Well-Intentioned House Budget Lacks Permanent Enforcement

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2015 budget April 10 by a vote of 219 to 205. The new budget slashes $5.1 trillion in federal government spending over the next 10 years and maintains tax breaks for struggling small businesses trying to create jobs.

Considering our nation is currently straddled with more than $17.5 trillion in debt, any attempt to rein in wasteful spending should come as a welcome relief.

I definitely applaud the efforts of my House colleagues to fix this growing burden, but I also believe they glossed over our country’s glaring issue. Without permanent spending controls in Washington, any new budget reducing spending only applies a small bandage to a gaping wound.

My first thought upon seeing this budget — which goes back to last year and previous budgets — is that there is no underlying mechanism to enforce it. The budget is still just a non-binding resolution that doesn’t have the enforcement of permanent spending controls, such as a Spending Limitation Amendment (SLA) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). Consequently, I made the decision a while back to not support these budgets, because they can’t be enforced.

The last three decades of wasteful government spending give us a pretty clear indication that non-binding budget resolutions cannot give our country a balanced budget. Setting a new budget is a futile task absent permanent spending controls that require Congress to set priorities and then actually stick with the plan; which cannot happen with a simple, non-binding resolution.

Permanent spending controls are the only mechanism we have to enforce an otherwise statutory budget resolution that has no binding authority. I mean, the next Congress — which can look completely different every two years — often doesn’t follow the direction set by the previous one, unless a Constitutional Amendment requires it to do so.

It’s similar to taking a new job. New employees don’t do everything the same way their predecessors did. They certainly incorporate some of the same ideas and techniques, but they will always do their job differently compared with the previous hires.

However, employers can set ground rules for important job duties. These lay out specific work requirements and the mandatory results from each employee. So, while employee faces may change, these don’t.

We need Congress to have the same, enforceable ground rules preventing our country from heading further into debt.

The biggest complaint I hear regarding a SLA or a BBA is that it just won’t happen. I don’t consider passing such legislation an easy battle, but it’s a task Congress must undertake to prove to the American people it will spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money wisely.

Until then, we can expect to see this same problem with different results.

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