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Budget plan tries to create new fees, revive rejected ones

Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration is proposing to raise about $60 billion over 10 years through new and expanded fees, including repeat proposals for eight fees rejected by appropriators last year.

The biggest of the bunch, by far, is a plan to raise $31.7 billion over 10 years by boosting the fees housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge to guarantee the mortgage market. The duo has been under federal conservatorship since 2008, when they required $187 billion in bailout funds to stay afloat.

Operating with an implied government guarantee, though, makes profitability simple as the government-sponsored enterprises carry a combined $5 trillion in assets on their balance sheets and charge fees to guarantee this core economic industry. The two have not only repaid the bailout funds, but made additional dividend payments of more than $100 billion to the Treasury.

Boosting the guarantee fees on Fannie and Freddie would raise $10 billion over the next five years, 2020-24, and another $22 billion over the following five-year period 2025-29, according to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal released Monday. The added revenues could also add weight to expected administration and congressional proposals that would end the conservatorships.

Outside of fees, the budget relies on a number of large revenues raisers with all savings being over 10 years, 2020-29. The proposals include raising:

  • $207 billion over 10 years by overhauling student loan programs.
  • $5.7 billion from selling Bonneville Power Administration transmission assets.
  • $581 billion from changes at the Department of Health and Human Services, including $98 billion by modifying payments to hospitals and $143 billion from a Medicaid overhaul.
  • $17.9 billion from changes to the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation’s multi-employer pension program.
    $47 billion in net new revenues from additional spending at the IRS for enforcement.
  • $102 billion from employee expenses, including an increase in cost-sharing for federal employees and eliminating their cost-of-living-adjustment for retirement benefits.
  • The administration repeated proposals to raise $12.7 billion over 10 years through eight new or expanded fees rejected by appropriators last year.

The previously rejected ideas include establishing new fees for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Packers and Stockyards Program, and Agricultural Market Service, all at the Department of Agriculture.

The budget also proposes once again increases in customs and immigration user fees and a fee for a new Electronic Visa Update System, at the Department of Homeland Security; and a new Spectrum License fee at the Federal Communications Commission.

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