In Case You Missed It
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.
Check out a summary and the full report of NTUF's findings. So far, the study has appeared on Drudge Report's headline, Human Events, FreedomProject.org, and U.S. News and World Report.
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 628, A bill to amend part A of title IV of the Social Security Act to temporarily reinstate, with certain adjustments, the Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs, and for other purposes
Annualized Cost: $2.5 billion ($12.5 billion over five years)
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) introduced H.R. 628 to reinstate certain emergency funding for the State Temporary Assistance for Needy Family Programs (TANF). The bill would deposit $12.5 billion into a contingency fund.
The fund would issue grants to states to help them with their increasing TANF caseloads. It would also make money available to states to provide individuals with non-recurrent short-term benefits to pay utility bills, monthly rent, or other related necessities. The fund would also increase funding for states’ subsidized employment programs.
As outlined in the bill, H.R. 628 authorizes $20 billion to be deposited into the contingency fund over the next eight years. The authority to divide the funds into the three grant areas would rest with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The fund would be administered by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
Bill: H.R. 1745/S. 904, Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Services (JOBS) Act of 2011
Annualized Savings: $604 million ($3.02 billion over five years)
For the month of May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that approximately 13.9 million Americans, or 9.1 percent of the labor force looking for work, were unemployed. This national figure was largely unchanged from the previous month. Consequently, state unemployment compensation funds are facing challenges.
Introduced by Congressman Dave Camp (MI-4) and Senator Orrin Hatch (UT), H.R. 1745 and S. 904 would give state governments greater flexibility in how they may spend federal unemployment funds under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program and in providing full federal funding for extended benefits. In many states, the benefits would only be permitted to be used as direct unemployment assistance. The JOBS Act would allow states to give the unemployed tax relief or to help fund job-related programs, such as for training or education. The bill does not change the share any state receives from the federal government in unemployment funding.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill's changes would result in a savings of $3.02 billion over five years. CBO predicts that since states would be given the ability to change how they use their share of the benefits, some would opt out of the programs, provide fewer benefits, or change their state's laws to use the money for other purposes. Savings also would occur as states offset previous overpayments of unemployment compensation by reducing benefits to recipients.
Bill: H.R. 1404/S. 750, Fair Elections Now Act
Annualized Cost: $850 million (first-year cost)
Number of Cosponsors: 68 Congressmen and 13 Senators
H.R. 1404 and S. 750 would change how campaigns are financed and establish a new fund to administer a public funding stream for political campaigns. If candidates follow certain guidelines, they would receive money from the Fair Elections Fund -- a board established in the bill to disburse public dollars to qualified campaigns.
The bills introduced by Congressman John Larson (CT-1) and Senator Dick Durbin (IL) outline limits and activities to which candidates must adhere if they wish to receive public campaign funds. In all instances, donors can only give a maximum of $100 to candidates. House candidates must collect 1,500 contributions from within their district and raise a total of $50,000. They could receive up to $900,000 from the fund and split spending between the primary and general elections. Senate candidates must collect 2,000 contributions plus 500 contributions in each of their state's congressional districts. Those individuals may receive up to $1.25 million plus $250,000 for each district in their state. Joint fundraising committees would be prohibited.
The Fair Elections Now Act would cost $850 million annually, according to a Fair Elections Now Coalition estimate. A portion of this cost would go toward the funding of two newly established entities, the Fair Election Fund and the Fair Elections Oversight Board.
Cosponsors include 67 Democrats and one Republican in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, all 13 Senators who support S. 750 caucus with the Democratic Party.
The Bill: H.R. 1631, Tax Equity Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: "No Cost" - Revenue
With the Bush tax cuts expiring on January 1, 2013, some high income earners will be required to pay higher taxes, regardless their situation or place of residence. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-8) introduced the Tax Equity Act to allow the IRS to adjust the individual income tax rates in certain regions according to their area's standard of living. Taxpayers in high cost areas of the country, such as New York City, would be given tax breaks through a cost-of-living tax adjustment. The IRS would be in charge of determining which areas would receive adjustments through the Tax Code.
According to BillTally methodology, NTUF does not count changes in revenue when estimating a bill's cost. H.R. 1631 would change how the IRS would calculate and collect taxes but such actions would likely not result in any new spending.
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