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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #41

November 22, 2011

 

 

 

Vol. 2 Issue 41 November 22, 2011


Super Committee Failure Edition

The so-called “Super Committee” did not live up to its billing as the bipartisan Congressional panel failed to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan. This is not a surprising development. After its creation, NTUF analyzed the spending agendas of its members and warned that the lack of common ground on how to cut spending might doom the committee’s efforts.

us_capitolSo what happens next? Automatic sequestration will kick in starting in 2013. Unfortunately, this will only slow the rate of growth of federal spending. This will not do enough to cover the tab of the government’s unprecedented spending spree that has driven the national debt past $15 trillion. Responsibility to rein in the budget falls back where it was before the special panel was created – squarely on the shoulders of Congress and the President. They can work on some of the proposals discussed by the Super Committee (not to mention a whole serious of previous debt and deficit commissions), and there are also lots of ideas that have already been introduced in Congress. In fact, NTUF’s BillTally program has identified non-overlapping spending reduction legislation in the House and Senate that could trim $1.5 trillion from the budget over the next five years – even more than the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction the Super Committee was tasked with finding over a 10-year period.

Table 1. Estimated Annual Savings by Chamber
112th Congress
(in Billions of Dollars)
Chamber
Total # of Savings Bills
Non-Overlapping Savings Bills
Annualized Savings
Annualized Savings Resulting from Spending Caps
or Rescission of Nonspecific Unobligated Funds
Annualized Savings Resulting from Specific Cuts
House 124 82 ($597.4) ($448.4) ($149.0)
Senate 75 53 ($751.0) ($496.5) ($254.5)
Total 199 99 ($851.6) ($532.9) ($318.7)
Source: NTUF BillTally Sytem 
Note:  Data is preliminary.

Through mid-November, NTUF’s analysts have scored 199 savings bills in the House and Senate combined. A number of these proposals overlap because the same (or similar) legislation was introduced in both Chambers. Excluding these measures, Representatives and Senators authored 99 non-overlapping savings. If enacted into law, these proposals would cut spending by $851.6 billion, or $1.5 trillion over five years.  Some of these bills would implement cuts in their first year, others would spread them out between two to five years. Most of these savings ($532.9 billion) would be implemented through spending caps or rescissions of unobligated amounts, while just $318.8 billion of the cuts target specific programs.

Table 2. Non-Overlapping House Spending Reductions by Category
112th Congress
(in Billions of Dollars)
Category
# of Bills
Total Annual Cost
Average Annualized Cost
Agriculture/Environment 6
($3.3)
($0.6)
Commerce/Economy/Housing 11
($20.7)
($1.9)
Education 2
($0.9)
($0.4)
Energy 4
($0.5)
($0.1)
Federal Government 17
($20.2)
($1.2)
Foreign Affairs/International Relations 3
($3.7)
($1.2)
Health 3
($43.0)
($14.3)
Homeland Security 2
($0.0)
($0.0)
Infrastructure/Transportation 4
($5.5)
($1.4)
Law Enforcement/Courts 2
($0.0)
($0.0)
Medicare/Medicaid 7
($15.0)
($2.1)
Miscellaneous 13
($436.8)
($33.6)
National Defense 6
($36.7)
($6.1)
Tax Reform 1
($11.1)
($11.1)
Veterans 1
($0.0)
($0.0)
Total 82
($597.4)
($7.3)
Source: NTUF BillTally Sytem 
Note:  Data is preliminary.

