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. 2881, Kenny Callahan Act
Annualized Cost: $7 billion ($35 billion over five years)
Last week's Tab highlighted a bill, H.R. 2263, that would reduce the waiting period to receive disability assistance. This week, the Tab features a similar bill. Currently, The 50,000 to 70,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness must wait five months before receiving Social Security and 24 months for Medicare disability payments. Representative Mike Rogers (AL-3) introduced H.R. 2881 to eliminate those waiting periods.
If enacted, the Kenny Callahan Act would result in $7 billion in new spending each year, totaling $35 billion over the next five fiscal years. The costs would result from the immediate qualification of people who are unable to work because of terminal diseases. Rogers believes the new spending could be offset by savings in the health care system, but as with other health care-related estimates, future cost savings cannot be forecast with much accuracy because of the many changing factors within the health care sector.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5784, Reduce and End our Deficits Using Commonsense Eliminations (REDUCE) in the Defense Programs Act
Annualized Savings: $1.4 billion ($2.8 two-year savings)
The Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Working Group sponsored four bills that would cut spending in four areas: energy, public housing, agriculture, and defense. H.R. 5784 is the defense portion of the working group's larger strategy. Introduced by group member Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large), the REDUCE in the Defense Programs Act would terminate three major weapons systems and consolidate the military's Exchange Stores System.
After delivery of the 180 ordered aircraft, H.R. 5784 would cease funding for any additional C-17s, a large cargo airlift plane that has been the target of deficit hawks and military leaders. Included in next year's savings would be the elimination of the EP-X, a planned Navy surveillance and intelligence-gathering plane. The CG(X) vessel -- the Navy's next generation of multi-mission cruisers, replacing the current Ticonderoga Class Cruisers -- would also lose funding. The terminations would result in a $2.6 billion savings in FY 2011.
Under the bill, the Department of Defense would consolidate the separate branches' chain of defense exchange stores. These retail outlets operate on military bases throughout the world, providing service members and their families with service-oriented materials, such as uniforms, and regular consumer goods, such as televisions and laundry detergent. The Army and Air Force, Navy, and Marines operate their own separate systems. Consolidation might entail combining transportation distribution, information technology, and human resources systems. The measure has an estimated savings of $200 million. The figure is a net of any costs involved in the consolidation process.
The Bill: S. 3335/H.R. 5258, Earmark Transparency Act
Number Of Cosponsors: 27 Senators and 22 Congressmen
Senator Tom Coburn (OK) and Congressman Bill Cassidy (LA-6) introduced the Earmark Transparency Act, which creates a public website where people can view all of the earmarks requested by a member of Congress before the earmarks are voted on. If enacted, S. 3335 would require the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate to collect information, including the name of the beneficiary, amounts requested, and amounts approved in the final bills, and post such information on a publicly available website.
Based on a CBO report, the legislation would cost $4 million over the next five fiscal years. The report estimated "the initial costs would be for coordinating consistent procedures for collecting information by the House and Senate." There would also be additional staff required to verify information and coordinate with the public.
Cosponsors include 8 Democrats and 14 Republicans in the House and 10 Democrats and 17 Republicans in the Senate.
The Bill: S. 3656/H.R. 5852, Mandatory Price Reporting Act
Annualized Cost: $10 million ($50 million over five years)
The Mandatory Price Reporting Act would require the livestock and wholesale pork cuts industries to continue to report prices, supply, and demand information on a daily and weekly basis for the next five fiscal years. Industries currently required to report prices include certain livestock packers, processors, and importers. The Agricultural marketing Service would summarize the date for release to the public. The measure will total approximately $7 million.
The bills introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln (AR) and Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7) also institute similar reporting requirements for the dairy industry, as well as establish an electronic reporting system at a cost of $2.5 million.
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!
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Issue 11 - Sept. 14
Issue 10 - August Snapshot
Issue 9 - Aug. 31
Issue 8 - Aug. 24
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