game, you're not alone. Just keep your eye on the ball …

Alabama facing political gut check, not a budget shortfall

Listen to any Alabama politician discussing the General Fund budget. You'll undoubtedly hear the phrase, "budget shortfall." The use of those specific words is intentional. It creates the impression …

Green Scissors Coalition letter to former Gov. Jeb Bush

Dear Gov. Bush: The Green Scissors Coalition, made up of environmental, taxpayer and free-market groups dedicated to eliminating wasteful spending that harms the environment, applauds your recent comment that …

‘Gov’ knows best

No one likes a controlling, overbearing boyfriend. You know the guy I’m talking about. Incessantly checking in, sticking his nose into every and any decision, disapproving of anyone …

McConnell’s highway bill robbery

Before I start into the GOP-on-GOP war that took place last night while I was zoning out watching a David Crosby-lookalike save puppies on Animal Planet, I want …

Letter to Congress: Support the PREPARE Act

On behalf of the undersigned free-market and taxpayer organizations, we urge you to join Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and Leonard Lance, R-N.J., in supporting the Preparedness and Risk …

On highway bill, good governance and bipartisanship head in opposite directions

A recent Senate deal marked a win for bipartisanship, but at the cost of responsible governance. After a highway bill was finalized Tuesday afternoon, a vote for cloture …

Seven questions for how states will use the BP oil spill money

Today, the federal government and the five Gulf Coast states have reached an $18.7 billion settlement agreement with BP plc for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that …

America’s Greece

The world is watching the situation in Greece closely, in the wake of the nation's default last night on a $1.7 billion loan payment to the International Monetary …

R Street welcomes expiration of Export-Import Bank

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2015) – The R Street Institute welcomed last night’s expiration of statutory authority for the Export-Import Bank, halting the bank's ability to make new loans. Created …

Obamacare’s CO-OPs proving to be one big money pit

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the IRS' decision to provide health insurance subsidies through the federal exchanges, it's important to analyze whether these subsidies …

A new era in government transparency

Ohio citizens can access an in-depth look at how their tax money is spent, thanks to a first-of-its-kind online "checkbook" launched last year by Ohio State Treasurer Josh …

Saving Atlantic City: A mayor who thinks small may be the answer

Atlantic City, N.J. – Just about every morning when the weather is nice, Don Guardian rides his bike along the boardwalk and digs into the beach sand. "They're …

Coalition letter to OMB on evidence-based budgeting

We want to thank you, once again, for the important steps the Obama administration has taken over the last seven years to increasingly drive taxpayer dollars toward evidence-based, …

USPS should sell its real estate

The U.S. Postal Service's latest financial results have been released. They are not good. The agency booked a loss of $2.1 billion in the first half of the fiscal year, which …

Jurassic Pork: A policy blockbuster

Much to the chagrin of The Newsroom's Will McAvoy, many Americans no longer get their news from prime-time news anchors like Walter Cronkite, let alone the humble messaging …

CBO confirms private insurers could take on way more terrorism risk

I hate to say I told you so. Actually, scratch that. I love to say I told you so. I just wish it weren't necessary in this case. Back …

Ex-Im Bank backs Boeing, but plane nowhere to be found

Suffice it to say, when it comes to crony capitalism, the Export-Import Bank's customers are some of the worst offenders. We may talk about how the state siphons …

Give federal employees bonuses for finding spending cuts

Congress seems to have a problem finding places to cut in order to get government spending under control. Budget deficits are a way of life in Washington, adding …

How EPA’s ethanol cut could hurt taxpayers

Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed cutting the Renewable Fuel Standard's corn-ethanol mandate by 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This naturally prompted pushback from the …

No need to renew the Export-Import Bank

Statutory authorization for the $140 billion Export-Import Bank is set to expire at the end of the month. Created more than 80 years ago, the bank has far …

Alabama’s budget breakdown

Contrary to recent political fear mongering, Alabama has enough money to pay its bills. All the state needs is leaders willing to make tough choices. Projected at over $6.2 billion, the …

DOD spent millions on strippers and booze

The next time you ponder the defense budget, consider, beyond that they pay a ridiculous sum for things like toilet seats and hammers, that the people who get …

One last chance to reform Texas’ spending limit this session

As the clock ticks down to the end of Texas’ legislative session, the fate of numerous major pieces of legislation remains unclear. From ethics reform to gun rights …

R Street praises Texas budget bill

AUSTIN, Texas (May 28, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Texas Legislature today for both providing tax relief and restraining spending growth in the new state …

How to reform Amtrak?

