Dedicated to helping citizens of all generations understand how tax and spending policies affect them.

Taxpayers Tab

Taxpayer's Tab Issue #22

August 23, 2012




Vol. 3 Issue 22 August 23, 2012

BillTally Update

Congress may be on recess, but NTUF’s researchers are still busy analyzing the cost of all the bills that your Senators and Representatives have introduced. As we observed in our detailed BillTally report on the First Session of the current 112th Congress, Members are introducing more bills to reduce outlays in this Congress than they have since the mid-1990’s, and the trend has continued into 2012. The number of cut bills introduced so far this Congress (260) has exceeded the entire amount introduced through all of the 111th Congress (176).

Table 1. Snapshot: Number of Increase and Decrease Bills in the 112th Congress
(As of 8/23/2012)
# of Increase Bills
# of Decrease Bills
Ratio of Increase Bills
to Decrease Bills
Source: NTUF BillTally System

There are also fewer bills to increase spending than in past years. Congress is well off the 111th Congress’s rate of writing spending bills that produced a total of 2,480 increases. Thus far in this Congress, NTUF has been able to find cost estimates for 1,129 increase proposals. And the ratio of increase bills to cut bills is less than 5 to 1 in each Chamber, down from 14 to 1 over the course of the 111th Congress. However, compared to the ratio that was recorded upon the completion of the BillTally report for the First Session, the ratio has retreated slightly from the lows of 3.9 to 1 in the House and 4.4 to 1 in the Senate.

“No Cost” and “No Net Cost” Bills

To date, we have identified 4,097 House and 2,240 Senate bills that would either have no net effect on spending or whose outlay impact would be less than $1 million. We have not tracked the quantities of these types of bills closely in the past, but our sense is that there are more than usual in this Congress because of the tariff and duty package under consideration this year. As noted in an earlier edition of The Taxpayer’s Tab, there is a limit to the revenue loss associated with each individual tariff suspension, so Members break them up and introduce them as individual bills. So far, NTUF has tracked 2,090 in all, of these proposals to reduce import tariffs and duties.

Other examples of no cost bills that we are able to readily identify include:

  • “Simple reauthorizations” of currently funded programs – bills that do not make substantive changes to programs and no net change to the funding level, but extend the period for which the program is authorized. A lot of programs whose authorizations have expired continue to receive funding anyway, so we do not count these types of bills;
  • Low cost bills – studies and reports, Congressional gold medals, and conveyances of property are examples of bills that generally have a negligible impact on outlays; and
  • Bills to rename post offices, public buildings, and landmarks.

NTUF identified 115 bills to rename buildings and landmarks, including:

  • 68 bills to rename post office buildings;
  • 28 bills to rename federal courthouses; and
  •  Nine bills to redesignate veterans clinics and medical centers.

For the most part, these buildings and landmarks are being renamed to either honor public servants and elected officials or members of the armed forces. This is an area of legislation writing that can garner bipartisan agreement. 64 of the 92 naming bills in the House had sponsors from both parties. Of the rest, 17 had only Democratic sponsors, and 11 had only Republican sponsors. However, bipartisan support for such legislation was rarer in the Senate where only 8 of the 23 bills had sponsors from across the aisle.

Table 2. Representatives Sponsoring or Cosponsoring the Most Bills to Name Buildings or Landmarks
# of Bills to Name Buildings or Landmarks
Source: NTUF BillTally System


Table 3. Senators Sponsoring or Cosponsoring the Most Bills to Name Buildings or
# of Bills to Name Buildings or Landmarks
Source: NTUF BillTally System

The Tables above show the Representatives and Senators who have sponsored the most bills to name buildings or landmarks. Nearly three-quarters of the House has sponsored such a bill. Such sponsorships were rarer in the Upper Chamber with only 24 Senators signing onto naming legislation.

On Government Bytes: Earmarks Vs. What Paul Ryan Would Spend

Policy Analyst Dan Barrett crunched the latest BillTally numbers concerning Congressman and GOP Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed spending agendas during his time in office. Dubbed a "fiscal hawk," Congressman Ryan has supported net cuts in federal spending in the current and most recent Congresses however, in years previous, he proposed agendas that would increase outlays. But that's not the whole story. Check out the full list of spending legislation he sponsored in the First Session of this Congress. NTUF has also researched Mitt Romney's proposed agenda here. Check out Dan's blog post here.


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NTUF provides taxpayers, policymakers, and experts with timely research on government spending and the issues that make a difference in the lives of every American.

Help us keep a tab on Congress and, while supplies last, NTUF will send you a copy of our exclusive interview with Milton Friedman.

Make your tax-deductable contribution to NTUF today!


We Want You!

NTUF seeks an energetic talented policy analyst to assist the Foundation's ongoing research on Congresional spending and other fiscal issues. More information on this open position is here.

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

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Issue 17 - July 13
Let's Grow Act

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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