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Independent Institute's John R. Graham lends his healthcare expertise to the podcast as we examine "Obamacare" and more. Plus, a ballot initiative rundown and the Outrage of the Week!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Lots of Ways to Learn About Congressional Spending
NTU Foundation is getting the word out about how Congress is planning to spend your tax dollars. For 20 years, the BillTally system has tracked every proposal introduced in the House and Senate to show taxpayers and legislators exactly what would happen if one, several, or all the active bills in Washington, D.C. were enacted. The first half of 2013 saw many bills to cut government spending but many more to increase expenditures on an annual basis. In our latest study, NTUF researchers found that Congress would grow public programs and efforts by $1.28 trillion per year. But, of course, that's not the whole story and is just one of the several findings that NTUF's research has brought to light.
Elected officials in each Chamber of Congress have laid out many different paths for the country's fiscal future. Besides consulting the line-by-line details in the full BillTally report by Director of Research Demian Brady, there are a variety of mediums for you to get the information you need to educate yourself on where Congress wants to take your tax dollars.
For the visually inclined, there are four infographics, each detailing a part of the BillTally report. If you want to see what the entire Congress or what each chamber has proposed (House and Senate), we've parsed out the data so you don't have to. An interesting fourth visualization takes a look at when savings bills have been introduced in both the previous Congress and in 2013. One of the questions we are constantly looking at is when and how cut proposals are taken up because spending reductions do not happen without legislative action.
The audio-lovers are not forgotten as Brady went on NTU’s weekly podcast, Speaking of Taxpayers, to give you the highlights and important findings of how the Tea Party has affected spending proposals and whether net agendas are following historical trends or breaking new ground. For the first time, NTUF staff exhibited our on-camera skills by hosting a Google Hangout:
Of course, there are overviews of the report in the form of press materials and in-house summaries but perhaps more importantly are some posts by Policy Analyst Michael Tasselmyer that delve between the lines. So far, he has posted on two of Congress' larger spending categories, healthcare and jobs programs, and on the timing of savings proposals. Additionally, Tasselmyer explored the differing defense budgets of the House and Senate (the findings may surprise you). Perhaps you want to know which bills would most dramatically affect the budget? We've got you covered.
Is this the first you're hearing of the many levels of BillTally analysis? If so, you can be on the cusp of Congressional research by subscribing to The Taxpayer’s Tab, NTU Foundation's weekly update. Tab subscribers are the first to see the costs and implications of bills making the headlines and generating buzz in the policy world. Not a fan of email or love NTUF so much that you want more? Follow us on Twitter and give us a shout out! And remember, there's a lot of ways that NTU Foundation helps out Americans and we're always looking for new members. Are you up for a challenge of getting government spending under control? We need you!
Was there a part of the recent BillTally report that surprised you? Post what your thoughts are on the $1.28 trillion in new spending that Congress could pass below.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
In this week's edition of The Taxpayer's Tab, NTUF continues to offer analysis and insight into the latest BillTally report, which covers the legislative proposals introduced during the first six months of the 113th Congress. The data shows that savings proposals have been coming at a slower pace than in previous sessions, and if history is any indication, we aren't likely to see many more over the next year. The total spending agenda proposed so far this Congress? $1.28 trillion.
In this week's Tab, NTUF focused on the defense-related spending proposals we identified in each Chamber. The differences between the House and Senate with respect to these bills might surprise some taxpayers, and could play into the budget committee's approach to a long-term fiscal deal over the next few weeks. For more, check out the online edition of the Tab here.
And, to round out our coverage of the BillTally release, we've put together a list of the five most and least expensive proposals we saw over the first half of the year:
Spending Cut Bills:
Spending Increase Bills:
For more information, check out the Tab online here, and be sure to sign up for future email updates.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Electric fail: An investigation by WZZM TV showed that pouring taxpayer money into electric cars has basically failed. The federal government has spent $5 billion on this work all while charging stations, originally intended to replace gas stations, sit empty.
An expensive day’s work: A key agency in the Washington, DC education department paid almost $90,000 to a Chicago based education firm for one day of work at a conference. The cost “included a half-hour keynote speech, three 45-minute parent workshops and hundreds of copies of parenting books.” The Washington Post has more details.
Historic waste: A new study shows the Veterans Administration (VA) has ignored several federal laws surrounding historic buildings. The VA often builds new facilities instead of fixing up older ones, which wastes taxpayer dollars. More on CNSNews.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Ballot Measures 2013: Taxpayers Thwart Worst, But Many Bad Measures Still Pass
Despite what may have appeared to be a sleepy off-year election, a host of ballot measures compiled by National Taxpayers Union (featured in The Wall Street Journal) with national implications appeared on November 5 state and local ballots across the country, and the results might surprise you. At the end of the day, there were both silver linings and disappointments for taxpayers across the country.
