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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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Transportation bills to be voted on

Late tonight, the Transportation Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills are scheduled to be voted on.

The bill, commonly referred to as T-HUD, provides for a little over $55 billion in discretionary spending, which is a $1.5 billion increase above the current funding levels. Notably, it includes funding for several programs that the House budget had set to eliminate, such as the controversial TIGER Grant program, which critics say provides transportation stimulus funds with little oversight. At least one fiscally conservative organization is key-voting No on this legislation.

While we understand that the process of allocating money won’t always follow right in line with the budget framework, it’s discouraging to say the least that the few appropriations bills that have gone through are spending more than the budget plan laid out.

The plan, while imperfect, set out to accomplish both balance and some key reforms. It’s not clear whether appropriations will follow the same track.

Congress digs in on wasteful spending

Unfortunately, the news out of Washington these days isn’t great. As Charles Tiefer reports in Forbes, both the Senate defense authorization bill and the House defense appropriations bill are headed to the floor with some troubling programs contained within them.

In addition to rushing ahead with “only” $3 billion on a drone program the GAO considers problematic due to obsolete planning and research, Congress wants to provide $8.4 billion for an eye-popping sixty-five F-35 aircraft. That’s eight more than even the Pentagon requested.

We know the F-35 program is severely flawed. Many military experts don’t like it, pointing out both its severe deficiencies at its intended use, and its cost overruns.

How, you might wonder, would such a boondoggle become entrenched and keep costing taxpayers billions of dollars?

It’s hard to say for sure. But it appears there’s no sign of slowing down on this incredibly expensive project anytime soon.

Congress has more than one slush fund

In recent weeks, the Overseas Contingency Operations budget has received plenty of attention and criticism for its use as an off-budget “slush fund.”

But in reality, it’s probably more helpful to think of OCO as a series of slush funds. The more we find out about it, the more problems become apparent.

Roll Call reports on some unsettling facts that Taxpayers for Common Sense have uncovered.

The equipment for America’s National Guard and Reserve is increasingly funded through an account that contains money not requested by the president, not capped by the budget law and not subject to much open oversight, according to assessments by CQ and the government spending monitors at Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment Account has been around since 1981. But it has grown significantly in recent years—ever since it was moved to the war budget, the size of which is not restricted by the budget control law. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Guard and Reserve equipment fund has reaped more than $10 billion that was not part of any budget request.

Just a few years ago, Congress generally added a couple of hundred million dollars annually to the account. But each year since fiscal 2012, when caps on the Pentagon’s non-war budgets were instituted, the off-budget fund for the Guard has swelled to $1 billion or more in annual appropriations. . .

To Stephen Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that monitors federal spending and that has closely tracked the Guard fund, it is a “backdoor” and “unregulated” way to secure funds from Congress.

“I’m sure the Guard can use some of this equipment,” he says. “But in reality it has become little more than a place for lawmakers to stuff cash for a laundry list of parochial projects that don’t make the budget grade.”

Read the full report here.

Few would argue against giving our military the proper equipment and resources it needs. But all responsible spending advocates should also recognize the need to allocate that money honestly and appropriately.

Quietly shuffling funds into a secret account is neither.

GOP ponders short-term Obamacare extension

Originally posted at Institute to Reduce Spending.

As we mentioned, there is a significant chance that the upcoming King v. Burwell ruling will end up invalidating major parts of the Affordable Care Act, and as a result, could even bring down the entire infrastructure.

Depending on where one falls politically, this could be very good or very bad news. However one feels about federal healthcare issues, though, fiscal conservatives of all ideologies should be concerned about the massive levels of spending contained in the law and potential changes to them.

Now, it’s seeming more likely that a short-term extension could be passed even if the subsidies are invalidated — with Republican support.

House conservatives are hinting at support for a temporary extension of Obama-Care subsidies if the Supreme Court cripples the law, even as they set up a working group to develop their own plan.

The high court is set to rule later this month in the case of King v. Burwell, which could invalidate subsidies for millions of people in at least 34 states using the federally run marketplace. Republicans say they need to be ready to address people losing their coverage, but have yet to coalesce around a plan.

Now another proposal is in the works. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus told The Hill they are setting up a group of four or five lawmakers, led by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). The lawmakers will develop a plan meant to influence the main House working group led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and two other panel chairmen, which Fleming complained is meeting in “secret.”

While working on their own ideas, Freedom Caucus members are also open to something like Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) idea to temporarily extend subsidies.

Johnson’s plan would extend ObamaCare subsidies through August 2017, when he hopes there will be a Republican president, while also repealing the law’s individual and employer mandates.

What do you think?

Could the ACA collapse next month?

Believe it or not, it’s possible.

If you haven’t heard, the Supreme Court will soon rule on a case with major implications for the Affordable Care Act.

If King v. Burwell is decided in favor of the plaintiffs, it could end federal subsidies in at least 34 states.

According to a new report, no alternative plans will be able to stop massive disruption as a result, and the overall framework could collapse. We’ll be watching these developments closely to bring you any updates.

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