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. 3202, Water Protection and Reinvestment Act
Annualized Cost: $10 billion ($50 billion over five years)
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) introduced the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act to establish "a steady funding source to rebuild and renew America's outdated water infrastructure [to be] a concrete step that puts us on the path to a healthier, more secure future."
H.R. 3202 creates the Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund for water efficiency efforts, research at regional university centers, and the environmentally-friendly disposal of pharmaceutical drugs. The bill also makes it easier for state and municipal water projects to qualify for federal funding.
The trust fund would have two revenue streams. A fee would be assessed on containers of water-based beverages, products disposed of in waste-water systems, and pharmaceutical products. The fee would range from 0.5 to 4 cents per container. The Clean Water Restoration Tax would impose a 0.15 percent income tax on corporations making more than $4 million per year.
With the two new taxes in effect and the multiple project provisions, the Water Protection Reinvestment Act would increase federal spending by $10 billion a year for each of the next five years. The new spending would be in addition to funds already appropriated for water projects.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 6134, To provide for a 10 percent reduction in pay for Members of Congress; to make Federal civilian employees subject to a period of mandatory unpaid leave, and to reduce appropriations for salaries and expenses for offices of the legislative branch, during fiscal year 2011; and for other purposes
Annualized Savings: $5.5 billion (first-year savings)
Congressman Mike Coffman (CO-6) introduced H.R. 6134. The bill would require federal civilian employees to take two non-consecutive furlough weeks in FY 2011. The only exceptions to the measure would be for reasons of national security, public health and safety, law enforcement, and any reason the President considers necessary.
The legislative branch would also be required to reduce costs through pay and budgetary cuts. Members of Congress would be paid 10 percent less in 2011 than in 2010. A provision in H.R. 6134 also calls for a reduction in salaries and expenses in legislative branch offices. Fiscal year allowances would not be permitted to exceed 96 percent of FY 2010's allowances and expenses for that office.
The cuts in federal personnel hours, district expenses, and Congressional raises would save taxpayers $5.5 billion. The bill is a one year measure.
The Bill: H.R. 1691/S. 688, Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act
Number Of Cosponsors: 252 Congressmen and 19 Senators
H.R. 1691 would require private health insurance plans, in both group and non-group markets, to include coverage and therapy for breast cancer treatment. Cancer therapy would include the removal of cancerous tissue, infected breast removal, and lymph node removal. The bill would impose restrictions on the length of hospital stays. The new mandate would apply to the private-sector, while allowing state, local, and tribal governments to opt out of the bill's requirements.
Based on a 2008 CBO report for a similar bill, the legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) would not result in any new spending.
Cosponsors include 252 House Members, 212 Democrats, 36 Republicans, and 5 now vacant seats. In the Senate, 17 Democrats, one Independent, and one Republican support the legislation, representing different regions of the United States.
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!