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Out-of-control government spending is the most pressing issue of our day. The Coalition to Reduce Spending is dedicated to advocating for reducing federal spending and balancing the budget. Continuing to live beyond our means will only jeopardize our country's future prosperity and security.
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What are sequestration’s chances in 2015?

Yesterday, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released an amendment to the rules committee to “repeal the sequester.” While the real-world chances of this particular amendment are anyone’s guess, it’s obvious the sequester faces a dubious future.

As you know, the Budget Control Act and sequestration were among the most controversial measures in recent history — and also perhaps the most effective method we’ve seen for reducing discretionary spending in quite some time.

As you know, when the supercommittee failed to find spending cuts, sequester hit — a series of across-the-board cuts and slightly lower spending caps for future years. And if Congress doesn’t stay below the BCA spending levels in future years, sequester will be imposed again.

The Ryan-Murray agreement provided temporary “relief” for those caps, suspending them in favor of some reforms on the mandatory side. But what happens after Ryan-Murray? While no one would argue sequestration is a perfect mechanism, and very few politicians like the caps, getting rid of them just might prove more politically complicated than keeping them.

Many US defense insiders are hoping for another federal budget deal that again eases military spending limits, but crafting a deal will resemble a political Rubik’s Cube.

And, in a potential blow to the Defense Department’s constant quest for more dollars, a key player is signalling support for leaving all spending caps as-is.

Read the rest here.

Whether the caps and enforcement arm of the Budget Control Act stay in place, are ignored, or are repealed entirely, depends on whether you and I keep pressure on Congress and remind them that we need accountability now more than ever. Politicians hate accountability for a reason. Let’s make sure they don’t quietly get rid of it.

Watch: House Rules debates DHS funding bill

Yesterday, the House Rules Committee discussed H.R. 240, the bill to provide funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

House introduces DHS funding bill

Today, the House introduced H.R. 240 – Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015. At the end of last year, Congress passed a “Cromnibus” bill that cobbled together funding for most departments – except for one, the Department of Homeland Security.

Because of simmering fights over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, lawmakers chose to put off that fight. And now, the department must be funded.

Stay tuned.

Who’s blocking cheaper prescriptions?

We know that government at all levels has a spending problem. And we know that healthcare-based spending is one of the largest drivers of the federal government’s debt and deficits.

What you might not know, is that it looks likely the FDA is on the brink of bowing to industry pressure and creating an entirely new regulatory system that could stifle lower-cost prescription drugs.

You might have heard of them, even if you don’t know the name: biologics are some of the most complex and expensive drugs on the market. They’re made from live tissue and used to treat cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and more. They include well-known drugs such as Enbrel and Humira.

They’re expensive. In 2010, spending only on the top seven biologics represented about 43 percent of Medicare Part B’s total drug budget. In 2011, eight of the top 20 drugs sold in the United States were biologics; annual spending on the drugs has grown three times faster than other prescription medications.

Perhaps one the of the only spending bright spots of the Affordable Care Act was the fact that it attempted to clarify and accelerate the approval process for cheaper versions of these drugs, known as biosimilars. The biosimilar approval process has been notoriously and controversially slow.

Biosimilars are pharmacologically equivalent, cheaper versions of biologics. It’s important to note that we’re not talking about generic drugs here — that term refers to pharmacologically equivalent versions of small-molecule drugs (that is: not biologics).

The CBO estimated that competition from biosimilars would reduce drug spending by around $25 billion over 10 years, saving the federal government nearly $6 billion; A new RAND study found that biosimilars would lead to a $44.2 billion reduction in direct spending on biologic drugs from 2014 to 2024.

Since the ACA was passed, though, no biosimilars have made it to US markets. Powerful biologic manufacturers have launched an aggressive campaign on the state and federal level to block biosimilars, based on supposed safety concerns, ignoring the fact that these drugs have been in use and saving money in Europe for some time.

The manufacturers’ latest tactic is particularly worrisome: they’ve been aggressively urging the FDA to add a completely new and unnecessary system of naming the drugs. This system could all but stop biosimilars and their cost-savings.

Learn More >>

Pentagon spending: What to expect in 2015

The editors of DefenseOne recently provided a rundown of what to expect in the new year when it comes to the Pentagon. As the largest item of discretionary spending, this budget deserves serious scrutiny — especially now as foreign crises simmer.

From Russia and Ukraine to Iraq and Syria, unrest arose and threatened US interests and pocketbooks, as a new Congress took over at home. But authority also changed at the Pentagon, as Defense Secretary Hagel stepped down, as former Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter takes his place.

Meanwhile, fights over defense spending caps will heat up again soon, with many politicians in both sides advocating against keeping the caps.

Read the rest of the report here, and in the new year, let’s resolve to keep an eye on this critical area of spending.

 

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