 

Table 3. Non-Overlapping Senate Spending Reductions by Category
112th Congress
(in Billions of Dollars)
Category
# of Bills
Total Annual Cost
Average Annualized Cost
Agriculture/Environment 7
($2.2)
($0.3)
Commerce/Economy/Housing 6
($5.2)
($0.9)
Education 0
$0.0
N/A
Energy 2
($0.0)
($0.0)
Federal Government 11
($75.0)
($6.8)
Foreign Affairs/International Relations 1
($0.0)
($0.0)
Health 3
($41.5)
($13.8)
Homeland Security 1
($0.0)
($0.0)
Infrastructure/Transportation 2
($5.3)
($2.7)
Law Enforcement/Courts 0
$0.0
N/A
Medicare/Medicaid 6
($15.0)
($2.5)
Miscellaneous 12
($529.3)
($44.1)
National Defense 1
($0.2)
($0.2)
Tax Reform 1
($77.2)
($77.2)
Veterans 0
$0.0
N/A
Total 53
($751.0)
($14.2)
Source: NTUF BillTally Sytem 
Note:  Data is preliminary.

Tables 2 and 3 breakout the budget cuts by policy area. These tables only include non-overlapping legislation within each Chamber. Miscellaneous has the largest annualized savings due to the spending caps ($281.0 billion in the House, and $406.2 billion in the Senate) and multiple proposals to rescind unobligated funds of varying amounts. Savings under Health are largely due to repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ($40.3 billion). The House and Senate would each save money under the Federal Government category through workforce attrition, the reduction of excess federal property, and the elimination of duplicate programs identified by the Government Accountability Office. Most of the House savings in National Defense are attributable to H.R. 413, to cut $36.4 billion from the Department of Defense’s budget.

Very few cuts were proposed for education, homeland security, law enforcement, and veterans programs.

Table 4. House Savings Bills Sponsored by Party
112th Congress
(in Billions of Dollars)
 
# of bills
Average Annualized Savings
Average # of Democrat Sponsors
Average # of Republican Sponsors
Democrats Only
7
($13.7)
12.1
0.0
Democratic Majority
4
($0.7)
16.8
6.3
Equal # of Democrats and Republicans
3
($0.0)
1.3
1.3
Republican Majority
27
($0.7)
5.2
47.0
Republicans Only
83
($15.8)
0.0
17.0
Source: NTUF BillTally Sytem 
Note:  Data is preliminary.

 

Table 5. Senate Savings Bills Sponsored by Party
112th Congress
(in Billions of Dollars)
 
# of bills
Average Annualized Savings
Average # of Democrat Sponsors
Average # of Republican Sponsors
Democrats Only 9
($1.7)
1.8
0.0
Democrats and Independents 3
($3.3)
20.7
0.0
Democratic Majority 8
($0.1)
9.3
2.8
Equal # of Democrats and Republicans 6
($1.2)
1.3
1.3
Independents Only 1
($0.0)
0.0
0.0
Republican Majority 9
($4.9)
4.9
17.4
Republicans Only 39
($38.3)
0.0
9.8
Source: NTUF BillTally Sytem 
Note:  Data is preliminary.

Tables 4 and 5 illustrate that the House and Senate still face the same problem as the Super Committee – a lack of common ground on areas to cut. This table lists the number of bills with their average savings based on the number of Democratic and Republican sponsors and cosponsors. These figures include overlapping and non-overlapping proposals.

Just 27 percent of the House savings bills and 31 percent of the Senate savings bills had some degree of bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans. These House savings would average just $620.8 million compared to $2.3 billion in the Senate.

Republicans in each Chamber have been more active in authoring bills to cut spending. There are 83 savings bills in the House and 39 in the Senate with only Republican sponsors. However, the average number of cosponsors represents a small part of each respective caucus.

Taxpayers can perhaps be thankful that the collapse of the Super Committee means that the tax hikes supported by half of its members and the White House were blocked. Last year the President counseled against raising taxes in a weak economy, and little has changed since that time. The unemployment rate is still troublingly high. Controlling spending remains Washington’s biggest problem and our political leaders should do more than just slow the rate of federal outlays. The 99 proposals featured in this report provide a starting point for a way forward to tackle the budget crisis.

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. Cosponsor information obtained from GovTrack.us.

 

 



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