Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently introduced legislation that would make quite a few changes to the current veterans' benefits system -- 400 pages' worth, in fact. It's been said that if the bill's enacted, it won't add to the deficit; but does that really mean taxpayers are off the hook? In the latest edition of The Taxpayer's Tab, NTUF analyzed some of the proposals in the latest omnibus veterans' benefits legislation and why financing it by capping future spending may still require additional spending after all.
S. 1982, also known as the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Pay Restoration Act of 2014, includes over 100 different provisions dealing with everything from military scholarship eligibility to fertility treatment benifits for injured veterans. The sweeping legislation is set to increase direct spending by a net $5.5 billion over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) estimates; 43 percent of the costs would be realized by 2019, compared to 36 percent of the savings.
Most of the bill's offsets are attributed to a provision that caps future spending for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). However, the bill caps spending above the White House's own projections of what it expects to spend on those operations, and as CBO notes, "reductions relative to the baseline might simply reflect policy decisions that have already been made and that would be realized even without such funding constraints." This means that on paper, the bill is fully financed, but in reality, those "savings" may never actually be realized -- putting the costs on future taxpayers.
For more on the bill's proposals, be sure to check out the latest edition of the Tab online.