Where Are My Taxes Going?

Where Are My Taxes Going?



By
Meshawn Ayala, Iowa PIRG Citizen Outreach Director

A
thought occurred to me as I prepared my taxes — where is my money
going? Will my taxes pay for the best safety equipment and supplies for
the troops or will it be wasted by companies like Halliburton? 
How much does behind-the scenes lobbying by special interests cost us?




Sadly,
the costs are high.  At least $10 billion dollars have been wasted
on overpriced contracts or undocumented costs in Iraq while those
returning home received substandard care. Halliburton alone is
responsible for $2.7 billion dollars of this wasted money. Our taxes
should not go towards lining the pockets of the politically connected.




This
spring we have a real chance of passing strong lobby reform in the
House which would help hold special interests and their lobbyists more
accountable. You can help now by asking Speaker Pelosi to make sure the
house introduces strong lobby reform legislation.




To take action, click on the link below or paste it into your web browser:

https://www.uspirg.org/action/money-politics/email?id4=ES



Then ask your friends and family to do the same by forwarding this email to them.



Background



Together
we have the opportunity to put an end to the corruption and lobbying
scandals that have plagued congress. Until now powerful interests and
their lobbyists have gotten away with far too much. The key to change
is transparency — the public has a right to know what relationships
their representatives have with powerful interests.




So far
this year, we struck two blows against political corruption. The house,
during their first 100 hours, passed a bill that banned gifts and
travel from lobbyists. Then the senate followed suit and added strong
lobbying reforms that hold lobbyists and the special interests they
work for more accountable.




The House now needs to pass strong, comprehensive lobbying reform which should include the following provisions.



Disclosure of “bundled” contributions:

A
congressperson can receive as much as $2,300 in a single contribution.
However powerful interests and their lobbyists wield more muscle by
gathering hundreds of thousands in donations from multiple sources and
presenting it in one big bundle.  Currently there are no rules in
place that discloses this information to the public — we have a right
to know who our representatives are turning to for campaign cash.




Disclosure of public campaigns:

In
addition to influencing politicians directly, lobbying firms often
spend huge amounts of money on expensive media and other paid
communications in order to influence the public to lobby on their
behalf. There should be requirements for lobbying firms to disclose to
the public who is behind these campaigns and the amount of money they
receive from powerful interests to do this.




Slow the revolving door:

Members
of congress leaving to work as lobbyists used to be the exception. Now
it is a regular practice, with some 200 former Members reportedly
lobbying Congress. By selling their access to the highest bidder,
former members are unfairly tilting the playing field in favor of the
powerful interest they represent. We need to extend the “cooling off”
period and close the loopholes that allow legislators to leave as
public servants only to immediately return as hired guns.




You can
help now by asking Speaker Pelosi to make sure that the house
introduces strong lobby reform legislation. Then ask your friends and
family to do the same by forwarding this email to them.




To take action, click on the link below or paste it into your web browser:



Sincerely,



Meshawn Ayala

Iowa PIRG Citizen Outreach Director

MeshawnA@iowapirg.org

http://www.IowaPIRG.org



P.S.  Thanks again for your support.  Please feel free to share this with your family and friends.

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