Nevada Senators Like to Spend Your Money

   copyright 1997, Electric Nevada

The combination of Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Richard Bryan (D-Nev), according to the National Taxpayers Union, gave Nevada one of the top 'big-spender' delegations in the U. S. Senate during the last Congress.

When the potential cost of all spending legislation introduced by Nevada's senators in the previous two sessions of the 104th Congress are calculated, says the NTU, Nevada had the fifth least frugal delegation, proposing less spending only than the delegations from Massachusetts, West Virginia, South Carolina and Illinois.
Each year since 1991 the NTU has reported the findings of its "BillTally" system, a computerized accounting of the cost of all spending legislation before Congress.
Totals for all senators, say the taxpayer group, are developed by cross-indexing their sponsorship and co-sponsorship records with independent, third-party cost estimates. During the last congress that covered 346 Senate bills introduced through February 29, 1996, and cosponsored through April 16, 1996.
The dollar totals are net, after senators' proposed spending reductions have also been figured in, said NTU, and do not double-count overlapping proposals. Members of Congress were given four weeks to confidentially review and comment on the completeness and accuracy of the data.

The effect of legislation introduced by Reid, during the 104th, would have been a net increase in federal spending of $4,681 billion, said the NTU report, which the net increase in spending derived from Bryan bills would have been $508 million.
According to the taxpayer group, Reid wanted to spend more than 90 percent of the other senators, while Bryan wanted to spend more than 76 percent of the other members.
Although Reid sponsored legislation which would have reduced government spending by $3.54 billion, he also sponsored bills which would have cost a total of $8.22 billion. Bryan would have cut spending by about $6.11 billion, while raising it about $6.62 billion.
Nevada's senior senator already has a head start on another spendthrift designation from NTU for the $105th Congress, which began last month.
Although the taxpayer group has opposed the creation of "off-budget" funds, saying such actions "make it more difficult to balance the budget, control spending, or effectively set spending priorities," Senator Reid on Wednesday, Feb. 5 introduced legislation to take the

federal highway "trust fund" off-budget.
"Finances that should go to the highway construction is [sic] being used for other purposes," said Reid on the floor of the Senate. "The money collected is not being used, I repeat, for its intended purpose. It is a perversion of the whole notion of how a trust fund should operate."
NTU president David Keating last year, in a message to House members facing a vote on similar legislation to take the highway and other funds off-budget, called the move "nothing less than a ploy to increase spending."
Passage of the House legislation -- which Reid said he supported, "may

create a huge loophole in current laws that help control spending, including the Budget Enforcement Act and the Gramm-Rudman sequestration rules," said Keating.
"Adoption of this misguided legislation also would add to pressure to build loopholes in the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution," he said.
Reid, both last year and this year, has helped lead efforts in the Senate to exclude Social Security funds from consideration under the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment.

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