In an ideal world, Amtrak wouldn't exist. Transportation is one of those services best left to the free market. But the fact is that virtually all of America's …

Alabama GOP supermajority, governor should hold their noses and pass budget

Shameful. That's the word you're looking for. If Republican supermajorities in the Alabama House and the Senate can't pass a General Fund budget, put it on the Republican governor's …

California is learning to pay its own way

California is a land of calamity. The ground shakes, it runs dry and, with underappreciated frequency, it catches fire. Surprisingly, the cost of modern life in the Golden State …

Pointier Heads: Efficiency shrinks while government grows

I had my first reckoning with big government in a small town in New Jersey. The incident remains startlingly fresh in my mind, although it was years ago. A …

Meet the NSA’s ridiculous recycling mascot, ‘Dunk’

The National Security Agency will likely get a gift from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week: a massive reauthorization of their metadata collection and surveillance program, codified …

SmarterSafer letter on federal flood standards

To Whom It May Concern: SmarterSafer, a coalition of environmental organizations, taxpayer advocates, insurance representatives, housing and mitigation groups is pleased to submit comments on the Federal Flood Risk …

Whether they like it or hate it, conservatives must look to California

The State of California is fun to mock, easy to condemn and, particularly for many conservatives and libertarians, simple to write off. A little perspective from outside the …

Why disaster policy matters

A major plot point of the most recent season of Netflix's House of Cards saw fictional President Frank Underwood try to exploit the Stafford Act's vague definition of …

Is Alabama broke or just stupid?

This may be difficult, but let's start with the facts about Alabama's current budget crisis before we start talking about our feelings on things like taxes, gambling and …

Bracing for the storm

The attached report was co-authored jointly by members of the SmarterSafer Coalition. Hurricanes, floods, fires, and heat waves resulting in millions of dollars of damage are no longer unusual …

R Street urges Texas to restore local control of pension plans  

AUSTIN, Tex. (April 20, 2015) - The R Street Institute expressed strong support for H.B. 2608, under consideration today by the Texas state House Pension Committee. Sponsored by Rep. …

The IRS spent lots of cash on office furniture and toys

According to a press release from Sen. Orrin Hatch's office, the IRS has spent a boatload of taxpayer money on lots of things it really doesn't need. Now, normally, …

Is it time to rethink the congressional budget resolution?

April 15 has arrived and Congress once again has not adopted a budget resolution. It was not for lack of trying. The Senate voted for S.Con.Res.11 on March …

Coalition urges Congress to pull funding for the OECD

Dear Senators and Representatives: American taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize international organizations working against U.S. interests. The undersigned organizations, representing the Coalition for Tax Competition, call on …

Cutting defense in a time of war

Defense spending is a hot topic in Washington, with growing pressure to bust the budget caps agreed to in the Budget Control Act in 2011. With uncertainty over Russian …

Some DOE staff found new way to take advantage of students

Student loans are a billion dollar industry for the government, which basically insures that the system, despite Elizabeth Warren's eternal pleadings, is unlikely to be reformed. But it …

Coalition urges Congress to keep budget promises

Rep. Tom Price, Chairman Committee on Budget U.S. House of Representatives 207 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Price: On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our combined memberships, we urge …

Green Scissors letter to Secretary Moniz on FutureGen 2.0

Secretary Ernest Moniz Department of Energy 1000 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20585 Feb. 25, 2015 The Green Scissors coalition, made up of environmental, taxpayer and free-market groups dedicated to eliminating wasteful …

The role of U.S. research and development policy in nuclear power

The U.S. civil nuclear sector faces a number of challenges that threaten grid reliability and climate mitigation goals. Though current U.S. reactor designs improve confidence in the predictability …

Support the Harvest Price Subsidy Prohibition Act

Dear Member of Congress, On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we write to urge your strong support of the Harvest Price Subsidy Prohibition …

Don’t forget Ex-Im

Republicans have an excellent opportunity this year to present a robust conservative agenda and establish their vision for policies that encourage economic opportunity. There are a host of …

