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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #17

July 13, 2012

 

 

 




Vol. 3 Issue 17 July 12, 2012

 

NTUF & Friends Commemorate the Late Milton Friedman's Birthday

Sponsored by: National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Alexandria Taxpayers United, BlueSkin Solutions, Carleson Center for Public Policy, and Alexandria Liberty on the Rocks

Calling all free-market advocates, policy experts, lawmakers, and citizens! Join the National Taxpayers Union Foundation for our 4th Milton Friedman Legacy Day event at the famous Columbia Firehouse Restaurant (3rd floor) in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Over the years, we’ve celebrated Dr. Friedman’s work in economics, education reform, and liberty through roundtable discussions and film viewings. This year, be on hand with NTUF and friends as we debut an EXCLUSIVE interview between Friedman and the late NTUF President John Berthoud. Friedman and Berthoud spoke about the role of antitrust laws in driving businesses to lobby government and divert resources from producing goods that make our lives better. This will be the first time that the interview has been made available in a digital format.

Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served and drinks will be available for purchase.

Please feel free to invite your co-workers and friends to what will be a great remembrance of a great man!

Details:

  • DATE: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 5:30PM to 9:00PM
  • LOCATION: Columbia Firehouse
  • Register: Facebook or Evite
  • Metro: Blue/Yellow Line – King Street Station
    (20-minute walk) Trolley
  • Parking: Street parking out front and parking garages are nearby

If you have any questions or wish to join the other Alexandria organizations in cosponsoring this event, email dbarrett@ntu.org.

Research Across the Nation: BillTally in Iowa

While we are busy keeping an eye on legislation at the federal level, the Public Interest Institute (PII) does the same for the Hawkeye State and just released its latest Iowa Bill Tally report. Since 2008, PII has tracked the cost of legislation under consideration in Des Moines. Their goal is to inform taxpayers: "The more questions you ask, the more transparent the Legislators will want to make the government, since they will know that the public is watching."

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 4351, Let’s Grow Act of 2012

Annualized Cost: $8.4 billion ($41.8 billion over five years)

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) has introduced H.R. 4351 to “allow American cities to address chronic problems dealing with hunger and obesity as well as health and wellness.” By establishing 15 new programs and expanding several others, the bill would authorize new public spending focused on “urban agriculture”, nutrition, and farm subsidy programs (covered in greater detail in the Least Expensive Bill article below).

The Let’s Grow Act would make the following changes to federal spending (cost figures are annualized net increases):

New Programs

  • Community Gardening Grant Program – Expand, establish, or maintain urban and Native American community gardens (Cost Unknown)
  • EBT Farmers Market Accessibility Program – Award grants to entities that operate farmers markets to accept Electronic Benefit Transfers ($10 million)
  • Farm-To-Preschool Program – Foster relationships between schools and farms to develop nutritious meals ($3 million)
  • Fresh Incentive Program – Improve access to local nutritious, affordable fruits and vegetables to low-income consumers ($70 million)
  • Food Bank Equipment and Technology Program – Purchase equipment and technology to increase the efficiency of food banks ($10 million)
  • Green and Sustainable Schools, Museums, and Libraries Grant Program – Improve energy efficiency in public buildings (Cost Unknown)
  • Healthy Corner Store Initiative – Assist convenience stores to expand offerings of fruits and vegetables (Cost Unknown)
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative – Fund projects to establish stores and markets offering healthy foods ($100 million)
  • Local Farm Business and Market Garden Competitive Loan Program – Loan businesses and projects capital to produce fresh foods locally and create jobs ($20 million)
  • Property Conversion Grants – Acquire and convert abandoned and foreclosed properties for healthy food-related purposes (Cost Unknown)
  • Public Land Acquisition – Purchase and convert publicly owned land to urban farms or community gardens (Cost Unknown)
  • Urban Agriculture Development Grants Program – Cover costs related to the establishment or operation of an agricultural facility, including farms or gardens ($8 billion)
  • Urban Agricultural Workforce Training Pilot Program – Develop an agricultural workforce and associated businesses ($5 million)
  • Urban Entrepreneur and Microenterprise Assistance Program – Provide low- and moderate-income individuals with assistance to establish and run a small business in an urban area ($10 million)
  • Virtual Farmers’ Markets – Provide access to farmers’ markets to communities that are “food deserts” (Cost Unknown)

Expanded Programs

  • Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Urban Farmers and Ranchers – Increase payments for farmers living in urban areas of 50,000 or more people (Cost Unknown)
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program – Raise local storage and distribution of food costs support ($144 million)
  • Harvestcorps Program – Enhance access to supportive food programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ($10 million)
  • School Lunch Program – Provide nutritious food to at-risk children on weekends and during extended school holidays (Cost Unknown)
  • USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – Make free fruits and vegetables available to students throughout the school day (Cost Unknown)

Extended Programs

  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (No Net Increase)

If enacted, NTUF determined that the Let’s Grow Act would cost taxpayers at least $41.8 billion over a five year period.

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


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: S. 2261, Revenue Loss Assistance and Crop Insurance Enhancement Act of 2012

Annualized Savings: $1.4 billion ($7.4 billion over five years)

The federal government provides an extensive “safety net” to farmers to support their incomes during market downturns and to stabilize the prices of crops and food. In March, the Congressional Budget Office projected that budget authority for crop insurance and commodity support programs will average $15.3 billion over the next ten years.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) along with Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have introduced S. 2261 to reform some of the commodity-loss subsidies. Their goal is to maintain “a strong safety net for producers while, at the same time, contributing to deficit reduction.” The bill would replace the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) and the recently expired Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance (SURE) programs, with a new Revenue Loss Assistance Program (RLAP). RLAP would kick in when farmers report selling their crops at a 12 percent or more loss, compared to a calculation of recent average prices. The reform is designed to speed up the delivery of payments to farmers while also reducing overlap with other crop insurance payments. For more information these so-called shallow-loss measures as well as other reform proposals, the Congressional Research Service released an overview of agricultural proposals.

Senator Conrad said “the bill ensures a strong safety net while saving $16.4 billion over 10 years.” However, others are concerned about whether these savings will be realized if prices were to drop from their recent average highs. The Heritage Foundation reports that the new program could “invite other problems, including distorting farmers’ planting decisions and violating [World Trade Organization] trade rules. It [could] also shower subsidies on large, commercial farms and landowners… .” The BillTally project only includes changes in the federal budget for the first five year budgetary window.

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



   

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 5143, a bill to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from making payments to the Brazilian Cotton Institute

Annualized Cost: $147 million (first-year savings)

 

 

 

 

 

In 2002, Brazil initiated a World Trade Organization (WTO) trade dispute against the United States because of its subsidies to cotton growers. Brazil argued, and a WTO panel agreed, that certain U.S. payments to the cotton industry were counter to WTO member committments to free and fair trade. Brazil threatened to retaliate by raising taxes on certain American companies. The U.S. eventually settled the dispute by, in part, paying $147 million annually to Brazil's cotton sector through the Brazilian Cotton Institute.  For more background on the cotton case, check out NPR’s story here.

Congressman Ronald Kind (D-WI) said “[f]ailing to reform our own domestic cotton program has resulted in millions of taxpayer dollars unnecessarily subsidizing Brazil’s cotton industry … We’ve got to get our priorities straight to ensure a fiscally responsible, smart food and farm bill for the 21st century.” H.R. 5143 would repeal the payments to Brazilian cotton growers. The measure would save the government $147 million in its first year of enactment.

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


 

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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.

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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