Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tell President Bush to sign amended SCHIP bill

U.S. PIRG is asking everyone to send a message to President Bush, that poor children's health is more important than banning more tobacco taxes. SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program has, after a couple of rounds of legislation, mostly bipartisan support-- most Democrats and Republicans in Congress support it; Bush doesn't want to further tax the tobbaco industry to pay for it. Here is what U.S. PIRG says; if you agree, please take action at this webpage:

Just two months ago, U.S. PIRG worked with Congress to pass an important prescription drug safety law. It requires drug companies to tell us the whole truth about the safety of their drugs, and it requires the FDA to crack down on drug companies that break the law by putting out misleading ads or failing to finish safety studies.We stood up to the pharmaceutical industry and won. And now we've turned our attention to children's health insurance.Millions of American kids lack health insurance. Without it, they don't get the preventive care they need, and small problems turn into big health problems. If their health problems grow worse, uninsured kids wind up in emergency rooms, and those costs are borne by those with insurance.The good news is that Congress has a plan to make health care more efficient by covering more uninsured American kids.The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) currently provides health coverage to 6 million uninsured kids. Congress passed a bill to reauthorize the program and expand it to cover 10 million uninsured American kids. The bill provided new funding for the states, which was paid for with a tax on big tobacco, the culprit of many health-related woes. Expanding this program has bipartisan support in Congress and bipartisan support from governors across the U.S.President Bush vetoed the children's health insurance bill, stating that he was worried that kids who weren't poor would be covered through the program. Since then, Congress has amended the bill to restrict eligibility to only those uninsured kids from families earning 300% of federal poverty or less.The amended bill will go back to President Bush, and we will learn whether his stated concerns were legitimate, or whether he was merely siding with the tobacco industry, which is opposed to the measure.
Please join with us in telling President Bush to sign the amended bill.
Sincerely, Joe Rupp, TexPIRG Citizen Outreach Director
P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Get online detailed data reports on federal government spending

A subscription based government finance database is available to the general public from Syracuse University. Here is subscriber info. culled from TRAC to help you in your purchase decision:

For $50/month, a TRACFED monthly personal subscription provides:
All TRACFED information resources
Individual Web Locker to store search results
Free on-line help services plus discounts on TRAC training and course offerings.
For more detailed information, see our Fees page.

The spending of tax dollars for public services is a central function of the federal government. Government workers must be paid. Government programs must be operated. Government supplies must be purchased. Government assistance programs for individuals , for corporations and for special functions like schools and scientific research must be distributed. So detailed information about where and when and how the federal government is spending the taxes it collects is as important as comprehensive data abou t where and when and how the federal agencies and prosecutors are enforcing the law. The range of federal spending is vast. There are Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare payments, federal grants to state and local governments, federal funds to defen se contractors, federal support for numerous insurance and loan programs.
Changes in the mix and amounts of these programs disclose and document important shifts -- sometimes unannounced -- in government priorities. Regional variations in federal spending always are interesting and sometimes raise questions of questionable mana gement practices and even corruption.
Are federal program equitable? Are they efficient? What is the government spending in your backyard?
Information includes actual dollar expenditures (as well as these figures after inflation adjustments), per capita expenditures, percentages and rankings.
For access to how federal funds are distributed within the states, counties, and 90 federal judicial districts:
Go to TRAC Express and select the area or agency or program of interest.
After choosing the variables, submit your order and the requested information will be returned almost immediately to your browser for printing or downloading.
For more help on which menu item best suits your needs, take the "Guided Tour” which you will find under the "help” menu.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Remember to vote Tuesday, November 6th

The League of Women Voters are the first people to look up for assistance in voting in the next election. They have local and national groups always ready with a wealth of information to make your voting experience the most productive. As many states around the country are having elections next week, LWV sends their greetings and their willingness to help:

It's fall election season! Many jurisdictions have elections on November 6, 2007. Visit the League's site to find all the election information you need! Your voice will help shape important issues in your community, so please go vote on Tuesday, November 6th. Throughout the year, League members work to register, educate and inform voters on the issues that affect them. Providing quality, nonpartisan voter education remains one of our most important and well-known activities. Go to to get registered, get educated, and get informed. Better yet- add VOTE411 to your list of online "favorites"!

