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: S. 3090/H.R. 1961, A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the availability of the saver's credit and to make the credit refundable
Annualized Cost: $1.684 billion ($8.422 billion over five years)
The Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, or Saver's Credit, is an after-tax deduction based on how much a low- or moderate-income worker contributes to his or her retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or IRA. Taxpayers can claim up to 50% of their contributions with a maximum credit of $2,000 for joint, low-income filers.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Congressman Earl Pomeroy (ND-At Large) propose increaseing the amounts allowed to be claimed under the Saver's Credit, depending on eligible income levels. Both bills would also make the credit refundable but only S. 3090 would require returns to be deposited in the taxpayer's retirement accounts. A credit that is refundable is not limited by the amount of a person's tax liability, so such credits can result in new spending. H.R. 1961 sponsor Pomeroy argues that a "refundable and more widely available Saver's Credit can fill in the growing retirement security gap for millions of families."
The Obama Administration included a similar proposal in its FY 2011 budget. First year costs would equal $570 million. Spending would peak in the second fiscal year at $3.715 billion.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5382, To provide for a temporary freeze on the pay of civilian employees of the Federal Government
Annualized Savings: $2 billion (first year savings)
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-6) introduced H.R. 5382 in May of this year. The bill freezes the rate of salary or base pay for positions within the government during FY 2011, except salaries for the uniformed services. New positions created after September 10, 2010 would be given pay rates comparable to similar office and position levels.
Bachmann and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA-7) each cited that H.R. 5382 would save $2 billion in FY 2012 and could save billions more over the next ten years if such a freeze were to remain in effect.
The Bill: H.R. 4692/S. 3662, National Manufacturing Strategy Act
Number of cosponsors: 60 Congressmen and 0 Senators
H.R. 4692 would require the President to publish a comprehensive report every four years covering the progress, competitive forecast, and makeup of the American manufacturing sector. The study would serve as a starting point and future progress report for the Manufacturing Strategy Task Force, a coordinating group of at least 14 government entities, also created in the bill. Similar studies would be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences and the Government Accountability Office to assist the President's strategy and assess its implementation.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost $30 million over five years to pay for the research, drafting, and dissemination of the group's reports. Congressman Daniel Lipinski (IL-3) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) introduced the National Manufacturing Strategy Act in their respective chambers. Lipinski says "[w]e can disagree over such issues as the impact of America's trade agreements and our failure to address China's mercantilist policies, but I believe that there is broad support for developing and implementing a manufacturing strategy."
Cosponsors include 53 Democrat and 7 Republican Representatives, all from different geographic areas. The number of Senate cosponsors may change as the bill was introduced on July 28th.
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!