Black Friday Spending Spree (in Washington)
by Romina Boccia, Heritage Foundation, November 29, 2013
American shoppers aren’t the only ones getting ready to spend big this holiday season.
In Washington, members of the budget conference committee are considering several options that could increase spending by up to an additional $100 billion.
What’s standing in their way is sequestration: the automatic spending cut mechanism President Obama signed into law with the Budget Control Act (BCA). Sequestration enforces spending caps on the discretionary budget, which includes those domestic programs that brought you the infamous IRS Star Trek parody video and the $325,000 RoboSquirrel. The reductions disproportionately fall on defense, and lawmakers should do a better job of prioritizing this core constitutional function while staying within the agreed-upon spending levels.
According to news sources, some budget conference members are considering a compromise deal to bust the sequestration spending caps by up to $100 billion. In an attempt to find offsetting mandatory spending cuts and revenues to entice both sides into such a deal, lawmakers are reportedly considering an increase in “user fees.” This is simply a disguised tax increase.
Raising these fees to cover the cost of providing services is one thing. Increasing them to pay for more spending is just another Washington gimmick. Using gimmicks like this one to get around necessary spending reductions is a destructive habit that has helped fuel the now $17.2 trillion national debt.
What adds even more fuel to the fire is that Congress is not currently restrained by a debt limit.
Lawmakers suspended the debt limit through February 7 in the deal that ended the government shutdown. With no dollar amount to limit their spending, there is little to stop Washington from piling even more spending and debt on taxpayers. Imagine hitting the Black Friday deals with an unlimited credit card at your disposal.
A budget conference “compromise” may sound like progress in this era of congressional gridlock, but when it means higher spending and continuing on the current fiscal collision course, it will do more harm than good. Washington is already on track to spend nearly $150 billion more in 2014 than it did in 2013, largely due to growth in entitlement spending—the key driver of spending and debt.
Instead of spending even more of taxpayers’ money, lawmakers should address future debt by controlling the growth in entitlement spending, sticking to the Budget Control Act, and enforcing lower levels of spending. If the committee fails to begin solving America’s entitlement problem, this means spending and debt will continue to go up and harm the opportunities of all Americans.
The credit card has been maxed out too many times already. This is the season to curb Washington’s spending spree.
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