Vote UP (yes) on the new S 1285 clean elections bill

S 1285, the Fair Elections Now Act, is the Senate version of public financing of campaigns legislation that is also going through the House. If both houses pass their own versions, they will settle in conference on one to send to President Bush. It will then be hoped that Bush will sign the final legislation into law.

S 1285 is very early in the legislative process still; however, has begun an internet poll on whether people like the bill or not. It is now on All Things Reform, in the left hand column for you to vote yourself! I have, and noticed that not too many people on the 'net have voted on this bill yet; so, your vote can make a real impact. I have also added a bill status information box.

Tell your U.S. Representative to oversee the FCC

Common Cause has released an action alert on the issue of media consolidation. They are fighting unethical moves by the Federal Communications Commission to hastily pass media ownership rules. Here is their explanation; if you agree, please take action at this webpage:

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants his agency to make crucial decisions about media ownership rules behind closed doors and without public input. That’s what happened in 2003, until Congress and the courts stepped in. We shouldn’t let history repeat itself.
Contact your Representative today, and let them know that if the FCC won’t listen to the public, Congress can and should exercise its oversight power.
These media ownership rules are too important to be kept secret. We need full disclosure and a robust public debate before the FCC votes to make any changes that would allow Big Media to get even bigger.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Agencys' Inspector General openness to the public now being legislated

There is often tension between government agencies and their Inspector General watchdogs who can be the bearer of bad news about those agencies. POGO (Project on Government Oversight) has been researching the effectiveness and independence of the IG’s. They’ve already found other instances where IGs have had their reports unnecessarily redacted by agencies or where the agency has simply refused to post an IG’s reports on the web.

Inspector General legislation THAT passed by a vote of 404-11 in the House, despite a Presidential veto threat, would require that all IG reports be posted on the web within three days. The Senate will likely take up corresponding legislation in the coming days.

Get ready now for Fair Elections Week, November 12-16, 2007

Fair Elections Now! is a website devoted to the upcoming Fair Elections Week of November 12-16, 2007. It is run by the Fair Elections Now Coalition, which includes Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.

Fair Elections Week is a great opportunity for supporters of public financing of campaigns. Instead of relying only on fundraising drives, candidates can focus their attention on the race at hand, and, most importantly, on the voters.

At Fair Elections Now!, there are several things everyone can do to participate and make the Week a success. I, personally have signed up already to host an event in my town. I have already signed the petition to support Clean Elections. I have read what's posted on the website's bulletin board. There are indeed many ways to get involved for this worthy campaign fianance reform cause, just by going to the website.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Study assesses each state's campaign disclosure laws and programs

Grading State Disclosure is a study of the Campaign Disclosure Project, which seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to money in state politics through assessments of state disclosure laws and programs.

Some states provide better and more complete access to information about the money that fuels campaigns than others, through both a strong campaign disclosure law and high-quality Internet access to disclosure reports. The purpose of the Campaign Disclosure Project’s Grading State Disclosure 2007 study is to provide an overview of how each state measures up to a set standard for disclosure programs, as well as to show how each state compares to others around the country. Check how your state is doing!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tell your U.S. Representative NO on national heritage area bill

Kristina Rasmussen of NTU has issued an alert on a U.S. House bill. I believe that now, more than ever, Washington must prioritize its spending on the large entitlements and defense parts of our critical federal budget. If you agree with this alert, contact your U.S. Representative today.