Free-market groups outline requirements for new CBO director

Dear Leaders in the House and Senate, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in recent years has employed inaccurate and opaque models that impacted political debates and policy outcomes, ultimately …

Fannie and Freddie: Proving that insanity is good for business

Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Even a casual observer of the U.S. economy since its collapse in 2008 is …

Keeping the Texas budget lean

Mark Twain famously observed that the two things you don’t want to see being made are laws and sausages. But when it comes to the state budget, an …

Come hear how Texas will benefit from a ‘conservative budget’

Next Monday, Nov. 10, I officially join R Street as its new Texas director. I'll be working on a variety of issues of critical importance to the Lone …

Bipartisan coalition sends letter to armed services with final NDAA recommendations

The Hon. Carl M. Levin Chairman Senate Committee on Armed Services Russell Senate Office Building, Room 228 Washington, D.C. 20510 The Hon. James M. Inhofe Ranking Member Senate Committee on Armed Services Russell Senate Office Building, …

No, the F-22’s success against ISIS doesn’t justify its price tag

The controversial F-22 fighter just had its combat debut in Syria, bombing ISIS-controlled targets. The plane, which costs $412 million per copy, finally saw action 23 years after …

Half a trillion unaccounted for on federal spending transparency website

The federal government can’t find $619 billion dollars on the website it built six years ago to give a transparent account of its spending activities. USA Today‘s Gregory Korte has …

R Street applauds bipartisan bill increasing government preparedness for extreme weather

WASHINGTON (August 1, 2014) - The R Street Institute is encouraged by today's introduction of H.R. 5314, the bipartisan Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience …

Open letter to the House and Senate: Keep the caps

  We, the undersigned organizations, representing millions of Americans dedicated to fiscal responsibility, urge you to strictly abide by the discretionary budget caps originally established by the Budget Control …

An open letter to the U.S. Congress: Protect taxpayers and empower the states by reforming transportation spending

Dear House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden: With the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) on track to run out this summer, …

Coalition urges sensible spending reforms for NDAA

May 21, 2014 The undersigned organizations may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The United States must curb wasteful and ineffective spending at the …

Coalition letter on the National Defense Authorization Act

May 19, 2014 Dear Representative, We are writing you today in support of House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith’s proposed amendment to the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act …

Conservatives coalescing against TRIA, Ex-Im

It has been the general Washington consensus of recent years – voiced, most recently, by my colleague Reihan Salam – that the conservative movement is inalterably riven between …

Coalition to Congress: Reform agency grant processes

March 28, 2014 Dear Representatives: On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we write to urge you to support the Grant Reform and New Transparency …

Artfully resolving Detroit’s bankruptcy

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Midwest Director Alan Smith. For the first three decades of the 20th Century, Detroit was the second fastest-growing city in …

R Street paper encourages using Detroit’s art collection to help combat debts

DETROIT, Mich. (March 24, 2014) - In order to relieve the crippling debt to creditors in the bankrupt City of Detroit, the city should turn to its priceless …

Letter to Senate Armed Services Committee

March 20, 2014 Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member James Inhofe Senate Armed Services Committee United States Senate 228 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Inhofe: We urge …

Green Scissors letter on expansion of Port of Palm Beach

Col. Alan M. Dodd District Engineer Jacksonville District United States Army Corps of Engineers  701 San Marco Blvd Jacksonville, FL  32207-8175 RE:  Response to Final Integrated Feasibility Report …

An open letter to appropriators in Congress: End the budget gimmicks and cut the Pentagon’s slush fund

An Open Letter to Appropriators in Congress: End the Budget Gimmicks and Cut the Pentagon’s Slush Fund February 6, 2014 We are writing you today as a diverse coalition of organizations …

Letter to Gulf Coast governors on RESTORE Act

Jan. 30, 2014 Dear Govs. Perry, Jindal, Bryant, Bentley, and Scott - As you know, Congress passed the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy Act, better known …

An open letter to the Congress: Spending smarter on defense can make us stronger

January 8, 2014 Our organizations don’t agree on many issues, but we have come together to ask Congress, as it finalizes the Department of Defense portion of the Fiscal …

R Street paper makes the case for road pricing

WASHINGTON (Dec. 12, 2013) --Road-pricing advocates need to link their proposals to tangible benefits like increased capacity, reduced congestion and improved transit service if they are to overcome …

Coalition to Congress: Stop preventable waste!

