History & Accomplishments

Our Story

Taxpayers for Common Sense was created with one driving vision—no one, no matter their ideology or place on the political spectrum—likes to see their tax dollars wasted.

In 1995, our cofounders 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.

Ryan Alexander
Ryan Alexander has served as president since 2006, after serving on the board for seven years.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown to do much more, but this remains our central focus. We have come to be known as an effective, nonpartisan budget watchdog, dedicated to cutting wasteful spending and subsidies in order to achieve a responsible and efficient government that operates within its means, costs less, and works for all Americans, not just the politically privileged.

Gravina Island, Alaska
Long before it became national news – Taxpayers for Common Sense named and sounded the alarm on the wasteful $231 million ‘bridge to nowhere’ to Gravina Island, Alaska.

Taxpayers for Common Sense aims to be scrupulously accurate, aggressively nonpartisan, and doggedly persistent at eliminating government waste. We maintain strict independence, and take no money from anyone with a financial interest in our work

We Believe

That the federal budget is about more than just dollars, and that government spending decisions must better mirror the nation’s true economic, security, and American values.

Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, with 2010 “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” awardee Representative (now Senator) Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, with 2010 “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” awardee Representative (now Senator) Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

That government waste costs more than just money, and misguided government subsidies do more harm than good by endangering public health, aggravating social and economic problems, and undermining true national security. This at a time of record deficits, where subsidies are driving the government further into debt and threatening the nation’s economic stability.

That spending decisions on taxpayer dollars should be transparent. And that we have a right – and a duty – to demand excellence and accountability from our government.

Steve Ellis
Vice president Steve Ellis, who joined Taxpayers in 1999, in Montana arguing against wasteful tax breaks for corporations.

That it takes both political parties to create enduring change – and to push the needle on building something Americans can believe in: a government that inspires trust and makes more sense.

Throughout our history we have eschewed ideology to work with individuals and organizations from all political perspectives in order to build support for common sense reforms. It’s why we are frequently cited during floor debates by both major political parties, and often invited to testify before congressional committees.

Co-founders Jill Lancelot and Raphael DeGennaro with the late Senator William Proxmire and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). Senator Proxmire
Co-founders Jill Lancelot and Raphael DeGennaro with the late Senator William Proxmire and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). Senator Proxmire made the first contribution to Taxpayers and bestowed his famous Golden Fleece award to Taxpayers to continue the tradition of highlighting egregious waste.

Taxpayers for Common Sense works to transcend partisanship and attract the widest possible audience to help build something Americans can believe in: a government that inspires trust and makes more sense.

Join us! It’s just common sense.

Become a supporter of Taxpayers for Common Sense today!

JOIN OUR FIGHT FOR COMMON SENSE GOVERNMENT