October 23, 2007
National Taxpayers Union Vote Alert
NTU urges all Members to vote “NO” on H.R. 1483, which would unnecessarily extend the authorization of nine national heritage areas while creating six new areas. NTU testified against H.R. 1483 in committee, and we’re dismayed to see that the bill has grown in both cost and potential harm since introduction.According to promoters, national heritage areas were supposed to be finite, self-reliant programs. H.R. 1483 defies those notions. The bill would extend the authorization for nine existing areas (expected to sunset in 2012) for an additional 15 years (to 2027). Also, H.R. 1483 comes with a price tag of $135 million (up from a pre-committee total of $90 million). Members should keep in mind that this amount is equivalent to the annual federal income tax burden paid by 33,276 middle-class taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $30,000 and $75,000.In 1994, the late Representative Bruce Vento (D-MN) rose on the House floor in support of a heritage area bill and said: “There is a limit to the length of time or the amount of money the Federal Government can be in a heritage area. In 10 years, we are out of there. Then they are on their own. …” Congress should honor his pledge by rejecting H.R. 1483.Roll call votes on H.R. 1483 will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress.

NTU releases taxpayers ballot guide for 2007

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has released their ballot guide for 2007. They’ve identified 29 measures in seven states that concern taxpayers. For example, Oregon’s Measure 50 would boost the state cigarette tax from the current $1.18 per pack to $2.025 per pack. Proceeds would be funneled toward health care for uninsured children and smoking prevention programs, but the impact of the tax on cross-border sales could result in lower-than-expected revenues. California, Idaho, and Nevada would levy significantly lower cigarette taxes.Another interesting one: Texas’ Proposition 11 would stipulate that each vote on the final passage of most bills must be recorded and made publicly available on the Internet for a minimum of two years.Check out the guide to see if your state has a taxpayer-related ballot measure.

CAGW Names U.S. Senator Shelby Porker of the Month

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Porker of the Month for October 2007 for an $11 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) earmark for his alma mater.

Laurels of garland should adorn the esteemed Senators navel for this distinguishable recognition; salute!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tell your Senators to vote YES on an internet tax ban

Citizens Against Government Waste is running a taxpayer alert for a proposed ban on internet taxes. Currently, there are no "internet taxes" by any level of government, such as email tax or internet retail sales tax. Here's what CAGW says; if you agree, please send your letter to both of your U.S. Senators from this webpage.

Dear _,
In less than 10 days, you and I could be paying a tax for sending e-mails. That’s right. The existing moratorium on Internet taxes expires on November 1, 2007, and unless Congress acts, the federal, state, and local governments will be free to tax any aspect of using the Internet -- from going online, to sending and receiving e-mails, to buying and selling goods and services.
I urge you, before you do anything else today, tell your Senators to pass a permanent ban on Internet taxes! The House last week passed a four-year extension of the Internet tax moratorium, and the Senate is scheduled to take up legislation this week. While extending the moratorium is better than letting it lapse, it leaves the door open for eventual taxation and creates a climate of uncertainty for individuals and businesses that rely on the Internet. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Sununu (R-N.H.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow a vote on making the Internet tax ban permanent. The Senate needs to hear that Americans like you support a permanent ban! The Internet has become a vital part of our economy and keeping its use tax-free is essential for economic growth. Enacting a permanent ban will provide much-needed consumer and business confidence. It will also keep governments at all levels from tapping into a new pot of money that they can squander on more wasteful spending programs. Time truly is of the essence. Please tell your Senators to support Sens. McCain, Sununu, and Wyden in their drive to make the Internet tax ban permanent!
Sincerely, Thomas A. Schatz, President

Tell your Congressmen NO to coal-to-liquid federal subsidies

Taxpayers for Common Sense wants us to write our own U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, asking them to decline federal subsidy dollars for coal-to-liquid plants. The private sector deems the industry too risky; so, why shouldn't the American taxpayer as well? Here's what TCS has to say; then, please take action by going to their webpage:

