Today, SmarterSafer, a broad coalition of which CRS is a member, sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging the adoption of Federal Flood Risk Management Standards and a greater emphasis on mitigation, not putting taxpayers on the hook for greater costs when disaster strikes.
As the letter states,
Natural disasters wreak havoc on communities and their residents. The scale and cost of natural disasters has been on the rise; so too has the federal share of disaster costs and the amount the federal government spends to clean up and rebuild after a disaster strikes. Unfortunately, while the federal spending post-disaster has dramatically increased over the last few decades, spending on proven, pre-disaster planning and mitigation still falls woefully short of what is needed to better protect people and their property. We know that mitigation, and smarter safer building protects people and their property.
Read the full letter here.
Writing in Rare yesterday, CRS President Jonathan Bydlak responds to recent tragedies in Paris and worldwide unrest, arguing that in times like these, it’s all the more important to focus on the Pentagon pocketbook.
Especially in times of international crisis, even the most stringent of fiscal conservatives want the nation’s military to be funded adequately and the constitutional duty to ensure the national defense fulfilled.
It’s perfectly fair, though – even necessary – to question whether the nation’s safety is rising as fast as military contractor stock. After all, ensuring the national defense does not necessarily mean spending more, and it certainly does not mean spending unwisely. Did the $120 million for new Abrams Tanks in last year’s defense bill keep us safe? The Army leadership who have repeatedly said they do not want more tanks would likely disagree. . .
Despite small recent limits, the Pentagon budget remains massive. It’s the single biggest non-entitlement driver of our national debt, and its bureaucracy is riddled with a well-established history of waste and abuse. This enormous system hasn’t even been audited!
Terrorist attacks and foreign threats do not make these problems disappear. Instead, they make the urgency for fixing them that much greater.
Read the full piece here.
The Coalition to Reduce Spending was proud to sign on today to a broad coalition letter urging appropriators to exclude Sec. 10017 of the House-passed defense appropriations act, which would have authorized up to $3.5 billion in taxpayer money to be transferred to the sea-based deterrence fund.
As the letter points out, “the sea-based deterrence fund is a gimmick that would take pressure off of the Navy to set priorities among different Navy programs, which are all national programs, based on both the strategic need and affordability.”
Read the letter in full here.
According to a new paper from the R Street Institute, the answer is yes — they could.
In myriad sectors of the U.S. economy, from military technology to medical care, the federal government serves as the single-largest spender. As such, many of the innovations, inventions and discoveries that could propel economic growth in the future also would have a direct and measurable impact on federal spending.
To offer an incentive to research and development that yields significant taxpayer savings, we propose an “innovation savings program” that would serve as an alternative to the traditional patent system. The program would reward teams or individuals who develop discoveries or technologies that produce federal budget savings. In effect, a portion of those savings would be set aside for the discoverers. To be eligible for these rewards, the researchers and inventors would not receive patents on their discoveries or processes.
This perpetual, self-funded federal prize system would be based, in part, on the successful False Claims Act and Medicare Recovery Audit programs. Payouts would be administered by an independent or executive agency, verified by the Government Accountability Office and overseen by Congress to ensure fair and effective implementation.
Read the full piece here.
Today, the House voted to approve a six-year, $325-billion highway bill. This bill includes only three years of highway funding and requires new legislation to fund the additional three years. Traditionally, highway funding has been paid for by the gas tax, but in recent years, the highway fund has faced a shortfall.
In order to assemble the new highway bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan allowed an open amendment process. The House failed several amendments, such as attempts to allow states to individually raise their own gas taxes, raise weight restrictions on truckers, and lift the ban on oil exports. One amendment that the house successfully blocked would have raised the gas tax to nearly double its existing amount.
While fiscal conservatives will no doubt be happy that a gas tax has been avoided, and more will breathe a sigh of relief as the long-term bill heads to the Senate conference after months of temporary solutions and fights, Congress should still look for ways to offset the increased expenditures created by this bill. To do otherwise is simply irresponsible.
This post originally appeared at the Institute to Reduce Spending.