Property:Drum Major Institute 2007 House Scorecard description

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A

Accountability in Contracting Act +Whether it’s military contractors accepting kickbacks in Iraq, no-bid contracts with a guaranteed profit margin for companies cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, or politically-connected businesses landing lucrative contracts to provide materials to the Department of Education, it is middle-class taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill. With spending on federal contracts reaching more than $400 billion in 2006—more than double the level in 2000—middle-class taxpayers have more incentive than ever to demand efficient spending. Yet lax oversight is provoking increased concern about waste, fraud, and profiteering. Combined with legislation that protects whistleblowers who reveal cases of fraud, this bill represents an important step toward making sure that taxpayer money is spent effectively and efficiently.

C

CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 +This legislation represents a major step toward redirecting U.S. energy usage in a cleaner, more sustainable direction. The bill will save American consumers money at the fuel pump and on their heating bills, reduce air and water pollution, and mitigate the threat of global warming. Like its earlier incarnation, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 this bill recognizes that fossil fuels are not a sustainable option for the nation’s growing energy needs, and that a substantial public investment is needed to jump start the development and promotion of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient technologies. In the short term, this investment would create jobs producing renewable energy and technology. In the long term, new energy sources and more efficient technology promise environmental and public health benefits, as well as lower costs, for the American middle class. The bill also funds the investments in an appropriate way: by repealing taxpayer subsidies to the oil industry, which is already making booming profits at the expense of middle-class consumers. This legislation also goes beyond what the original CLEAN Energy Act attempted by establishing a Renewable Electricity Standard and stricter fuel economy standards for cars. These improvements marshal even more of the nation’s resources in support of conservation and a shift toward renewable energy, building on advances already adopted in many states to create a more sustainable energy future for the nation.
Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 +SCHIP has been highly successful at reducing the number of uninsured children, but a lack of funding has limited its reach, leaving 9 million American children uninsured in 2006. The shortfall has consequences, not only for children’s individual health and well-being, but for society as a whole, which bears the cost of preventable emergency room visits from children who never got preventive care. By renewing SCHIP and expanding it to more low- and middle-income children, this bill offers children a healthy start in life. Steeply rising costs over the past several years have made health coverage unaffordable, not only for the poor, but also for a growing number of middle-class families. Since 2000, the premium that the average American employee pays for health coverage has risen more than 83 percent, increasing more than four times faster than wages. At the same time, more employers are dropping insurance plans entirely, and coverage is even more expensive for Americans who must purchase it themselves on the open market. Being able to take a child to the doctor for regular check-ups and immunizations is fundamental to a middle-class standard of living.
College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 +In today’s world, a college education is increasingly necessary to attain a middle-class standard of living. A college-educated workforce is also critical to the nation’s economic strength. Yet the cost of college, and the amount of debt students must take on to afford it, is rising rapidly. The value of federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grants, has failed to keep pace with rising college costs, while many states have reduced their support for public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of students at four-year colleges must now borrow to finance their college education, and the typical student borrower now graduates with nearly $20,000 in debt—and some with much more. The prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt deters some students, especially those from lower-income families, from pursuing college entirely. Meanwhile, the need to pay off costly student loans makes it impractical for many graduates to pursue public service careers in essential fields such as teaching or social work. For many young people, the burden of student loan debt makes it difficult to make ends meet on a daily basis, much less support a family or begin to save for retirement. Through its wide array of measures to make a college education more affordable—including the groundbreaking effort to encourage colleges not to raise tuition, while prodding states to strengthen their investment in higher education—this bill will help millions of American young people attend college and begin their working lives without such an overwhelming burden of debt., In today’s world, a college education is increasingly necessary to attain a middle-class standard of living. A college-educated workforce is also critical to the nation’s economic strength. Yet the cost of college, and the amount of debt students must take on to afford it, is rising rapidly. The value of federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grants, has failed to keep pace with rising college costs, while many states have reduced their support for public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of students at four-year colleges must now borrow to finance their college education, and the typical student borrower now graduates with nearly $20,000 in debt—and some with much more. The prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt deters some students, especially those from lower-income families, from pursuing college entirely. Meanwhile, the need to pay off costly student loans makes it impractical for many graduates to pursue public service careers in essential fields such as teaching or social work. For many young people, the burden of student loan debt makes it difficult to make ends meet on a daily basis, much less support a family or begin to save for retirement. Through its wide array of measures to make a college education more affordable—including the groundbreaking effort to encourage colleges not to raise tuition, while prodding states to strengthen their investment in higher education—this bill will help millions of American young people attend college and begin their working lives without such an overwhelming burden of debt.

