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Taxpayers Tab

Taxpayer's Tab Issue #32

September 20, 2011




Vol. 2 Issue 32 September 20, 2011


Welcome to The Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project.

Each week, NTUF will bring you updates on the week's most and least expensive bills, the ones with the most cosponsors ("the most friended"), and a few bills we've termed Wildcards -- bills that we think you might find interesting.

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: S. 1517, 21st Century WPA Act

Annualized Cost: $125 billion ($250 billion over two years)

Just as President Obama plans to spur economic recovery, Members of Congress are proposing their own ideas on how to generate jobs, increase revenues, and get the economy back on track. Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) sponsored the 21st Century WPA Act to get unemployed Americans back to work. Similar to the original Depression-era program, the new Works Progress Administration would employ out-of-work individuals on projects proposed by different government departments and agencies. An individual must be unemployed for at least 60 days to be eligible for a WPA job.

WPA projects would be largely public works or infrastructure-centric. In the nation's parks and remote areas, workers would maintain trails and work to reduce soil erosion. WPA projects include the weatherizing buildings and improving the efficiency of residential and commercial water projects in urban areas. Schools, libraries, and firehouses would also be constructed by the WPA.

S. 1517 establishes fellowships to provide private businesses with skilled workers. The fellowship program was not a part of the original WPA. In the event a firm cannot find someone with the appropriate skills for a position that has been open for 90 days or more, WPA will provide them with the qualified individual(s). Fellows would be guaranteed one year of employment at that position.

To pay for WPA activities, a new tax would be imposed on high-income earners. Individuals earning more than $1 million per year, or $2 million for joint-filers, would be required to pay a 5.4 percent tax. WPA would be authorized to spend $250 billion over the next two years, according to the text of the bill.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 745/H.R. 746, Davis-Bacon Repeal Act

Annualized Savings: -$10.9 billion (first-year savings)

Passed during the Great Depression, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was created to protect local workers. The Act established a system to guarantee that workers would receive reasonable wages for publicly-funded building projects and that they would not be shut out of the bidding process because competitors used cheaper labor. Today, the prevailing wage system often results in workers being paid more than market wages. While defenders of Davis-Bacon say the prevents a "race to the bottom" for wages, critics contend the prevailing wage system inflates the cost to taxpayers during a time where the U.S. is borrowing more and more. The Wall Street Journal editorial board recently called for the repeal of Davis-Bacon by arguing that the law raises project costs 10 to 30 percent.

Congressman Steve King (IA-5) and Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14) both introduced bills to repeal Davis-Bacon. According to the Heritage Foundation, H.R. 745 and H.R. 746 would reduce spending by $10.9 billion in the first year. The bills would allow the government to pay market wage rates instead of wages based on Davis-Bacon calculations. Heritage reports the prevailing wages raise projected costs of projects by an average of 22 percent.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 1744, American Job Protection Act

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" - Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 145 Congressmen

The mandates established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) range from requiring individuals to buy health insurance to imposing coverage minimums on businesses for their employees. PPACA specifically calls for businesses with 50 or more employees to provide employer-sponsored health care plans. Companies that do not comply are obligated to pay a penalty that would help fund state health exchanges, which will offer price-controlled health plans to applicants starting in 2014. The exchanges were originally designed to offer insurance to individuals working for smaller companies and to people who are ineligible for programs like Medicaid.

To allow businesses and employees to choose their own health insurance coverage, Congressman Charles Boustany (LA-7) introduced the American Job Protection Act. The bill would repeal the employer health insurance mandate. With the repeal, businesses would once again have the choice to provide or not provide health benefits to employees and their families without extra costs or fees.

NTUF determined the mandate established in PPACA and the possible repeal of that mandate is a regulatory measure and would not result in any new government spending. However, it is unclear how repealing the requirement will affect public health care program enrollment or future outlays under PPACA.

Cosponsors in the House include three Democratic and 142 Republican Representatives.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

We Want You!

NTUF is looking for fall and winter associate policy analysts to participate in our internship program. Associates assist with BillTally research and other policy projects. Academic credit is possible. Email questions to To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!


With our new partnership with, The Taxpayer's Tab has changed to help you keep an eye on Congress. To give your own input, opinions, and research, click on the icon. You will go directly to that bill's page!

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 2861, National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $1 million ($5 million over five years)

Congressman Edward Markey (MA-7) introduced H.R. 2861 to expand the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to include amusement park rides that are fixed to one location. The Commission is charged with protecting the public from products that pose bodily harm, including mechanical hazards. The bill expands existing authority that the Commission has in overseeing safety for mobile rides, such as those seen at many county fairs. Forty-five states currently regulate fixed-location amusement rides.

H.R. 2861 would authorize $500,000 in new spending for the Commission to investigate and regulate rides at amusement parks. According to BillTally methodology, NTUF measures spending rounded to the nearest million dollar.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

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Issue 31 - Sept 13

Issue 30 - Sept 6
August Snapshot

Issue 29 - Aug 30

Issue 28 - Aug 23

About NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a research and educational organization dedicated solely to helping citizens of all generations understand how tax policies, spending programs, and regulations at all levels affect them now and in the future. Through NTUF's timely information, analysis, and commentary, we're empowering citizens to actively engage in the fiscal policy debate and hold public officials accountable every day.

NTUF is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization. Donations are deductible for personal income tax purposes. Please make a donation today to help further NTUF's mission of research and education!

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation or as a comment on any Member's fitness to serve.



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