Welcome to the Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project.
Since 1991, NTUF has computed the legislative spending agendas of Members of Congress by analyzing the costs -- and savings -- of the bills that they sponsor and cosponsor. Our goal is to provide you with objective information about what Congress wants to do with your tax dollars in an open and transparent manner.
Each week, NTUF will bring you updates on the week's most and least expensive bills, the ones with the most cosponsors ("the most friended"), and a few bills we've termed Wildcards -- bills that we think you might find interesting.
For more information on the National Taxpayers Union Foundation or the BillTally Project, check out our website and methodology.
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5783, Investing in Our Future Act
Annualized Cost: $28 billion ($140 billion over five years)
Congressman Forney Pete Stark (CA-13) sponsored H.R. 5783 to "give more money to affordable child care programs [and]… contribute billions to climate change and world health programs." The measure is funded by a new 0.005% tax on every currency transaction made in the United States. Currency transactions are defined in the bill as either exchanges of one currency for another or profits gained from using financial tools involving currency markets.
According to Stark, the new tax would be sustainable because of the sheer volume of transactions -- $4 trillion every day. $28 billion would be collected each year without a sunset date. Persons whose currency exchange transactions are below $10,000 each year are exempt.
Collected taxes would be directed to three funds. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria would receive 40% of the collected monies. Another 40% would be directed to a United Nations-based Global Climate Fund. The remaining 20% would be deposited into the Child Care Assistance Trust Fund, a block grant program dedicated to improving state child care. International groups, such as the Institute for Policy Studies and Friends of the Earth, have voiced their support for H.R. 5783.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 3653, Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act
Annualized Savings: $15 million (first-year savings)
Included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was established to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending. The Board's recommendations would go into effect automatically unless blocked by Congress. The original name of the board was the Independent Medicare Advisory Board. Senator John Cornyn (TX) sponsored the Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act, which would eliminate the IPAB, with Senators Orrin Hatch (UT), Jon Kyl (AZ), Pat Roberts (KS), and Tom Coburn (OK). The bill authorizes $15 million for FY 2012.
When Senator Senator Jay Rockefeller (WV) introduced the amendment which created the IPAB, he said "[i]f left unaddressed, the current trajectory of rising Medicare costs will not only jeopardize the well -- being of seniors and people with disabilities, it will send our entire health care system -- and our national economy -- into a downward spiral." However, Senator Coburn says the IPAB "is a government command-and[-]control bureaucracy that will dictate payment decisions and interfere with the best judgment of physicians and families."
CBO reported it "expects the [IPAB] would be fairly effective in reducing [health care] costs -- beyond the reductions that would be achieved by other aspects of the bill -- to meet the targets specified in the legislation." However, the assumption is conditioned upon the effectiveness of the board. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the board's recommendations and corresponding Congressional action, NTUF has scored the S. 3653 as a $15 million savings, and did not include the speculative savings estimates.
The Bill: H.R. 4923/S. 3201, TRICARE Dependent Coverage Extension Act
Number of cosponsors: 99 Congressmen and 32 Senators
Neither the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act nor the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act included an extension of health care coverage for military dependents between the ages of 23 and the new age limit of 26. H.R. 4923 corrects the gap for young adult TRICARE beneficiaries with a 2-year $15 million increase in military health care spending.
Senator Mark Udall (CO) said "[e]xtending insurance to cover young Americans until age 26 is critical, especially as they make the transition into the tough job market." Congressman Martin Heinrich (NM-1) stated, "Our military families stand behind our troops and lift them up, often making significant sacrifices like our service members themselves. … Allowing parents to provide health coverage to their dependent adult children is just one of the many small things we can do to show our military families how much we appreciate them and honor their service to our country."
House cosponsors include 96 Democrats and 3 Republicans from different geographic areas. Senate cosponsors include 31 Democrats and 1 Republican, also all from different parts of the country.
We Want You!
NTUF is looking for late summer/fall associate policy analysts to participate in our internship program. Associates assist with BillTally research and other policy projects. Academic credit and a stipend are possible. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!