Besides the fact that it wouldn't be much money, about $149 for the year, the offsets required to find the money for this increase are questionable. Sequestration is still in effect (which essentially caps and constantly decreases the federal budget, and Guinta voted for that in 2011), and there is no money just sitting around available for this increase. So Guinta had to use offsets in his bill to come up with the money.
To do this Guinta ends 3 federal programs. These offsets are as follows:
- Any balance in the U.S. Enrichment Corporation Fund is permanently rescinded
- Any funds not yet expended in the Making Home Affordable Program, $2.5 billion to be transferred to the general fund of the Treasury
- Any balance remaining in the DOE ATVM (Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing) Loan Program is rescinded
Let's take these one by one.
The U.S. Enrichment Corporation Fund designated funds to clean up nuclear wastes so that, after the US Enrichment Corporation was privatized in 1998, the Dept of Energy/taxpayers would not be stuck footing the bill for the treatment and disposal of nuclear wastes. The fund was established to prevent an "unfunded environmental liability," in the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell on July 15, 1998. This would leave taxpayers with the bill for nuclear waste clean-up.
Here is what the Dept of Treasury says about its Making Home Affordable Program:
Program Purpose and OverviewGuinta would end a program that helps families keep their homes. Does he have a plan for these people?
In early 2009, Treasury launched the Making Home Affordable® Program (MHA) to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. MHA is only one part of the Obama Administration’s broader efforts to strengthen the housing market.
Since its inception, MHA has helped homeowners avoid foreclosure by providing a variety of solutions to modify or refinance their mortgages, get temporary forbearance if they are unemployed, or transition out of homeownership via a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
The cornerstone of MHA is the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to reduce their monthly mortgage payments to more affordable levels.
Since its launch, Treasury launched additional programs under MHA to help homeowners who are unemployed, “underwater” on their loan (those who owe more on their home than it is currently worth), or struggling with a second lien. It also includes options for homeowners who would like to transition to a more affordable living situation through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. In early 2012, the Obama Administration announced important enhancements to MHA that will expand the pool of eligible borrowers. On June 26, 2014, the Obama Administration extended the application deadline for MHA programs to December 31, 2016.
Finally, here is what the Dept of Energy says about its ATVM program:
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY VEHICLES MANUFACTURING DIRECT LOAN PROGRAMGuinta apparently thinks it isn't necessary to foster innovation and help US manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. This would harm business, cut jobs, limit the production of more affordable vehicles, and hurt the environment, all in one.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) direct loan program was established in Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to support the production of fuel-efficient, advanced technology vehicles and qualifying components in the United States.
The ATVM loan program provides direct loans to automotive or component manufacturers for reequipping, expanding, or establishing manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that produce fuel-efficient advanced technology vehicles or qualifying components, or for engineering integration performed in the U.S. for advanced technology vehicles or qualifying components.
To date, the program has supported the production of more than 4 million advanced technology vehicles and has over $16 billion in remaining loan authority.
LPO is currently accepting new applications for ATVM loans. Prospective applicants are encouraged to review eligibility requirements before applying.
The solution here is a repeal of sequestration, an increase in federal resources through fair taxation, and an end to corporate giveaways and tax loopholes. That would be a good start.
This bill is a publicity stunt. We seniors are used to that by now. It has a nice name, but the small amount of money involved, about $149 for the full year, hardly balances the damage the offsets would cause.