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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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ACA’s cost? $73 billion and counting

Around 5 years after the law passed, Bloomberg Government has analyzed the cost of the program so far. And the picture isn’t pretty.

Nearly five years after passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a companion electronic health records (EHR) program have run a startup tab of more than $73 billion, the Bloomberg Government analysis finds.

Part of that total is the cost of healthcare.gov, the flawed website and related enrollment system intended to expand U.S. health insurance coverage.

BGOV’s analysis shows that costs for both healthcare.gov and the broader reform effort are far greater than anything publicly discussed. They’re also substantially greater than what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially estimated health reform would cost by this point, although not what the agency’s more recent piecemeal estimates suggest.

Meanwhile, the changes in health-care financing and delivery on which the money is being spent remain very much in their startup phase.

The following graph, from Bloomberg, shows just how bad the situation really is.

ACAcosts

Read the whole report here. Partisan squabbling and posturing aside, this law and its related provisions are well on their way to having a severe negative impact on deficits and debt. This is too important to get lost in the noise of political debates — it’s time for real spending reform.

 

Funding football: On our dime

Welfare for Millionaires-1In a time of multiple national scandals, you might be surprised to learn that your tax dollars have been pouring into the same prosperous — and troubled — institution that has been making headlines recently.

Yet the Washington Times revealed last week that exactly that situation has been occurring. Taxpayers have spent billions financing NFL stadiums — and despite lofty promises of economic benefits, “there is little evidence those hefty public expenditures pay off.”

From Bankrupting America, some key findings:

  • Taxpayers In Virginia, D.C. And Maryland Pitched In $70 Million For FedEx Field, The Washington Redskins Stadium.
  • Indiana Residents Pitched In $620 Million, Or $1,866 Per Household Towards The Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • Taxpayers Paid For 100 Percent Of The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stadium When It Was Built In 1998.
  • Cincinnati-area Residents Paid For 94 Percent OF The Bengals Stadium, While Taxpayers Covered 90 Percent Of The Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium.
  • In 2016, The Minnesota Vikings Will Be Opening A Stadium Financed With $500 Million In Taxpayer Funds.

Rep. Rick Crawford introduces new way to reform entitlements

Over the past 20 years, federal spending has risen 63 percent faster than inflation. Publicly held debt is three-quarters of GDP, and federal spending is on track to grow 69 percent by 2023.   Mandatory spending is now almost one-seventh of the country’s economy, and is one of the major debt drivers.

Entitlement spending is tough to address largely because it grows on autopilot. To reform, Congress has to actively seek reforms outside of the regular budget process, a politically dangerous move which Members are generally unwilling to do. Since 1970, entitlement spending grew from 31 percent of all federal spending to more than 58 percent last year. As the automatic spending continues to  accelerate, entitlements and interest will consume 100 percent of all federal revenue within only 16 years.

Yesterday, Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01) introduced an amendment that sets out to take a step in the direction of reform. It would require a super-majority to create new permanent entitlement programs, or, if a majority did create new entitlement spending,  the program would sunset after a period of seven years if Congress did not reauthorize it. It also requires that all new entitlement spending be offset fully by cuts elsewhere.

Often, there’s not a lot that Congress can really do from day to day to stem the ever-rising tide of entitlement spending. This amendment changes things. It gives Congress a chance to do something to fix our broken entitlement system, and it’s well worth considering.

Congress prepares to pour billions into Iraq… again

Update: the House approved this plan 256-156 last night.

We thought we had good budget news for a little while.

At least, somewhat good news. As you might remember, Congress couldn’t do its job last year and finish the appropriations process. As a result, it must now pass a continuing resolution, or CR, to fund the government for a set amount of time or until the budget is finished.

The initial CR was to be short term, spend at current levels, and not include other provisions.

But now, Congress is scrambling to respond to the President’s announced plan of further involvement in Iraq given the ongoing chaos in the region because of ISIS, or ISIL, fighters. An amendment to train and fund opposition fighters could be attached to the CR this afternoon.

As others have pointed out, this move raises constitutional questions, since Congress has not authorized or declared a war. There are also reasons to raise an eyebrow at funding so-called “moderate rebels.” But these questions are not for us to take on. Our concern here relates to the price tag.

While the bill, on its face, supposedly rejects adding new funding to cover the estimated $500 million cost, in favor of shuffling money within the CR and allowing foreign governments to pay, the plan could still end up costing millions. The Pentagon has said that 5,000 rebels are to be trained and equipped, costs that could quickly add up — not to mention the thousands of troops already being sent to the region and the nearly inevitable mission creep.

It hasn’t been very long since irresponsible budgeting with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq helped push our deficit and debts to previously unforeseen, sky-high levels. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.

U.S. to commit $500 million to fight Ebola

The Ebola outbreak is undoubtedly a crisis, and the level to which the United States ought to get involved is a valid discussion.

However, today we see yet another example of why the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations budget is in need of reform. Critics have rightfully called the OCO budget a “slush fund” because of its common use to skirt budget restrictions and pay for anything and everything. And now? Yet another example of this phenomenon.

Time reports:

On Tuesday, President Obama will announce more efforts by the U.S. to lead a global battle against the spread of the deadly virus.

The United States is dramatically escalating its efforts to combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa, President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The unprecedented response will include the deployment of 3,000 U.S. military forces and more than $500 million in defense spending drawn from funding normally used for efforts like the war in Afghanistan, senior administration officials outlined Monday. Obama has called America’s response to the disease a “national-security priority,” with top foreign policy and defense officials leading the government’s efforts.

Officials said that the Department of Defense is seeking to “reprogram” $500 million in funding from the department’s “overseas contingency operations” fund to assist in the response. Obama has also requested another $88 million from Congress for the U.S. response, including $58 million to expedite the development of experimental treatments for Ebola.

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