F

Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 +At less than $11,000 a year for a full-time worker, the federal minimum wage is a poverty wage. It is a rate at which it is impossible for working Americans to independently pay their rent, feed their families or get needed medical care—much less save for the types of investments that make it possible to work one’s way into the middle class, like an education, a first home or the chance to start a business. Contrary to the stereotype of the minimum wage worker as a teenager with nothing to purchase but junk food and movie tickets, the typical minimum wage worker is an adult providing more than half of his or her family’s total earnings. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of families with a worker who would benefit from a minimum wage increase rely on that worker’s pay as the family’s only source of earnings. As thirty-four states have raised their minimum wages above the federal rate, economists have also had more opportunities to study the effects of minimum wage increases, concluding that raising the minimum wage does not lead to the loss of jobs as critics had threatened. This version of the bill, without tax cuts for business, is significant because in the past ten years Congress showered businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks even as hardworking families earning the federal minimum wage received no raise at all, and in fact saw their paychecks eaten away by inflation

M

Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 +Often living on fixed incomes, America’s seniors struggle to cope with prescription drug prices that increase every year. The new Medicare prescription drug plan was ostensibly designed to save these seniors money on needed medications. But the plan provides far less savings than it could—both for the seniors it covers and for the taxpayers who bear the costs of the new plan—because it fails to take advantage of the federal government’s ability to negotiate for better prices by buying drugs in bulk. For example, if the federal government were to buy a million pills of cholesterol-lowering medication, enough for every Medicare recipient in the country who has a prescription, they could receive a very low price because of the huge quantity. Instead of realizing these savings, the program relies on individual insurance plans to make drug purchases. Because none of these individual insurers has the purchasing power of the federal government, the result is a less efficient system with higher prices. Most industrialized countries, including Canada, use the government’s bulk purchasing power to bargain for better drug prices. Domestically, the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) also uses this common-sense practice to reduce its costs. Studies suggest that the prices negotiated by the VA for many drugs are substantially lower than those offered under the new Medicare plan. Middle-class Americans, whether they are senior citizens, taxpayers or both, cannot afford to see the federal government squander this opportunity to rein in the ever-escalating costs of prescription drugs.
Medicare legislation +Often living on fixed incomes, America’s seniors struggle to cope with prescription drug prices that increase every year. The new Medicare prescription drug plan was ostensibly designed to save these seniors money on needed medications. But the plan provides far less savings than it could—both for the seniors it covers and for the taxpayers who bear the costs of the new plan—because it fails to take advantage of the federal government’s ability to negotiate for better prices by buying drugs in bulk. For example, if the federal government were to buy a million pills of cholesterol-lowering medication, enough for every Medicare recipient in the country who has a prescription, they could receive a very low price because of the huge quantity. Instead of realizing these savings, the program relies on individual insurance plans to make drug purchases. Because none of these individual insurers has the purchasing power of the federal government, the result is a less efficient system with higher prices. Most industrialized countries, including Canada, use the government’s bulk purchasing power to bargain for better drug prices. Domestically, the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) also uses this common-sense practice to reduce its costs. Studies suggest that the prices negotiated by the VA for many drugs are substantially lower than those offered under the new Medicare plan. Middle-class Americans, whether they are senior citizens, taxpayers or both, cannot afford to see the federal government squander this opportunity to rein in the ever-escalating costs of prescription drugs.

N

National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2007 +For low-income workers striving to work their way up to a middle-class standard of living, the soaring cost of housing—for renters as well as owners—is a daunting obstacle. More than one out of every seven American households spends more than half their income just to keep a roof over their heads. What’s more, the lack of affordable housing extends not only to traditionally high-cost areas on the East and West coasts, but into the metro areas of cities like Indianapolis and Denver as well. In this case, the market has simply failed to meet a critical human need. This legislation provides a streamlined means for the public to fund low-income housing that will not be created by any other means. Channeling funds through states and localities provides the flexibility to meet local needs, while the strong federal criteria for the types of projects that are eligible ensures that the trust will benefit those who need it most. The establishment of a National Affordable Housing Trust fund to build, repair, and maintain housing will help more than a million American families find safe, stable homes—a prerequisite for working towards the middle class.

