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Spending, Big and Small

The new 113th Congress has gotten into full swing, and recent happenings illustrate nicely the operatic drama and controversy that Washington, D.C. can produce, and also the quiet day-to-day. We’re talking about spending, big and small.

First, the high drama.

House Republicans are going after President Obama this week, seeking to focus attention on the fact that he is yet to become a budget balancer, a thing he talked about in his first campaign.

President Obama’s budget—due Monday, but not coming out then (details at right)—may not show a balanced budget anywhere on the horizon.

So, H.R. 444, the Require a PLAN Act, says that if the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget does not show when balance will be achieved, the President would have to produce a supplemental budget by April 1st that identifies the fiscal year in which he thinks balance is going to happen.

High drama? And throwaway gesture? Yep. And it also points the public at an issue that is kind of important.

That’s life in Washington, children fighting in the sandbox, and also raising important issues such as the government’s big spending and debt.

But then there’s the low drama of the quiet day-to-day.

That’s epitomized by the bills that the Congressional Budget Office scored last week. CBO issues reports that estimate spending and revenue for the bills moving through Congress. We use them for most of our estimates of the cost of bills. Read more about that on our “about” page.

(A CBO score is a rough sign that a bill might be moving in Congress, too. We list bills with new scores in our weekly email newsletter, which you can subscribe to at no cost.)

Take a look at the little things Congress is doing:

H.R. 297, The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 would spend about $11.00 per U.S. family on graduate medical education in children’s hospitals.

H.R. 124, would redesignate the Department of the Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. It’s cost is about $0.02 per U.S. family.

H.R. 235 is the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2013. That bill would spend about $0.01 per family on grants to States meant to help streamline State procedures for veterans with military emergency medical training to become civilian emergency medical technicians.

H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, would improve hyrdopower. About $0.02 per U.S. family.

These bills and dozens more travel through Congress, relatively unnoticed, and they accumulate into somewhat substantial spending over time.

If you’ve read this far, count yourself one of the better-informed Americans—if you are an American, that is. If you’re not, there’s a bill for that, too. Immigration reform is a coming issue in the current Congress.

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