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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #26

July 19, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 26 July 18, 2013

NTUF Research on House Floor

This morning, Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC) highlighted the travel time and costs of President Obama that were at the heart of NTUF's recent paper Up in the Air: A Study of Presidential Travel and its Uncertain Costs by Policy Analyst Michael Tasselmyer. Rep Coble discussed the $179,000 per-flight-hour cost of Air Force One in light of the mounting debt and billion-dollar federal deficit. Check out The Hill's video of the speech here. Be sure to also check out our infographic on how much the modern Presidents have traveled and where Barack Obama has been since coming into office.

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: S. 332, the Climate Protection Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $20.5 billion ($102.5 billion over five years)

In a statement, Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) argued that Congress must address the issue of climate change through the use of comprehensive legislation or risk rising sea levels and "more extreme weather disturbances." He further offered that, while rejecting or delaying projects such as the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a positive step, the federal government needs to intervene in order to "reverse greenhouse gas emissions in a significant way." With this justification, Senator Sanders introduced the Climate Protection Act. The bill would affect both government revenues and spending.

S. 322 would impose a carbon tax on any manufacturer, producer, or importer of carbon-releasing substances. Every ton of carbon dioxide or methane would be assessed a $20-per-ton fee in the initial year. Over the following ten years, the tax would be increased by 5.6 percent and then frozen. Until an international agreement is signed and ratified that would impose similar fees or limits on greenhouse gases emitters, the tax will remain in effect. Using data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Senator Sanders reported that the new tax "could raise $1.2 trillion in revenue over ten years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2025." Revenues from the tax would be deposited into a new pollution reduction trust fund.

Operating under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new sustainable technologies finance program would be funded by the carbon tax. Providing loans and other financial assistance, the program would fund public-private partnership projects to develop energy efficient or alternative energy technologies. This new program would provide funding for efforts such as creating better battery storage devices or building improved public transportation networks. Those projects that would reduce the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions (defined by the EPA as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases) would receive priority funding.

The BillTally project only tracks proposed changes in spending and so did not include the carbon tax revenue in NTUF's estimate of S. 332. Enacting the bill would lead to $102.5 billion of new spending over the first five years. As authorized by the bill's text, $15.5 billion per year would be directed to environmental and technology efforts, such as EPA enforcement of the Clean Air Act and home weatherization for low-income individuals (which was funded under the "stimulus"). The technologies finance program would receive $5 billion and, NTUF assumes, would maintain that funding level for each of the first five years.

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


The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act

Annualized Savings: $126 million ($630 million over five years)

Sponsored by Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA), the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act would allow for more offshore oil and gas exploration. Currently, the Department of the Interior consults with states and industry to determine what areas should be leased on the outer continental shelf (OCS) through five-year planning periods. Such an administrative process limits how much sea floor is made available to oil and gas companies. Under H.R. 2231, officials would be required to auction at least half of the available acres that the government has estimated to have oil or gas deposits. If enacted, lands off the Atlantic and Pacific coast would be eligible for leasing. Additionally, lands that were previously deemed off limits by Presidential restrictions, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan coast, would be available for leasing.

Rep Hastings' bill would require three parcels to be leased off the coasts of California, South Carolina, and Virginia. Royalties that the government receives from these three areas would be divided up between the federal and state governments and the Act calls for states to get a larger percentage of those receipts over the next ten years than they would under current law for OCS receipt sharing.

The bill would also increase discretionary spending by $8 million a year on average to develop a new five-year plan, complete environmental assessments, and establish new Department of the Interior management positions and responsibilities.

When the government auctions off leases, it receives income in the form of offsetting receipts. Offsetting receipts, as defined by CBO, are a result of "businesslike or market-oriented transactions" and are counted as negative direct spending rather than as revenues (i.e., tax receipts). According to CBO, this bill would, on net, increase offsetting receipts by $670 million over the 2014-2018 period.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 134 Congressmen

Whether or not to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline has been an ongoing debate in state capitals and the halls of Congress since its proposal in 2008. The project would create a new pipeline to transport oil sands from Alberta, Canada to refineries in eastern Texas. The proposed pipeline would run through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska where it would hook up with an existing line that runs from Steele City to Cushing, Oklahoma. The southern extension of the pipeline from Cushing to the Texas Gulf coast is expected to be completed later this year. The northern leg of the project has been awaiting Presidential approval because it crosses a national border.

The debate pits environmental concerns against economic benefits. Environmentalists and many Congressional Democrats argue that the construction will risk oil spills along the pipeline and threaten sensitive areas along the way, such as the Ogallala Aquifer (one of the largest fresh water reserves in the world). On the other hand, Republicans and business interests tout that XL would create thousands of temporary constructions jobs in America and additional jobs for maintenance.

Although the initial permit request for the northern pipeline was submitted in September 2008, in early 2012 the State Department denied the Keystone XL permit citing that it did not have enough time to complete an environment impact review after the proposed route through Nebraska was altered. A new permit was submitted in May of 2012 and is expected to undergo another lengthy review process.

Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE) introduced the Northern Route Approval Act to exempt the Keystone XL project from requiring a Presidential permit. Currently, the permit is required because the pipeline would cross international borders. The bill would also grant other federal permits in order to start construction as soon as possible. CBO has determined that H.R. 3 would not affect federal spending and that the measure would not significantly affect current law.

Upon introducing the Act, Rep Terry said that “[o]ver 1,600 days ago, the initial permits were filed to apply to build the Keystone pipeline. To put that time frame in perspective, it took the United States just over 1,300 days to win World War II; and it took Lewis and Clark just over 1,100 days to walk the Louisiana Purchase. ... The time is up. No more delays. It’s time to build the Keystone pipeline.”

Cosponsors of H.R. 3 include two Democrats and 132 Republicans.

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



   

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 2152/S. 1055, the National Program for Arts and Technology Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $5 million ($25 million over five years)

On May 23, identical bills were introduced by Congressman Michael Doyle (D-PA) and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) to establish job training centers in impoverished areas across the country. The centers would be based on the Manchester Bidwell model. The Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) is a job training and urban revitalization project in Pittsburgh. Its central tenet is that training people in the right environment is essential to making a lasting difference for a community. But whereas the MBC is funded through private donors, the Act would create a new federal program with public funding.

In order to apply for a grant under the proposed legislation, an advisory board of community members would have to demonstrate that their center would train people for jobs in the arts and technology. They would also have to submit an annual report describing their progress. Funds from the grant could not be used for capital expenditures or endowments. New centers would be required to utilize an abandoned building. They would be permitted to construct a new building only if it was a "highly efficient green space."

The National Program for Arts and Technology Act would increase federal spending by $25 million over the FY 2014-2018 period. The spending is authorized in the text of the bills. New programs supported through the Act would be required to provide matching funds from non-federal sources equal to the grant they received. There are no offsets included in the proposal.

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



Missed an Issue?

Issue 25 - Jul 11
Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act

Issue 24 - Jul 5
Visualizing the President's International Travel

Issue 23 - Jun 27
Presidential Travel: Obama Spends More Time Abroad than All But One Predecessor

Issue 22 - Jun 20
Back to Basics Job Creation Act

Issue 21 - Jun 14
Legislative Spotlight: Student Loans


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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