December 3, 2013 Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we write to urge you to support the Eliminate Preventable Waste …

Letter to U.S. Senate on National Defense Authorization Act

November 20, 2013 Dear Senator, The undersigned groups strongly object to Amendment #2319 offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and supported by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) …

Restoring the RESTORE Act’s conservative principles

The 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill was the largest offshore oil spill in American history. For 87 days, the Macondo prospect gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico …

Open letter to House and Senate Republican leadership: preserve the sequester

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell, As you know, the recently passed Continuing Appropriations Act provides the government with funding through January 15, 2014. As Congress considers appropriations for …

Letter to farm bill conferees

Oct. 28, 2013 Dear Farm Bill Conferee, I write on behalf of the R Street Institute to urge your support for two important crop insurance reforms in any farm bill …

Oppose reform-less Water Resources Reform and Development Act

October 22, 2013 Dear Representative, We understand that H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, will be on the House floor as early as Wednesday, Oct.23. …

The lost opportunity for ‘Grace’

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan initiated a two-year effort to ask thousands of businesses and associations to help his administration root out inefficiencies in the federal government. This …

Five lessons from the shutdown

On Wednesday night, a miracle happened. Not only did the country avoid default on its debt and reopen the government at the same time, but it did so …

What happens when the government shuts down…

There's a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the government shutdown that started today. Democrats in both chambers of Congress have been complaining about how it …

CNN poll: 57% oppose Obamacare, GOP gets blame for government shutdown

Opposition to Obamacare has hit its highest level since March 2011, according to the latest CNN poll, but Americans place the blame for the government shutdown largely on …

Support Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act

September 18, 2013 An Open Letter to the House of Representatives: Support Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act Dear Representative, On behalf of the R Street Institute, I write today to express …

Twitter town hall on Pentagon #spendingreform

A transcript of our recent Twitter town hall on reforms to Pentagon spending: @gabriellahopem Join us for a Twitter town hall on reforming Pentagon spending today at 12:00 ET. …

Join R Street’s Andrew Moylan Aug. 28 for a Twitter ‘town hall’ on defense spending

Right on Defense will host a Twitter town hall on wasteful spending in the bloated $600 billion Pentagon budget, featuring Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense and …

Credit where it’s due

We spend an awful lot of time yelling about what Congress is screwing up. In our defense, it's a target-rich environment. A quick glance at the red ink …

Letter to Congress on 2014 Defense Department appropriations

July 23, 2013 Dear Representative: We, the leaders of our undersigned organizations may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The time has come to reduce …

Coalition urges open rule for defense spending bill

July 22, 2013 Dear Speaker Boehner, We understand that the House of Representatives may consider H.R. 2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 this week. In a July 11, …

Support amendment to stop USEC giveaways in energy and water development appropriations bill

July 9, 2013 Dear Representative, On behalf of our members and activists, we urge you to support the amendment offered by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, to eliminate the $48 million …

Open letter to Speaker Boehner: Ensure open process on ‘farm-only’ Farm Bill!

July 9, 2013 Dear Speaker Boehner, On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the undersigned organizations, we write to commend you for separating the agriculture and nutrition …

End fossil fuel giveaways in energy and water bill: Vote yes on Speier amendment to end wasteful subsidy

July 10, 2013 Dear Representative, On behalf of our members and supporters, the Green Scissors Coalition urges you to support the amendment offered by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., to eliminate …

Letter to House Rules Committee on Farm Bill

June 17, 2013 The Honorable Pete Sessions Chairman, Committee on Rules United States House of Representatives H-312 The Capitol Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Sessions, On behalf of the R Street …

Joint letter to the House: Reduce wasteful Pentagon spending

June 13, 2013 Dear Representative: We, the leaders of our undersigned organizations may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The time has come to reduce …

NextNewsNetwork report on ‘Defending America, Defending Taxpayers’

NextNewsNetwork offers this video briefing "Defending America, Defending Taxpayers," a recent report by R Street Senior Fellow Andrew Moylan and Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union. …

Defending America, defending taxpayers

PDF Download Text As conservative organizations, the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union believe strongly in a robust national defense. However, our groups also believe strongly in …

