Taxpayer's Tab: H.R. 1686, the Trash Reduction Act of 2013

Vol. 4 Issue 15 April 25, 2013

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Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1686, the Trash Reduction Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $4.08 billion (first-year cost)

On April 23, one day after Earth Day, Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) re-introduced H.R. 1686, the Trash Reduction Act of 2013. The bill would impose a five-cent tax on every paper or plastic disposable bag that retailers issue to consumers. Businesses would be solely responsible to collect the fee. Some bags would be exempt from the tax, including reusable bags and those used for garbage or pet waste disposal.

Tax dollars would go to a new Land and Water Conservation Fund. Eighty percent of the taxes collected would be directed into the Fund and used to finance various conservation programs and construction of outdoor recreation areas. A new nonrefundable tax credit payment to retailers who participate in bag recycling programs would make up the remaining twenty percent of revenues.

Representative Moran said that he modeled the legislation after existing "bag tax" programs in Washington, D.C., which neighbors his own District. On the bill's introduction, he said "[t]his small disposable bag charge helps people understand that paper and plastic bags are not without cost. They impact the environment, support foreign dictators, and make Everest's of trash. Our bill begins to shift America away from its current disposable culture back to a simpler time when Americans understood the value of reusing what they bought."

According to Moran's office, Americans used over 102 billion plastic bags in 2009. Based on that data, NTUF estimates that the 5 cent tax could generate up to $4.08 billion in its first Fiscal Year to be spent on Land and Water Conservation Fund programs (tax revenues  and non-refundable credits are not counted under BillTally rules). It is unclear whether there would be significant administrative costs associated with the legislation. It is also unclear to what degree consumers would seek to avoid the new tax.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 1202/S. 547, One Percent Spending Reduction Act of 2013

Annualized Savings: $99.5 billion ($199 billion over two years)*

Earlier this year, NTUF scored a set of four bills introduced by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to cut the federal budget over the next two years. The bills would institute across-the-board rescissions in discretionary spending (excluding defense, homeland security, and veterans programs) by 1, 5, 10, or 15 percent. In implementation, the rescissions would work in a similar fashion as the triggered automatic cuts known as sequestration.

In a related proposal, Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) and Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) have introduced the One Percent Spending Reduction Act. If the House version is enacted, total combined discretionary and mandatory spending for each year through FY 2018 would be capped at the previous Fiscal Year's level, less one percent. H.R. 2012 would take Fiscal Year 2013's outlay total (which, according to the recently released budget, is estimated to reach $3.5 trillion), and reduce that by one percent annually. Starting in FY 2019, total spending would be capped at 18 percent of GDP.

Senator Enzi's bill specifies a lower starting point for FY 2014's spending cap, $3.3 trillion, which would then be reduced by one percent annually to set the caps through FY 2016. Starting in FY 2017, total spending would be capped at 19 percent of GDP.

Under both versions of the proposal, if Congress fails to act to keep spending under the caps in any year, cuts would be made in the following Fiscal Year using sequestration.

Using baseline figures from the President's proposed FY 2014 budget, NTUF determined that the Senate version of the One Percent Spending Reduction Act would reduce federal outlays by $166 billion in its first year, and by an additional $33 billion in the second year. BillTally rules specify that cost estimates for budget caps are limited to a two-year window due to uncertainty regarding Congress's long-term adherence to the caps.

* This savings figure is for Senator Enzi's S. 547. H.R. 1202 would cut spending by $35 billion in its first year, and by an additional $34 billion in its second year.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 1195, International Conservation Corps Act of 2013

Annualized Savings: $10 million ($50 million over five years)

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced legislation to reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This $64 billion proposal (see Issue 5 of The Taxpayer's Tab), would revive a New Deal program that put unemployed individuals to work on infrastructure and conservation projects around the nation during the Great Depression. New legislation seeks to create a related Conservation Corps with a global reach.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced H.R. 1195 to assist conservation efforts in foreign countries. The program would be run by the Department of the Interior with input from the State Department regarding eligible countries. Nonprofit organizations in the selected countries would be given technical and logistical assistance for a range of conservation-related tasks including: developing and managing parks and other cultural heritage areas, protecting wildlife, and creating ways to sustain natural resources. Groups could also use the funds to recruit volunteers to participate in projects.

Representative Moran said "[j]ust as Peace Corps volunteers the civil society of developing nations, International Conservation Corps volunteers would help foreign countries build their capacity to become better stewards of their natural resources, ensuring more sustainable growth in these nations."

The text of the bill is identical to H.R. 6422 in the previous Congress except for an additional section in that bill to authorize $10 million a year for the International Conservation Corps. H.R. 1195 includes no information regarding the funding of this new program; NTUF assumes the cost would be the same as the earlier version of the proposal.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


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Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 158 Congressmen

Currently, the federal government regulates the treatment of overtime for certain employees (generally excluding salaried professionals, public safety workers, and specified others). Employees that work more than 40 hours in a week must be compensated at time-and-a-half for each additional hour worked. Public-sector employees have an additional option regarding overtime that is unavailable to most workers in the private sector. They can receive comp (compensatory) time off in lieu of collecting overtime pay.

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) sponsored a bill that would extend this option to offer comp time for employees in the private-sector. With the express agreement between employees and their employer, workers could earn up to 160 hours of comp time and would be entitled to cash payments for unused time at the end of the year. Employers would be prohibited from threatening or coercing employees regarding their decision to use or not to use comp time. The Congressional Budget Office reported that the measure would not affect federal spending.

All 158 cosponsors are members of the Republican Party.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

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Issue 11 - Mar 28
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Issue 10 - Mar 22
Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act

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.

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