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Member Questions of the Week of February 8, 2010

Mark from Long Beach, CA asks: What is the percentage of the national budget being spent for defense? I see the number given as a percentage of the GDP, but how does that compare to the actual budget? OUR ANSWER: Defense is about 17% of overall federal spending, or less than one-fifth of the budget. To learn more about defense spending, check out our book of charts on the subject here. Page 5 of this special report shows the breakdown of the federal budget, including defense funds.

Grover from Homosassa Springs, FL requests: I need a printable article defending the 2010 Supreme Court decision on BCRA and how it effects foreign corporation donations. OUR RESPONSE: On January 21, the Supreme Court issued a major decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a case involving a 2008 documentary produced by a nonprofit advocacy organization. In a 5-4 decision, the majority led by Justice Kennedy struck a decisive blow against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), also known as the McCain-Feingold law, when it overturned the federal ban on independent political expenditures by corporations (and by implication, a similar ban on labor unions). The separate federal ban on foreign nationals, including foreign corporations from contributing either directly or indirectly to federal candidates or engaging in any independent political advocacy, remains in place and was unaffected by this decision. Check out our printable blog post here on the decision itself, and this blog post responding to the Presidents reference of the case in the State of the Union. The Heritage Foundation will be publishing a web memo shortly about this specific topic at heritage.org so check back at our website soon.

David from Fairfax Station, VA asks: In the 2011 Budget just announced, what amount of tax income is attributed to (1)a passed Healthcare bill and (2)a passed Cap and Trade bill? OUR ANSWER: The budget does create an allowance for revenue raised due to health care reform to the tune of $712 billion over 10 years. Since a final bill is not complete, it is not possible to know what specific taxes would pay for health care reform if it passes Congress. The budget also increases taxes on oil, gas, and coal companies by repealing several tax credits available to these businesses. Though the bill assumes the passage of cap and trade, it does not specify the revenue anticipated from its implementation. To learn more about taxes in the budget, check out our paper here.

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