Vol. 1 Issue 15 October 14, 2010
Welcome to the Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project.
Since 1991, NTUF has computed the legislative spending agendas of Members of Congress by analyzing the costs -- and savings -- of the bills that they sponsor and cosponsor. Our goal is to provide you with objective information about what Congress wants to do with your tax dollars in an open and transparent manner.
Each week, NTUF will bring you updates on the week's most and least expensive bills, the ones with the most cosponsors ("the most friended"), and a few bills we've termed Wildcards -- bills that we think you might find interesting.
For more information on the National Taxpayers Union Foundation or the BillTally Project, check out our website and methodology.
In Case You Missed It
- On Tuesday, NTU Foundation released federal budget spending agenda reports for two of Pennsylvania's senatorial candidates, Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak. NTUF's analysis of the Pennsylvania candidates' agendas is one of serveral the group is current conducting.
- NTU Foundation also released its latest BillTally Quarterly Report in last week's Taxpayer's Tab. In the past 22 months since the 111th Congress first convened, NTUF has read, reviewed, and researched nearly 10,000 pieces of legislation. We've developed cost estimates for 2,418 of them. The report also includes detailed analyses of both the House and Senate, including average numbers of bills introduced, up-to-date net spending agendas, and the top spending and savings bills introduced so far.
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 3312, Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act
Annualized Cost: $3.9 billion (first year cost)
Sponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-17), H.R. 3312 focuses on pregnancy education, early childhood medical care, and family planning services. The Act "brings traditionally opposing groups together behind programs that prevent unintended pregnancies and programs that support pregnant women and new mothers in an attempt to dramatically reduce the need for abortion in America." The Congressional Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Caucuses both support the bill. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), cosponsor and Pro-Choice Caucus member, said the bill "demonstrates how we [Congress] move forward together - fulfilling an issue President Obama has repeatedly talked about: finding common ground on abortion."
The bill would authorize more funding for after-school programs -- such as TRIO and GEAR UP -- and community college pregnancy prevention grants. H.R. 3312 would also give grants to states for preventing teen pregnancy and enlisting parents of adolescents in those initiatives. Family Planning Services and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are reauthorized with increased funding levels.
If enacted, H.R. 3312 would result in $3.9 billion in new government spending. The total current spending is $13.9 billion for existing programs like WIC and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers serve as a baseline and does not count towards the total annualized cost.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 3452, Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act
Annualized Cost: $3 million ($16 million over five years)
S. 3452 would transfer the Valles Caldera Preserve -- an 89,000 acre New Mexican trust -- from the Forest Service to the National Park Service. The bill would require the development of a management plan. The plan would assist in the operation of the preserve's science and education center. Feasibility studies would determine the viability of acquiring an additional 40 acres of private land.
The management plans and feasibility studies would be conducted over the next three years. The plans would assist in the operation of the preserve's science and education center, while studies would help in the acquisition of 40 acres of private land nearby. Commercial activities, such as mining, would also be eliminated from the preserve.
Sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM), the act would increase spending by $16 million over the next five years. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), additional funding could be required over the next ten years for maintenance and site administration.
The Bill: H.R. 775/S. 535, Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act
Number of Cosponsors: 352 Congressmen and 60 Senators
Among other plans and payment options, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers surviving familes of former military personnel with two ways to receive their family member's retirement pay. The two main options Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) offer surviving spouses monthly payments similar to Social Security and pension checks. As part of the current rules for DIC and SBP, a cap limits how much spouses can receive concurrently from the programs.
H.R. 775 and S. 535 would repeal the offsetting limitation. Instead of receiving reduced payments, spouses would receive the full amounts entitled to them. The bills were introduced by Congressman Solomon Ortiz (TX-27) and Senator Bill Nelson (FL).
According to CBO, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act would have an annualized cost of $615 million and would increase spending by approximately $3 billion over five years.
The Bill: H.R. 6061/S. 3681, Presidential Funding Act of 2010
Annualized Cost: $275 million ($1.1 billion over four years)
Congressman David Price (NC-4) and Senator Russ Feingold (WI) have sponsored the Presidential Funding Act in their respective chambers. The bill would increase the amount of public funding for presidential campaigns instead of continuing to rely on private contributions. It requires the disclosure of all individuals and/or groups who make donations to those campaigns. The Presidential Funding Act also eliminates public funding for national party conventions.
A key difference between H.R. 6061 and S. 3681 is that the Senate bill's costs are offset by reforms to the federal irrigation subsidy program, estimated to "save at least $4.4 billion over 10 years… ." The offsetting provision in S. 3681 results in a "No Cost" score. However, H.R. 6061 does not include an offset and would then result in $1.1 billion in new spending over four years.
We Want You!
NTUF is looking for late summer/fall associate policy analysts to participate in our internship program. Associates assist with BillTally research and other policy projects. Academic credit and a stipend are possible. Email questions to email@example.com. To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!
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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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.