This post originally appeared on the Institute to Reduce Spending.
It was rumored that the Trump Administration would end the cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers after Congress failed to pass legislation repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Now, a White House spokesman has confirmed that the payments will continue in August.
These payments are made to insurance companies to subsidize lower costs for certain people who purchase health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office found that ending the payments without further reforms could lead to increased premiums for some plans and add to the federal deficit as individual plans keep becoming more expensive and individuals receive higher subsidies.
Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) released a statement saying that, “We cannot dig our hands into a hole $20 trillion deep to bail out insurance companies. Even worse, we will be adding insult to injury by masking the failures of Obamacare at the expense of hardworking taxpayers.” He called on the Senate to continue working on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Fiscal conservatives should be wary of continuing to prop up the broken health care law. Republicans have been promising to repeal the law for years, as soon as they achieved united government — and now, seem to be continuing the status quo. Taxpayers should watch closely in the coming weeks, and Congress should look for real solutions, not more of the same.
We’re pleased to announce that Shane Hazel, running for Congress in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, has officially signed the Coalition to Reduce Spending’s pledge to reduce spending. The pledge stipulates that Hazel will not vote for any spending without offsets elsewhere in the budget and will vote only for budgets with a path to balance.
Hazel, a USMC veteran and political activist, joins candidates and elected officials from around the country, including Rep. Jim Banks (IN-3), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Rep. Doug Collins (GA-9), and Rep. Mark Sanford (SC-1).
On signing, Hazel released the following statement:
“I am running for Congress because it is time for our government to stop ignoring the debt we are piling on our children. It is time for a fiscal plan that fights the wasteful spending in Washington, DC.”
The news may have been overshadowed by the many political controversies currently swirling, but Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) has introduced a bill that, if enacted, would be one of the most impactful budgetary laws in generations.
In short, the bill would move the US to a system of biennial budgeting, or one carried out under a two-year time horizon. Sen. Isakson writes:
biennial budgeting would convert Congress’ current broken annual appropriations process to a two-year budget cycle, with one year for appropriating federal dollars and the other year devoted to oversight of federal programs. This would allow for better oversight before we start spending more. Oversight is critical to running a business or even a household, and it should be a priority when spending taxpayer dollars.
As Isakson points out, the current system is horribly broken — with Congress finishing all 12 appropriations bills on time just twice since 1980. The way in which budgets have instead been done largely consists of continuing resolutions (which hold spending steady at current levels) or omnibus bills (which combine multiple appropriations into a single package). In both cases, these measures are usually passed at the last minute, under threat of government shutdown, and with very little opportunity for reforms.
While no process reform is likely to be a silver bullet that will set our country back on the road to fiscal solvency, steps toward changing the way things are done are encouraging and welcome.
This post originally appeared on the Institute to Reduce Spending.
The end of fiscal year 2017 is quickly approaching for the federal government. At the end of September, Congress is required to pass all 12 appropriations bills — something that they have historically failed to do, as our debt nears $20 trillion.
Yet throughout the states, there are similar struggles happening, and the long-term risks for Washington’s irresponsibility come into sharp focus. After a two-year stalemate, Illinois’ Democratic-controlled legislature, along with 15 House and Senate Republicans, came together to override Governor Rauner’s vetoes and pass a budget. In order to curb the massive budget shortfall, the state income tax was hiked dramatically, while a $130 billion shortfall in pension liabilities remains unaddressed along with the $15 billion in unpaid bills the state has accumulated.
Illinois will be forced to issue bonds and borrow from various state accounts to help pay the overdue bills. The state was on the brink of seeing their credit rating fall to “junk” status, which would’ve made them the first U.S. state in history to do so.
Nearly 900 miles east in New Jersey, the state is also having their share of budget problems. Gov. Chris Christie signed a budget just before the 4th of July holiday after a 3-day budget impasse, which resulted in a partial government shutdown.
New Jersey and Illinois are not the only states that are having issues passing budgets. With just hours to go before the new fiscal year began July 1, there were 11 states that had not yet agreed on a budget.
Irresponsible budgeting at the state level has become almost a given, and occasionally the warnings of inevitable fiscal crisis can be easy to ignore. But the all-too-real experiences of several states should serve not only as a warning for them to get their own finances in order but a reminder of what can happen if Washington does not.
When George H. W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States, Congress passed legislation that required annual audits of all federal agencies. To date, the Pentagon is the only agency not to have completed one.
Late last month, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act—H.R. 3079. The bill, which has 33 cosponsors in the House, would reduce the Department of Defense budget by half a percent every year that it fails to be audited.
Its supporters include conservatives like Rep. Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) and liberals like Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Jim McGovern (D-MA).
In a time of $20 trillion debt calls for a nearly $700 billion Defense budget, taxpayers should insist that every department — especially the Pentagon — is being run as efficiently as possible and that each dollar be scrutinized.
This bill may not be a fix-all for the Pentagon, but it is a good start to increasing efficiency and transparency. National security is the number-one priority for the government, and fiscal conservatives should push for reforms that prioritize defending our nation and ensuring that our military is as effective as possible, while taking on waste and watching out for our wallets.