September 18, 2014

Arlington County Has No 'Taxpayer Friends' in Congress

On June 7, 2014, we growled about the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste's (CCAGW) 2013 Congressional Ratings, which highlighted the voting records of all 535 members of Congress. The report has been issued since 1989, and identifies members with voting records that helped protect and save the taxpayers’ money. The bottom line was that we growled:

"Not only does Arlington County have no Taxpayer Heroes, or even Taxpayer Friendly members of Congress, all three of Arlington County's members of Congress -- Senators Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D) and Representative Jim Moran (D) -- received scores of 13% from CCAGW, earning each of them a ranking of ''hostile.'"

The National Taxpayers Union released their annual scorecard of the 1st Session, 113th Congress on Tuesday, which "shows a failing Senate and a House divided." Each of Arlington County's members of Congress -- Senators Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D) and Representative Jim Moran (D) -- earned a grade of F, which NTU labelled as Big Spenders. Here's how NTU described their overall analysis (press release here; ratings and other details here):

"In total, for the First Session of the 113th Congress, 58 lawmakers attained scores sufficient for an “A” grade (a minimum score of 83 percent in the House and 90 percent the Senate) and therefore won the “Taxpayers’ Friend Award.” In fact, this is the first time in NTU’s Rating history that the House attained a 50 percent or better average for three consecutive years.

"Yet, a startling 204 Senators and Representatives were tagged with the title of “Big Spender” for posting “F” grades (24 percent or less in the House and 16 percent or less in the Senate). The record of 267 was reached in both 2008 and 2009."

NTU points out that "(a) Member of Congress’s Taxpayer Score reflects his or her commitment to reducing or controlling federal spending, taxes, debt, and significant regulations." Here's a bit more on NTU's taxpayer scores:

"The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a member of Congress voted to spend less money.

"The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower or if the budget were balanced. A member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform."

As noted above, all three members of Arlington County's Congressional delegation were rated as Big Spenders for their voting record in the 1st Session of the 113th Congress. Their scores:

  • Senator Tim Kaine -- 11%
  • Senator Mark Warner -- 14%
  • Representative Jim Moran -- 20%

In the Senate, a score of 90% or higher was needed to earn an A, i.e., Taxpayer Friendly, while a score of 15% or lower received an F, i.e., Big Spender. In the House of Representatives, members earned an A with a score of 83% or higher while members were rated Big Spenders for scores of 24% or lower. The three highest scoring members in each house were:

  • Senate: 1) Jeff Flake (R-Arizona); Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma); and Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • House: 1) Tom McClintock (R-California); Justin Amash (R-Michigan); and John J. Duncan (R-Tennessee)

In our June 7 Growls, we noted that according to, Ralph Nader reportedly said, "The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference." However, we said that when members of Congress are compared on their voting records, differences between the two parties become clearer. For example, the party scores for the 1st session of the 113th Congress in the annual ranking's were:


  • Average Democrat --  9%
  • Average Republican -- 81%


  • Average Democrat --  21%
  • Average Republican -- 75%

So bookmark this Growls, and before going to the polls on November 4, 2014, take a look at the NTU and CCAGW annual ratings. Decide if you want the incumbent to continue or do you want someone who will vote more to your liking. If the incumbent is not running for reelection, decide which candidate will best be Taxpayer Friendly or a Taxpayer Super Hero.

Kudos to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) for their efforts in compiling the annual scorecard, which allows taxpayers to hold their members of Congress accountable.

September 17, 2014

Some Thoughts on Constitution Day

'Today, Sept. 17, 2014, marks the 227th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. You can honor the day by reading it. It’s up to “We the People” to hold our elected representatives accountable for failing to honor their oaths," reports Patriot Post.

They also report that Mark Alexander, executive editor and publisher of Patriot Post provides "an extensive archive of columns on the Constitution as it relates to various subjects over the years. And he’ll be writing more today." You can find it here.

