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Speaking of Taxpayers, November 21 (AUDIO): The Fiscal Cliff
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The biggest issue for lawmakers to deal with in the following weeks is the fiscal cliff, and Pete Sepp explains exactly what's on the line for taxpayers. Also: five things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Speaking of Taxpayers, November 16 (AUDIO): Congress is Back in Action
Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes HERE!
What's happening on Capitol Hill that taxpayers need to watch? What isn't! The fiscal cliff is approaching. Also, NTUF experts join Pete & Doug to offer agenda insights on the incoming Congress.
Taxpayers Should Thank Retiring Representative & Fiscal Hawk Ron Paul
"I don’t have a whole lot of respect for a lot of organizations that are inside the beltway, but NTU is an exception, and they deserve a lot of compliments for it."
-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
After a 36-year career in Congress and three presidential bids, Texas Congressman Ron Paul gave his final speech on the House floor Wednesday.
Dr. Paul has compiled a stellar lifetime score of 91% on NTU’s Rating of Congress, and earned Taxpayers’ Friend status 20 times for putting together such outstanding performances since his first tenure in the House in 1979.
Few have even come close to Paul’s record on taxpayer advocacy, and taxpayers will miss having such a staunch friend in Washington. You can watch the video of his farewell speech below.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: November 14, 2012
Today’s Taxpayer News!
After a meeting Tuesday with labor groups and others set on raising taxes, the President has come out asking for $1.6 trillion in tax increases, double the amount discussed last summer.
Unless Congress acts to extend the “patch” that protects taxpayers from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax by indexing income thresholds to inflation, approximately 33 million Americans will be subject to the AMT for 2012. This is significantly up from just 4 million last year.
NTU recently joined forces with 88 other organizations dedicated to protecting taxpayers, and opposed extension of the Wind Production Credit, a $5 billion special tax break for an industry which barely generates 2% of the nation’s energy.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
In Defense of the Sequester: Why Congress Should Honor Its Word
With the presidential election behind us, the political playing field shifts to the rapidly approaching“fiscal cliff”---the combination of automatic across-the-board spending cuts and the expiration of a whole host of tax cuts set to take effect Jan. 1, 2013 as a result of 2011’s Budget Control Act (BCA).
Last week, NTU was joined by 22 other organizations who share the goals of reduced spending and lower taxes, in sending a letter beseeching Congress to honor its commitment to cut the sequester’s $109 billion in spending and continue to stave off tax hikes.
With a 16 trillion dollar and growing national debt, it is absolutely imperative that Congress take sensible steps to reduce the nation’s spending, and the BCA’s $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years is as good a place as any to begin that process. Although some argue that the cuts to defense would put the nation's national security at risk, it is worth noting that the requested reduction in military spending under the BCA is only 10%, or in dollar amounts equivalent to the defense budget of George W. Bush in 2007. Not exactly draconian, and still preserving plenty of revenue to ensure the U.S.'s safety is not jeopardized. However, NTU and the other signers left the door open to altering the ‘across the board’ approach to the sequester cuts and urge reductions to other parts of the budget.
The slightly lesser portion of the cuts under the BCA come from non-defense spending (examples include education, food inspections and air travel safety), which would sustain a mere 8% cut.
Equally as vital to putting the U.S. on a fiscally sustainable path is a continued commitment not to raise taxes, including preserving the Bush Tax Cuts for all income levels. Allowing these to expire would result in higher income taxes for 90 percent of the population, with the average household seeing their taxes rise an astounding $3,500 per year. Investors would also sustain a hike in the capitol gains tax and a higher dividend tax, among other alterations to the code whose net result is taxpayers being forced to fork over more of their earnings to Washington.
It is obvious to fiscal conservatives and taxpayer advocates that significant changes must be made in the way that Washington taxes and spends in order to return our nation to fiscal soundness. The hastily approaching “fiscal cliff” offers Congress an opportunity to begin the tough work of downsizing spending, while honoring commitments they have made to not raise taxes on families.
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The Late Edition: November 8, 2012
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Amity Shlaes, a view columnist for Bloomberg, highlights NTU tax findings to place Tuesday’s take hike ballot initiatives in historical context.
Vice president Joe Biden asserts that Tuesday’s presidential election results translate into an almost inescapable “mandate” to raise taxes on higher income Americans.
