Taxpayers Tab: H.R. 301, New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence

Vol. 2 Issue 6, February 23, 2011

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Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 301, New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence

Annualized Cost: $2.4 billion ($12 billion over five years)

Congressman Randy Forbes (VA-4) introduced H.R. 301 to "tackle U.S. energy dependence and rising gas prices." The bill would require the President to convene a summit to review the progress and promise of maintaining economic performance while increasing environmental sustainability. Prizes would be awarded to scientists, researchers, and schools who achieve one or more of the following seven energy goals:

  • Double CAFÉ standards to 70 MPG while keeping vehicles affordable
  • Cut home and business energy usage in half
  • Make solar power work at the same cost as coal
  • Make the production of biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline
  • Safely and cheaply store carbon emissions from coal-powered plants
  • Safely store or neutralize nuclear waste
  • Produce usable electricity from a nuclear fusion reaction

The bill would establish programs to implement the above goals and to competitively award prizes for the advancement of such technologies. A commission would make recommendations to Congress on how to achieve 50 percent energy independence within ten years and 100 percent within 20 years. The commission would also assess the impact of foreign energy dependence on national security.

Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 25/S. 13, Fair Tax Act of 2011

Annualized Savings: $11.074 billion ($55.371 billion over five years)

As April 15th approaches, Americans are once again reminded of the burden of complying with the Tax Code. Research by NTU shows individuals spend 2.43 billion hours on preparing federal taxes alone. In terms of spending, the IRS's National Taxpayer Advocate estimates "that taxpayers spend $193 billion a year complying with income tax requirements, which amounts to 14 percent of aggregate income tax receipts."

Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA) have each re-introduced a solution in the form of the Fair Tax Act. H.R. 25 and S. 13 would require the existing progressive income tax system -- including withholding, estate, gift, personal, and capital gains taxes -- to be replaced with a national consumption tax. The new tax would be paid at the point of sale for all new products and services with no exceptions. The rate would be set at 23 percent (tax inclusive of the sales price). A prebate would be sent to every American household each month to offset taxes paid for necessities.

The Act would eventually eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), replacing it with a much smaller agency that would administrate the prebate. NTUF assumes the new agency would be similar to the Tax and Trade Bureau, currently funded at $102 million.

NTUF estimates H.R. 25 would result in a net $55.371 billion five-year savings. Spending cuts would result from defunding the IRS and eliminating refundable tax credits. If the monthly prebates are mailed to each household, postage could cost up to $343 million per year.

Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 308/S. 32, Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

Annualized Cost: No Cost - Regulation

Number of Cosponsors: 90 Congressmen and 10 Senators

A large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD) is defined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms, and Explosives (ATF) 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. Between 1994 and 2004, the transfer or sale of LCAFD's and semiautomatic assault weapons was prohibited. Only citizens who registered these weapons or magazines before the ban was established could keep them. After 2004, the federal ban on semiautomatic weapons and their extended magazines ended, allowing states to customize their own gun laws.

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) introduced H.R. 308 to prevent shootings similar to the January shooting that involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8) and 18 others. The bill would put into place a similar ban on high capacity gun magazines as was enacted in 1994. Only members of law enforcement would be allowed to transfer these devices or have one in their possession. Violators of the new law would be subject to fines and/or imprisoned up to ten years.

The bill does not establish a new government agency or provide for new direct spending. Federal agencies such as the ATF and Federal Bureau of Investigation already charged with gun enforcement would work with local police forces to enforce the ban.

Cosponsors include 90 Congressmen and 10 Senators, all of whom are Democrats.

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 365, National Blue Alert Act of 2011

Annualized Cost: $10 million (first-year cost)

To disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13) introduced a bill to establish a national communications network. The new program would be led by a Department of Justice officer who would encourage the establishment and implementation of Blue Alert plans in state and local governments.

H.R. 365 also creates an advisory group to assist states, local governments, law enforcement agencies, and other entities with regards to Blue Alerts. The network was patterned after the Amber Alert system, which broadcasts information on lost or kidnapped children.

Congressman Grimm said the "Act will allow us to act quickly in apprehending suspects, and make it clear that to anyone who chooses to harm our nation's law enforcement officers, that they will be caught." According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 162 federal, state, and local officers were killed in the line of duty in 2010.

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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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.