Home > Federal Bills, Federal Power > US House passes a bill to stop automatic growth of discretionary spending

US House passes a bill to stop automatic growth of discretionary spending

April 9, 2014

burnmoneykingThis week the US House of Representatives is focused on the federal budget. Among the bills going through the House is HR 1871: the Baseline Reform Act 0f 2013. The bill technically isn’t new, it was introduced last year (hence the reason it is a 2013 act) and in 2012 as HR 3578. Even though the idea isn’t new I think it is a bill that needs to be passed. The Baseline Reform Act actually has the potential to at least slightly slow down the growth of the federal government.

Currently federal budget baselines for discretionary spending are set to the prior years budget levels plus inflation. Ending this practice of automatic discretionary spending increases each year could go a long way in slowing down the monstrous growth of government programs. This is a good first step in trying to actually reduce the nations debt problem. Realistically it won’t do much to reduce the deficit or debt, but at least its a step in the right direction.

A second reason the bill is good is the very reason many Democrats were speaking against it: because it can be used as a way to cut off extra funding from certain federal programs. Exactly! It is just shy of impossible to end a federal program once it has started. Under the current appropriations process even the worse of federal programs will get an automatic budgetary increase each year. That is just crazy. Federal programs should have to operate like departments do for large companies in the private sector. Generally each department for a company in the private sector has to request increases and provide reasons for any budgetary increases. That is just sound fiscal policy.

It must also be noted that budget creators can still increase all of the budgets each year. All this change would do is stop the CBO from starting the baseline each year with an automatic budgetary increase. There is also a potential this new method could backfire and allow budget appropriators to give increases above inflation without anyone really realizing it. In this case though I think it is worth the risk to try this approach.

The bad news is the bill is unlikely to be brought up in the Senate. Senator Reid has proven to more obstructionist as the Senate Majority Leader  than Representative Boehner has been as the Speaker of the House (both are horrible, but Reid is slightly more of a dictator). Reid will not allow any bills to be brought up that would put his Democrat allies in a rough position politically. So realistically this bill will die again this year. Next year there is hope for the bill passing. The 2014 election has the potential to tip the balance of power in the Senate. At that time it will be interesting to see if DC Republicans retain their current top priority of reducing federal debt and actually passing bills such as this through both houses (I have my doubts, the Bush years are still fresh in my mind).

  1. April 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

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    I’m glad that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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