Taxpayer's Tab: H.R. 1397, the Project Rebuild Act of 2013

Vol. 4 Issue 14, April 19, 2013

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of those affected by the horrific and cowardly attacks at the Boston Marathon and the tragic explosion in West, Texas.   

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The Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1397, the Project Rebuild Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $2.9 billion ($14.7 billion over five years)

In September of 2011, President Obama sent to Congress a legislative package, known as the American Jobs Act. The purpose of the Act was to serve as a successor to his original 2009 "stimulus" bill and direct an additional $170 billion (over five years) into job creation and stabilization programs. Many of the proposal's sections were introduced as individual bills in the previous Congress and some are also being proposed anew this year. Among these, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has re-introduced the Project Rebuild Act. The new program would authorize $15 billion "to create jobs and reinvest in communities through the rehabilitation of abandoned and foreclosed residential and commercial properties."

Representative Waters said that "Project Rebuild will help stabilize neighborhoods and reverse the rapid decline of our cities and towns. ... And because the housing market recovery continues to be extremely fragile, Project Rebuild is an essential part of maintaining this recovery and helping to bring our economy back."

In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the $15 billion authorization for Project Rebuild in the President's American Jobs Act would result in $14.7 billion in outlays over five years, with an additional $150 million in the sixth budget year. The President's new FY 2014 budget proposal would also enact Project Rebuild and estimates that it would result in $15 billion in new spending from FY 2014 to FY 2017 (see page 202). NTUF will use the original CBO estimate but will update the estimate if new information becomes available.

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The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 951, the Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional (WIN) Jobs Act

Annualized Cost: $20 million ($100 million over five years)

According to the most recent Department of Labor statistics, at least 116 occupations are designated as nontraditional jobs for women. The term is used when an occupation has a total female gender makeup of 25 percent or lower. Many of the professions involve heavy industrial or physical labor (such as machinists or firefighters) or work in scientific or technological fields (e.g., chemical engineers or computer network administrators). Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) has introduced a measure that would seek to increase the number of women in these "nontraditional jobs."

The Women WIN Jobs Act would create a program to award grants to state governments to coordinate partnerships with community-based organizations, business associations, registered apprenticeship programs, or public postsecondary education entity, for a number of purposes:

  • Provide technical assistance for apprenticeships to enroll more women in nontraditional occupations;
  • Develop policies and protocols that set goals for hiring of a specific percentage of women into apprenticeships and permanent employment openings in publicly assisted projects;
  • Engage in public education and outreach to overcome stereotypes about women in nontraditional occupations; and
  • Pay for training and technical assistance to overcome gender inequality among employers, apprenticeship programs, and State equal employment opportunity and affirmative action agencies.

The legislation would also establish a 15-member commission to examine and make recommendations for improving the status of women in high-demand, high-wage nontraditional occupations.

According to the text of the bill, H.R. 951 would increase spending by $100 million over a five-year period. The Women WIN Jobs Act was offered as an amendment to H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, but was not included in the version passed by the House.

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Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 138/S. 33, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 86 Congressmen and 21 Senators

Citing multiple mass shootings that have occurred over the past several years, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have re-introduced legislation to prohibit the sale and transfer of large capacity gun magazines. A large capacity ammunition feeding device is defined as a gun magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device made after 1994 that can contain or be converted to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. If enacted, only law enforcement officers would be allowed to transfer these devices or have on in their possession. Violators of the new law would be subject to fines and/or imprisoned up to ten years. The measure would reinstitute a similar ban that expired in 2004.

H.R. 138 and S. 33 would increase the amount of gun control-related regulations already in effect and would likely have a negligible administrative cost. Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms, and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation already charged with gun enforcement would work with local entities to enforce the ban. The legislation could potentially impact costs for the Federal Bureau of Prisons if the level of imprisonment increases, but given recent estimates that the cost per federal prisoners is $29,000 per year, this likely would not have a significant budgetary impact.

All 86 cosponsors of H.R. 138 are members of the Democratic Party and all 21 Senate supporters of S. 33 caucus with the Democratic Party.

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The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: S. 334, a bill to terminate agricultural direct payments beginning with the 2013 crop year

Annualized Savings: $3.0 billion ($14.9 billion over five years)

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt's enacted New Deal spending programs helped establish our contemporary agricultural subsidy system. The intention of the payments is to regulate the amount of food produced so that the price of farm products would stabilize and increase in tough economic times. A drop in prices of crops would trigger traditional subsidies to be awarded, sometimes without regard to how much these farms produced. The system remained largely the same until 1996, when direct cash payments were used to wean farmers and the agricultural industry off of the welfare-like payments. The measure was intended to be a short-term policy but was renewed in the 2002 and 2008 Farm bills.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) proposed S. 334, which would terminate all agricultural direct payments immediately. "Direct payments were designed to be temporary, and instead, have become an unnecessary giveaway, one we can’t afford, and it’s time for it to end," Senator McCaskill said.

According to the President's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget that was released last week, eliminating direct payments to farmers and agricultural businesses would reduce spending by $13.2 billion in the FY2014-2018 period. NTUF also applied half of the yearly amount of $1.65 billion to the current Fiscal Year, which we are halfway through, as specified in the bill.

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