Our friends at the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), especially Demian Brday, primary researcher for BillTally, have completed their analysis of the 1st session of the 113th Congress, i.e., 2013. At the Washington Times, Jennefer Harper devotes a portion of her "Inside the Beltway" column on Wednesday to NTU's BillTally analysis, writing:
"Old habits die hard. During the first session of the 113th Congress, members of the U.S. House authored 496 spending bills, compared with 112 bills that would save money. U.S. senators, meanwhile, drafted 332 increase bills and 56 savings bills — all this according to “Bill Tally,” an analysis released Wednesday by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
"But wait. Had all 828 of those big-spender wish lists been passed, it would have increased the federal budget by $1.09 trillion. So we need to be careful not to tell our lavish lawmakers what comes after a trillion, so they don’t get any ideas. That goes for the White House, too. Amazingly enough, the study also reports that the number of proposed spending bills is actually the lowest in eight years.
"There are some frugal folk on Capitol Hill, however, both Republicans. Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona proposed spending cuts that would have resulted in $269 billion in savings. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky wins the prize: He offered legislation that would reduce the federal budget the most, the study found — by $317 billion.
"Congress’ agenda still exceeds $1 trillion, as it did during 2011-2012. For concerned taxpayers and fiscal hawks that bottom line may stand out as a sign that legislators are still offering major government-expanding agendas, even with a noted cooling of activity and despite the grim long-term forecast for the federal budget,” says Demian Brady, who led the research."
In their report, "The Tea is Cooling," which summarizes the 1st Session of the 113th Congress (Policy Paper 173, July 10, 2014, aka BillTally Report 113-2
) they write about the effect of the Tea Party on this Congress, including this:
"Many pundits and commentators have been quick – perhaps even eager – to proclaim that the Tea Party is dead. For their part, voters have not always been inclined to agree. Candidates aligned with or reflecting many principles of this limited government movement have pulled out some stunning upsets during this election season. Chief among them is the historic, unprecedented primary-level defeat of a Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. And while the Tea Party’s impact on reducing Congressional spending agendas is still evident, results from the current Congress show that its effect may be cooling.
"Because the Tea Party is largely a localized, grassroots phenomenon supporting an overarching agenda, its participants can sway legislation and the formation of policy, not just the fortunes of candidates. Whatever influence the Tea Party may be exerting on the electoral process, is there a way to analyze its impact on the budget process? Thanks to National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF) BillTally system, the answer is emphatically “yes”.
"The Tea Party freshman class of the previous 112th Congress helped bring the cost of Senators’ and Representatives’ agendas down significantly. During the current 113th Congress, there are still a significant number of lawmakers calling for cuts, but not as many as during the previous Congress and the dollar amount of the proposed cuts is smaller. The data from the last Congress showed a widening chasm between those who would grow the government and those proposing to shrink it. That gap is narrowing this Congress as the average Republican is calling for more modest budgetary pullbacks and the average Democrat, on the other hand, is calling for less budgetary expansion."
Another point made by many pundits and commentators, especially those in the "mainstream media," is that there is not a "dime's worth" of difference between Democrats and Republicans. Well, not so fast. According to the BillTally accounting, the difference, at least in the 1st session of the 113th Congress, there was a significant difference (numbers are in millions of dollars):
- Proposed Increases -- $21,530
- Proposed Cuts -- $3,233
- Net Agendas -- $18,296
- Proposed Increases -- $5,792
- Proposed Cuts -- $164,895
- Net Agendas -- $159,103
U.S. House of Representatives
- Proposed Increases -- $406,795
- Proposed Cuts -- $10,311
- Net Agendas -- $396,483
- Proposed Increases -- $8,633
- Proposed Cuts -- $91,280
- Net Agendas -- $82,647
The NTU also provides another rarely-seen number, comparing "the six fiscally-related House Caucuses," pointing out that of the six, "the Tea Party Caucus would decrease the budget the most." The numbers from the NTU:
- Republican Main Street Partnership: -$31.6 billion (net savings)
- Republican Study Committee: -$99 billion (net savings)
- Tea Party Caucus: -$127.5 billion (net savings)
- Blue Dog Democrats: $94.8 billion
- Congressional Progressive Caucus: $857.1 billion
- Congressional Black Caucus: $735.5 billion
Finally, let's take a look at Arlington County's three representatives in Congress:
- Sen. Mark Warner (D)
- Net Increases -- $1,097
- Net Decreases -- $15
- Net Agenda -- $1,082
- Sen. Tim Kain (D)
- Net Increases -- $3,046
- Net Decreases -- $0
- Net Agenda -- $3,046
- Rep. Jim Moran (D):
- Net Increases -- $78,407
- Net Decreases -- $12,922
- Net Agenda -- $65,485
Finally, NTU provides historical and other data for taxpayers, elected officials, the media, and advocates. Click here for link to the press release and various pieces of information and members database associated with their "Tea is Cooling" BillTally report.
Readers of Growls are urged to communicate frequently with their members of Congress, including about their voting records. Information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:
- Senator Mark Warner (D) - write to him or call (202) 224-2023
- Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
- Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376
Kudos to Demian Brady and the National Taxpayers Union
for their latest BillTally accounting.