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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #44

December 15, 2011

 

 

 

Vol. 2 Issue 44 December 14, 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: H.R. 2828, Local Jobs for America Act

Annualized Cost: $8.0 billion (A first-year cost of $2.2 billion, plus $23.2 billion over four years)

Congressman George Miller (D-CA) has introduced the Local Jobs for America Act to “save and create jobs quickly in both the public and private sectors and help restore vital services that family and local communities rely on.”

H.R. 2828 would provide federal funds to ensure the jobs of public school teachers, law enforcement officers, and firemen. By authorizing billions of tax dollars, Congressman Miller said the Act would “support 250,000 education jobs, put 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat, and retain, rehire, and hire firefighters.”

Municipalities would receive funds to retain local government employees and incentivize organizations to hire additional employees. Any money left over would go towards supporting employees who provide public services. The Department of Labor would be authorized to spend new money for on-the-job training as well. Areas of the country that have a poverty rate of 12 percent or more and an unemployment rate that is two percent higher than the national rate would be eligible for the money.

The Local Jobs for America Act would create a four-year $23.2 billion Teacher Stabilization Fund and a one-year $2.2 billion fund for police, firefighters, and job training. NTUF scored the bill by comparing spending authorizations with corresponding sections in the American Jobs Act of 2011, which was scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Provisions that were not included in the American Jobs Act were scored based on their budget authorization.

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


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2309/S. 1625, Postal Reform Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: -$2.1 billion (-$10.5 billion over five years)

Experts estimate the United States Postal Service (USPS) will record an operating loss of at least $14.1 billion in 2011. Though researchers and policymakers debate the reasons why the independent agency has not posted a profitable year since 2006, everyone agrees reform must be made soon or taxpayers may be facing another bailout of the postal service.

One effort to avoid a USPS collapse has been proposed by Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). H.R. 2309 and S. 1625 call for “USPS to modernize its retail network and enable USPS to act more like a business.”

The bill would grant postal regulators and leadership more decision-making authority while reducing the influence of Congress. The Postal Regulatory Commission and the Postmaster General would be permitted to change the prices of some products -- such as bulk, parcel, or nonprofit mail -- to offset losses USPS suffers on those same products. Congress would also establish a commission to decide whether to close certain facilities and post offices, based on frequency of use and profitability. The commission would be modeled on the Base Closure and Realignment Commission process, which oversaw the closure of military bases around the country.

The Postal Reform Act would also permit USPS to cut one day from the normal six-day delivery schedule. While the bill does not specify which day to cut, USPS expects to cut Saturday delivery with minimal disruptions. The measure would go into effect in 2013.

For postal workers, the bill expands the authority of management to make changes to benefits. Employees would be required to pay into health coverage systems in the same proportion as regular federal workers. Sorters and carriers would receive wages, benefits, and insurance coverage that is comparable to private-sector equivalents. USPS financial conditions would also be required to be considered when renegotiating union contracts. However, any changes to union contracts would occur after current contracts expire. Short-term benefit costs would be offset with a transfer of surplus payments made into the USPS Federal Employee Retirement Systems account.

According to CBO, the Postal Reform Act would save taxpayers $10.5 billion over the next five years. The initial transfer of overpaid benefit money ($10.9 billion) would make up the majority of the first-year savings and other measures would be spread out over the next ten years. Savings include both on- and off-budget figures.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 2954, Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $3.0 billion (first-year cost)

Number of Cosponsors: 72 Congressmen

 Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) sponsored the Health Equity and Accountability Act to help eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. Expanding on certain provisions outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 2954 would mitigate health problems of not only racial minorities but larger portions of the population as well, including women and children. The Act outlines ten overall objectives that are broken down below as the legislation affects government spending, health providers, and individuals.

The bill would authorize more spending on health infrastructure throughout the nation. A maximum of 110 health empowerment zones would be established with at least one in each state or territory. The zones would improve overall health in an area by addressing up to 26 disparity measures, which range from tobacco use to diabetes occurrences. New centers of excellence would also add to these efforts. Rural areas would also receive more federal money through a new rural community hospital program. The program would ensure smaller hospitals have a minimum of 51 inpatient beds and provide 24-hour emergency care services.

New spending would go towards researching and treating “high impact” diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and heart-related problems. Mental health providers would receive special funding to provide family therapy and addiction recovery services. Hospitals and clinics -- as well as federal health workers -- would also be required to record more detailed patient demographic information. Statistical sampling rules would be changed to favor underrepresented minorities. Those collected figures would help direct new diversity education programs both to employ more minority health professionals and to enhance cultural sensitivity in the health care field.

Individuals would be eligible for more benefits and services through not only the new programs mentioned above but expansions in the Medicaid and Medicare programs as well. Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) payment rates would be increased for people living in U.S. territories to levels seen in states. FMAP pertains to low-income medical and nutrition programs. Freely associated states, such as the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, and Hawaiian citizens would receive 100 percent of their FMAP-related costs from the federal government.

Women and infants would receive special attention if H.R. 2954 were enacted. Similar to what the Women, Infants, and Children program does, grants would be issued to educate women on good nutrition and to help eliminate birth-related health issues. Grants are also called for to reduce teenage pregnancies.

The text of the Health Equity and Accountability Act authorizes at least $2.998 billion in new spending in the first year. Several additional sections of the bill would authorize "such sums as may be necessary." A complete cost estimate is unknown at this time.

All 72 cosponsors are members of the Democratic Party.

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



 

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 3250/S. 1766, the Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act

Annualized Cost: $69 million ($347 million over five years)

 

 

 

 

 

In October, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act. Versions of the bill have been introduced in each Congress since the 106th and later bills have been named for Representative Tubbs Jones, who served in Congress from 1949-2008.

Citing the National Fire Protection Association -- a trade group working to standardize fire sprinkler systems -- Senator Brown said “there was an average of 3,840 fires nation-wide in on-campus housing costing an average of $20.9 million in property damage between 2005 and 2009.” To combat this problem, the bill would authorize grants for higher education institutions to install fire sprinkler systems and other fire suppression technologies in student housing or dormitories. State governments would be required to match federal funds.

Although the bill does not specify a funding level, a CBO analysis of the bill in the 110th Congress estimated it would cost $347 million over five years. The grants would go to 20 institutions per year with schools receiving an average of $5 million from the federal government.

At least 10 percent of the grants would be reserved for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions. Formal education entities would not be the only eligible recipients of the new grants. An additional 10 percent of the funds authorized would be reserved for fraternities and sororities.

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


Missed an Issue of The Tab?

Read them online

Issue 43 - Dec 6
November Snapshot

Issue 42 - Nov 29

Issue 41 - Nov 22
Super Committee Failure Edition

Issue 40 - Nov 15



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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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