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Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz's Spending Agendas


Dan Barrett
January 24, 2013

"Earlier this week, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was unanimously reelected as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Though she pledged to fight those "that don't want everyone in America to have an opportunity to be successful," it was unclear how exactly she would use her platform - as both the leader of a national political party and an elected Member of Congress - to accomplish that aim. Perhaps more importantly, with the coming debates over automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts and the debt ceiling increase, how would her agenda affect the federal budget? Based on her four full terms in the House, I crunched her spending proposals identified by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF) BillTally project to see what proposals Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz might support in the 113th Congress. BillTally is the only comprehensive study of every introduced bill in Congress and the agendas of all federal legislators.

Below is Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s proposed spending agenda during her twelve years in office:

Table 1. Proposed Spending Agenda of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
(in millions of dollars)
Congress
Increase
Decrease
Net
$143,969
($200)
$143,769
$586,485
($1,751)
$584,734
$621,068
($130)
$620,938
$39,573
($5,010)
$34,563
Average
$347,774
($1,773)
$346,001
1NTUF has yet to finalize and release data for the entire 112th Congress. This figure is based on the BillTally First Session report.
Source: NTUF BillTally System

The Congresswoman has supported many bills throughout each Congress, and though it is difficult to predict how she would apply legislation from 2005 to present day issues, we can identify some patterns. Among her spending cut proposals is a bill to clarify laws regarding imported prescription drugs, which she supported in both the 109th and 110th Congresses. If the bill (S. 319 in the 112th Congress) was passed today, taxpayers would see a $600 million savings for government health care providers. The measure does not appear in the Affordable Care Act. In the 112th Congress, her largest supported spending reduction bill would authorize the government to sell radio spectrum frequencies.


There were numerous spending increase proposals that the Congresswoman either sponsored or cosponsored throughout her legislative career, but a few recurring measures include:

  • Health Care: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz repeatedly cosponsored the Healthy Americans Act, which would establish a universal health care system, transitioning away from employer-provided health insurance. She also has supported expansions in health benefits for veterans and for gay and lesbian Americans.
  • Repealing Benefits Caps: The DNC Chair would change how benefits for veterans and government retirees are calculated. In both cases, current law imposes a limit on how much beneficiaries can receive if they are collecting payments from more than one pension or benefits system. She has supported separate legislation to remove these caps so that veterans could get full, concurrent payments, while government retirees could get more money from both their pensions and Social Security.
  • Education: To support education personnel and the buildings they work in, the Congresswoman has supported multi-billion dollar proposals to provide more tax dollars to schools, either by fully funding current programs or establishing new ones.

Compared to her colleagues in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has supported less than the average Democratic Member and in all but one year has supported a lower average agenda compared to her party’s level of seniority (divided into freshmen and returning Members)*:"

Table 2. Proposed Net Spending Agenda Comparison of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Democratic Members
(in millions of dollars)
Congress
Wasserman Schultz
Average Democrat
Average Democrat in Cohort
109
$143,769
$765,752
$302,5251
110
$584,734
$624,702
$678,5452
111
$620,938
$538,841
$588,9273
112
$34,563
$496,802
$493,1194
Average
$346,001
$606,524
$515,779
1Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz compared to Freshmen Democrat House Members in the 109th Congress
2,3Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz compared to Returning Democrat House Members in the 110th and 111th Congresses
4Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz compared to Returning Democrat House Members in the First Session of the 112th Congress
Source: NTUF BillTally System

NTUF is still compiling spending estimates and scoring newly introduced legislation. We expect to have a complete fiscal picture of the proposals of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the 112th Congress in the coming months.

*I would have also compared Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s proposed agenda to the Democratic caucuses focused on fiscal matters (the Blue Dog and Congressional Progressive Caucuses) but she is not a member of either one.


 

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