Taxpayer's Tab: H.R. 5035, National Shipbuilding Budget Policy Act

Vol. 1 Issue 2 July 13, 2010

Welcome to the second issue of 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.

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The bill: H.R. 5035, National Shipbuilding Budget Policy Act

Annualized cost: $7.219 billion (first-year cost)

Congressman Robert Wittman's (VA-1) sponsored H.R. 5035 authorizing new spending for both the US Navy and US Merchant Marine fleets. The Navy would receive $20 billion to meet its force requirements -- about 292 vessels in the near-term of 2011-2020. $60 million would go toward replacing and expanding Merchant Marine fleet ships. The Journal of Commerce points out the bill is warranted because "the Obama administration's fiscal 2011 budget does not provide any new funds for Title XI construction. It only provides money for administration of existing loans."

As Co-Chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, Wittman stated "unless new ship construction budgets are increased and sustained above the current projected levels, the fleet will continue to shrink and ships will continue to be acquired inefficiently. We're already well behind in funding for maintenances and acquisition and, we can't afford inefficiencies in these times of tighter budgets."

The act would increase federal spending on ship building by $7.219 billion from its current $13 billion budget levels.

Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The bill: H.R. 5615, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the medical device tax, and for other purposes

Annualized Savings: $31.2 billion ($156 billion over five years)

The medical device tax was established by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act as a 2.3% excise fee on manufacturers, producers, and/or importers of most medically-related products with some exceptions including eyeglasses, contact lenses, and hearing aids. H.R. 5615 repeals the tax and rescinds unobligated discretionary spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the "stimulus"). Representative Brian Bilbary (CA-50) says "you don't kill health care jobs to pay for health care… job creation must be our number one priority."

Similar bills have been introduced to repeal the excise tax, such as Congressman Erik Paulsen's (MN-3) H.R. 5095, the Protect Medical Innovation Act. The difference is H.R. 5615 includes the offset of unspent stimulus funds and so counts as a savings bill under the BillTally methodology, which only tracks the outlay effects of legislation and does not include changes in revenues.

Most Friended

The bill: H.R. 2076, Border Security and Responsibility Act

Number of cosponsors: 26 Congressmen

Congressman Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) sponsored H.R. 2076 to "help secure and conserve public and tribal lands along the international land borders of the United States." Provisions include improving coordination and flexibility between federal, state, and local governments and law enforcement entities, giving more power to local officials in border security matters, and ensuring environmental laws are not violated with border security measures.

Based off a recent media report, the act would have an annualized cost of $8 million ($40 million spent over five years). H.R. 2076 would change laws established in the Secure Fence and REAL ID Acts.

House cosponsors are currently all Democrats and principally from southern Border States.

The Wildcard

The Bill: S. 199/H.R. 5500, Steel Industry National Historic Site Act

Annualized Cost: $6 million ($30 million over 5 years)

S. 199 would establish a site in Pennsylvania as a unit of the National Park System to symbolize the importance of the steel industry as a part of our national heritage. The act includes three locations within the Pittsburgh-metro area cities of Rankin and Munhall, Pennsylvania. While the land would be obtained through donations, the Department of the Interior would be responsible for technical assistance as well as site management and preservation.

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!

The Taxpayer's Tab 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. Cost estimates are preliminary and are subject to change.