According to a recent article citing Tax Policy Center data, if the Bush Tax Cuts are allowed to expire at the end of this year a full 90% of households will see their taxes increase, with the average household seeing taxes raised an astounding $3,500 per year.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
As the 2012 election cycle comes to a close, we've witnessed record amounts of cash flowing in and out of political campaigns. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have each raised over $1 billion, and recent figures show Romney has spent $777 million on campaign efforts, while Obama has spent over $887 million. It's been a record-breaking year for spending in Congressional races across the country as well.
Some lawmakers have proposed reforming the campaign system through public financing. NTUF identified two specific bills, introduced in the 112th Congress, that give taxpayers an indication of how those types of reforms might affect the budget.
H.R. 1404, the Fair Elections Now Act (and the Senate version, S. 750), would provide for public funding of congressional races. In order to qualify for that funding, candidates would have to raise a "large number of small contributions", limited to $100 each.
Part of the funding would include "media vouchers" to help offset the cost of running mass media advertisements, and would apply to primary & general election campaigns.
According to the Fair Elections Act website, "[t]he cost of Fair Elections for Senate races would be borne by a small fee on large government contractors and for House races would come from ten percent of revenues generated through the auction of unused broadcast spectrum." The bill's sponsors estimate the cost at "somewhere between $700 and $850 million per year."
For public funding of presidential campaigns, NTUF found S. 3312, the Presidential Funding Act. The bill would eliminate public funding for national party conventions - which amounts to millions of dollars - and increase public funding available for presidential campaign runs. According to the Congressional Record, similar legislation introduced in the 111th Congress - S. 3681 - carried an estimated cost of $1.1 billion over four years.
Important to note is that S. 3681 included a budgetary offset that would render the bill budget neutral; S. 3312 does not include any such offsets, which would result in new spending.
Combined, these two bills would amount to an annualized cost of $1.125 billion - a first year cost of $850 million, and $1.1 billion over 4 years.
NTUF found that Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, running in Massachusetts, would support public financing reforms for federal elections. You can read the full analysis and compare her agenda to rival Scott Brown's here.
NTUF does not endorse any candidate or position.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Numbers Behind President's Deficit Reduction Plan
Last week, I posted an article about the spending proposals that have been highlighted by the Obama re-election campaign on its website and in a policy brochure that was released to the media in late October. Dollar figures for his proposals were drawn from the Administration's budget and related legislation that has been scored and included in NTU Foundation's BillTally study.
As promised, here is a look at the President's deficit reduction plan.
In His Own Words
Here is how the Obama campaign has described the plan:
The paragraph above links to an image of a chart, that states, "Obama's Balanced Approach: More Than $4 Trillion in Deficit Reduction, After investing in jobs and economic growth including $2 trillion already enacted into law[.]"
The chart also lists the following 10-year deficit reduction totals:
This is as much detail as the campaign provides on its website, and it includes a mix of already enacted laws, current policy, new tax hikes, and new spending cuts. It also includes an estimate of the resulting reduced interest payments on the national debt.
In our candidate platform analyses, NTUF attempts to provide cost information on new proposals that affect outlays, and NTUF does not count any savings in interest on the debt that might result from program cuts. Instead, NTUF takes into account only the specific programmatic savings.
Previously Enacted Reductions
$1.78 trillion comes from "spending cuts already enacted." I assume that the bulk of this amount comes from the Budget Control Act that was enacted in August 2011. This law placed limits on spending through discretionary spending caps and includes provisions for additional spending cuts in the amount of $1.2 trillion over ten years. The remaining amounts probably include the $741 billion of direct spending cuts that were enacted in the Patient's Protection and Affordable Care Act. The largest cuts were to Medicare for fee-for-service payments and Medicare and Medicaid "disproportionate share hospital" payments to certain hospitals with a large share of low-income and uninsured patients.
The second item on the chart credits $850 billion from "savings from ending Iraq & Afghanistan wars." I'm not exactly sure how that number was calculated: The President's FY 2013 Budget requested $96.7 billion for what it labels "Overseas Contingency Operations," i.e., spending related to the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Budget also called for $44.2 billion per year for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2022 (Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2013, Summary Tables, page 239).