Two quotes from today's Washington Times:

1. The first is from the column by Thomas V. DiBacco, professor emeritus at American University:

". . . In recent polls, only about 40 percent of Americans could name the three branches of government set forth in the Constitution. About three out of every four didn’t know the length of a U.S. senator’s term, and 71 percent were unaware that the supreme law of the land was, in fact, the Constitution. Only about half of respondents knew that a two-thirds vote in Congress was required to overturn a presidential veto. And, of course, these polls test only the knowledge about the original Constitution and not the 27 amendments that have been ratified.

"The problem is that contemporary educators are loathe to rely on rote and memory for students, with the latest fad, as reflected by the Common Core standards adopted by most states, emphasizing problem-solving. That may well be good for some subjects, but there is a font of knowledge that must be put to memory, no matter that this can be readily accessed by students through computers and the like. Moreover, memory training has an enormous benefit for the developing mind as well as for keeping it supple during the aging process.

"The Constitution should be the most revered and understood document in United States history. It is the shortest and oldest of similar documents among major world powers. John Adams put it best by noting that it is the “greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”

2. The second is from the column by Dr. Ben S. Carson, author and retired neuosurgeon:

"On this Constitution Day, a wonderful holiday created with bipartisan support just a few short years ago, let’s recommit ourselves to rereading and appreciating our Constitution and ensuring that our children and our children’s children grow up with the same appreciation we were given. Familiarity with the greatest ideas ever created for preserving liberty will breed appreciation. Appreciation will help us all overcome the ignorant political correctness of a few media elites and governing officials who seem to dismiss the fundamental principles of a government that respected liberty first and foremost."

Hillsdale College has a new and free online course, "The Presidency and the Constitution," which focuses on how Progressives have transformed the Presidency and subverted liberty. According to Hillsdale College, it's "an issue that's becoming more and more important in an age of unprecedented executive orders and agency regulations." The course is free, and lasts ten weeks. To register, click here.

Finally, in an e-mail today. the Claremont Institute provided several "essential readings" from their archives:

  • From their Spring 2012 Claremont Review of Books, essays by John Marini and James W. Ceaser. Then a response. See their Upon Further Review section for a response by Jean M. Yarbrough, Bradley C.S. Watson, Michael M. Uhlmann, and Jeremy Rabkin.
  • CRB editor Charles Kesler's 2009 classic, The Conservative Challenge, which assesses election of Barack Obama "and how conservatives ought to use the high ground of constitutionalism to combat liberalism under our 44th president."

If you're looking to expand your reading, visit the Claremont Institute's blog, Library of Law and Liberty.

Kudos to Patriot Post, Hillsdale College, and the Claremont Institute for their outstanding work educating us about the American Founding.

September 16, 2014

A Thought on Economic Growth

"In 1900, we had no airplanes, no computers, no cellphones, no internet. We had only rudimentary versions of cars, trucks, telephones, even cameras. As Stephen Moore and Julian L. Simon report in their underappreciated work, It’s Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years,

“It is hard for us to imagine, for example, that in 1900 less than one in five homes had running water, flush toilets, a vacuum cleaner, or gas or electric heat. As of 1950 fewer than 20 percent of homes had air conditioning, a dishwasher, or a microwave oven. Today between 80 and 100 percent of American homes have all of these modern conveniences.”

"Indeed, in 1900 only 2% of U.S. homes enjoyed electricity.

"Moore and Simon explain that the real difference between 1900 and today is that real per capita GDP in the U.S. grew by nearly 7 times during that period, meaning the American standard of living grew by that much as well. Such continued, sustained economic growth would solve every real problem America faces today."

~ Peter Ferrara

Source: His 6/29/14 Forbes column, ""Room To Grow" Blind To The Most Important Issue For The Middle Class -- Economic Growth."

September 15, 2014

America Ranks 32nd in Tax Competitiveness. Could be Worse?

The Tax Foundation released their 2014 International Tax Competitiveness Index (ITCI) today. In the lead editorial today, the Wall Street Journal ($$$) calls the index "a new global benchmark." The Tax Foundation says "(t)he ITCI attempts to determine which countries provide the best tax environment for investment and business growth and development."

