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Taxpayers Tab


Taxpayer's Tab Issue #33

September 19, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 33, September 19, 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. 3016, the Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act of 2013

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

It has now been five years since real estate market bubble popped and the Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed. The effects are still rippling through the economy, and policy makers are continuing to echo many of the same proposals that have been tried since 2009. Just this week, the Federal Reserve announced it would extend its stimulus program to purchase $85 billion a month in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. And, Members of the 113th Congress are continually introducing bills that would give large amounts of tax dollars to states and municipalities to generate and sustain jobs. In the previous edition of The Taxpayer's Tab, NTUF scored a bill by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) that would spend $25.3 billion over five years to retain, hire, or rehire thousands of city employees and first responders. Similarly, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced a bill to cut down the national unemployment rate by providing jobs at the local level.

H.R. 3016 would authorize new spending for cities with populations of at least 600,000 people and who have had unemployment rates above the national average since January 2009. An annual $10 billion would be spent on economic development activities, such as building business incubators and supporting alternative energy development, and job training programs. Cities would be given broad authority to spend funds and many cities could receive money year-after-year because the bill does not define an end date to the spending.

The bill does include a revenue offset. Section 3 of the bill would prevent "major integrated oil companies" from being able to claim a tax deduction related to domestic production activities. In 2011, supporters argued that it would increase taxes by $32 billion over 10 years.

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


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2668/S. 1488, a bill to delay the application of the individual health insurance mandate, to delay the application of the employer health insurance mandate, and for other purposes.

Annualized Cost: $5.6 billion ($28 billion over five years)

Because of provisions passed in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans are currently required to obtain health insurance by January 1, 2014. If they fail to do so, citizens will be charged a fine that will either be a flat dollar amount or a percentage of their earnings, depending on their income level. Those who are not covered have the choice of buying private insurance, opting into government-subsidized state Exchanges, accepting Medicaid benefits (for low-income households), or being levied the fine, which is set to rise significantly in the years ahead.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously said we had to pass the ACA to find out what is in it. Years later, details of its costs and vast complexity are still coming to light and each week brings new reports that premiums are rising or that companies will cease offering health care coverage for their employees. This has fueled calls to postpone or scrap portions (or all) of the ACA. The CLASS long-term care program was already repealed because of its unsustainable long-term costs. The White House already plans to delay the business health care mandate (which requires companies of 50 or more full-time employees to offer insurance or else financially contribute to the Exchanges) by one year. The Administration also postponed enforcement of eligibility requirements to receive exchange subsidies and delayed a cap on out-of-pocket insurance costs that was adversely affecting consumer premiums.

In light of the issues that both the government and citizens face as ACA is implemented, Congressman Todd Young (R-IN) and Senator Daniel Coats (R-IN) introduced H.R. 2668 and S. 1488. The bills would affirm the Administration's delay of the business mandate as law and would also delay the individual health care mandate by one year. In a press release, Senator Coats reasoned that only delaying the requirements for businesses was unfair for individuals on their own health care plans.

The Congressional Budget Office scored the delay of the individual mandate as a $28 billion savings over the 2014-2018 period. Savings occur because the government would not spend tax dollars on Medicaid funding, Exchange subsidies, and government administrative duties as is currently budgeted.

A similar bill, H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act, by Congressman Tim Griffin (R-AR) would only codify the business mandate delay. Since the BillTally project only tracks spending and not revenues, which the business mandate would only be, H.R. 2667 would not result in any budgetary changes.

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


Most Friended

The Bill: S. 1404, the Enumerated Powers Act

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Legislative Procedure

Number of Cosponsors: 35 Senators

On September 17th, 1787, the Founding Fathers assembled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and officially adopted the Constitution. Over 226 years later, the Constitution remains the supreme law of the land, and on a more symbolic level, offer perhaps one of the clearest and most influential legal models for democratic government.

Since 2004, September 17th has been officially recognized as Constitution Day. On this past Tuesday, legislators, scholars, and citizens alike gathered in Washington, D.C. and across the country to commemorate the occasion through reflection and discussion:

In a similar spirit of reverence for the Constitution, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced S. 1404 earlier this year. The Enumerated Powers Act would require any act, bill, report, resolution, or amendment to carry with it a "concise explanation of the specific authority in the Constitution of the United States relied upon as the basis for enacting each portion of the measure" before it is considered in Congress.

Senator Coburn's office released a statement explaining that "[m]any of our nation's fiscal woes can be linked to Congress's ignorance of, and refusal to follow, the clear Constitutional limitations on our power to legislate. ... Our founders recognized the need for the federal government's powers to be strictly limited -- not only to ensure effective governance but to prevent unrestrained federal overreach." Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the bill's lead cosponsor, said "[p]oliticians in Washington should abide by their oath to uphold the Constitution by only legislating within the powers it gives to the federal government."

The bill's text would not affect federal outlays nor authorize any new spending to implement its provisions.

All 35 cosponsors of S. 1404 are members of the Republican Party.

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


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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: S. 1501, the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act

Annualized Cost: $50 million ($250 million over five years)

Sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), S. 1501 seeks to encourage greater energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy technology by manufacturing and industrial companies. The Act would create a program that would award federal grants to state governments who in turn could use the money to either establish or expand local energy efficiency efforts.

According to the text of the bill, the grants would be used to incentivize companies to invest in low- or no-emission technologies at a discounted rate. For example, an automotive plant in Kentucky could receive money or loans at favorable rates to build more hybrid vehicles or to install solar panels on the premises. Grants could also be awarded to building owners to undertake related activities, such as weatherization, to help lower the costs of energy efficiency.

S. 1501 would authorize a total of $250 million in new federal spending, if enacted. NTUF assumes that the funds would be spent in its entirety over the first five years. The new program's funding would be in addition to recent budgetary resources allocated to so-called “green” or clean energy spending.

For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the "stimulus" bill, provided $35 billion in addition to research and development grants and loans, via the Department of Energy, to the alternative energy sector. President Obama also has consistently called for more energy-related spending in his annual budgets. For fiscal year 2014, the Administration requested $989 million -- a 40 percent increase compared to FY 2013. It is unclear how this amount will change as Congressional leaders debate the Continuing budgetary Resolution.

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



Missed an Issue?

Issue 32 - Sept 13
Local Jobs for America Act

Issue 31 - Sept 6
Temporary Stimulus Programs Beyond Max Life

Issue 30 - Aug 23
Benefits for Former Presidents

Issue 29 - Aug 16
Statehood and Autonomy for the District of Columbia

Issue 28 - Aug 2
NTUF Commemorates Milton Friedman's Work Just Blocks from White House


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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