Moreover, this isn't new policy. All but a small force of troops were already removed from Iraq by early 2011. And in May, 2012, President Obama said, "Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country."
New Proposals for Deficit Reduction
The largest amount comes from $1.9 trillion in new revenues: "Closing corporate loopholes and tax increases on high income earners." And remaining is $590 billion for "health & other mandatory initiatives" and $70 billion for "other." The campaign's website does not specify where these cuts would be made, but I assume this is a reference to the mandatory spending proposals introduced in the President's FY 2013 budget, and updated in the Fiscal Year 2013 Midsession Review: Budget of the U.S. Government (MSR).
The MSR notes, "… [T]o build on the work done to reduce health care costs through the Affordable Care Act, the President proposes $326 billion in additional reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs over 10 years. Third, he puts forward $254 billion in additional mandatory savings over the next decade." These figures add up to $580 billion, in the ballpark of the campaign's figure.
The specific proposals are included, beginning on page 44, in Table S-10, Mandatory and Receipt Proposals. The table projects $237 billion in cuts to Medicare providers, $35 billion in savings from "structural reform," and $50 billion from enacting Medicaid reforms.
It is hard to ferret out what could be included under the $70 billion in savings listed as "other." My guess is that about $30 billion of this would be from savings in agricultural producer subsidies. The complete list of taxes, reductions, and fee increases are available in Table S-10 of the MSR.
A lot of analysts have questioned how the President's deficit reduction plan adds up. With the lack of specificity, it has been difficult to figure out exactly what he is talking about. I am assuming that the campaign was looking for nice round figures to highlight and that those figures are rooted in the Administration's proposed budget.
Despite this $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, the President's own latest budget projection in the MSR shows outlays exceeding receipts in each year over the next decade. And this includes perhaps rosy economic estimates that forecast an average annual growth of GDP by 3.14 percent. Without that growth, the amount of tax receipts will be lower than the Administration currently expects. In that event, the persistent spending problem will loom even larger.
See here for a detailed list of the President's spending proposals.
See here for a round up of the campaign platform studies conducted by NTUF this year, including Mitt Romney's agenda.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Spending Proposals in Obama's Agenda for a Possible 2nd Term
Over the course of this election season, NTUF has completed several candidate agenda analyses. In the course of our research, we look for any spending-related issues and policies that candidates are promising to work on if elected. After conducting these studies over several election cycles now, we've found that incumbent politicians running for re-election or a new seat will often highlight their record rather than what they intend to do. President Obama had been facing criticism for this, even though he did highlight a number of issues on his campaign website. He eventually put out a pamphlet with some additional policy proposals. NTUF has not analyzed an incumbent President's agenda because his Administration is responsible for putting out a detailed budget with plans and projections for a ten-year period. The latest budget projections were released in the Fiscal Year 2013 Midsession Review: Budget of the U.S. Government.
Given the questions about his possible second term agenda, I took a look at the spending proposals that Obama has highlighted on his campaign website and in the new pamphlet. With one exception, these are all proposals that the President has previously introduced in his budget. The one item I hadn't heard from the Administration before is a call to open up areas of the Arctic Ocean for oil exploration and development.
Below are the highlights and, where possible, annualized cost estimates for the President's campaign issues. The estimates either came from the Administration's own budget documents or Congressional Budget Office estimates for related legislation that has been scored in NTUF's BillTally program. BillTally tracks the cost of bills sponsored or cosponsored by each Member of Congress. A more detailed document, including links to the President's quotations and to the sources for all of the cost estimates, is available here. A look at the President's "deficit reduction plan" will follow in a separate blog post. [Update: an attempt to track down the numbers in the "$4 trillion deficit reduction plan" is available here.]
Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure:
Education, Science, and Research:
Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment:
Homeland Security and Law Enforcement:
See here for complete documentation and sources.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Late Edition: October 24, 2012
Today’s Taxpayer News!
NTU’s Pete Sepp weighs in on the various proposals for altering state income taxes depending upon who wins the Presidential election on November 6th.
The Daily Finance has the scoop on an array of new taxes associated with the implementation of ObamaCare, two of which will take place within the next few months.
NTUF crunched the numbers on the two Wisconsin Senate candidates’ spending proposals, finding an astounding $1.3 trillion separates Tammy Baldwin from Tommy Thompson.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts