Suggestions to members of the JSC on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform


June 25, 2018

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

CC: Reps Paul Ryan, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer, OMB Dir. Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Tom Schatz, Mr. Michael Tanner

As some of you may know, SAFE is a nonpartisan, all-volunteer, Delaware-based group, which has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996.

In 2011, when a Joint Select Committee (aka Super Committee) was tasked with a “mission impossible” of reaching bipartisan consensus on some $2 trillion in deficit reductions, SAFE offered its encouragement and suggestions. See, e.g., our
8/22/11 letter to the JSC members.

Your JSC was created with a judicious balancing of interests (Party A vs. Party B, House vs. Senate, budgeters vs. appropriators). And although the mission wasn’t clearly stated, you seem to be viewing it as minimizing disruption from budget disputes versus, say, balancing the budget before the fiscal roof caves in. Frankly, talk about creating a “glide path” to a solution in 20 or 30 years seems like an excuse for inaction in the here and now, and we also think you should give serious consideration to proposing elimination of the Senate filibuster rule that is being used to block timely consideration of appropriation bills.

Nevertheless, the proceedings to date have been worthwhile. Your committee has discussed some important issues, the witnesses have generally been first class, and the absence of partisan rancor is refreshing. SAFE’s observations and reactions (yes to eliminating the debt limit and making budget resolutions biennial, no to changing the fiscal year or “automatic” CRs) are spelled out in our
5/14/18 and 6/11/18 blog entries.

To build on what has been accomplished to date, we would like to offer three ideas and in each case suggest a witness whose testimony could prove helpful.

#Introduction of a “long-term perspective” in the normal budget process might divert attention from savings that are currently achievable. We would encourage you to hear from Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, about the hundreds of billions of dollars in near-term deficit reduction that could be achieved by implementing the proposals identified in their Prime Cuts inventory.

#It’s true that the fiscal problem can’t be fully solved without doing something about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc., and the actions required transcend the confines of the normal budget process. To address this situation, one or more special commissions should be appointed to study the major entitlement programs and recommend reforms. Michael Tanner of Cato would be superbly qualified to offer suggestions for the path forward.

#It’s hard to imagine any major improvement in results of the budget process without presidential leadership. In effect, the issue is not fixing the
congressional budget process; it is fixing the government’s budget process. We would therefore like to suggest that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney be invited to testify and in addition made an ex officio member of your committee.

Please advise if you have any questions or we can help further.



Joint Select Committee for Budget and Appropriations Process Reform et al.
Letter individually faxed or e-mailed to each addressee on 6/25/18.

#1 Rep. Jodey Arrington R-TX
#2 Rep. Nita Lowey D-NY
#3 Rep. Derek Kilmer D-WA
#4 Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard D-CA
#5 Rep. Pete Sessions D-TX
#6 Rep. Steve Womack R-AR
#7 Rep. Rob Woodall R-GA
#8 Rep. Steve Yarmuth D-KY

#9 Sen. Michael Bennet D-CO
#10 Sen. Roy Blunt R-MO
#11 Sen. Joni Ernst R-IA
#12 Sen. Mazie Hiron D-HI
#13 Sen. James Lankford R-OK
#14 Sen. David Perdue R-GA
#15 Sen. Brian Schatz D-HI
#16 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse D-RI

#17 Sen. Mitch McConnell R-KY
#18 Sen. Chuck Schumer D-NY
#19 Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA
#20 Rep. Paul Ryan R-WI

#21 Michael Tanner, Cato
#22 Tom Schatz, CAGW
#23 Mick Mulvaney, OMB

Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

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