Support the bipartisan Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Measures Act (AFFIRM)

May 15, 2013 Dear Representative, The undersigned organizations urge you to support the Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Measures (AFFIRM) Act recently introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and …

Broad coalition urges Congress to create Committee to Reduce Government Waste

April 3, 2013 The Honorable Pat Roberts109 Hart Office BuildingWashington, DC 20510 The Honorable Jeff Duncan116 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515 Dear Senator Roberts and Congressman Duncan, We write to encourage …

Support Begich-Flake Amendment #254

Dear Senator, The undersigned organizations urge you to support Begich-Flake amendment #254 to the Senate Budget Resolution to bring transparency to the federally subsidized crop insurance program. Federal taxpayers spent …

Not deciding is a decision

Those who are following the great sequestration drama might get the impression that, while this kind of federal budget management is not ideal, at least something will be …

An open letter to President Obama and the Congress: Spend less, and spend smarter at the Pentagon

We, the leaders of the undersigned organizations, may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The time has come to reduce wasteful and ineffective …

Groups from across spectrum call on Congress, Obama to find Pentagon savings

WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2012) --  Leading advocacy groups from across the political spectrum—conservative taxpayer and tea party groups, centrist government watchdogs and progressive mobilizing and anti-war organizations—released a …

Harvest real savings by reforming agricultural policy

February 14, 2013 Dear Representative, On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we write urging you to take common sense steps to reform federal supports …

Defense savings strengthen our economic security

February 6, 2013 Dear Member of Congress, On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our combined memberships, we urge you to help protect our nation’s economic security by pursuing a …

The green(ish) case against wind power subsidies

As an energy source, wind power looks just about perfect: it creates no greenhouse gases, requires pulling nothing out of the earth, and relies on an inexhaustible resource. …

Taxpayers won’t harvest farm bill savings

December 7, 2012 Dear Member of Congress, It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to include a five-year reauthorization of agricultural programs as part of a deficit reduction package to …

Over the cliff

According to a report from the only living person who has done a federal sequestering of funds at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (last done in …

Backing away from the cliff

The broader long-term implications of the election should be apparent after the fiscal cliff is resolved. Whatever the outcome, it will not be the most important piece of …

The ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of the Fiscal Cliff

With the end of the year fast approaching, the conversation about how Congress should address the “fiscal cliff” is heating up. If Washington fails to act, the New …

The postal service should go…now

Finding true "fat" in the government budget proves harder than it appears at first blush. Many commonly cited sources of "waste" like the National Endowment for the Arts, …

Andrew Moylan on wasteful spending at the Pentagon and the free market

R Street Outreach Director Andrew Moylan joins Michael Ostrolenk in a discussion on the misallocation of resources at the Pentagon and how free-market supporters need to support cuts. …

Texas lawmakers gear up for pension reform battle

The battle lines are being drawn in Austin over public pensions in anticipation of a budgetary fight during Texas' next legislative session. At last week’s hearing of the House …

Medicare auction reform: Testimony to U.S. House Small Business Committee

R Street Associate Fellow Peter Cramton offered the attached testimony before a Sept. 11, 2012 hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business on the subject of …

Taking the middle road on pension reform in Ohio

"Proposals’ goal: avoid insolvency" was the kicker under the headline last week in the Columbus Dispatch reporting that representatives of all five of Ohio’s public pension systems had …

Will we have a debt debate?

I see that “grown-up” is still in the dictionary, having been joined this year by “aha moment”, “game-changer” and “f-bomb.”  But finding real honest-to-goodness grown-ups in the political …

Kill the farm bill

The Farm Bill is now stalled in the U.S. House as members head back to their districts for their traditional break. This is a good thing. The measure, …

R Street Institue says ‘Five for Florida’ should be blueprint for candidates, elected officials

Below is a statement from the R Street Institute’s Florida Director Christian R. Cámara: Americans for Prosperity’s "Five for Florida" is a bold initiative to bring public attention to …

Green Scissors 2012

PDF Download Text Green Scissors 2012 recommends nearly $700 billion in cuts to wasteful and environmentally harmful federal spending. It is produced by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for …

Green Scissors 2011

PDF Download Text This report, co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer, was issued in August 2011 as a joint project of the Heartland Institute, Friends of the …

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