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, 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.

Coalition Letter: Pentagon Spending Should Save Taxpayer Dollars While Keeping America Safe

Today, the Coalition sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to consider reform principles for Pentagon spending that will save taxpayer dollars and keep America safe. The Center for Freedom and Prosperity, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance also signed the coalition letter.

Broadly, we asked members to support these principles:

  • Support Adaptable Programs and Leverage Open Architecture
  • Pursue Clear Strategy and Requirements on the Front End
  • Prioritize Long-Term Costs and Savings

As the letter summarizes:

Our organizations and the millions of Americans we represent may not agree on all issues, but together, we believe that keeping America safe requires strong finances. We believe that avoiding fewer proprietary systems and preferential earmarks are commonsense steps in that direction. It is vital that we invest in the technologies of the future and focus on keeping citizens safe while guarding the pocketbooks of the American taxpayers.

Read the full letter here.

PRESS RELEASE: Rep. Bruce Westerman Spends Least out of Arkansas Delegation

New analysis from the nonpartisan reveals that Arkansas representatives are significant significant contributors to federal government overspending. Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4) is the most fiscally conservative of the Arkansas delegation this session, voting for $524 billion in new spending.

By comparison, Rep. French Hill (AR-2) has supported $872 billion, and Reps. Steve Womack (AR-3) and Rick Crawford (AR-1) have each voted in favor of $922 billion.

Westerman’s record comes from his votes against massive spending packages recently pushed through Congress. He was the only member of Arkansas’s delegation to vote against H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act, which raised federal spending caps back in February. He also voted against the subsequent $40 billion appropriations package.

Compared to Congress overall, Westerman’s score is ranked “Average,” whereas French, Womack, and Crawford each rate as “Very High” relative to all Members. Under President Trump, spending scores for Arkansas’s delegation are also down across the board. In the 114th Congress, the last two years of President Obama’s term, all Arkansas congressmen voted for roughly $2 trillion in new federal spending.

On the Senate side, things are no better. Senator Tom Cotton voted for $839 billion in new spending, ranked a “high spender” and a “very high spender” compared to his party and delegation. Sen. John Boozman voted for $922 billion in new spending and is rated similarly.

Much of the total spending is contained within large, “must-pass” pieces of legislation. When considering all votes that have been taken, not just those for bills that became law, Westerman’s score drops to $190 billion (a score ranked “very low”), while Hill drops to $538 billion (“low”) and Womack and Crawford each to $588 billion.

Jonathan Bydlak, founder of, says that Members should not fall back on this excuse, however. “The fact that most spending is enacted in enormous pass-fail bills should be reason for Members of Congress to redouble efforts at process reform,” he said, “not accept the status quo of sky-high deficits and debt.” 

## is a joint project of the nonpartisan Coalition to Reduce Spending and Institute for Spending Reform. The site tracks official government estimates in real-time to determine how much spending each member of Congress has voted for. Learn more at

Download a PDF version here.

35 Members of the House Introduce Resolution on National Debt

Last week, 35 members of the House of Representatives introduced H. Res. 919, which recognizes the national debt as a threat to national security.

Congressman Andy Biggs (AZ-05) spoke about the reasoning behind introducing the resolution:

“My colleagues and I have introduced this resolution because, with a national debt over $21 trillion, the United States is racing towards a fiscal cliff. We are taking few measures to solve this problem. It is beyond time for Congress to become serious about balancing the nation’s budget and making significant cuts to federal spending. If we do not change our course, we will be responsible for one of the worse catastrophes this nation has ever experienced: the crash of the American economy and the demise of a superpower. We must not let our grandchildren inherit – and experience – this ruinous fate.”

Many of the original cosponsors provided quotes on the predicament that the U.S. federal government is currently in. Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-04) said,

“The American people sent us to Washington to change the status quo and reduce out-of-control government spending. It’s time to deal with our spending problems and balance the federal budget.”

The full press release and various statements can be found here. You can also see all the cosponsors on

Members of both the House and Senate must get serious about reforming spending. After passing a massive spending bill earlier this year, it’s imperative that cuts are made before a fiscal catastrophe hits. We commend these 35 Representatives from across the country for seeing the national debt for what it is: a huge danger.

Coalition Letter: Senate Should Oppose Amendment Eliminating Sequester Mechanism

CRS has joined National Taxpayers Union and ten other organizations urging Senators to oppose an amendment to the NDAA. Amendment #2321, offered by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), would eliminate the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester mechanism for discretionary spending as a way to continue increasing defense funding and work around the budget caps.

The letter explains in more detail:

Despite repeated budget agreements that amended the BCA’s caps, the BCA has nonetheless been an essential check on the congressional impulse to overspend. The BCA has generated significant savings for taxpayers, established a lower budget baseline, and forced much-needed waste reduction and prioritization of programmatic needs across federal agencies.

The annual Defense authorization act is an improper vehicle to unwind the BCA. Any discussion of repealing or changing the caps ought to be done in the context of other significant reforms that would generate real savings for taxpayers – both now AND in the future.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Signers include:

  • Coalition to Reduce Spending
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Campaign for Liberty
  • Concerned Veterans for America
  • Center for Freedom and Prosperity
  • Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
  • ConservativeHQ
  • Independent Women’s Voice
  • Defense Priorities Initiative
  • Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • FreedomWorks
  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Learn More