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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #14

June 20, 2012

 

 

 

Vol. 3 Issue 14 June 20, 2012

 

Welcome to The Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project. For more information, check out NTUF's BillTally Project and our partner, WashingtonWatch.com!


Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 4114/S. 894, Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012

Annualized Cost: $869 million ($4.3 billion over five years)

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Raymond C. Kelley, Director, National Legislative Service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars stated, "Disabled veterans, their surviving spouses and children depend on their disability and dependency and indemnity compensation to bridge the gap of lost earnings and savings that the veteran's disability has caused. Each year, veterans wait anxiously to find out if they will receive a cost-of-living adjustment. There is no automatic trigger that increases these forms of compensation for veterans and their dependents. They rely on an act of Congress each year to ensure they receive the same cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is payable under title II of the Social Security Act." H.R. 4114 and S. 894 would authorize a COLA for FY 2013.

Relative to current law, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4114 and S. 894 would cost $4.3 billion over the next five years. CBO assumes that the COLA would take affect on December 1st of this year and would be a 1.3 percent increase.

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


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 4093, Presidential Allowance Modernization Act

Annualized Savings: $3 million (first-year savings)

In 1955, Congress was concerned that former President Harry Truman would be unable to bear the financial burden of hiring and staffing an office to handle correspondence and other duties after his presidency. In 1958, Congress adopted the Former Presidents Act (FPA) to provide former presidents with an annual lifetime pension and office allowances. Allowances are now based, in part, on local living expenses, health care requirements, and office needs.

The FPA has been expanded over time to include funds for travel, local and long-distance telephone service, and mailing expenses. In 1962, former First Couples were given Secret Service protection for life; however, Presidents leaving office after January 1, 1997, are now entitled to only 10 years of protection. The four living former Presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush -- cost taxpayers $4 million in FY 2012, excluding protection costs which are not disclosed to the public.

Because today's former heads of state are able to secure lucrative book deals and speaking engagements that weren't available to Truman, Congress is now looking to curtail Presidential perks. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has proposed the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act to do just that. The bill provides ex-Presidents with a flat pension benefit of $200,000 a year as well as $200,000 for all other costs associated with their offices and needs. The Presidents would receive a cost of living adjustment every year -- the same adjustment given to Social Security recipients. In the event that a President's annual income exceeds $400,000, the Act would initiate a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the allowances.

"[T]he fact is none of our former presidents are poor," Congressman Chaffetz said. "Reports actually indicate that between book tours and speaking fees these men are making millions of dollars a year. There's little reason why American taxpayers should be subsidizing these former presidents when they're doing fine on their own."

According to a press release from Congressman Chaffetz's office, H.R. 4903 would reduce spending by $3 million in FY 2013.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 4077/S. 2318, Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012

Annualized Cost: Unknown -- Conditional

Number of Cosponsors: 47 Congressmen and 6 Senators

The State Department's Rewards for Justice program offers compensation for information leading to the arrest of individuals plotting or attempting terrorist acts against the United States. Informants who prevent a terrorist act, provide the location of a terrorist leader, or disrupt terrorism financing are also eligible for cash payments. The program has been in effect since 1984 and has led to the capture of numerous terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef who was one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Congressman Edward Royce (R-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) have sponsored a bill to reform the program to include those involved in global organized crime that contribute to terrorism, such as weapons traffickers and money launderers. H.R. 4077 and S. 2318 would expand the scope of Rewards for Justice by including individuals who are charged with crimes against humanity.

Since the program is strictly funded on a case-by-case basis for each criminal arrested or indicted, the program does not have a consistent funding level and is not applicable under BillTally's scorekeeping rules.

Cosponsors include 28 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the House. In the Senate, three Democratic and three Republican Senators currently support S. 2318.

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


Support NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is able to produce timely reports and analysis for policymakers and taxpayers with the help and support of foundations, small businesses, and Americans -- like you --who wish to stay informed of their government's spending.

With donations from Tab subscribers and members, NTUF will be able to continue to inform taxpayers about entitlement reform, the federal budget, and proposed legislation.

Please consider making a tax-deductable contribution to NTUF.

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 ntuf@ntu.org. To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!


 

Save the Date!

NTUF is hosting a birthday party in Alexandria, Virginia, to commemorate the late economist Milton Friedman on July 31st. More details to come!


The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 5923, Stopping Non-Native Animals from Killing Endangered Species Act

Annualized Cost: $4 million ($16 million over four years)

Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.R. 5923 to eradicate non-native constrictor snakes from sensitive habitats and to prevent those snakes from establishing a presence in those ecosystems. To accomplish the goals, the Department of the Interior would award grants to any organization that uses dogs to detect and track down the snakes. The sponsor notes that the dogs used under this program are not in any danger. "At no point do the dogs approach the snakes. Instead, once a dog indicates that a snake is in the area, it is taken to a safe distance while a human handler captures the snake."

The bill would authorize $4 million each year until FY 2016. The federal government would provide up to half of the total expenses for each organization that receives a grant under the program.

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


Missed an Issue?

Issue 13 - June 15
Prepare All Kids Act

Issue 12 - June 8
Student Success Act

Issue 11 - May 31
Tariff & Duties Suspension Spotlight Edition

Issue 10 - May 11
College Tax Cut Extension Act

Issue 9 - May 3
Pension Reform Spotlight Edition



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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