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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #10

March 22, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 10 March 22, 2013

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. 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $100.5 billion ($502.5 billion over five years)

Some 12 million Americans are unemployed and are looking for a job. With the official Bureau of Labor Statistics jobless figure at 7.7 percent, some lawmakers are continuing to introduce legislation to not only assist Americans who have run out of personal savings or unemployment insurance but to also attempt to stimulate the economy to boost employment opportunities.

One such measure is H.R. 870, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), which would establish the Full Employment National Trust Fund. The Fund would award grants to state, local, and tribal governments, who would be required to provide employment opportunities to unemployed and underemployed residents. Because the bill seeks to curb unemployment on a permanent basis, projects are divided into short- and long-term periods.

For fast-track job placements under the program, governments could fund a number of infrastructure repair or expansion activities. For example, workers could be paid to repair schools, revitalize abandoned or vacant properties, or renovate public spaces. Beyond the first nine-month period after the enactment of the Act, the program would expand to include private-sector activities. Eligible projects include the construction or renovation of facilities to improve energy efficiency, support of "human services" such as the provision of child care, and training and employment of disadvantaged youth. During either the short or long-term periods, federal dollars would be available to supplement federal and state government infrastructure projects and expanding access to broadband or wireless Internet services.

According to the text of the bill, the Fund would be financed by a new 0.25 percent Wall Street transaction tax on all securities sales (such as bonds, common stocks, or derivatives). According to Bloomberg, the tax could raise as much as $150 billion per year. Approximately a third of the annual revenues would be dedicated to already existing jobs programs and the remainder, $100.5 billion, would be used to establish and operate the new Fund. NTUF's BillTally only counts new spending in its estimates.

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


The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1126, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act

Annualized Savings: $31 million ($92 million over three years)

The magnitude of President Eisenhower's achievements has prompted Congress to authorize construction of a memorial in his honor. However, the memorial's design and cost has been met with skepticism. Some of the most prominent critics include members of the Eisenhower family.

In 1999, President Clinton signed Public Law 106-79, which established the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The Commission was tasked with selecting a design for a Presidential Memorial dedicated to the 34th President. The Commission selected a site in 2005 near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., now known as Eisenhower Square. After soliciting select firms for designs, the renowned architect Frank Gehry and his team was chosen to lead the design of the Memorial.

The design features large, 80-foot metal "tapestries" depicting scenes from Eisenhower's youth in rural Kansas. Visitors would be guided through the memorial grounds by an "e-memorial" app that could be downloaded to a phone or tablet device. In the time since its unveiling, the design has received a number of complaints from lawmakers, citizens, and architects alike. Critics from the Eisenhower family have suggested that the design isn't befitting of President Eisenhower's humble nature, and expressed concern over the structural integrity of the memorial. Also a concern is the tax dollars that have already been spent on the memorial's design, given that it has been revised multiple times and construction still hasn't started.

In the face of the growing controversy, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act. The bill would cancel the current design and review new proposals from a broader pool of applicants. Additionally, it would eliminate future funding for construction of Gehry's design and extend the current site's designation for another three years.

There are also supporters of the original design and who are opposed to Rep. Bishop's legislation. Robert Ivy of the 83,000 member American Institute of Architects (AIA) has said, "Representative Bishop's legislation allows Congress to exercise governmental authority in a wholly arbitrary manner that negates the stated selection process. ... It is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the innovative thinking for which our profession is recognized at home and around the globe." Should Bishop's bill become law, AIA has expressed concern over the precedent it would set regarding Congress' ability to censor architectural work.

At a Congressional hearing on March 19, Brigadier General Carl Reddel, Executive Director of the Memorial Commission, testified that future construction costs associated with preparing the current site and installing Gehry's design would equal $114.8 million. The Commission has requested that 80% of the project be federally funded, which would require approximately $92 million to construct the memorial as proposed. Assuming it would take 3 years to complete, Representative Bishop's bill would eliminate $31 million per year in federal outlays devoted to the memorial's construction. Depending on how long construction would take, and whether the Commission takes further action to address concerns about the memorial's durability, that figure could vary accordingly.

NTUF's estimate for this legislation will be updated if any additional information, such as an official Congressional Budget Office analysis, becomes available.

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


The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 808, the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $10 billion ($50 billion over 5 years)

In each Congress from 2001 to 2009, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a bill to establish a Department of Peace within the United States government. Now that Representative Kucinich is no longer a Member of Congress, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) has taken the lead and introduced H.R. 808, the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013.

H.R. 808 establishes within the Department of Peacebuilding a number of offices designed to invest in peacekeeping studies and initiatives. Among them are the Offices of: Arms Control and Disarmament; Human Rights and Economic Rights; and Peace Education and Training. The text contains provisions for an Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Peace to resolve conflicts between various government agencies. The bill would also institute federal "Peace Days," on which "[t]he Secretary shall encourage citizens to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace… ."

According to Representative Lee, "[w]e invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies. Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home."

Since H.R. 808 authorizes "such sums as may be necessary," NTUF scored the bill based on an analysis of similar bills introduced by Representative Kucinich. In the 112th Congress, Kucinich introduced H.R. 808, the Department of Peace Act of 2011. That bill would have authorized $10 billion per year, or $50 billion over 5 years, to establish and operate a Department of Peace. Congresswoman Lee's bill is virtually identical to that legislation, save for minor differences in certain offices' titles.

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


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Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 1124, the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act

Annualized Cost: $500 million ($1 billion over two years)

Number of Cosponsors: 64 Congressmen

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants were established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or the so-called "stimulus" bill. These grants are intended to improving environmental problems and reducing America's dependence on foreign energy by funding surface transportation projects. The TIGER program initially spent $1.5 billion through the "stimulus" in 2009. Over the next three years, appropriations bills provided an additional $1.6 billion for new TIGER grant disbursements. Legislation in the new Congress would provide supplemental funding to continue the program for at least two more years.

According to Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), "[t]he economy is struggling to recover from the recession. The unemployment rate is nearly eight percent nationwide and is even higher in minority and disadvantaged communities. Moreover, the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure estimated that there is a $549.5 billion shortfall in investments in roads and bridges and an additional $190.1 billion shortfall in investments in transit." To address this, Representative Waters has reintroduced the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act to provide $1 billion in new TIGER grants for 2013 and 2014. The funds would act to supplement the program and would entirely count as new spending. H.R. 1124 would also exempt the funds from any future sequestration measures. No offsets to the new spending are included in the text of the bill.

All 64 cosponsors are members of the Democratic Party.

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



Missed an Issue?

Issue 9 - Mar 8
Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act

Issue 8 - Mar 2
Spotlight: Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act

Issue 7 - Feb 21
Right Start Child Care and Education Act

Issue 6 - Feb 14
Special Coverage of the President's SOTU Address

Issue 5 - Feb 8
21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps 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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