Monday, May 20, 2013

Guess who introduced one of the most expensive bills to Congress this year?

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) routinely scores legislation based upon how much money the bill will spend or save. During this 113th Congress, more than 2800 bill have been introduced in the House and Senate.

They recently did a top 10 list of the bills that would enact the largest spending increases - and guess who ended up on the list?

Our very own Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Her bill, H.R. 188, to create a new Civilian Conservation Corps, comes in at $16 billion, making it the sixth most expensive bill introduced so far. She introduced it on January 4th and it was referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training on March 23rd.

The official title:

21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act: To authorize the President to reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps as a means of providing gainful employment to unemployed and underemployed citizens of the United States through the performance of useful public work, and for other purposes.

So Kaptur wants the federal government, which is trillions of dollars in debt, to spend another $16 billion each year to hire people to do work like planting trees, clearing paths and trails in parks and preventing forest fires. Oh - and while they're doing the work, the government will provide housing and transportation for them as well.

Why don't we just hire a bunch of people to dig holes and fill them up?

This would not 'solve' the unemployment problem. It just takes more money from the productive people (those individuals and businesses who are paying taxes) and diverts it to the government for 'busy work.'

And what happens when companies and individuals have less money? They don't hire people to do work for them.

It's a vicious cycle: the more the government takes, the less the people have to spend on purchasing, which means the less demand for products which means the less need for new employees to create the products which means less hiring.

Some would say that government can stimulate an economy by creating a demand. While that is technically true on a temporary basis, it doesn't lead to real growth. We've seen that in the green energy boondoggle where the companies fail the minute the government subsidies (fake demand) end.

So, given the facts of history, why would we spend $16 billion a year for the next four years to pay people to do busy work when we know it won't address the real problem of a lack of jobs?

Economist Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, has the answer (emphasis added):

Back in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration hired more young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps than there were in the U.S. Army. But that never brought unemployment down into single digits at any point during that entire decade. As late as the spring of 1939, the unemployment rate was 20 percent.

Government-created jobs did not mean a net increase in jobs then -- or now. But this is only mundane reality. What makes a great political talking point is government coming to the rescue of the unemployed by creating jobs. That talking point helps politicians get reelected, even if it does nothing for the economy in general or for the unemployment rate.


Here's what NTUF said about the bill:

In 1933, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as one New Deal solution to mass unemployment during the Great Depression. Through 1943, when it was disbanded, the public program employed a total of 2.5 million men to develop natural resources in rural areas (on government lands) and to build infrastructure for conservation purposes. The CCC provided workers with food, clothing, medicine, and barrack-style housing. Workers received a monthly stipend and the the majority of an enrollee's wages would be sent to their families back home.

Now, almost eighty years later, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has introduced legislation to reestablish the CCC. H.R. 188 would employ an unspecified number of jobless citizens to construct and maintain public works. The bill authorizes the President to provide enrollees with "subsistence, clothing, medical attendance and hospitalization, and cash allowance, as may be necessary, during the period they are so employed." Workers would not only labor on projects similar to the original CCC but also on control of plant disease and pests. There is also a provision that would allow the President to assign tasks not explicitly outlined in the bill as he sees fit, as long as it employs otherwise unemployed people.

Here is the complete list of the top 10 most expensive bills introduced to Congress so far:

* H.R. 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Cost: $1.16 trillion

* H.R. 1200, the American Health Security Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Cost: $824.5 billion

* S. 627, the Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act
Sponsor: Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Cost: $108.5 billion

* H.R. 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Cost: $100.5 billion

* H.R. 1617, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Cost: $45.6 billion

* H.R. 188, the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act
Sponsor: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Cost: $16 billion

* H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013
Sponsor: Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Cost: $10.02 billion

* H.R. 808, the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Cost: $10 billion

* H.R. 974/S. 387, the MOVE Freight Act of 2013
Sponsors: Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV)
Cost: $5.6 billion

* S. 108, the IDEA Full Funding Act;
Sponsor: Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
Cost: $5.4 billion

*** Bills are scored as introduced. The NTUF scores are preliminary, subject to change, and annualized.

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