Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers for Common Sense

Our Accomplishments Since 1995

Taxpayers for Common Sense through more than 20 years of preventing wasteful spending.

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The primary mission of Taxpayers for Common Sense is to cut wasteful government spending programs, subsidies, and tax breaks.

— Co-founder Ralph DeGennaro at a 1995 press conference, announcing the creation of Taxpayers.

In 1995, our co-founders saw Taxpayers for Common Sense as a missing element in the policy landscape, as an organization that would speak fiscal truth to power, actually read the bills, and highlight wasteful programs that poorly spend our money, and shift long-term risk and liability to the taxpayer.

Some of our most important victories for taxpayers include…

Monkeys in Space (1996)

In 1996, Taxpayers sends a letter to NASA demanding an end to its $33.2 million program to launch Russian-owned monkeys into space.

Eventually, the program gets nixed.

Co-founders Jill Lancelot and Raphael DeGennaro with the late Senator William Proxmire and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). Senator Proxmire

The Golden Fleece Award (2000)

In 1995, Senator William Proxmire gives Taxpayers for Common Sense our first contribution.

Later, he asks Taxpayers for Common Sense to revive his Golden Fleece Award, to be presented to public officials who the Senator
felt were wasting public money.

Taxpayers for Common Sense has since given out more than 30 Golden Fleece Awards.

Auburn Dam (2000)

Taxpayers helps kill the $944 million Auburn Dam for the second time.

After being revived for a third time in 2001, Taxpayers finally kills it once and for all in 2006.

The Bridge to Nowhere (2003)

Taxpayers for Common Sense names, sounds the alarm, and makes the wasteful “The Bridge to Nowhere” a household word – ultimately saving taxpayers more than $200 million.

We lose several battles before the bridge project is finally abandoned. When Senator Tom Coburn puts an amendment on the floor to remove funding for the Bridge to Nowhere and transfer it to support repairs to infrastructure damaged by hurricane Katrina, it gets voted down.

We persist, and progress without victory until 2007, when the project is finally cancelled.

Shining a Light on Earmarks (2005)

Taxpayers releases the first ever real-time cataloging of earmarks in major legislation.

This document becomes instrumental in raising the profile of earmarks in the public consciousness.

In 2008, the earmark database is made publicly available, leading to thousands of news stories around the country.

No Fly List

With a price tag of $74 billion – that’s $337 million per plane – the Air Force stops buying more F-22 Raptor fighter jets thanks to work of Taxpayers.

Unsurprisingly, the plane is built in the districts of a number of influential and supportive lawmakers.

How We Know We Make a Difference

We dig into the bills, we catch the details, and we work with people from across the political spectrum to bring common sense to the federal budget, often one project at time. Sometimes it takes years, but we have had significant victories on behalf of the taxpayers.

We don’t take money from corporations, unions, governments, or anyone with a financial stake in our advocacy.

Our independence and focus means that we are frequently cited by PolitiFact and other major fact checking outlets. Which is why our staff has testified before more than a dozen different Congressional committees – as witnesses for both Democrats and Republicans.

What Can You Do?

We rely on individuals and foundations to support the work we do and keep the lights on.

But we also depend on interested taxpayers to raise questions with their members of Congress, give us feedback on our work (often a simple “like” or retweet will do), and broaden our network of supporters by telling their own networks of friends about our work.

If you are already a donor to Taxpayers, thank you. If not, we hope you’ll consider joining the ranks of our supporters either with a one-time gift or as a sustaining donor.

This story was compiled in November, 2017.