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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #9

March 8, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 9 March 8, 2013

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!


Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 868, the Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $360 million ($720 million two-year cost)

In the wake of the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ) has introduced a bill that would create a new federal gun buyback program. A buyback program allows a governing entity to pay a gun owner to surrender his or her firearm. In many instances, buyback programs are not directed at any one type of gun but instead offer owners compensation for a variety of firearms. H.R. 868 would limit the buyback program to fourteen types of guns that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has identified as commonly used in crimes. Various semiautomatic pistols, two types of revolvers, and one kind of shotgun are mentioned in the bill. It does not include funding for buybacks of hunting or so-called "assault rifles."

To administer the buyback programs, H.R. 868 would award funds to state and local governments. Grants could also be distributed to gun dealers. Those participating dealers would be allowed to offer gun owners at least 125 percent of the gun's value, and payouts could include after-market modifications or attachments. They would be required to turn any guns acquired through the program over to the local government or the nearest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office.

Local governments would use 10 percent of the total funds for a program to recycle the firearms they receive "to make street signs, energy efficient washing machines, car parts, energy efficient refrigerators, or other steel parts such as railroad or metro tracks."

As seen in the larger gun control debate going on across the country, two sides have emerged in the dispute over whether or not buyback programs are effective. Representative Payne said, "[a]lthough no one piece of legislation will eliminate all gun violence, [H.R. 868] is unlike any other in that it targets the most widely used guns in violent crimes. Many of these guns are old, they’re sold for little to nothing on the streets to young kids, and so they are very easy for criminals to get their hands on. Because these guns are sold at a higher value than market price, gun owners have an even greater incentive to trade in their old guns." On the other hand, The Daily Beast points to a 2004 National Research Council report, which says that "[t]he people most likely to commit crimes are also the people least likely to turn in their weapons, research has found. And the highest-risk weapons are the least likely to be traded in at buybacks."

If enacted, the Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act would authorize $720 million in new federal spending over a two-year period. Of the total, at least $576 million would be required to be spent on gun buyback compensation, $72 million on recycling purchased guns, and $72 million on related administrative expenses. Based on current gun prices ($627 for an average Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, which would equal $783.75 at the program's 125 percent market rate payout), the $576 million could result in a buyback of up to 734,928 guns. There are no offsets included in the proposal.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 351/S. 351, the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act of 2013

Annualized Savings: $15 million (first-year savings)

Number of Cosponsors: 137 Congressmen and 31 Senators

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is one of the new health care entities created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Its goal is to reduce the rising costs of the Medicare program as the number of retiring Americans continues to increase. As enacted into law, IPAB consists of 15 members that determine ways to keep per capita Medicare costs down. Its recommendations are reviewed among Board members and, unless Congress actively blocks the measures, are enacted into law. This represents a departure from past cost-advisory committees because unlike IPAB's predecessor, the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (or MedPAC), IPAB has the legal authority to make direct changes to Medicare law.

The Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act would repeal IPAB in its entirety, and has been re-introduced in the 113th Congress by Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in their respective chambers. According to the United States Code, initial IPAB funding was set at $15 million for Fiscal Year 2012, and will be adjusted for inflation every year thereafter. IPAB will receive an additional $44,000 under this adjustment for Fiscal Year 2013. Under BillTally methodology, NTUF rounds to the nearest million dollars, reflected by the $15 million in first-year savings we assigned to H.R. 351 and S. 351.

When the ACA was being finalized, CBO theorized that IPAB would likely save the federal government money. However, any savings that might actually be realized remain uncertain because it is not clear how effective the Board will be in containing costs, and how Congress will address IPAB's recommendations and actions in the future. As a result, NTUF only considered the projected spending required for IPAB to operate.

Cosponsors in the House include 10 Democrats and 127 Republicans. All current supporters of S. 351 caucus with the Republican Party.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


The Wildcard

The Bill: H.R. 611, the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Prevention, Education, and Research Act of 2013

Annualized Savings: $20 million ($100 million over five years)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 24,000 Americans have been infected with Lyme disease. The bacterial infection is the result of a transmission from rodents to humans, with ticks acting as carriers between them. Almost every state reported someone being infected in 2011 but a majority of cases (96 percent) occur in the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, and New England regions.

H.R. 611 would attempt to combat Lyme disease by allocating more federal tax dollars to prevention and reporting activities. To decrease the number of Lyme disease infections, federal health agencies would be required to create a comprehensive research database and to educate the public on the dangers of contracting Lyme disease. If enacted, H.R. 611 would also authorize more funding for scientific conferences dedicated to tick-borne illnesses. For more accuracy in detection, a diagnostic test would be developed to determine if an individual has or has had Lyme disease.

The bill, sponsored by Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ),would also create a 12-member advisory committee to help coordinate government activities in addressing Lyme disease.

The text of H.R. 611 authorizes $100 million to be spent over the FY 2014-2018 period.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.

 

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The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 828/S. 379, the Decrease Spending Now Act

Annualized Savings: $9 billion ($45 billion over five years)

Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) have recently introduced the Decrease Spending Now Act in their respective chambers. The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to identify and rescind $45 billion in unobligated funds, which are unspent tax dollars that have not yet been dedicated or appropriated for a specific purpose.

"Leaving billions of taxpayer dollars to gather dust in federal coffers only encourages fiscal irresponsibility," Representative Price said. "By rescinding this unspent and unobligated money -- funds that the government can clearly do without -- we can contribute to the larger goal of breaking the government's habit of borrowing and spending money we cannot afford." Senator Rubio added, "[l]et's reform the spending culture in Washington so that unspent and unnecessarily borrowed money is rescinded and dedicated to pay down the debt, instead of letting it sit around until someone decides to spend it."

Although the bill requires the rescissions to be reported to Congress within 60 days, NTUF assumes that it would likely take multiple years to fully realize all $45 billion in savings. The assumption is based on recent scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in which rescissions of unobligated funds were expected to impact the budget over several years. In the 112th Congress, there were at least four bills for which CBO made such a conclusion in addition to one introduced in the 109th Congress.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


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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.

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!

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.

 

 



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