Earlier this month, the Trump administration offered Congress the chance to do something it hasn’t it quite awhile: Cut spending. The package would strip out a little over $15 billion in unnecessary or wasteful spending.
And today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), David Perdue (R-GA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, which would create a path toward formally cutting the funds that the White House identified in its package.
Now, the clock is ticking. Under the 1974 Budget Act, the President can pause funds — but only for 45 days if Congress does not act.
Solving our looming budget crisis will take far tougher, more wide-ranging reforms that these. Here, Congress is presented with perhaps the lowest-hanging fruit possible for budget cuts — and they should act swiftly to support them.
The Coalition to Reduce Spending is proud to lead a letter signed by 10 other fiscally conservative organizations urging the House and Senate to have an open and robust amendment process when considering the Farm Bill legislation.
In the letter, we explain the need for a more open process:
“Members of Congress get the opportunity to weigh in on the Farm Bill only every 5 years. With no agriculture subcommittee mark-ups this year, there was even less opportunity to debate policy and voice priorities. The Farm Bill touches almost every facet of American life and economy – far beyond just its effect on the agriculture industry. Members from across the nation and outside the full committee should have the chance to be involved in a process that impacts them and their constituency.”
In addition to the Coalition, the letter is signed by Americans for Prosperity, Campaign for Liberty, Club for Growth, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Independent Women’s Voice, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
While our organizations may hold a range of opinions on Farm Bill policy, we are united in our belief that the Agriculture committees should allow members to debate and consider reforms that would make meaningful changes to the farm bill and will result in a bill that is better for farmers, consumers, and taxpayers.
You can read the text of the full letter here.
In what observers are calling a “stunning upset,” Coalition pledge signer Mark Harris has defeated incumbent Representative Robert Pittenger, who had not signed the pledge and recently voted for the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.
The pledge commits Harris to consider all spending open for reduction, not to vote for a budget that has no path to balance, and not to support new spending without offsets elsewhere.
We wish Mr. Harris the best of luck heading into the general election and hope he keeps his word with fiscally conservative votes if he is elected to serve the people of North Carolina.
Today, the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sent Congress a rescissions package totaling $15.4 billion. In a letter to the President, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney summarized the importance of the proposal:
“As demonstrated in your first two Budgets, the Administration is committed to ensuring the Federal Government spends precious taxpayer dollars in the most efficient, effective manner possible. Given the long-term fiscal constraints facing our Nation, we must use all available means to put our fiscal house back in order. “
The rescissions package is an attempt to strip “low-hanging fruit” from the budget — specifically, to cut unobligated balances, or funding that is no longer necessary for the purpose in which it was appropriated. In many instances, this money continues to be appropriated, even if agencies haven’t spent it for many years. The Department of Energy’s loan program for Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing is one such example, still receiving funding despite not making a loan since 2011.
The White House proposal also targets Department of Agriculture programs that were previously made available for animal and plant disease outbreaks that are no longer a threat. It would rescind more than $160 million in unobligated subsidy amounts for the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, as well as wasteful funds from the Public Housing Capital Fund under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Appalachian Development Highway System from the Department of Transporation, and the Treasury Forfeiture Fund from the Department of the Treasury.
While the size of the rescissions package pales in comparison to the increases in the spending caps passed as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 in February, it represents an attempt by the administration to at least walk back more egregious examples of waste in the subsequent omnibus — now it’s up to Congress to act. Though these rescissions mostly deal with unobligated amounts, it’s clear they would move the needle in a positive direction.
Congress has a rare chance to pass fiscally conservative policy — which would likely be seen as a win going into the 2018 midterm elections. The Administration is right to target such low-hanging fruit, and the House and Senate should do their part by approving the recissions package as soon as possible.
In a letter to Congress, the Coalition to Reduce Spending has joined 13 other organizations urging reforms to the current subsidy programs be included in the upcoming farm bill.
The letter states that,
Our concerns about farm subsidies go well beyond excessive and unjustified costs to taxpayers. Subsidy reform is so important to our organizations because the existing subsidy system violates the most basic principles of conservatism, including a belief in free enterprise and limited government.
The letter goes on to describe the four principles wrong with the current system: cronyism, waste, central planning, and promoting dependence. It also lists the reforms that the signed organizations want to see in the passage of the farm bill.
The Coalition has highlighted some of these issues in the past in various op-eds. Congress would be wise to consider meaningful reforms to the expensive farm bill. There are bipartisan changes that can be made simply, saving money for taxpayers and consumers alike.
A link to read the full letter can be found here.