BillTally Report: Lawmakers Kick Off New Congress with New Spending
As taxpayers and Members of Congress saw last week, National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released the findings of our BillTally research for the first six months of 2013. After combing through the thousands of bills introduces thus far, NTUF identified a total 668 bills that would impact federal spending. On net, 554 bills would increase outlays while 114 would cut spending -- a ratio of nearly five increases for each cut. Excluding the overlapping measures, if Congress passed all of these bills, annual expenditures would rise by a net $1.28 trillion, boosting current total outlays by over 30 percent.
Though the findings may be discouraging during a time where Congress ought to be finding ways to rein in out of control spending and debt, the two Chambers did take different approaches. The House was the source of much of the spending increases. Representatives proposed a net $1.2 trillion in increases per year, most of which would occur under a bill that would impose a single-payer health care system on all U.S. residents. If this bill and a related universal health care plan were not introduced, the House would still have supported a net $36 billion growth in government.
On the other hand, the net impact of legislation offered in the Senate would lead to a $46.8 billion per year reduction in spending, a net of $248 billion in increases and nearly $295 billion in savings.
While it remains to be seen whether the Senate will adhere to its current net savings agenda or if Members of the House will seek greater cuts throughout the remainder of the 113th Congress, BillTally data indicates that we may have already seen the bulk of cuts that will be introduced. NTUF found 53 percent of all the savings bills in the 112th Congress were introduced during the first six months, and over 77 percent were introduced by the end of the first year.
In order to help taxpayers best understand exactly what kind of budget that Members of the 113th Congress are supporting, we have created several summaries and infrographics of the BillTally results:
- Further Reading
Defense Spending Proposals and the Budget
One of the notable features of the BillTally system is that it allows taxpayers to track spending proposals focused on specific issue areas. In the latest report, we broke down the data for each Chamber according to these categories, which range from agriculture to infrastructure and many others in between.
In recent years, Congress has consistently proposed very expensive agendas in the areas of health care and economic stimulus, especially, which is often the result of single-payer reform bills and broad job creation measures, respectively, that cost hundreds of billions -- if not trillions -- of dollars per year. However, in the first six months of the 113th Congress, there have been other noteworthy trends, one of which centers around the issue of national defense spending.
The House proposed just two bills that would increase defense-related spending at a total cost of $22 million, or $11 million per year on average. The Senate also proposed two bills that would grow the Pentagon budget, but at a much higher cost: $6.4 billion total, or $3.2 billion per year on average.
Interestingly, the Republican-controlled House not only proposed fewer defense spending increases, but also offered more cuts. Representatives introduced two bills that would cut defense-related spending by $22.5 billion (an average of $2.3 billion per year). H.R. 505 accounted to most of the proposed savings, calling for limits on nuclear and other weapons procurements as well as realigning leadership and troop levels. The Senate's single defense cut measure would rescind tax dollars for a new air defense system, a $176 one-time savings.
The two Chambers' differences in defense-related spending proposals could become a point of focus as the budget committee begins discussions on how to move forward with a long-term fiscal plan. Since sequestration cuts took effect earlier this year, lawmakers have debated whether or not those caps should remain in place. Some have argued that they should be replaced with more targeted cuts, while others have pushed to keep them or remove them altogether; either way, the cuts’ effect on the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have been widely noted and will likely be discussed again as part of a potential budget deal.
The Largest Spending and Cut Proposals So Far
In the 113th Congress, over 3300 House and 1640 Senate bills have been introduced. While NTUF continues to analyze and score these measures (as introduced), taxpayers can see the most and least expensive bills we have scored so far. Many of the following bills would accomplish similar politics (for example, the pair of single-payer health care proposals or the multiple rescissions bills). Note: Scores are preliminary, subject to change, and annualized. Cost and savings figures that are linked to corresponding Taxpayer’s Tab articles but may be from previous Congress and/or have been updated with new information.
Spending Cut Bills:
- S. 547, the One Percent Spending Reduction Act of 2013
- S. 173, the Simplified, Manageable, And Responsible Tax (SMART) Act
- H.R. 779, the Access to Insurance for All Americans Act
- H.R. 57, a bill to make 15 percent across-the-board rescissions in non-defense, non-homeland-security, and non-veterans-affairs discretionary spending for each of the fiscal years 2013 and 2014
Spending Increase Bills:
- H.R. 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act
- H.R. 1200, the American Health Security Act of 2013
- S. 627, the Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act
- H.R. 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013
- H.R. 1617, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act
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.
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We Want You!
NTUF is looking for winter and spring 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!
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