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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #40

November 15, 2011

 

 

 

Vol. 2 Issue 40 November 15, 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!

Head-to-Head Bills

The Bill: S. 1001, the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Competitiveness and Energy Security Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $192 million ($958 million over five years)

To both reduce America’s dependence on sources of foreign oil and to improve vehicle efficiency, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has introduced S. 1001. Taking a two-pronged approach, the bill would expand the Advanced Technology Vehicles (ATV) Manufacturing Incentive Program and would fund research into alternative fuels infrastructure.

S. 1001 would expand two federal efforts related to the ATV Manufacturing Incentive Program. The ATV Manufacturing Program incentivizes existing facilities to retrofit their operations to produce energy-efficient light-duty vehicles and their components. Another program supports the efforts of energy innovators who focus on a select type of energy source, such as ultra-efficient gasoline and diesel, hybrid, or fully-electric vehicles. Both provide federal funding in the form of direct loans or loan guarantees. The bill does not authorize any additional budget authority for these projects but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates S. 1001’s provisions would increase direct spending.

Senator Wyden’s bill would also provide additional funding for the infrastructure associated with alternatively-fueled vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency would subsidize deployment of technologies that conserve energy when heavy-duty vehicles are idling. Through the Department of Energy, states and local municipalities would provide technical assistance to spur the development of recharging and refueling facilities. Workforce grants would be issued to train or retrain individuals in ATV manufacturing and maintenance.

NTUF estimates that S. 1001 would cost taxpayers $958 million over five years. That estimate is based in part on a report from CBO and from NTUF’s review of the legislative text as introduced. The CBO report contained information on the outlays associated with the technical assistance and workforce training programs; however, it did not include the spending associated with the bill’s research and development provisions.

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


The Bill: H.R. 3306, a bill to repeal the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program

Annualized Cost: -$4 billion (first-year savings)

Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX) sponsored H.R. 3306, which would eliminate the ATV Manufacturing Loan Program. In a press release, Congressman Flores said the “loans were provided in addition to the Obama administration’s Detroit auto company bailout while pushing his green energy agenda. Three years later, however, the program has largely remained unused as more than $4 billion sit idle today. … 95 percent of applicants for ATV [Manufacturing] loans are still awaiting approval or have been rejected from the loan pool.” Currently, the program is financed using unobligated funds within the Department of Energy.

According to statements made by Congressman Flores for the Republican Study Committee’s YouCut initiative, H.R. 3306 would result in a $4 billion taxpayer savings in the first year of implementation.

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


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1734/S. 1503, the Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA)

Annualized Savings: -$5 billion (-$14.9 billion over three years)

The federal government has approximately 45,000 buildings and structures designated as excess property. Excess property is identified as “no longer needed for mission or program performance” and can range in size and intended use, from a warehouse in New York to land in Arkansas. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the cost of operating and maintaining these taxpayer-funded facilities totals almost $190 million annually.

To cut down on the amount of excess property and the costs associated with them, Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) (pictured) and Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) have sponsored CPRA “to reduce the budget deficit by streamlining the federal property disposal and realignment process.” The bill would establish an independent commission to determine who would be the best buyers and stakeholders of properties as well as identify other buildings and lands to be sold, totaling no less than five properties worth at least $500 million each. Sixty percent of the proceeds from the sales would be required to go to deficit reduction.

In a press release, Senator Brown cites an OMB estimate that the bill would save taxpayers $15 billion over three years. CPRA authorizes $88 million in new spending for the commission, which NTUF subtracted from the initial $15 billion.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 704, Security and Fairness Enhancement (SAFE) for America Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: -$37 million (-$147 million over four years)

Number of Cosponsors: 43 Congressmen

Each year, the State Department issues 55,000 visas as mandated by the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Diversity Visas are granted to applicants from countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the previous five years. However, the 50,000 figure does not include refugees, asylum seekers, or previous diversity visa immigrants. Since 1995 when the program was initiated, 19 countries have become ineligible. (Statistics for the FY 2011 lottery can be found here.)

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has sponsored the SAFE for America Act to eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. In a release from his office, Congressman Goodlatte stated:

“The visa lottery program poses a national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck. Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who have an existing connection with a family member lawfully residing in the United States or with a U.S. employer. These types of relationships help to ensure that immigrants entering the country have a stake in our nation’s continued success, and have needed skills to contribute to our nation’s economy. However, under the visa lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random without meeting such criteria.”

CBO determined that H.R. 704 would save $147 million over its first four years starting in FY 2013. The elimination of the program would result in fewer immigrants coming into the country -- approximately 51,000 annually -- and fewer permanent residents. CBO reports that fewer immigrants would result in lower spending for federal support programs such as Medicaid, Social Security, Pell Grants, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill would not result in any new spending or savings in FY 2012.

House cosponsors include three Democrats and 40 Republicans.

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



 

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 2042/H.R. 3312/S. 1487, Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Business Travel Cards Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $2 million (first-year cost)

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) (pictured), Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the APEC Business Travel Cards Act to decrease travel time for businessmen and women from countries in the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC). The measure would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a special card to business travelers from APEC countries who are involved in commerce between the United States and countries in Asia. Travel cards would act as prescreening passes at airports and ports to expedite their travel.

NTUF initially assumed that all costs would be offset by user fees and scored the Act as a “No Cost” measure but CBO has released a report, estimating that the new cards and the system that would need to be developed would result in a $2 million first-year cost. After FY 2012, DHS expects to charge each cardholder $100 per year. The fee would make the system relatively self-sufficient with DHS contributing less than $500,000 annually.

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


Missed an Issue of The Tab?

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Issue 39 - Nov 8

Issue 38 - Nov 1
October Snapshot

Issue 37 - Oct 25

Issue 36 - Oct 18



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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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