NTUF Latest Research: Study Examines the First 100 Days of the Republican Majority in the House
Have hard-charging Members of the House of Representatives brought a big enough axe to chop the federal deficit and debt down to size? The National Taxpayers Union Foundation's (NTUF's) BillTally report on legislation proposed during the first 100 days of the 112th Congress has some surprising discoveries.
"BillTally data so far confirms that after being let out of the woodshed by the electorate, the new House majority remembered to bring an axe to the budget debate," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and BillTally Project Director Demian Brady. "However, the proportions of the task facing them may in fact warrant a chainsaw."
According to Brady, NTUF's special 100-Day BillTally report shows that indeed the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has proposed even more spending reductions (in total dollars adjusted for inflation) than the "revolutionary" 104th Congress led by Newt Gingrich. Yet, these cuts would only erase less than one-fifth of this year's budget shortfall, compared to roughly three-fourths of the 1995 deficit that legislation introduced in the 104th Congress would have slashed.
Check out a summary and the full report of NTUF's findings. So far, the study has appeared on Drudge Report's headline, U.S. News and World Report, Human Events, FreedomProject.org, and the Illinois Policy Institute's blog.
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 929, Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act
Annualized Cost: $2.35 billion ($11.75 billion over five years)
S. 929 would establish grant programs to create new initiatives for literacy and to improve existing efforts to teach children how to read. In a press release, Senator Patty Murray (WA) said "[c]hildren in every state deserve to have access to high quality literacy education that will give them the reading and writing skills they need to succeed in school, in their future careers, and in life." State education agencies would receive grants for planning and implementing literacy programming. Two other groups, early learning entities and local K-12 school districts, would also be eligible for money to encourage reading development and enhance reading comprehension.
The LEARN Act calls for $2.35 billion in federal spending for each of the next five years.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 477, Government Excess Prevention Act
Annualized Savings: $8.1 billion (first-year savings)
Introduced by Senator Mark Pryor (AR), the Government Excess Prevention Act would limit printing, travel, and vehicle spending for the federal government. To decrease costs associated with the Government Printing Office, and overall printing activities, the Office of Management and Budget would be required to develop guidelines on employee printing and determine what government documents should be only available in an electronic format. The total travel allowance for federal employees would be cut in half, except for instances relating to national security or public safety. S. 477 would also cut the cost of the federal vehicle fleet by 20 percent in FY 2011 and then lower funding levels even further in future years.
The provisions of S. 477 mirror proposals in the Spending Reductions Act, H.R. 408. According to estimates produced by the House's Republican Study Committee for H.R. 408, NTUF estimates that S. 477 would save taxpayers $8.1 billion. The bulk of savings would stem from cutting the federal travel budget in half, decreasing spending by $7.5 billion.
The Bill: S. 668, Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act
Annualized Cost: Annualized Savings: $15 million (first-year savings)
Number of Cosponsors: 30 Senators
Included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was established to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending. Originally called the Independent Medicare Advisory Board, the Board's recommendations would go into effect automatically unless blocked by Congress. Senator John Cornyn (TX) sponsored S. 668, which would eliminate IPAB. PPACA originally authorized $15 million for the Board in FY 2012.
CBO reported in 2009 that it "expects the [IPAB] would be fairly effective in reducing [health care] costs -- beyond the reductions that would be achieved by other aspects of the bill -- to meet the targets specified in [PPACA]." However, the assumption is conditioned upon the effectiveness of the Board. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the Board's recommendations and corresponding Congressional action, NTUF has scored the bill as a $15 million savings and did not include the speculative savings estimates.
Cosponsors include 30 Republican Senators.
The Bill: S. 749, Fair Elections Revenue Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: "No Cost" - Revenue
The Fair Elections Revenue Act would impose an excise tax on entities and companies who hold a contract with the U.S. government. The tax would be based on any payment made to a qualified entity (one who is not a state or local government, a non-profit group, or one who has $10 million in contracts with government) for a contract. The tax would amount to 0.5 percent of the amount paid.
The revenue generated from the new tax is intended to be used to finance a new Fair Elections Fund. The Fund would publically finance Senate elections. According to the sponsor, Senator Dick Durbin (IL), "qualified, legitimate candidates will receive grants, matching funds, and television vouchers to run competitive campaigns based on small dollar donors… ." The Fund would administer and disburse the money.
The excise tax would be counted as revenue to the government and does not count as new spending under BillTally methodology.
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