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Taxpayers Tab

Taxpayers Tab Issue #18

June 1, 2011


Vol. 2 Issue 18 June 1, 2011


Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1332, Social Security Fairness Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $9 billion ($45 billion over five years)

H.R. 1332, sponsored by Congressman Buck McKeon (CA-25), would end the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, both of which reduce Social Security benefits for certain individuals. The pension offset affects spouses who receive either a Spousal benefit or a Survivor's benefit from Social Security, while they also receive certain federal, state, or local government pension payments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reduces benefit payments to these individuals by two-thirds. The windfall provision affects individuals who earned a pension and did not have Social Security taxes withheld from their income - certain government workers or individuals who worked overseas, for example. SSA uses a formula to calculate a lower benefit payment amount for these individuals.

The act would allow individuals to receive their full benefit payments without offset. If enacted, the bill would result in new spending due to the higher benefit levels. In 2007, SSA estimated that the repeal would increase federal spending by $9 billion per year.

Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1626, Prevent the Reckless, Irresponsible, Needless Typography (PRINT) Act of 2011/S. 674, Congressional Record Printing Savings Act of 2011

Annualized Savings: -$8 million (first-year savings)

The Government Printing Office (GPO) is the agency charged with printing documents for the official record and various publications as requested by federal officials. Since 1994, electronic access to these documents has grown while demand for the print editions continues to fall.

To cut costs, Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10) and Senator Tom Coburn (OK) have introduced legislation limiting when the GPO can print the Congressional Record. According to the bill, only when the Vice President or Members of Congress request a copy will GPO be allowed to print the document. The new restriction would save taxpayers $8 million.

Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 718/S. 648, Huntington's Disease Parity Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $26 million ($130 million over five years)

Number of Cosponsors: 67 Congressmen and 3 Senators

Congressman Bob Filner (CA-51) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) have introduced the Huntington's Disease Parity Act. Huntington's disease (HD) is a degenerative neurological disorder currently affecting some 30,000 Americans. The disease causes total physical and mental deterioration, usually within 15 years. The bill would change Medicare and Social Security provisions for those suffering from the illness.

Medicare maintains a 24-month waiting period for people disabled by HD. The waiting period is intended to allow individuals to utilize their private insurance before receiving government assistance. The HD Parity Act would eliminate the waiting period.

H.R. 718 would also require SSA to revise criteria for evaluating disability for those with HD. SSA would be required to provide special instructions and regulations relating to both HD and Juvenile HD.

According to a report from the Huntington's Disease Society of America, $26 million in new federal spending would result from the bill's enactment. A majority of the costs would come from eliminating the 24-month waiting period and from the entrance of 2,500 new HD patients into the Medicare system.

Cosponsors include 47 Democrat and 20 Republican Congressmen. Three Democrats support S. 648 in the Senate.

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The Wildcard

The Bill: S. 618, a bill to promote the strengthening of the private sector in Egypt and Tunisia

Annualized Cost: $16 million ($80 million over five years)

Based on programs established in countries like Hungry and Albania, after the end of the Cold War, S. 618 would attempt to facilitate the development of free markets in Egypt and Tunisia. In Egypt, $60 million would be given in the form of loans, assistance, and studies to promote greater development, better policies and security, and improved transparency. Tunisia would be given $20 million over five years to accomplish similar goals. The United States Agency for International Development would administer the programs.

According to CBO, Senator John Kerry's (MA) bill would disburse the total $80 million in installments over five years and the funds would be terminated in 2021. Also, the Government Accountability Office would also be required to evaluate the programs' effectiveness.

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