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Congress Wants to Buy Healthcare & Jobs

Michael Tasselmyer
November 5, 2013

Last week's release of the latest BillTally research offers taxpayers an in-depth look at the legislation that's been proposed on Capitol Hill so far this Congressional session, and the data doesn't offer much consolation for those who'd like to see less federal spending. NTUF found that the 86 unique, non-overlapping bills scored between both the House and the Senate would increase the budget by about $1.28 trillion per year: in other words, for every dollar Congress proposed to cut, they sought to spend an additional $3.83.

So where does the bulk of those new spending proposals come from? Largely in the form of legislation that would attempt to reform healthcare and stimulate job creation. The American economic recovery is still considered by most economists to be on relatively shaky ground, and many experts have warned of the detrimental impacts that rising healthcare costs could bring. Lawmakers in Washington have seemingly been paying attention to these signs and continue to introduce legislation designed to confront the issues.

NTUF Director of Research Demian Brady broke down the new spending proposals by issue area, and health- and economy-related legislation played a major factor in affecting the overall spending trends for the first six months of the 113th Congress.

In the House:

 Category  Number of Proposals  Total Annualized Cost (millions)  Average Annualized Cost (millions)
 Health  45 $1,184,328 $26,318 
 Commerce/Economy/Housing  40 $143,808 $3,595

And in the Senate:

Category Number of Proposals Total Annualized Cost (millions)   Average Annualized Cost (millions)
Health 35 $115,377 $3,296 
Commerce/Economy/Housing 14 $16,792 $1,199 

By far the largest health-related spending bill in the House was a plan to implement a single-payer system. That proposal would amount to $1.16 trillion in new spending. Other multi-billion dollar bills related to healthcare to emerge from that Chamber include:

  • $3 billion in research aid for the National Institutes of Health (H.R. 1301);
  • Repealing a cut to $1.6 billion worth of payments to certain hospitals under the Affordable Care Act (H.R. 1920); and
  • A bill to extend the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program to non-federal workers (H.R. 779), at a cost of $7.5 billion.

The massive cost of healthcare-related proposals is in line with previous years. There was no single-payer bill introduced in the Senate during the first six months of the year, but even without such legislation, health-related spending bills in the Senate were still over four times as costly as the next most expensive issue area (education, at $27.3 billion per year).

Economic stimulus bills were more common in the House (40 bills) than in the Senate (14 bills). Of course, the Senate also proposed much less spending across all policy areas: its total net agenda would reduce federal spending by $46.8 billion, and Senators proposed fewer $100 billion or larger spending bills than their colleagues in the House. And even without single-payer healthcare legislation, the House's net spending agenda would still increase federal outlays by $37.5 billion. It is still very possible that the Senate's net agenda will increase significantly with the introduction of more "big-ticket" healthcare and stimulus proposals as seen in the House.

Read the full BillTally report online here.


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