Stop Coal-to-Liquids Subsidies
Since the 1930s, the coal industry has made off with $60 billion in taxpayer subsidies, and now they are asking for even more to support the coal-to-liquid (CTL) industry. CTL is a chemical technology developed in the 1920s to turn coal into a liquid fuel. The coal industry has stayed away from this costly and risky industry in the past, but are willing to take the plunge only if taxpayers step in and provide billions of dollars in subsidies, price floors, and loans. Here's why CTL fuel is a bad investment for taxpayers:
• Replacing just 10% of our county's oil consumption with CTL fuels would cost taxpayers $70 billion in construction costs alone, according to an MIT report.
• CTL plants can cost over $6 billion dollars to build and around $350 million per year to operate. • Carbon sequestration technology would be required to contain the large amount of greenhouse gas emissions CTL plants emit. Unfortunately, carbon sequestration is an unproven and costly technology, which could end up adding more than $100 million in plant operating costs.
• CTL fuel is only competitive when the price of oil is high. If oil prices drop below $55 per barrel, taxpayers could end up being forced to spend billions of dollars buying uneconomical fuel. • Congress would be repeating costly mistakes of the past. In the late 1970s, lawmakers tried to jumpstart the CTL industry by creating the $15 billion Synthetic Fuels Corporation. Volatile oil prices caused the synthetic and CTL fuel industries to go bankrupt within five years.
The government should not waste taxpayer money supporting a risky industry that private companies have avoided for years. Send a letter urging your representative to oppose costly CTL subsidies in the appropriations and energy bills!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The left column tools on this blog are now easier to use

I have further organized the link lists in the left column to make it easier to follow. The "Government Reform-Related Organizations" is now divided into three lists: "Electoral Reform Organizations", "Campaign Finance Organizations" and "Government Finance Organizations". This will also allow the user to see the correlations in the "Campaign Finance Databases" and "Government Finance Databases" lists below.

And don't forget another powerful tool for the citizen researcher: the search box for the three "Organization" lists-- for example, type in your Congressman's name to see articles from the different orgs. with his name mentioned; the more detailed your query, the more relevant your results. Follow that up with any of the "Databases" for more details. The search box also checks this blog's posts, and all incoming links on them.

These tools give you great background information for your next letter to your representative, or your next letter to the editor, be it your hometown paper or TIME magazine!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Call U.S. Senators Bunning and McConnell for presidential records reform

Over the course of his one and a half terms as president, George W. Bush has written into law a record number of Executive Orders. These orders are solely the work of our president, yet there are some of them enacted that are very controversial to segments of the American public. is running a netroots campaign to help overturn those that concern the openness of presidential records of the present and former presidents:

The Presidential Records Act, enacted in 1978 following the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Nixon, established that presidential records belong to the American people, not to the president. The Act gave custody of the records to the Archivist of the United States, established that records should be released to the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration, and recognized presidential authority to assert executive privilege. On January 18, 1989, President Reagan, the first president to whom the Presidential Records Act applied, issued Executive Order 12667. The order established a process to deal with potential executive privilege claims.
In November 2001, President Bush issued Executive Order 13233, overturning the Reagan E.O. and giving current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. E.O. 13233 requires the incumbent president to sustain the executive privilege claim of a former president unless a court order is issued to reject the claim. The E.O. also gives "designees" of the former president the right to assert privilege, allowing relatives and others to delay the release of the president's records. Also under the Bush E.O., the Archivist must wait for both the current and former president to review the records to be released, which could lead to indefinite stalling. As recently reported by the New York Sun, President Clinton is accusing the current Bush administration of delaying the release of the former president's records. In late September Mr. Clinton said, "I want to open my presidential records more rapidly than the law requires, and the current administration has slowed down the opening of my own records."
Legislation currently being held up in the Senate would nullify the Bush executive order and establish procedures for the timely release of records. The "Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007" (H.R. 1255; House Report 110-44) would reverse the Bush E.O. by establishing a deadline for the review of records, limiting the authority of former presidents to withhold records, requiring the president to make privilege claims personally, and eliminating the ability for Vice Presidents to assert executive privilege claims over vice presidential records. On March 14, 2007, by a vote of 333-93, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1255. The legislation is currently being held up in the Senate by Sen. Jim Bunning [R-KY]. On September 24, Sen. Bunning objected to floor consideration of the bill, but did not state the reasons for his opposition.
On October 1, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected part of President Bush's 2001 executive order in a civil lawsuit filed by the American Historic Association. The judge struck down the section of the E.O. that allows a former president to indefinitely delay the release of records.
In comments on the Senate floor on October 15, Sen. Jeff Bingaman [D-NM], the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill (S. 866), spoke of the need to pass H.R. 1255. He said, "The people of this Nation hired the President. His work is undertaken on behalf of the people. Can anyone doubt that the Nation is made stronger and our Government and the electorate are better served by the study of the actions of past Presidents?"
TAKE ACTION: Call Sens. Bunning and McConnell to ask them to allow the presidential records reform bill (H.R. 1255) to come to the Senate floor for a vote.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No more replies from a couple of my representatives!