Last but not least, the results of Colorado’s marijuana tax hike measures could be considered good, bad, or ugly, depending on your point of view. While Coloradans rejected the Amendment 66 income tax hike, they approved the Proposition AA marijuana taxes 65 to 35 percent. Locally, voters in Eagle, Red Cliff, Littleton, Boulder, and Denver also passed new taxes on marijuana. All of these measures increase taxes on a product recently deemed legal under state law.
Keep an eye on NTU.org for additional analysis and commentary on 2013 ballot measures.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Massive Marshal waste: NTU’s Pete Sepp is quoted in this WSBTV article exposing the U.S. Marshals Service for the agency’s waste on gifts ranging from Christmas ornaments to silk scarves to commemorative coins. In total the Inspector General found almost $800,000 worth of waste.
Medicare mismanagement: Medicare has paid out millions of dollars to the deceased, a new Inspector Generals report found. The report tallied $23 million of improper payments to deceased Americans and those illegally living in the country. More information at Healthcare Payer News.
Call waiting: Vermont state officials found that the state wasted $272,000 on cell phones that went unused by state officials in 2012. Of the 11 million minutes purchased by the state, 5 million were not used. More details at VNews.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
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:
And in the Senate:
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:
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.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Five Quirky Taxes to Watch Out for on Tuesday's Ballot
It’s almost Election Day and voters in several states and many more localities will head to the polls to decide the fate of numerous fiscal ballot measures. Some of these proposals stand out more than others. Below we’ve listed the top five strange (and what many would consider punitive) tax issues on the ballot in 2013 that our research has identified:
Also of note for local taxpayers: In California 87 school districts will vote on 45 local bond/tax measures totaling $22 billion. This far exceeds what any other state in America has on the ballot. Additionally, Arizona voters will be deciding on 11 local ballot measures that would implement $209 million for education bonds and $311 million in non-education related bonds (public safety, parks, roads, etc.)
There are many more state and local measures of note. Other entries – strange or not – from sharp-eyed taxpayers across the country are welcome!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Costly skies: The state of Illinois spends more than $4 million a year flying state officials from Chicago to Springfield. An investigation by Fox 32 Chicago found that almost half of all flights have four or less passengers aboard, wasting the estimated $3,000 per flight cost.
Welfare waste: Beneficiaries of Tennessee’s welfare program have used state issued Electronic Benefit Transfer cards on outlandish expenses, state records show. Funds were used on liquor, cafes, electronics, and even theatre tickets in Memphis. Read more at WMCTV.
Unspent funds: The Department of Labor’s Navajo Nation educational program has grossly mismanaged taxpayer funds even as thousands wait for job training. A federal investigation showed that the program failed to spend $13.4 million while only serving 62 percent of its expected participants. More details at the Washington Times.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
The Myth of the 12.6 Percent Effective Corporate Tax Rate
A May 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) claimed that U.S. corporations paid an effective tax rate of just 12.6 percent - a startling revelation considering the U.S. now has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent. As a wary taxpayer might expect however, there is more to the story…
The GAO study was used by many to bolster the notion that tax loopholes and offshore “tricks” allowed American businesses to duck a great deal of their tax burden. The party for those seizing on this opportunity was short-lived, however, as a more complete analysis performed by international tax expert Andrew B. Lyon (with Pricewaterhouse Coopers ) showed real and significant problems with GAO’s analysis.
Lyon’s study, published in the academic journal Tax Notes last month, exposed glaring omissions that skewed GAO’s baseline finding. Most evident was GAO’s use of just the year 2010 in their analysis. In making their judgment, they selected a narrow window of time that that just happened to coincide with loss write-offs resulting from several years of the Great Recession. Lyon took a more comprehensive approach, breaking down the corporate rate from 2004-2010. His finding was that long-term, “The effective tax rate based on worldwide current tax payments for all U.S. corporations exceeded 35 percent for the 2004-2010 period.”
What’s more, Lyon’s more comprehensive methodology found that even during the limited period GAO examined, effective corporate income tax rates well exceeded the 12.6 percent reported by GAO, largely because the agency failed to account for taxes paid to foreign governments on certain income dividends received by American companies.
An effective tax rate of 35 percent ranks highest among industrialized nations and has America lagging behind in terms of tax competitiveness. With unemployment in particular remaining a challenge for the U.S., it is important for policymakers to clearly understand the damage a punitive corporate income tax rate causes our economy. Taxpayers should not be fooled into a false choice using false facts. How the GAO could issue such a flawed study is another question…
Andrew Lyon’s very in-depth study is highly recommended for those looking to dive deeper into this discussion, read it HERE.
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