budget process has allowed federal spending to leap $455 billion in
the past three years. In
2003, the federal government ran a deficit of $374 billion.
Based on Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) estimates, including the unexpected costs of
increasing national security and stabilizing our economy, the federal
government is on track to reach government surpluses by 2012.
However, even this less-than-optimal time frame hinges
on Congress’s ability to control spending.
Unfortunately, the lack of fiscal discipline leads to unchecked
spending and legislative deadlock.
address the spending problem in the short term we need to rein in
wasteful spending. With my support, the budget, which provides
spending guidelines for Congress, passed the House on May 19, 2004.
The budget resolution freezes the level of domestic spending
(except for homeland security). It
provides military spending at the President’s requested level of
$402 billion. The budget
also provides for up to $50 billion for additional needed costs
associated with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For veterans, the budget provides for a $1.2 billion increase
over the President’s request and rejects fee increases.
budget agreement also guards against tax increases by leaving room to
extend tax relief that would otherwise begin to expire next year.
Specifically, it accommodates the current child tax credit of
$1,000 per child, the current level of marriage penalty relief, and
the current 10-percent tax bracket – tax relief that would begin to
shrink in 2005 if a new law extending these benefits does not pass.
budget sets a firm line on excess spending, and it is critical that
Congress sticks to these spending guidelines.
Unfortunately, Congress often sidesteps the budget to
overspend. The reason for
this is that currently the budget does not have the force of law.
I am spearheading an effort in Congress to change this by
reforming the broken budget process and making the budget an
enforceable law to control government spending more effectively.
the budget process.
biggest obstacle facing government officials when prioritizing
spending decisions is the budget
process. Changing the
tax-and-spend nature of Congress is one of my highest priorities.
Right now, there is little motivation to reduce spending.
In the House of Representatives, 16 committees authorize
spending and one appropriates, which means that every Member of
Congress has a hand in the spending process at some point.
The Committee on Appropriations has 13 subcommittees overseeing
each of the 13 appropriations bills.
Each subcommittee has the incentive to spend as much as it can
because any money not spent by one subcommittee must be spent by
another. According to
current budget rules, spending during the appropriations process
cannot be saved and returned to the taxpayer or used to pay down
government debt; it can only be spent.
I believe Members of Congress should be able to cut money from
appropriations bills through the amendment process and return it to
budget process also allows for supplemental emergency spending, which
is money spent above annual budget caps.
Under the current budget process, the definition of
“emergency” is subjective. Emergency
spending is not necessarily sudden, urgent, unforeseen and temporary,
as it should be defined. Nor does the process allow for a point of
order if an emergency spending item violates common sense.
Instead, it allows supplemental bills to be loaded up with
non-emergency spending, such as increased support payments to mohair
wool and peanut farmers. Even
if these initiatives were valid spending items, they should be decided
during the normal appropriations process and not passed under the
guise of emergency spending.
with the current one-year budget process cycle, it is hard to
determine what is necessary spending and what is not.
Many states like Wisconsin work under a biennial (two-year)
budget, which gives legislatures time to focus on government
performance reviews and increased oversight of agency efficiency.
Currently, Congress does not have the time to review how
taxpayer money is spent.
A biennial budget for the federal government would allow
Congress to appropriate in one year and conduct oversight hearings the
next. A longer budget process would ensure that taxpayer money is
being spent effectively, without agency duplication or waste.
better budget process would also allow enhanced rescission for the
In other words, the President could carve out pork and send it
back to Congress to be voted on again – separate from the
appropriations bill in which it was contained.
While this would be a painful process for legislators
accustomed to bringing home the bacon, Members of Congress who request
funds for legitimate district projects, on the other hand, would have
an easy time defending their appropriation requests.
the federal government is as guilty as some large companies have been
when it comes to fudging the books and accounting mistakes.
When determining the federal budget overall, the government
uses accounting tricks to make it more difficult to determine true
spending levels. For
example, Social Security and Medicare surpluses are used to balance
the budget. The inclusion
of these funds in our balance sheet gives Congress cover to keep
spending after discretionary funds are gone.
Further, Congress can break its own spending rules by declaring
appropriations an “emergency,” even when they are not.
money spent on new or expanded discretionary programs should instead
be spent on shoring up Social Security and Medicare, which face
bankruptcy when the baby boomers start to retire.
Additionally, money could be used for tax relief to boost
have introduced legislation, The Family Budget Protection Act (H.R.
3800), to rein in excess spending and improve the government’s
accounting practices. This
bill has gained the support of a bipartisan cross-section of over 100
House members. Right now,
the budget process is broken. This
new bill will put teeth in the budget process to help Congress act
responsibly and stop runaway spending.
Taxpayers deserve greater accountability for money sent to the
am a strong supporter of paying down our national debt, but I also
believe that the federal government needs to balance this priority
with winning the War on Terrorism and encouraging growth in our
Based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, including
the unexpected costs of increasing national security and stabilizing
our economy, the federal government is on track to reach government
surpluses by 2012.
I favor paying down as much debt as possible over the next ten
years to prepare for the inevitable demographic change as the baby
boom generation begins to retire.
observers argue that the tax relief packages of the last three years
are the primary reason that budget deficits have replaced surpluses.
This is incorrect.
In fact, the large deficits reflect the near “perfect
storm” that has rocked the federal government’s budget: 1)
revenues plummeted due to a weak economy and a sharp drop in the stock
market, 2) spending increased due to two wars and new homeland
security requirements, and 3) fiscal discipline weakened following the
emergence of budget surpluses.
revenue is directly tied to the health of the U.S. economy.
The weak economy reduced the size of the tax base, increased
spending on programs like Medicaid, and revealed technical adjustments
that needed to be made to the budget estimates.
In all, those factors account for 53% of the changes in OMB’s
projections, none of which are due to legislation.
that the economy comes out of this period of slow growth is one of my
As long as the economy grows, Americans work.
A growing economy is the only way to increase revenue
collection -- except for increasing taxes, which I oppose.
In addition, the more money that comes into the federal
government, the more quickly we can pay down the national debt and
shore up the Social Security Trust Fund.
can ensure economic growth by protecting the pro-growth tax reductions
signed into law and by reducing unnecessary government spending.
The new tax laws focus on making it easier for small businesses
to grow and invest, and workers to save more for their retirement and
keep more of what they earn.
This policy will help ensure our economy grows.
more information on the federal budget, please refer to the following
of Management and Budget: www.omb.gov
Budget Office: www.cbo.gov