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Our Mission
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.

Highway to savings?

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.

“I’ll vote for your spending if you vote for mine” – Jonathan Bydlak discusses budget battles with the Cato Institute

Today, Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak sat down with the Cato Institute’s Caleb Brown to discuss recent budget battles, the recent Speaker election, and more. Take a listen!

CRS pledge signer becomes KY governor

We’re excited to see that former Coalition pledge signer Matt Bevin has won Kentucky’s gubernatorial race. While the pledge, which stipulates that Congressional candidates will not support unbalanced budgets or new spending that isn’t offset, does not specifically apply to executive offices, we are thrilled that Kentucky will be led by a governor with a proven dedication to cutting spending and debt.

Budget deal gives cause for serious skepticism

Note: This post originally appeared at the Institute to Reduce Spending.

Shortly before midnight on Monday, House Republicans unveiled the details of a two-year bipartisan budget deal. Coupled with an extension of the government’s ability to borrow by suspending the debt ceiling until March 15, 2017, this massive piece of legislation aims to avoid another government shutdown, and sets the groundwork for passing a funding bill before the short-term CR expires on December 11.

The budget deal raises discretionary spending caps by $50 billion in 2016, and by $30 billion in 2017, with the funding split evenly between defense and nondefense programs. The legislation also provides an additional $73.5 billion in Overseas Contingency funds in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. While this funding level for OCO matches that of 2015, it exceeds the funding level requested by President Obama by around $16 billion.

Legislators maintain that the increase in spending is offset by a collection of cuts to mandatory spending programs, and revenue increases, including the sale of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, strengthening tax compliance to increase revenue, the repeal of provisions within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring large employers to automatically enroll their employees in health insurance plans, and a slew of reforms to Social Security.

The bulk of offset funding is expected to come from reforms to Social Security and Medicare. The deal extends the 2 percent sequester cut to Medicare mandated under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Social Security will also be subject to a host of reforms that will reduce spending by $4.3 billion, a Tuesday analysis by the CBO reports. The most significant of these changes closes a current loophole allowing individuals to draw funds from both unemployment and Social Security Disability. Other reforms aim to reduce fraud, one of which requires a second medical expert’s opinion in classifying an applicant as truly disabled. Another cost saving mechanism allows recipients who are able to work to supplement partial payments with outside income. A pilot version of the program has been implemented in several states; successfully cutting costs by reducing the number of applicants approved.

An increase in the budget caps seems to garner just enough support from both sides to pass a budget, though some fiscal conservatives feel left out. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) commented “I can’t vote for something where we spend the money today and save it 10 years from now. That to me is crazy.” Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) reflected his concerns of a debt limit suspension coupled with spending increases, “You hope that in a debt limit context that you can actually reduce spending. That’s the idea to – as you raise the debt limit, deal with the underlying crisis we have.”

While scoring the bill, the Congressional Budget Office identified a drafting error in the original text that would result in a funding shortfall. An amendment aimed at correcting the apparent funding shortfall will be posted Wednesday, and according to Emily Schillinger, a spokeswoman for John Boehner, it “includes a technical fix regarding OCO in response to the drafting error; and adjusts the existing offset policies to ensure the bill is fully offset.”

In addition, the amendment would raise by $1 the flat and variable rate premiums that employers who operate their own pension plans pay to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Employers would also be allowed to defer more pension plan contributions, which would increase premiums paid to the PBGC, generating more tax revenue. Over the next 10 years, these pension changes will raise revenues by over $5 billion and reduce spending by around $6.4 billion.
Both the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation report that the budget deal will save roughly $75 billion over the next 10 years through cuts to mandatory programs totaling around $45 billion, and new revenues totaling about $30 billion. Unfortunately, the savings are somewhat dubious, as the same report also notes that increases in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending will total around $89 billion over the same period, a $14 billion difference.

To some, the deal is “the best we could get,” and we should not underplay the significance of the reforms to Social Security inherent, which have long-term positive ramifications for the fiscal solvency of the third rail, and set the foundation for further, much-needed reforms. That said, seeking long-term solutions for something as vital as the entire nation’s budget is a formidable task, economically and politically. Regardless of one’s predilections for growing or shrinking the federal budget, increasing funding to the Pentagon and other discretionary programs through disputed offsets justifies serious skepticism. Combined with the incredibly short time horizon on which this deal must be passed, the sheer amount of uncertainties involved make it worthy of a great deal of scrutiny, and one can only hope that as new impact estimates arrive from the CBO, our representatives in Washington address the numbers as they are.

Marchant: We Can’t Put $18 Trillion Debt on Autopilot

Representative Kenny Marchant (TX-24) spoke yesterday on the national debt, urging comprehensive solutions and the passage of H.R. 3442, the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Coalition supports this legislation, which passed Ways and Means in September, as a step in the right direction toward more sustainable and accountable fiscal policies.

Representative Marchant’s remarks are below, or watch them on Youtube.

“Mr. Speaker: Our national debt stands at more than $18 trillion. If current law remains unchanged, the CBO projects federal debt can exceed $50 trillion in our lifetime. This cannot be sustained.

“That’s why I have introduced the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act. This bill provides early and clear-eyed assessments of the debt well before even reaching the statutory debt limit.

“Under this bill, the Treasury Secretary would report on three items: first, the national debt and debt projections; second, debt reduction proposals; and, third, regular ‘Progress Reports’ to Congress on debt reduction. All of this information would be made readily available to the public.

“The national debt is a shared responsibility, and it will take a shared executive-legislative approach to reduce it. We can’t afford to put the $18 trillion debt on auto-pilot any longer.

 “Let’s deal with it head on and find responsible measures to retire the debt before it’s too late.

“Thank you. I yield back.”


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