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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #39

November 8, 2011

 

 

 

Vol. 2 Issue 39 November 8, 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. NTUF gives you the most and least expensive bills that affects not only the nation's ledger but your pocketbook. For more information, check out NTUF's BillTally Project and our partner, WashingtonWatch.com!

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: S. 1769, Rebuild America Jobs Act

Annualized Cost: $8.1 billion ($40.7 billion over five years)

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sponsored the Rebuild America Jobs Act to rebuild and improve the nation’s infrastructure. The bill establishes short- and long-term national development priorities through new construction programs.

A short-term grant program would fund projects that fit the definition of “shovel-ready,” including airport improvements and high-speed rail investments. Fifty percent of funds made available for immediate needs must be spent within the first year of the bill’s enactment, while the other half would be spent in the following year or two, depending on the type of project.

The Rebuild America Jobs Act’s long-term development provisions would establish an infrastructure financing authority. Similar to Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) BUILD Act, the authority would provide direct loans and loan guarantees for transportation, water, and energy projects in much the same fashion as a bank. The government would provide startup money for the authority, while also allowing the private sector to invest in projects and initiatives related to the nation’s infrastructure. The authority is intended to be self-sufficient after the startup phase. [Note: NTUF has related commentary on the timeliness of infrastructure banks amidst the recession.]

S. 1769 would also impose a “Buy American” regulation on publicly-funded projects to purchase only American-made iron, steel, and manufactured goods.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report scored the Rebuild America Jobs Act as a $40.7 billion spending increase over the first five years. Short-term spending on transportation-related projects would constitute the majority -- 96 percent, or, $39.2 billion -- of new costs to taxpayers. The bill calls for an extension of an Alternative Minimum Tax provision and the imposition of a 0.7 percent surtax on individuals making more than $1 million. However, the tax receipts would count as revenue and would not be scored as an offset under BillTally rules.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2190/S. 1206, Medicare Drug Savings Act

Annualized Savings: -$10 billion (-$50 billion over five years)

In 2003, the Republican-led Congress passed a law creating a new Medicare prescription drug program, known as Medicare Part D. Before this law, Medicare did not provide coverage for prescription medications; however, Medicaid did provide a rebate program for certain prescription drug costs. Under the program, pharmaceutical manufacturers were required to rebate to the federal and state governments a portion of their revenues from sales to Medicaid patients. This rebate requirement ended with the creation of Medicare Part D. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) have introduced the Medicare Drug Savings Act to reinstitute the rebate.

The Act would “require prescription drug manufacturers to provide a rebate for drugs provided to people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as all other enrollees in the low-income-subsidy plan in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program.” The imposed rebate would apply to any drug in any dose amount covered under the Medicaid drug program.

In a press release, Congressman Waxman stated the measure would result in a $100 billion savings* over ten years to the federal government. In previous efforts to enact similar rebate requirements, CBO reported that drug manufacturers would likely offset the rebates by charging higher prices for new drugs for all consumers, including those enrolled in government health programs.

* Congressman Waxman and Senator Rockefeller provided different savings estimates for their bills. Since the savings are speculative, NTUF scored the legislation at the more conservative savings level of $100 billion.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 3096/S. 1400, Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $24 million ($72 million over three years)

Number of Cosponsors: 26 Congressmen and 8 Senators

A year and a half after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Senator Mary Laudrieu (D-LA) have each introduced bills to help restore that region’s ecosystems and economy. The RESTORE Act would create the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, which would be in charge of 80 percent of the money paid to the government by those held responsible for the spill. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas would receive funds to carry out projects to remove pollutants from coastal waters, beaches, and waterways.

Interest from the Trust Fund would be transferred to the National Endowment for the Oceans and the Gulf Coast of Mexico Endowment, two funds also created in H.R. 3096. Both would contribute to environmental research, restoration, or protection for the Gulf as well as oceans worldwide.

According to a CBO estimate, RESTORE would cost taxpayers $72 million in FY 2014-2016. CBO made special note of the unpredictability of how much those at fault for the oil spill would be required to pay and when those funds would be made available for the goals of the bill because the legal proceedings could take years. CBO assumed the government would receive approximately $2.3 billion over the next ten years in penalties and fees associated with the spill, but only 80 percent of this would be available for spending under this Act, as the bulk of the spending would occur after 2016.

Cosponsors include three Democrats and 23 Republicans in the House. In the Senate, one Democrat and seven Republicans support S. 1400.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.



 

The Wildcard

The Bill: S. 1742, Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement (MAPLE) Act

Annualized Cost: “No Cost” – Regulatory

 

 

 

 

To ensure that substances labeled as maple syrup truly are maple syrup, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and five other senators from the states of Maine, New York, and Vermont -- the three states which produce the most maple syrup in the country -- have introduced the MAPLE Act. The bill would increase the criminal penalty for individuals caught selling fraudulently labeled and advertised products as maple syrup from a misdemeanor to a felony. Convicted offenders could be sent to prison for up to five years, instead of the current one-year prison sentence maximum.

Senator Leahy said he is “alarmed by the growing number of individuals and businesses claiming to sell Vermont maple syrup when they are in fact selling an inferior produced that is not maple syrup at all.” The measure would not result in any new federal spending. However, it is unclear how the bill would affect spending for the legal and corrections systems, especially in the New England region.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


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Issue 38 - Nov 1
October Snapshot

Issue 37 - Oct 25

Issue 36 - Oct 18

Issue 35 - Oct 11



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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.

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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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