Well, I've lost touch with one of my U.S. Senators and my U.S. Representative. Not that they have stopped sending me multiple informational emails from their respective offices each week... Since last summer, all three of my federal representatives have just about stopped sending me any replies at any of my letters to them! Is anyone having the same responses lately?

This won't stop me at all from sending those personal letters from their website contact forms; nor, will I stop participating in selected public interest group "contact your Congressman" drives. However, they will know how increasingly dismayed I am as their owner, the American taxpayer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A wealth of campaign and government data at your fingertips

I have broken up the "Government Reform-Related Databases" list on the left column into two lists: "Campaign Finance Databases" and "Government Finance Databases". This makes it easier to pick and choose the databases you need for any one project.

There are seven campaign-related databases for when you want to background check each of your candidates, on the state and national levels. Plus, there are nine databases for when you want to check existing elected officials of state legislatures and Washington and their spending habits.

Advances in internet technology has made these databases possible, with many developed just in the last couple of years. They are easy to use, and they make a great study for the next time you write your next letter to any of your representatives, or when you write that letter to the editor.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Your state and federal representatives' ratings scorecards

U.S. PIRG, the center for PIRG state affiliates active in the public interest, has a ratings scorecard for each state legislator and U.S. Congressman. It appears to be continuously updated as legislation is passed. The scorecard concerns how each have already voted in the areas of democracy, consumerism, energy, government waste/ budget and others. It is a good way to see how your state and federal representatives stand on the issues that are promoted by All Things Reform.

You can return to the "U.S. PIRG Public Interest Ratings" link any time on this blog, in the left column under "Government Reform-Related Databases."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

All Things Reform now on JAJAH!

JAJAH now offers a way for it's customers (All Things Reform) to receive calls from people using their blogs. It's easy, and free! Just go to the widget in the left column and enter your own phone number, and hit call. You will ring my own phone.

You can also call me from The internet never seizes to amaze! :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

We won! Wartime contracting reform passes.

Last Wednesday, September 26th, we posted a POGO netroots campaign to help establish a Commission on Wartime Contracting. With your help, we were successful! Here's what POGO (Project on Government Oversight) has to say:

You did it! Last week we told you about an amendment introduced by Senators James Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to establish an independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting. I'm happy to report that the amendment has passed the Senate with unanimous approval.
We were overwhelmed by the response from POGO's supporters who contacted their Senators and asked them to support this important initiative. Thanks to your hard work, we're now one step closer to victory. We'll be watching closely as Representative John Tierney (D-MA) introduces a counterpart bill in the House, and will let you know if we need your help.
Click here to read POGO's press release on the passage of the Senate amendment.
Click here to read the amendment introduced by Representative Tierney.

Monday, October 01, 2007

All Things Reform now on Squidoo!

Squidoo has provided All Things Reform a "lens", Reform Your Government, to share all of the things we have to offer. We are always looking for ways to spread the word about this blog-- about grassroots reform activism-- and we are grateful to Squidoo for providing this opportunity.

Ask our presidential candidates what they think of public financing of campaigns

Just $6, from Americans for Campaign Reform, is running a grassroots campaign right now for the first several presidential primary states. They want you to ask your candidate whether he/she supports public financing of campaigns. Please follow this link Just $6, and follow their easy instructions.

Just $6 is an innovative approach to public financing of federal campaigns-- for just $6 per citizen, candidates each election cycle can brush aside donations from private special interests and spend more time with the voters. It proves to be less expensive, too, than the fundraising route.