P

Part D Medicare Drugs Price bill +Often living on fixed incomes, America’s seniors struggle to cope with prescription drug prices that increase every year. The new Medicare prescription drug plan was ostensibly designed to save these seniors money on needed medications. But the plan provides far less savings than it could—both for the seniors it covers and for the taxpayers who bear the costs of the new plan—because it fails to take advantage of the federal government’s ability to negotiate for better prices by buying drugs in bulk. For example, if the federal government were to buy a million pills of cholesterol-lowering medication, enough for every Medicare recipient in the country who has a prescription, they could receive a very low price because of the huge quantity. Instead of realizing these savings, the program relies on individual insurance plans to make drug purchases. Because none of these individual insurers has the purchasing power of the federal government, the result is a less efficient system with higher prices. Most industrialized countries, including Canada, use the government’s bulk purchasing power to bargain for better drug prices. Domestically, the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) also uses this common-sense practice to reduce its costs. Studies suggest that the prices negotiated by the VA for many drugs are substantially lower than those offered under the new Medicare plan. Middle-class Americans, whether they are senior citizens, taxpayers or both, cannot afford to see the federal government squander this opportunity to rein in the ever-escalating costs of prescription drugs.

T

Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2007 +The Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007 ensures that middle-class Americans are not overwhelmed by a tax that they were never intended to pay. An increase of approximately $3,000 in tax payments for more than 20 million American homes would be disastrous for families already reeling from home foreclosures, high gas prices, and nearly stagnant wages. The bill’s tax credit increases and extensions, including credits for college tuition and for improving public schools in economically distressed areas, benefit current and aspiring middle-class families. The legislation also spares families who have lost their homes to foreclosure from large income tax bills that would result from their mortgage debts being voided. This provision provides relief for households engulfed by the housing crisis that would otherwise be subject to large tax bills even after losing their homes. The bill’s revenue-raising tax hikes target the appropriate group: extraordinarily wealthy hedge fund and private equity managers who have exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Finally, the Tax Relief Act’s prohibition of debt-collection contracts between the IRS and private companiesm will put a stop to the harassment of lower- and middle-income taxpayers that resulted from the unaccountable, inefficient, and expensive outsourcing of a public function to the private sector.
Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007 +The Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007 ensures that middle-class Americans are not overwhelmed by a tax that they were never intended to pay. An increase of approximately $3,000 in tax payments for more than 20 million American homes would be disastrous for families already reeling from home foreclosures, high gas prices, and nearly stagnant wages. The bill’s tax credit increases and extensions, including credits for college tuition and for improving public schools in economically distressed areas, benefit current and aspiring middle-class families. The legislation also spares families who have lost their homes to foreclosure from large income tax bills that would result from their mortgage debts being voided. This provision provides relief for households engulfed by the housing crisis that would otherwise be subject to large tax bills even after losing their homes. The bill’s revenue-raising tax hikes target the appropriate group: extraordinarily wealthy hedge fund and private equity managers who have exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Finally, the Tax Relief Act’s prohibition of debt-collection contracts between the IRS and private companiesm will put a stop to the harassment of lower- and middle-income taxpayers that resulted from the unaccountable, inefficient, and expensive outsourcing of a public function to the private sector.

