Check out the Wildcard Bill of the Week section to learn about the measure that could require federal agencies and departments to buy 100 percent American-made uniforms and clothing.
Five Years After Stimulus Enacted, Measures to Extend Spending
This week marked the fifth anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a.k.a., the "stimulus." The traditional gift for a fifth wedding anniversary is wood, it represents the strength and durability of the relationship. However, the lasting economic benefits of this program remain in doubt.
It became obvious that there would be problems showing positive results when the Administration switched from touting how many jobs the Act would create to how many jobs it would "save or create", an even more amorphous metric. Then came arguments that the "stimulus" was ineffective, not because it was poorly conceived, but because it was too small.
BillTally has tracked numerous proposals introduced in Congress that would address that possibility. Among the most expensive legislation we've scored -- after universal health care -- are bills to enact sequels to the "stimulus" Act, including H.R. 870, which would provide over $100 billion a year for full employment. And while by definition, a stimulus should be timely, temporary, and targeted, we have identified several proposals in Congress, and in the President's budget submissions, to extend programs originally established in ARRA. Such proposals would further add to the public debt to implement a top-down approach to the economy at a time when our leaders ought to be finding ways of easing the government's regulatory and tax burdens on individuals and businesses.
The modern gift to celebrate a five-year anniversary is silverware, but in the case of the "stimulus", a Golden Fleece Award would be more fitting.
NTUF: Live and In Person!
Over the weekend, NTU Foundation exhibited at the sixth annual International Students For Liberty Conference (ISFLC) in Washington, DC. Policy Analyst Michael Tasselmyer and Research & Outreach Manager Dan Barrett joined with staff from NTU to play the latest game craze to hit the liberty and free-market movement: Cards Against Liberty. Based on Cards Against Humanity, the game challenged conference attendees to fill in the missing word in sentences like "Give me liberty or give me _______!" or "In an election year, I take comfort in _______." The goal is to find creative combinations of political and pop culture phrases.
With over 200 entries in the game, we were encouraged by the enthusiasm of America's up-and-coming generation of liberty-minded leaders. We welcome our new ISFLC attendees readers and look forward to their feedback, support, and internship applications(!) over the coming years.
To see more of what NTU Foundation does at conferences and other events check out our Flickr page, where we shared pictures of our posters and the witty and insightful responses to Cards Against Liberty.
Additionally, NTUF will bring Cards Against Liberty to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held at the National Harbor just outside of Washington, DC, March 6-8. Come by our booth and see what all of the ISFLC attendees were talking about!
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 3984, the Supporting Early Learning Act
Annualized Cost: $350 million (first-year cost)
Education policy has taken a front seat in Washington lately. Aside from the President’s proposals in last month's State of the Union address, Congress spent much of last summer debating how to make college more affordable for those who need to finance their studies with federal loans. And, according to NTUF's analysis, education proposals were the most popular agenda item in the House of Representatives; in the Senate, only healthcare and agriculture legislation appeared more frequently.
Recently, Congressman James Himes (D-CT) introduced the Supporting Early Learning Act. H.R. 3984 would establish two new competitive grant programs designed to incentivize states to put more resources into developing and improving pre-kindergarten education programs. The grants would reward states that show progress in their existing programs. In order to qualify for the funding, States would be required to submit applications to the Department of Education outlining how they plan to improve students' physical, emotional, and cognitive development through school programming. Additionally, they would be required to submit a detailed description of the benchmarks and standards they would use in order to gauge their effectiveness. The "primary indicator" of a State's success, according to the bill's text, would be an increase in the percentage of low-income students enrolled in high-performing programs.
In a press release, Rep. Himes argued that "[e]arly education investments have been shown to increase rates of high school graduation, college attendance, and college completion. They raise the quality of the workforce, enhance the productivity of schools, and reduce crime, teenage pregnancy, and dependency on the social safety nets." The grants would place particular emphasis on improving educational outcomes for students in low-income families. It should be noted that recent studies have not been able to identify any statistically-significant, lasting benefits for participants in Head Start.
The text of the Supporting Early Learning Act authorizes $350 million in the first year to fund the new grant programs. This would supplement existing federal expenditures on early education programs. The recently enacted FY 2014 omnibus spending bill included a $1 billion increase for Head Start, bringing total funding to $8.6 billion. Of this amount, $500 million was reserved for Early Head Start, which subsidizes programs for low-income families with infants up through age three. An additional $250 million was provided in the omnibus to "to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs."
To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.
The Bill: S. 2001, the Wear American Act of 2014
Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Regulatory
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia underway, newscasters and commentators have noted that the uniforms worn by the U.S. athletes in the opening ceremony were made in America. That seemingly minor detail was a public relations mess for designer Ralph Lauren in 2012, when it was revealed that the U.S. team's opening ceremony uniforms for the Beijing, China Summer Olympics were actually manufactured in China.
The issue quickly made its way to Capitol Hill, as Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and others wrote an open letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee criticizing the use of foreign-made uniforms on the Olympic stage. In January, Senator Brown followed up by introducing the Wear American Act. The bill would prohibit all federal agencies that purchase textile products from buying anything less than 100 percent American-made articles. Under current law, government agencies must only buy textiles that are 51 percent or above American-made.
Senator Brown's office estimates that the U.S. spends nearly $1.5 billion on "foreign-made products" every year, which presumably includes clothing and uniforms for federal workers. Speaking to ABC News, Brown said that "[this legislation] is real help for small business, and U.S. taxpayers have a right to know that the dollars they're spending are creating jobs in our communities."
NTUF has scored Senator Brown's bill as "no cost" legislation: due to its regulatory nature it is unlikely to significantly or directly affect federal outlays. However, it should be noted that there is a possibility for American made clothing to cost more than imported textiles and could limit the amounts of new clothing that government entities are able to purchase. NTUF assumes that agencies would not receive new funding to make up for any such shortfall. The bill would also mandate training for the appropriate acquisition personnel to make sure they are aware of the requirements of this bill, but it is assumed that this would have a negligible cost.
To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.
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Welcome to The Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project. For more information, check out NTUF's BillTally Project and our partner, WashingtonWatch.com!
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Missed an Issue?
Issue 6 - Feb 13
Veterans’ Benefits Reform: One Bill, Billions of Dollars
Issue 5 - Feb 6
Warning to Washington: Stop Overspending
Issue 4 - Jan 30
Obama's State of the Union Address Would Cost $40 Billion
Issue 3 - Jan 23
Legal Workforce Act
Issue 2 - Jan 16
Building and Repairing Infrastructure with Domestic Gains in Employment (BRIDGE) Act
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