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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Taxpayer's Tab

Vol. 2 Issue 42 November 29, 2011

In Case You Missed It

Last week, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation released the most comprehensive and up-to-date research on what the so-called “Super Committee” could implement in the final hours of deliberation. The failure of the committee will result in automatic spending cuts for both discretionary and mandatory spending programs. However, Congress could still act to achieve the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and savings by consulting NTUF’s BillTally savings list. In fact, not only would Congress reach the target savings figure but an additional $300 billion in HALF the required time. The BillTally program measures proposed changes in federal spending using a five budget year window, rather than the ten year window used by the Super Committee.
The “Super Committee Failure Edition” of the Taxpayer’s Tab includes (all figures exclude overlapping provisions):
  • Total proposed saving figures for both chambers through mid-November in the 112th Congress
  • Proposed savings broken out by category
  • Savings bills introduced by party
Be sure to check out the Taxpayer’s Tab “Super Committee Failure Edition” here. The 199 savings bill list of both the House and Senate can be viewed here.
Photo courtesy of Frum Forum

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: S. 1321, Practical Energy Plan Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: $1.4 billion ($6.8 billion over five years)
To reduce America’s dependence on imported oil and address the rise in energy prices, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has introduced the Practical Energy Plan Act. The bill calls for an increase in domestic oil production while improving the nation’s energy efficiency.
S. 1321 would expand domestic oil production by reopening offshore and outer continental shelf zones where drilling has been suspended since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. To augment proven oil reserves, a new tax credit would be established to incentivize oil production from captured carbon. Senator Lugar projects the change in America’s oil sources will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by 6.3 million barrels per day by 2030.
The majority of the Practical Energy Plan Act is devoted to making America more energy efficient. Grants would be awarded to local governments to adopt new building codes and a new revolving loan program would lend funds to manufacturers who outfit facilities with technology that reduce energy needs. Along with new programs, new regulations are imposed on private-sector businesses. By 2015, no less than 50 percent of car manufacturers’ inventories will be permitted to have “fuel choice” vehicles, which are cars and trucks that run on biofuels, natural gas, hydrogen, or batteries.
Federal vehicles would also fall under similar requirements as the private-sector. The Department of Defense would be required to enter into a minimum 20-year contract for alternative fuels. Regulations would also be imposed on new and old government properties to comply with energy savings requirements.
According to the text of the Act, S. 1321 would result in a $6.8 billion cost increase for the federal government over the first five years of enactment. The energy efficiency programs would make up all of the new spending. Provisions related to federal property energy savings and any offsetting receipts from offshore drilling are assumed to have an impact on spending after the first five years.
To learn more or discuss this bill visit

The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 3395, Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: “No Cost” -- Regulation
News reports that the Obama administration was allegedly advancing a 15-cent federal tax on Christmas trees generated a significant amount of online buzz earlier this month. Further investigation showed that the tax was actually sought by the Christmas tree industry itself through a regulatory process established by Republican lawmakers in the 104th Congress.
The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 permitted producers of agricultural commodities such as beef, pork, or popcorn to create what are known as research and promotion programs, or “checkoffs.” These are analogous to unions: producers pay “dues” to the checkoff which works to fund research and advertising efforts on behalf of the industry represented. Board members are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture who also has authority to enforce dues-payment. Because the dues are government-coerced, they are essentially taxes passed on to consumers.
There are currently 18 checkoff programs. And while the Obama administration quickly stopped the Christmas tree tax checkoff program from going into effect, there are still other agricultural commodity groups, such as the hardwood lumber industry, pushing for their own checkoff. There are also efforts to allow the creation of non-agricultural commodity checkoffs.
Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced H.R. 3395 to create the Concrete Masonry Products Board to promote and market concrete products. The Board would be made up of representatives of the concrete industry appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Producers and importers of concrete masonry would initially be assessed $0.01 per concrete masonry unit sold in the United States. The Board will have authority to change the assessment rate, but it can be no higher than $0.05 per unit. The Secretary of Commerce would have authority to levy late-payment and interest charges on those producers who fail to remit an assessment.
The bill would not affect federal spending.
To learn more or discuss this bill visit

Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 2864/H.R. 3421/S.1239, Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act
Annualized Cost: ”No Cost” -- Does Not Meet Cost Threshold
Number of Cosponsors: 187 Congressmen, 78 Congressmen, and 13 Senators
A decade after the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) andSenator Robert Casey (D-PA) have sponsored the Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act. The Act calls for a Congressional Gold Medal to be made for each 9/11 memorial site to commemorate the lives lost, including the first responders, military personnel, foreign nationals, and civilians. Three medals would be produced and one would be displayed in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and near Skanksville, Pennsylvania.
According to a 2007 Congressional Budget Office report, similar gold medals cost approximately $35,000 for the U.S. Mint to produce. The cost may be higher as the price of gold has increased considerably in the last two years. However, the bill does not meet the $1 million minimum spending threshold established in the BillTally methodology and therefore is scored as a No Cost measure.
Cosponsors include:
  • 64 Democrats and 123 Republicans in support of H.R. 2864
  • 26 Democrats and 52 Republicans in support of H.R. 3421
  • 11 Democrats and two Republicans in support of S. 1239
To learn more or discuss this bill visit


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2319, Maximizing America’s Prosperity (MAP) Act of 2011
Annualized Savings:
-$101.6 billion (-$406.5 billion over four years)
Sponsored byCongressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), the MAP Act would cap all non-interest spending by the federal government beginning in FY 2013 and reduce spending as a percentage of GDP over the next decade. The federal government would need to cut spending by $588 billion in the first year to meet the first cap, which limits spending to 19 percent of GDP. Cuts would be required until FY 2021, when government spending would be limited to 16.5 percent of GDP. The bill also requires that the president's budget prioritize programs from most to least essential.
H.R. 2319 would also establish the Federal Agency Sunset Commission. Charged with reviewing every agency for efficiency and need at least once every 12 years, the 12-member panel would make recommendations to Congress as to an agency’s’ future, ranging from simple reauthorizations to outright abolishment.
NTUF has determined that the savings from the cap would lead to a $588 billion spending reduction in FY 2013. However, as the economy and GDP are expected to grow, new spending would be authorized under the cap in fiscal years after 2013, totaling $181.4 billion.
To learn more or discuss this bill

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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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