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“Super Committee” Lawmakers Start Far Apart on Spending Reduction Ideas, Study of Panel Members’ Bill-Sponsorship Shows
For Immediate Release August 17, 2011
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700
(Alexandria, VA) – No one said it would be easy for the 12 lawmakers on the latest deficit reduction “Super Committee” to agree with each other, but a new analysis of the bills they’ve sponsored or cosponsored from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) BillTally system shows just how different their views are on spending programs. The 12 panel members have legislative agendas whose individual impact on the budget would vary widely, from an annual cut in federal expenditures of just over $85 billion to a yearly increase of more than $1.15 trillion.
“Based on the legislative turf that each of them has staked out so far, lawmakers on the Supercommittee will not be approaching the task of cutting spending on a vast plot of common ground,” said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and BillTally Project Director Demian Brady. “However, BillTally data also demonstrates that if they are willing to explore ground that has already been plowed by other Members of Congress, it is possible to cultivate a package that would fulfill the ten-year, $1.5 trillion deficit reduction mandate of the Supercommittee without raising taxes.”
Since 1991, the BillTally cost accounting system has computed a “net annual agenda” based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or cosponsorship of legislation. This unique approach provides an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committees, party leaders, and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates for bills are obtained from third-party sources, Congress Members’ offices, or are calculated from neutral data.
Key findings of NTUF’s BillTally analysis include:
Even though sponsorship data indicates little accord among Super Committee legislators on expenditure-cuts, Brady noted that the combined legislative “raw material” of the entire membership in the 112th Congress would provide additional opportunities. BillTally’s database has recorded the introduction of non-overlapping spending cuts in the House alone of $357.2 billion per year. This is more than twice the average annualized total deficit reduction ($150 billion per year) the Committee is charged with developing for consideration in the full House and Senate.
“If they are to avoid tax increases that many Americans would find counterproductive, Super Committee Members will need to meet deficit reduction targets through a variety of spending-restraint measures,” Brady concluded. “BillTally’s database from this and previous Congresses shows that there is no shortage of ideas to help achieve this end.”
The NTUF analysis of “Super Committee” Members is available at www.ntu.org. Updates on BillTally data for the current Congress are provided through a weekly e-newsletter, The Taxpayer’s Tab. Click here to subscribe. NTUF is the research affiliate of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969. Click here for more information on the BillTally system.