In an 1802 letter to Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson said, “We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as the books of a merchant, so that every congressman and every man of no any mind in the Union should be able to understand them, investigate abuses, and therefore control them.
Few Americans understand “Union finances,” also known as the federal appropriations process. It’s fair to say that the typical citizen understands their basic rights – freedom of speech, trial by jury, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (to name a few). However, many are unfamiliar with the complexities of what happens with their tax money after it is collected by the Internal Revenue Service.
Fortunately, Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., has a plan to increase transparency, balance the budget and reduce congressional spending.
Braun’s budget proposal would promote balance within 10 years and save more than $5 trillion, without raising taxes. To do so, his plan would gradually limit federal spending to 17.5% of potential gross domestic product, the 50-year average of income.
The Braun budget would also properly realign spending, ensuring that all lawless, non-military programs are subject to review by the respective House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Many of these programs have gone unchecked for years because the rules for mandatory — or outright — spending differ from those applied to discretionary spending.
In addition, it promotes transparency and accountability by withholding congressmen’s salaries if the annual budget exceeds the deadline, requiring all new mandatory spending to be offset, and requiring the Treasury Department to release information to citizens. on annual government spending. With these provisions and more, Americans born after 2001 would have the opportunity to experience a fiscally responsible nation with a balanced budget for the first time.
Over the past few months, one word has been on the minds of all Americans: inflation. Production costs, changes in demand and fiscal policy are driving these astronomical numbers. While the United States is not the only country struggling with inflation, misguided regulatory policies have done much harm and little help. Demand for products is staggered as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, creating conditions conducive to the price increases we are seeing across many sectors.
One of the biggest culprits of inflation is Congress. In fiscal year 2021, the government spent $6.82 trillion, or about 30% of gross domestic product. However, it only collected $4.5 trillion in revenue, resulting in a deficit of $2.77 trillion. This includes the inflationary $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, legislation with a potential real cost of $3.5 trillion over the next decade.
At the start of FY22, Congress passed the fiscal year deadline of September 30, passing one continuous resolution after another, until it finally appropriated $1.512 trillion in a March 2022 omnibus for the remainder of the fiscal year. In an age of multi-trillion dollar spending programs and relentless resolutions, taxpayers have good reason to be deeply concerned.
Now, as if competing for a role in “The Walking Dead,” the Build Back Better Act looks set for a comeback from the grave. President Biden’s 2,468-page capstone bill passed the House in November. At the time, the Congressional Budgeting Office estimated that at a minimum it would cost $1.7 trillion and add $160 billion to the national debt over the next decade. However, this price could reach more than 5 trillion dollars. Clearly, the Senate — particularly Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia — is being more cautious than the House, easing the pork-laden bill to offset drug price reform.
Under Braun’s proposal, the respective House and Senate Appropriations Committees would no longer be able to block partisan and wasteful spending and then celebrate its eventual passage as if future generations wouldn’t have to foot the bill. By withholding members’ salaries until the annual budget was passed, Congress was allowed to eat away at the budget through continuing resolutions.
By disseminating information to the typical citizen about the government’s financial situation, it encourages community participation and engagement, and by requiring cost compensation, it ensures that the government recoups its investments over time.
The nation’s fiscal condition is at critical mass, and it is the responsibility of elected officials to fix the spending problem they have allowed to fester for decades.
Michael Mohr-Ramirez is the head of government affairs at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. He wrote this for InsideSources.com. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.