Paul Stanton and Colonel Rob Maness sign Reject the Debt pledge

Paul Stanton, Army Vet and the Libertarian Party candidate for Florida’s Senate election, is proud to sign the Reject the Debt pledge. Stanton is a staunch advocate for reducing spending, and has been critical of Washington’s inability to address our nation’s shortsighted fiscal policies.

“Too many politicians pretend to be fiscally conservative without ever addressing the real problem of spending.” Said Stanton, who went on to add that, “Excessive spending results in higher taxes and creates deficits – condemning future generations to pay for our burdensome debt.”

We are also proud to include Colonel Rob Maness, a candidate in Louisiana’s Senate primary, among our Coalition’s pledge signers. Colonel Maness has committed to vote only for budgets with a path towards balance, and to fund any spending increases with offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Final debate to cover spending and debt… finally

After two Presidential debates and one Vice Presidential debate that barely touched upon the looming $20 trillion debt and the spending that drives it, fiscal conservatives will finally have our moment in Wednesday night’s debate.

It may not be a particularly triumphant or encouraging moment. This debate will take place in a race in which fiscal conservativism is an increasingly absent factor, and both candidates’ plans are projected to lead to more spending and deficits. Both Clinton and Trump have pledged not to cut spending on Social Security, with Clinton aiming to fill the gap with taxes and Trump offering little specifics to date.

We will be watching closely and encourage anyone who cares about the nation’s financial future to do the same. Louder issues may often drown it out, but runaway spending remains the cause of our generation. Regardless of what happens in November 2016, our future is at stake.

Follow @Reduce_Spending on Twitter for live updates tonight, and click here to see a list of options to live stream the debate.

More budget dysfunction on its way

As Congress lurches its way through another season of instability and fiscal cliffs, leaders had hoped that the lame duck session would at least offer some hope to pass longer-term legislation, or “mini-buses.”

However, it’s looking increasingly likely that this hope will not be realized once Congress returns, according to Roll Call. For one, there isn’t very much time — just twelve legislative days after they return from recess and before the continuing resolution’s funding runs out on December 9. Despite Congress’s lofty goals last session, the Senate passed two appropriations bills while the House passed five — failing to finish all 12 as hoped.

A bit of perspective is helpful at this point, perhaps. Congressional leaders were very ambitious in hoping to pass the 12 appropriations bills, and very few people were surprised when they didn’t come close.

Remember, passing 12 appropriations bills is supposed to be the bare minimum Congress does every year.

Times like these remind fiscal conservatives just how far we have to go — and how important it is to keep pushing for large-scale structural reforms that will allow Congress to govern and, maybe one day, accomplish the type of spending reform we so desperately need, instead of being held hostage to a process that so clearly does not work.

Watchdog group sheds light on agency misuse of funds

The Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been illegally prioritizing payments to insurance companies over funds reserved for American taxpayers. The report comes at a time when more and more insurance companies are leaving the exchanges set up under the ACA.

Insurance companies were skeptical of the ACA’s potential impact to their bottom line. In order to mitigate the financial risk insurers faced, and to get them to buy into the plan, language was included that set up a reinsurance program. The program would funnel funds from profitable insurers towards companies that saw costs rise due to taking on sicker patients.

The ACA estimated that this reinsurance program would total $12 billion in 2014. Under the law, non-profitable insurers would see $10 billion dollars, and the federal Treasury would get $2 billion. However, after summing up the account, profitable insurers contributed only $9.7 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with overseeing the ACA’s operations, then decided to allocate the entirety of these funds back towards insurers in two phases, with an immediate $8 billion payout, and $1.7 reserved for future payments.

While HHS claimed that this allocation of funds was allowed under the Affordable Care Act, the GAO disagreed.

This finding is a major win for fiscal conservatives for two reasons: $2 billion is a substantial amount of money that would have otherwise gone unnoticed as it was funneled to support a struggling program; and we can hope this case will help set a precedent for agencies actually adhering to rules and promises that were made with the express purpose of protecting our tax dollars.

2017’s CR – What you can expect when you wait until right before the bell to finish your homework

Yesterday, both houses of Congress approved a temporary spending bill just days before a potential government shutdown.

In the past, CR’s extended the previous year’s agreed-upon levels of funding. This year’s CR, however, includes even higher levels of spending. Granted, the bill does include multiple provisions aimed at alleviating the effects of time-sensitive crises, but increasing spending under the guise of a Continuing Resolution, which is intended to keep funding at current levels, is relatively uncharted territory of fiscal irresponsibility.

Congress included $1.1 billion towards alleviating the spread of Zika, and $500 million in aid for communities, including Louisiana and West Virginia, that have been devastated by flooding.

Funding for Flint was not officially included in the bill, although Republican House leadership formally scheduled time to address the situation by bringing up the Water Resources Development Act (which passed the Senate earlier this month) after the election. The Senate bill included $220 million in appropriations for cities such as Flint, while the Republican amendment would authorize $170 million.

In addition, $7 million was included to address the opioid epidemic. However, the majority of the CRs increase from last year’s spending levels will be going towards Military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs – the only two agency budgets to receive full-year funding.

Many Americans oppose a government shutdown, and would agree with Paul Ryan’s frustration with divided government and dysfunction. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriation’s Committee, justified his vote by adding, “[passing a CR] is what we must do to fulfill our congressional responsibility to keep the lights on in our government.”

But particularly as spending is increased and on track to keep going up, Americans are also right to question why these crises keep happening. Just because a majority of Americans are against a government shutdown, does not mean we also approve of waiting until the last minute to complete a project that was assigned at the beginning of the year.

Learn More