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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #3

January 25, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 3 January 24, 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. 79, the Medicaid Payment Fairness to the Territories Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $1.6 billion (first-year cost)

The level of financial assistance that the federal government provides to each state for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is determined through the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). States have varying rates that are determined by their per capita income relative to that of the entire nation. For example, thirteen states have an FMAP rate of 50 percent which means that the federal government pays for half of those states' Medicaid program costs. As of FY 2012, six states had FMAP rates at or above 70 percent.

Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen (D-VI) introduced H.R. 79 to increase the FMAP for the U.S. territories to equal the level of the state receiving the highest matching percentage. The Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam currently receive 55 percent of their Medicaid and CHIP funding from the federal government. The change would raise the territories' FMAP to Mississippi's 73.43 percent.

In the 112th Congress, Delegate Christensen said the present-day FMAP makes "it extremely difficult for these vitally important programs to consistently meet the health and health care needs of our most vulnerable residents, those whose medical needs exceed their financial resources. ... We are not asking for special treatment, we are seeking equitable treatment."

NTUF compared the current FMAP rates and spending levels for the five territories with Mississippi's Medicaid and CHIP program funding, provided through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. H.R. 79 would increase federal spending by $1.6 billion in the first year. It is unclear how much federal spending would increase over a five or ten-year period. This would depend on inflation, the number of beneficiaries, and full implementation of regulations in the so-called Affordable Care Act.

There are no offsets included in the proposal.

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


The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 95, a bill to reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions

Annualized Savings: $59 million ($297 million over five years)

H.R. 95 would terminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which provides financial support to primary and general election campaigns for President if candidates qualify and choose to accept the public money. Sponsored by Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), the bill directs the Federal Election Commission to use the Fund's money for deficit reduction. Also in the bill, federal funding of presidential nominating conventions would be prohibited.

Similar to law making campaigns exclusively funded with tax dollars, H.R. 95's measures have sparked debate on how campaigns should be financed and, if so, who should be eligible. Congressman Cole stated that the Fund "is the very definition of frivolous Washington spending. ... The idea that Americans need this program in order to support candidates is absurd. It's not 1971 anymore. With online communications, it's never been easier to participate in elections." The Tax Foundation also labeled the Fund, which can be directly contributed to by checking a box on one's income tax form, as "a voluntary tax that stirs little enthusiasm."

Proponents of the Fund, and opponents of H.R. 95, including the Obama Administration, say the bill would "expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation's elections ... [and] force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues ... ." The New York Times editorialized the notion of public election financing, saying "[a] system that greatly magnified small donations with high matches would give ordinary citizens a shot at competing with corporations, unions and wealthy donors."

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report from the previous Congress, H.R. 95 would save taxpayers $297 million over five years. Since this estimate was based on spending not including the 2012 Elections, the figure is preliminary and will likely be updated as new data becomes available.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act

Annualized Savings: "No Cost" -- Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 71 House Members

Recipients of military awards -- such as the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor -- are eligible under U.S. law for certain health care benefits, monetary assistance, and consideration for some government jobs reserved for veterans. To prevent fraudulent claims to these benefits, Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) introduced H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, on January 15th. The legislation is identical to a bill that passed the House in the 112th Congress, and makes it a crime to misrepresent oneself as a military award recipient in order to obtain “money, property, or other tangible benefit.” Such a crime would be punishable by a fine, up to a year in prison, or both.

George W. Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 into law in late 2006. That version of the law was broader in scope, making it a crime to falsely misrepresent oneself as a military award recipient regardless of intent. However, the Supreme Court ruled the legislation unconstitutional in June 2012 in United States v. Alzarez, determining that the law violated the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

H.R. 258 narrows the scope of the original legislation to specifically penalize the fraudulent use of military awards to make benefit claims, while avoiding the legal issues raised in the Supreme Court case. Last year, CBO analyzed an identical bill, H.R. 1775, and found that it would likely have no significant impact on federal spending. Any fines collected would likely be minimal, and enforcing the law would not require additional administrative support.

Cosponsors of H.R. 258 include 10 Democrats and 61 Republicans.

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-deductible contribution to NTUF.


   

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 305, the Muhammad Ali Legacy Act

Annualized Cost: $5 million ($15 million over three years)

 

 

 

 

 

The Muhammad Ali Legacy Act would establish a program to promote international communication and understanding. Grants would be awarded to nonprofit educational organizations for the purposes of instructing foreign leaders on subjects such as peace building, conflict resolution, and violence prevention. Foreign citizens would also be applicable to receive cross-cultural education via virtual classes and Web-based forums. Special attention would be paid to help young people to avoid radicalism, terrorism, and organized crime. The legislation was introduced by Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) to build upon famous boxer Muhammad Ali's humanitarian work.

According to the text of the bill, H.R. 305 would authorize $5 million to be spent during each of the next three years.

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



 We Want You!

NTUF is looking for spring and summer 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!


Missed an Issue?

Issue 2 - Jan 17
Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act

Issue 1 - Jan 10
Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Issue 31 - Dec 21
NTUF Scores Thousands of Bills

Issue 30 - Dec 13
Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act

Issue 29 - Dec 7
Net Legislative Spending Cuts


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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