Here's how the Tax Foundation introduces the ITCI in the executive digest:

"The Tax Foundation’s International Tax Competitiveness Index (ITCI) measures the degree to which the 34 OECD countries’ tax systems promote competitiveness through low tax burdens on business investment and neutrality through a well-structured tax code. The ITCI considers more than forty variables across five categories: Corporate Taxes, Consumption Taxes, Property Taxes, Individual Taxes, and International Tax Rules.

"The ITCI attempts to display not only which countries provide the best tax environment for investment but also the best tax environment to start and grow a business."

In taking note of the harm the current tax code does to the U.S. economy, the WSJ editorial says:

"With the developed world's highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.

"The Tax Foundation benchmark compares developed economies with large and expensive governments, but the U.S. would do even worse if it were measured against the world's roughly 190 countries. The accounting firm KPMG maintains a corporate tax table that includes more than 130 countries and only one has a higher overall corporate tax rate than the U.S. The United Arab Emirates' 55% rate is an exception, however, because it usually applies only to foreign oil companies."

In explaining why the United States' tax competitiveness ranks so low, the Tax Foundation identifies the following three key findings:

  • The largest factors behind the United States’ score are that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world and that it is one of the six remaining countries in the OECD with a worldwide system of taxation.
  • The United States also scores poorly on property taxes due to its estate tax and poorly structured state and local property taxes
  • Other pitfalls for the United States are its individual taxes with a high top marginal tax rate and the double taxation of capital gains and dividend income.

Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal says things could be worse, writing:

"The Tax Foundation benchmark compares developed economies with large and expensive governments, but the U.S. would do even worse if it were measured against the world's roughly 190 countries. The accounting firm KPMG maintains a corporate tax table that includes more than 130 countries and only one has a higher overall corporate tax rate than the U.S. The United Arab Emirates' 55% rate is an exception, however, because it usually applies only to foreign oil companies.

"The new ranking is especially timely coming amid the campaign led by Messrs. Obama and Schumer to punish companies that move their legal domicile overseas to be able to reinvest future profits in the U.S. without paying the punitive American tax rate. If they succeed, the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year's ranking. Now there's a second-term legacy project for the President."

To see just how bad America's tax competitiveness is, consider that Greece ranked #27 with a score of 53.3. The top and bottom five of the 34 OECD countries ranked by the Tax Foundation were:

  • Top Five: Estonia (#1 -- score of 100.0); New Zealand (#2 -- 87.9); Switzerland (#3 - 82.4); Sweden (#4 - 79.7); Australia ($5 - 78.4).
  • Bottom Five: Spain (#30 - 50.8); Italy (#31 - 47.2); United States (#32 - 44.6); Portugal (#33 - 42.9); and France (#32 - 38.9).

Since tax competitiveness is such an important factor in the overall economy and jobs, two of the four most important problems identified by Americans in a recent Gallup poll -- see our September 11, 2014 Growls -- the topic should be most important in the candidates debates leading up to the November 4, 2014 general elections.

According to Arlington County's Office of Voter Registration, Tuesday, October 14, 2014 is the last day to register for the November 4 general elections.

Readers of Growls who are concerned about the economy, jobs, and America's tax competitiveness are urged to contact their members of Congress. Information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

And, tell them ACTA sent you.

Finally, kudos to the Tax Foundation, and to Kyle Pomerleau and Andrew Lundeen for creating the ITCI.

September 14, 2014

A Thought on Liberty and ObamaCare

"Millions of Americans have lost the liberty to select their own type of health insurance, purchased on their own volition to best match their own assessments of their particular needs. Obamacare — the federal government’s redistributive effort to equalize health care for all — sought to destroy the liberty of many millions in order to ensure a state-directed sameness in care for all. Note also how a redistributive plan that spiked costs, reduced care, and so far has taken away more health coverage than it has provided is named the “Affordable Care Act.” Better to call it the the “Unaffordable Uncaring Edict.”

~ Victor Davis Hanson

Source: His January 14, 2014 column, "The Idol of Equality," posted at National Review Online.

