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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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Opinion Piece Appeared in The National Interest Last Month

In August, CRS outreach director Jake Grant wrote an op-ed that appeared in The National InterestThe full text has been posted below, where he argues that more money for national defense does not mean increased safety. Guide for a Strong America is also referenced throughout the article.

On August 13, President Trump traveled to Fort Drum, a U.S. military base in upstate New York to sign the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation authorizes $717 billion in defense spending, an increase of more than $20 billion from the 2018 NDAA passed in December of last year. Infiscal year 2017 , defense spending totaled just north of $600 billion, a nearly 20 percent increase in funding in the past few years.

Despite the massive increase in funding it is receiving, the Pentagon has simply ignored various policy proposals that would make the agency more efficient and save taxpayers billions. For instance, over $2 billion could be saved by implementing roughly thirty reforms proposed by the Department of Defense inspector general (DoD OIG), outlined ina March 2018 report.

In total, there are over fifteen hundred open cost-saving recommendations that haven’t been addressed by the Department of Defense (DoD), which would save billions if implemented. In 2017, the DoD successfully implemented just under one-third of the 1,298 recommendations, but every year the recommendations continue to pile up. Furthermore, there are more than fifty of these recommendations that have not been addressed in over five years.

While the Pentagon gets increased funding every year, it merely ignores requests to make changes that would improve its efficiency and fiscal stability. Defense hawks push these massive increases in spending year over year, but it’s hard to defend them when thousands of cost-saving measures are available and waiting for DoD implementation.

The reforms recommended by the DoD OIG aren’t difficult to find, as the five-hundred-page report lists and prioritizes them. Some of the high-priority recommendations include recouping improper payments from contractors for incorrect labor costs and fixing management oversight in medical centers. Each proposal is pages long, with detailed insight on the various suggestions.

The Institute for Spending Reform has also found and compiled proposals from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), members of Congress, and defense-policy experts. With over eighty proposals in six different categories, the compilation of ideas in Guide for a Strong America is another resource for the Trump administration and members of Congress to use when debating spending levels.

Proposals such as improving the DoD’s surplus equipment disposal procedures would save several million dollars while limiting increases in basic pay would result in hundreds of billions in savings over the decade. These ideas may not be popular with everyone, but debating them is necessary if Americans want to slow the growth of military spending in the long-term. Unfortunately, that’s seeming less and less likely.

Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence has now outlined a plan for implementing the U.S. Space Force by 2020—a new separate, sixth branch of the military. With no current cost estimate, nobody knows how much this will increase spending at the Pentagon, but it surely won’t be cheap. Already, members of Congress are proposing building space weapons , without any indication whether they will be successful, are necessary, or that the Pentagon even wants them. Expensive new weapons projects should at least be proven to work before funding is allocated.

There is some good news. This year, the Pentagon will undergo an audit for the first time in the agency’s history, something that should make taxpayers happy. Already, the Navy is cutting costs by entering data in a more automated and detailed format which is saving millions of dollars . These reforms may be a drop in the $700 billion military budget, but they represent a genuine step toward fiscal responsibility.

If the DoD determined that all of the money it is awarded is necessary to protect the United States from foreign invaders, that would be one thing. Nobody who is advocating for cuts to the Pentagon wants to undercut America’s security. However, Americans do insist that their policymakers should weigh the pros and cons of different programs and determine which are efficient, which need to be improved, and which can be cut or eliminated. Let’s implement basic cost-cutting proposals before settling for throwing more money at the federal government’s largest agency and pretending that more dollars always equal more safety.

The safety of Americans should be the Pentagon’s number one priority, but acting as good stewards of taxpayer money should not conflict with this goal.

Coalition congratulates pledge signer Greg Steube for winning Congressional primary

By a decisive margin, voters in Florida’s 17th Congressional district have chosen pledge signer and state senator Greg Steube as their Republican nominee. Senator Steube has long been a champion of fiscal responsibility in the Florida legislature, and we are thrilled to see voters choose him to advance to the general election.

Mark Callahan is Committed to Stopping the Growth of Government in Washington

Mark Callahan is running for Congress in Oregon’s 5th Congressional district. He recently won the Republican primary and will go on to challenge the incumbent, Congressman Kurt Schrader, in November.

Yesterday after signing the pledge, he spoke on the issue of federal debt:

“I feel that the federal government should live within its means.  As Americans, we all have check books.  We know what goes into our check books in the form of income, and what goes out of our check books in the form of expenses. We, as Americans, have to keep our check books balanced to be fiscally responsible.  I feel the federal government should have to do the same, i.e. balance their checkbook.  Running up more debt, that will be saddled on the backs of our children and grandchildren for generations to come, is a not solution.”

It is vital that we support candidates who will fight in Washington against the status quo of continuing to pile up the debt. Mr. Callahan would be a great ally in Washington and we wish him the best of luck in the general election in November.

Check out his website here and the full list of pledge signers here.

On entitlement spending, doing nothing is worst of all

Part of the reason why reforms to mandatory spending — by far, the largest chunk of US federal spending — remain elusive is that politicians are hesitant to make any cuts to promised benefits. While this is certainly an understandable worry, politicians are willfully ignorant of the other fact: Ignoring the problem will make it worse, and could cause drastic cuts within our lifetime.

Writing in USA Today, David Schoenbrod and Brian Riedl explain why:

Politicians promise changes to avoid cuts in Social Security and Medicare, but their alternatives are plainly insufficient. Democrats favor tax hikes on the rich, but even doubling the highest two tax brackets to 70 and 74 percent would close just one-fifth of these programs’ shortfalls — and even that assumes people keep working at 90 percent tax rates when including state and payroll taxes. Slashing defense spending to European levels would close just one-seventh of the gap. Single-payer healthcare proposals are projected by even liberal economists to increase the debt. Republicans favor cuts in antipoverty and social spending, but even the unimaginable elimination of all anti-poverty spending would close barely half of the shortfall.

Responsible lawmakers should move quickly to stabilize Social Security and Medicare, and take no option off the table. Delay only makes the inevitable reforms even more drastic and painful.

Read the full piece here.

CRS President Jonathan Bydlak in The Ripon Forum

In the July 2018 edition of The Ripon Society’s magazine, The Ripon Forum, Coalition president Jonathan Bydlak wrote the need to get creative to solve the national debt crisis. He writes,

Lawmakers kick the can down the road because they can do so without consequence. Unlike a tax increase, an increase in the national debt doesn’t immediately affect anyone’s paycheck. And who among us instinctively attributes higher interest rates or lower income growth to marginal rates of spending and growing government?

The issues are complicated.

What’s more, current approaches simply aren’t working. There are the constitutional arguments: just because government can do something doesn’t mean it should. There are the fiscal sustainability arguments: current programs aren’t affordable and we don’t have the money to pay for future promises. And there are the ideological arguments: the private sector is more efficient and shifting resources toward government makes us all worse off.

He goes on to talk about SpendingTracker.org, explaining,

Spending Tracker represents a key way to record what every Member of Congress is doing – and to hold them accountable. Parents of today will no longer have to wonder which politicians are burdening their children and grandchildren with inescapable debt – they will know as it happens.

Consider, as an analogy, the current world of financial prognostication, in which commentators offer various predictions as to what will happen to home prices or which way the stock market will move. When hearing these predictions on television, it’s impossible to judge the likelihood of them coming true without knowing the predictor’s past record of success.

Jonathan concludes the piece by saying,

The accountability of new technology combined with time-tested reforms offers hope that the United States will not keep sliding steadily into the realm of fiscal crisis. There’s still time left to right the ship – and if Congress cannot get its act together, creative solutions from an engaged public are our best bet.

You can read the full piece online at The Ripon Society.

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