The Corner

Let’s Decrease Spending Now

When it comes to the gross mismanagement of the federal government’s finances, one might think there are no easy answers. The mountain of debt piled up over years of reckless spending and unprecedented growth in the size, scope, and power of government makes the task of getting our fiscal house in order extremely daunting. The good news? There are commonsense ways to immediately save taxpayer dollars.

It probably would not come as a shock to the American people that Congress often appropriates unnecessary funding for departments and agencies. What may not be so well known is that the problem is rampant enough that those departments and agencies are actually incapable of spending it all. What is left are billions of dollars gathering dust. These hard-earned taxpayer dollars remain untouched — some for years — by the programs and agencies to which they were appropriated.

In order to get some of these taxpayer dollars back, I have introduced the Decrease Spending Now Act (H.R. 1111) which simply requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget to rescind $45 billion in unspent, unobligated funding sitting in the coffers. The OMB director would be responsible for reporting to Congress and the president about where those savings will occur. By requiring the White House to take this immediate action, the Obama administration would actually have to get off the sidelines of today’s spending debate and show some leadership.

Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has been similarly uninterested in showing any leadership on the issue of cutting wasteful Washington spending in order to allow the economy to grow and create jobs. Because of that intransigence, some might say that a proposal this simple and commonsense might be blocked by our Democratic colleagues in their stubborn allegiance to preserve the status quo. But it will be hard for the Democratic Senate to turn down this offer to cut spending immediately. They actually passed a nearly identical proposal just a few weeks ago as a ‘pay-for’ in another bill.

For far too long, the Washington Way has been to find more and more opportunities to spend the American people’s money. When we took the majority in the House of Representatives this past January, Republicans began to act on our promise to end D.C. standard operating procedure. We have begun to shift Congress’s focus, asking what can be cut, not what can be spent. The current debate over how to tackle our unsustainable deficits should be encouraging, but those debates need to ultimately produce results. Otherwise our debts will grow and further threaten our economy. Current policy makes entrepreneurs and small business owners less willing to take risks and create jobs.

While House Republicans work diligently and comb through itemized lines for opportunities to cut spending, roll back government, and enact structural budgetary changes, we must not ignore the billions of dollars in already-appropriated, unobligated funds gathering dust around Washington. The very fact that there is such a large amount of unspent, unobligated funding makes it clear that the federal government can do without the bloated spending that our Democratic colleagues are fighting daily to keep in place.

House Republicans have pledged to reform the way Washington does business. The Decrease Spending Now Act — H. R. 1111 — would move us one step closer to fulfilling that promise. It is part of a serious and concerted effort to cut spending immediately and adopt a budget that ensures we are on a path to balance.

— Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R., Ga.) serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and is the fifth-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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