U

U.S. House of Representatives record vote 1081, 110th Congress, Session 1 +The Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007 ensures that middle-class Americans are not overwhelmed by a tax that they were never intended to pay. An increase of approximately $3,000 in tax payments for more than 20 million American homes would be disastrous for families already reeling from home foreclosures, high gas prices, and nearly stagnant wages. The bill’s tax credit increases and extensions, including credits for college tuition and for improving public schools in economically distressed areas, benefit current and aspiring middle-class families. The legislation also spares families who have lost their homes to foreclosure from large income tax bills that would result from their mortgage debts being voided. This provision provides relief for households engulfed by the housing crisis that would otherwise be subject to large tax bills even after losing their homes. The bill’s revenue-raising tax hikes target the appropriate group: extraordinarily wealthy hedge fund and private equity managers who have exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Finally, the Tax Relief Act’s prohibition of debt-collection contracts between the IRS and private companiesm will put a stop to the harassment of lower- and middle-income taxpayers that resulted from the unaccountable, inefficient, and expensive outsourcing of a public function to the private sector.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 1140, 110th Congress, Session 1 +This legislation represents a major step toward redirecting U.S. energy usage in a cleaner, more sustainable direction. The bill will save American consumers money at the fuel pump and on their heating bills, reduce air and water pollution, and mitigate the threat of global warming. Like its earlier incarnation, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 this bill recognizes that fossil fuels are not a sustainable option for the nation’s growing energy needs, and that a substantial public investment is needed to jump start the development and promotion of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient technologies. In the short term, this investment would create jobs producing renewable energy and technology. In the long term, new energy sources and more efficient technology promise environmental and public health benefits, as well as lower costs, for the American middle class. The bill also funds the investments in an appropriate way: by repealing taxpayer subsidies to the oil industry, which is already making booming profits at the expense of middle-class consumers. This legislation also goes beyond what the original CLEAN Energy Act attempted by establishing a Renewable Electricity Standard and stricter fuel economy standards for cars. These improvements marshal even more of the nation’s resources in support of conservation and a shift toward renewable energy, building on advances already adopted in many states to create a more sustainable energy future for the nation.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 156, 110th Congress, Session 1 +Whether it’s military contractors accepting kickbacks in Iraq, no-bid contracts with a guaranteed profit margin for companies cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, or politically-connected businesses landing lucrative contracts to provide materials to the Department of Education, it is middle-class taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill. With spending on federal contracts reaching more than $400 billion in 2006—more than double the level in 2000—middle-class taxpayers have more incentive than ever to demand efficient spending. Yet lax oversight is provoking increased concern about waste, fraud, and profiteering. Combined with legislation that protects whistleblowers who reveal cases of fraud, this bill represents an important step toward making sure that taxpayer money is spent effectively and efficiently.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 18, 110th Congress, Session 1 +At less than $11,000 a year for a full-time worker, the federal minimum wage is a poverty wage. It is a rate at which it is impossible for working Americans to independently pay their rent, feed their families or get needed medical care—much less save for the types of investments that make it possible to work one’s way into the middle class, like an education, a first home or the chance to start a business. Contrary to the stereotype of the minimum wage worker as a teenager with nothing to purchase but junk food and movie tickets, the typical minimum wage worker is an adult providing more than half of his or her family’s total earnings. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of families with a worker who would benefit from a minimum wage increase rely on that worker’s pay as the family’s only source of earnings. As thirty-four states have raised their minimum wages above the federal rate, economists have also had more opportunities to study the effects of minimum wage increases, concluding that raising the minimum wage does not lead to the loss of jobs as critics had threatened. This version of the bill, without tax cuts for business, is significant because in the past ten years Congress showered businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks even as hardworking families earning the federal minimum wage received no raise at all, and in fact saw their paychecks eaten away by inflation
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 23, 110th Congress, Session 1 +Often living on fixed incomes, America’s seniors struggle to cope with prescription drug prices that increase every year. The new Medicare prescription drug plan was ostensibly designed to save these seniors money on needed medications. But the plan provides far less savings than it could—both for the seniors it covers and for the taxpayers who bear the costs of the new plan—because it fails to take advantage of the federal government’s ability to negotiate for better prices by buying drugs in bulk. For example, if the federal government were to buy a million pills of cholesterol-lowering medication, enough for every Medicare recipient in the country who has a prescription, they could receive a very low price because of the huge quantity. Instead of realizing these savings, the program relies on individual insurance plans to make drug purchases. Because none of these individual insurers has the purchasing power of the federal government, the result is a less efficient system with higher prices. Most industrialized countries, including Canada, use the government’s bulk purchasing power to bargain for better drug prices. Domestically, the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) also uses this common-sense practice to reduce its costs. Studies suggest that the prices negotiated by the VA for many drugs are substantially lower than those offered under the new Medicare plan. Middle-class Americans, whether they are senior citizens, taxpayers or both, cannot afford to see the federal government squander this opportunity to rein in the ever-escalating costs of prescription drugs.