September 13, 2014

Call for a Stronger Arlington County Gifts Policy

On Thursday, the news site reports that "Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is calling for a stronger gifts policy for county government employees and officials." goes on to report:

"The county’s current Code of Ethics says that county workers should “ensure that no favors, gifts, gratuities or benefits are received for actions taken.”

"Additionally, conflict-of-interest rules state that county employees “may not accept personal gifts, gratuities, or loans from organizations, businesses, or individuals with whom the employee conducts or will conduct official County business.”

"(The rule does not apply to “articles of negligible value that are distributed to the general public,” “social courtesies which promote good public relations,” and “obtaining loans from regular lending institutions.”)

"Vihstadt is calling for a specific $100 gift limit from any source, in addition to prohibiting gifts given in exchange for official actions." reproduces Vihstadt's press release. Here is a portion:

"Vihstadt, an Independent running for re-election Nov. 4, said, “Arlington must signal its commitment to foster the highest standards of ethical conduct” in the wake of the convictions of former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on multiple corruption charges.

“To start, the County should consider adoption of a $100 value limit on gifts from any source per year, and provide that in no instance shall a board member or county employee accept a gift given for services performed within the scope of an employee’s duties or given with intent to influence one’s actions” he added.

"The current county ethics policy places no dollar limit on gifts to board members or employees. Vihstadt also noted that the current ethics policy describes “principles” of proper conduct. “This is more limited than what I am calling for, which is (a) a rule and not a principle and, (b) I prohibit anything intended to influence – not just items received for actions taken.”

"Vihstadt noted that Arlington Public Schools adopted a similar provision effective July 1, and that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has likewise taken comparable strong steps for himself and senior staff in Richmond."

Kudos to Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt for proposing a stronger county gifts policy, and for pointing out the Arlington Public Schools have already adopted a stronger provision.

Growls readers who believe that Arlington County needs a stronger ethics policy are urged to contact the Arlington County Board. You can e-mail the County Board by clicking-on the following hotlink, or just call:them:

  • Call the Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you!

September 12, 2014

Arlington Public Schools Enrollment Still Rising

Last Saturday we growled about a report by Katie Watson of's Virginia Bureau regarding the estimated increase of 2,800 undocumented children in Virginia classrooms, which will cost Virginia taxpayers about $54 million.

Then on Wednesday of this week, in a story posted at, Watson reported that Fairfax County is planning to ask the federal government to reimburse the county "$14 million for educating undocumented kids." Specifically, Watson reports:

"Fairfax County Public Schools is bearing the fiscal brunt of educating about half of the roughly 2,000 undocumented minors who have been placed with sponsors — usually family members — in the commonwealth since January."

So, in this week's Arlington Sun Gazette comes the news that public school enrollment in Arlington County is "still on rise." According to Scott McCaffrey:

"Arlington school officials anticipate they will have 2.7 percent more students in classes by the end of September than they did a year before, continuing the long-term trend toward higher enrollment.

"Superintendent Patrick Murphy told School Board members Sept. 4 there were 22,906 students in kindergarten through 12th grade on the first day of school. Factor in the 1,050 pre-kindergarten students who will trickle into the system during the month, and the 23,956 expected students will be up from 23,316 a year ago and 22,657 two years ago.

"The latest projection is down slightly from the 24,213 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade that the school system had projected several months ago. Murphy said the situation remains “very fluid and dynamic” and will remain so until a final count is established at the end of the month.

Sept. 30 is the day each year that school systems across the commonwealth submit their official enrollment figures to the Virginia Department of Education."

McCaffrey's report is silent on whether APS received any undocumented students that resulted from the so-called border crisis, which involved mostly younger Central American children, that was in the news much of the 2014 summer. Based upon the relative size of the Fairfax and Arlington County school districts, one could expect APS to have received more than 100 undocumented students. If we learn that APS received any of those students, we will update this Growls appropriately. As noted in McCaffrey's reporting; however, a clear picture probably won't emerge until the September 30 reporting date.

September 2014
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

The ACTA Watchdog

Latest Issue of The ACTA Watchdog




September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister