Big spending looms in lame duck

After another election cycle, Congress is back with a full plate. Government funding runs out on December 7, and lawmakers have to pass either seven unfinished appropriations bills or another continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

However, some big ticket items are also looming. They include Hurricane Michael relief, National Flood Insurance Program re-authorization, and a potential “fix” for Medicare’s complicated “donut hole” problem.

Meanwhile, as Democrats take back control of the House of Representatives, a plan is advancing that will move Congress toward some form of budget process reform, though it remains to be seen exactly how far-reaching that plan will be.

As reports last week highlighted, growing mandatory liabilities put the US on a collision course. Soon, our nation will be spending more on debt service than on Defense within short order.

The lame duck Congress is as unlikely to solve all of these issues as the new Congress will be, unless taxpayers can change the incentive structure that lets spending be everyone’s last priority. Achieving this goal is truly the cause of our generation — now more than ever.

Remembering Herb London

CRS founder & president Jonathan Bydlak wrote today with sad news, as longtime Coalition advisory board member Dr. Herb London passed away Saturday evening.

As our friends at the London Center noted, his career spanned decades and included being drafted into the NBA, writing a hit rock & roll record, running in multiple statewide elections, authoring 30 books, and being a prominent advocate for the cause of free markets.

As many have said, he was a Renaissance man in an era when few, if any, of his caliber still exist.

He was also, above all, kind and generous with his time, including with a then-29-year-old founder of a new group trying to cut federal spending. As an early and active advisory board member of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, he was a mentor to me as he was to countless others.

He will be missed.

Read the full note here.

Congratulations to newly elected pledge signers!

Like many of you, we’re still wrapping our heads around many results Tuesday night — and waiting for results themselves in other races — but one outcome that undoubtedly deserves celebration is the Reject the Debt pledge signers who advanced to elected office.

Across the country, dozens of candidates signed the commonsense commitment to (1) Consider all spending open for reduction, (2) Vote only for budgets that lead to balance, and (3) Vote only for new spending if offsets are included.

Winners include:

Michael Waltz, FL-6
Representing the greater Daytona Beach area, Rep. Waltz is a retired Green Beret, former Fox News contributor, and former White House staffer. Waltz has said, “I know more government can all too often overstep its boundaries.” We are excited to see his efforts to rein in government in Congress.

Greg Steube, FL-17
Representative-elect Steube previously served in the Florida State House and State Senate, and is an Army veteran. Representing a large area south of Tampa, Florida, Steube has a long track record of voting for smaller government in the state legislature, and with his pledge, sets himself instantly apart in Congress as well.

Mark Harris, NC-9
A pastor and community leader, Harris will represent a district stretching from portions of Charlotte to Fayetteville. He has previously called for a balanced budget amendment and supported larger-scale spending reforms as well. He takes office under more dire circumstances than in many previous years but with a commitment far above average to solving the problem.

Dan Crenshaw, TX-2
Crenshaw will soon represent southeast Texas in Congress but made worldwide headlines for being on the receiving end of (and graciously forgiving) awkward jokes from Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson.  But his military service and newly national profile is not all that sets the Congressman-elect apart. By joining the ranks of the most fiscally conservative members of Congress with his pledge, he is poised to take on the challenge of our generation.

Lance Gooden, TX-5
A three-term state representative, Gooden has extensive experience fighting for responsible budgeting in the state and is ready to take the issue on at the federal level, too. He says that the national debt and runaway spending is “one of the defining issues of our time.” Citizens in southeast Dallas County and around the country can be glad Gooden was willing to go on the record and is ready to fight for our future.

The 75-Year Budget Outlook is Grim

Our friends over at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) released a new paper last week examining the budget 75-years down the line. In The 75-Year Budget Outlook they found some troubling statistics, but nothing completely surprising.

They summarize that:

  • Under current law, debt will double from 78 percent of GDP today to 160 percent by 2050 and reach 360 percent of GDP by 2093.
  • Under CBO’s Alternative Fiscal Scenario – which assumes the continuation of current policies – debt would reach 225 percent of the economy by 2050 and over 600 percent of GDP by 2093.
  • Budget deficits under these scenarios would rise from about 4 percent of GDP this year to between 20 and 35 percent of GDP by 2093.
  • Securing the solvency of various trust funds would go a long way toward fixing the debt. Under our TRUSTGO Scenario – which assumes revenue and/or benefit changes sufficient to achieve solvency in Social Security, Medicare Hospital Insurance, and the Highway Trust Fund – debt would stabilize at about 100 percent of GDP.

By 2093, our country’s finances will completely be in shambles if something isn’t done. It’s necessary that the federal government and Congress make the necessary changes to ensure we do not have a fiscal disaster. There are ways to cut spending and move us in the direction, but it will take difficult conversations and tough votes for that to happen.

You can read the full report on their website here.

Rebekah Bydlak in National Interest: How do we make spending matter?

Writing today in The National Interest, CRS Executive Director Rebekah Bydlak takes on the elephant in the room of US fiscal policy. That is, why do voters not hold politicians accountable for bad votes?

It is easy to point fingers at Washington, but as national politicians keep abandoning fiscal restraint, their voters seem fine with it. As we head into another election season, those of us who care about the budget should do what we can to ensure these “single-minded seekers of reelection” feel the only pressure most of them care about.

We must hold them accountable. Thanks to technology, we have the receipts , so use them. Refuse to donate to any candidate who won’t take the debt seriously. Organize your friends. Stop crying wolf about unnamed disasters, but talk about the real economic consequences of spending like drunken teenagers—scream it from the rooftops. Ask questions, publicly but also privately. Discuss your concerns with staffers who make most of the policy work happen anyway.

Read the full piece here. And click here to become a regular part of our critical work to hold politicians accountable.

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