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 864, 110th Congress, Session 1 +In today’s world, a college education is increasingly necessary to attain a middle-class standard of living. A college-educated workforce is also critical to the nation’s economic strength. Yet the cost of college, and the amount of debt students must take on to afford it, is rising rapidly. The value of federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grants, has failed to keep pace with rising college costs, while many states have reduced their support for public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of students at four-year colleges must now borrow to finance their college education, and the typical student borrower now graduates with nearly $20,000 in debt—and some with much more. The prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt deters some students, especially those from lower-income families, from pursuing college entirely. Meanwhile, the need to pay off costly student loans makes it impractical for many graduates to pursue public service careers in essential fields such as teaching or social work. For many young people, the burden of student loan debt makes it difficult to make ends meet on a daily basis, much less support a family or begin to save for retirement. Through its wide array of measures to make a college education more affordable—including the groundbreaking effort to encourage colleges not to raise tuition, while prodding states to strengthen their investment in higher education—this bill will help millions of American young people attend college and begin their working lives without such an overwhelming burden of debt.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 906, 110th Congress, Session 1 +SCHIP has been highly successful at reducing the number of uninsured children, but a lack of funding has limited its reach, leaving 9 million American children uninsured in 2006. The shortfall has consequences, not only for children’s individual health and well-being, but for society as a whole, which bears the cost of preventable emergency room visits from children who never got preventive care. By renewing SCHIP and expanding it to more low- and middle-income children, this bill offers children a healthy start in life. Steeply rising costs over the past several years have made health coverage unaffordable, not only for the poor, but also for a growing number of middle-class families. Since 2000, the premium that the average American employee pays for health coverage has risen more than 83 percent, increasing more than four times faster than wages. At the same time, more employers are dropping insurance plans entirely, and coverage is even more expensive for Americans who must purchase it themselves on the open market. Being able to take a child to the doctor for regular check-ups and immunizations is fundamental to a middle-class standard of living.
U.S. House of Representatives record vote 958, 110th Congress, Session 1 +For low-income workers striving to work their way up to a middle-class standard of living, the soaring cost of housing—for renters as well as owners—is a daunting obstacle. More than one out of every seven American households spends more than half their income just to keep a roof over their heads. What’s more, the lack of affordable housing extends not only to traditionally high-cost areas on the East and West coasts, but into the metro areas of cities like Indianapolis and Denver as well. In this case, the market has simply failed to meet a critical human need. This legislation provides a streamlined means for the public to fund low-income housing that will not be created by any other means. Channeling funds through states and localities provides the flexibility to meet local needs, while the strong federal criteria for the types of projects that are eligible ensures that the trust will benefit those who need it most. The establishment of a National Affordable Housing Trust fund to build, repair, and maintain housing will help more than a million American families find safe, stable homes—a prerequisite for working towards the middle class.
U.S. Senate record vote 326, 110th Congress, Session 1 +In today’s world, a college education is increasingly necessary to attain a middle-class standard of living. A college-educated workforce is also critical to the nation’s economic strength. Yet the cost of college, and the amount of debt students must take on to afford it, is rising rapidly. The value of federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grants, has failed to keep pace with rising college costs, while many states have reduced their support for public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of students at four-year colleges must now borrow to finance their college education, and the typical student borrower now graduates with nearly $20,000 in debt—and some with much more. The prospect of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt deters some students, especially those from lower-income families, from pursuing college entirely. Meanwhile, the need to pay off costly student loans makes it impractical for many graduates to pursue public service careers in essential fields such as teaching or social work. For many young people, the burden of student loan debt makes it difficult to make ends meet on a daily basis, much less support a family or begin to save for retirement. Through its wide array of measures to make a college education more affordable—including the groundbreaking effort to encourage colleges not to raise tuition, while prodding states to strengthen their investment in higher education—this bill will help millions of American young people attend college and begin their working lives without such an overwhelming burden of debt.
U.S. minimum wage legislation +At less than $11,000 a year for a full-time worker, the federal minimum wage is a poverty wage. It is a rate at which it is impossible for working Americans to independently pay their rent, feed their families or get needed medical care—much less save for the types of investments that make it possible to work one’s way into the middle class, like an education, a first home or the chance to start a business. Contrary to the stereotype of the minimum wage worker as a teenager with nothing to purchase but junk food and movie tickets, the typical minimum wage worker is an adult providing more than half of his or her family’s total earnings. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of families with a worker who would benefit from a minimum wage increase rely on that worker’s pay as the family’s only source of earnings. As thirty-four states have raised their minimum wages above the federal rate, economists have also had more opportunities to study the effects of minimum wage increases, concluding that raising the minimum wage does not lead to the loss of jobs as critics had threatened. This version of the bill, without tax cuts for business, is significant because in the past ten years Congress showered businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks even as hardworking families earning the federal minimum wage received no raise at all, and in fact saw their paychecks eaten away by inflation
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