Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) was recently asked during a radio interview how much of their earnings should people be allowed to keep. She replied, "I'll put it this way. You don't deserve to keep all of it and it's not a question of deserving because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together. And there are many things that we decide to do together like have our national security. Like have police and fire. What about the people that work at the National Institute of Health who are looking for a cure for cancer[?]"
It was a very poor choice of words to imply that people don't deserve to keep their money. A certain amount of taxes are necessary to support the basic functions of government, a statement which raises two key questions that are at the heart of the ongoing debate between the left and right: What are the basic functions of government, and what is a fair level of taxation?
Representative Schakowsky spoke of programs that we "decide to do together," which implies that programs are approved in a rational manner, but we have all heard of programs that are funded through congressionally-directed earmarks or that are slipped into omnibus bills that are hundreds or thousands of pages long. As former-Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "You've got to pass it to find out what's in it."
National Taxpayers Union Foundation's (NTUF) BillTally program helps shed light on the programs and proposals that each Member of Congress would like to see passed into law. Each bill introduced in Congress is analyzed to determine its net effect on spending. And if Schakowsky's agenda in the 112th Congress were enacted into law, Americans would face higher taxes to support all the new spending, or, to paraphrase the Congresswoman, people would deserve less of their money.
As of this week, NTUF has cost estimates for 475 House bills. Of these, Schakowsky has authored or cosponsored 53 bills that would increase outlays, and 1 savings bill. The net cost of the legislation she supports would hike spending by $1.246 trillion. This is a preliminary estimate based on the data we have as of today, and is subject to change.
Below are the most expensive bills on her agenda, along with their annualize costs:
H.R. 676, Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act: $1.157 trillion
H.R. 555, Universal Prekindergarten Act: $30 billion
H.R. 494, the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act: $16 billion
H.R. 808, Department of Peace Act of 2011: $10 billion
H.R. 1332, Social Security Fairness Act of 2011: $9 billion
Other proposals would establish a national infrastructure bank, extend unemployment benefits, provide public funding for elections, and promote young adults financial literacy. Her savings bill would rescind unobligated funds (annualized savings of $4.4 billion) as an offset for repealing certain small business reporting requirements under the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Go here for more information about NTUF's BillTally project. Detailed reports of Members' agendas from previous Congresses are available here. And be sure to check out this list of savings bills we have identified so far during the 112th Congress.