Budget Guru Paul Ryan Works to Repair ‘Broken Budget Process’

Dec 7, 2011 3:15pm

With 952 days elapsed since the Senate last passed a budget, House Budget chairman Paul Ryan joined fiscal conservatives today to reveal a wide-ranging approach to fixing Washington’s broken budget process through a slate of reforms that aim at strengthening spending controls, enhancing accountability and increasing transparency in the federal budget.

“We have a fiscal crisis in this country,” Ryan, R-Wis., warned. “If you want to see what happens to countries that continue to ignore their problems and to kick the can down the road, look no farther than Europe. We don’t want to be Europe. We want to revise and revitalize the American idea.”

Ryan said that after the committee spent the first four months of the year working to pass the GOP’s Path to Prosperity budget, but Senate Democrats failed to produce their own proposal, the committee began looking at the systemic issues plaguing the budget process.

“The goal and the hope [was] that we start negotiating [with the Senate] on fixing this problem. That didn’t happen, so we spent the rest of this year looking at why is it that Congress is so dysfunctional? What is wrong with the federal budget process that has given us this complete impasse, this paralysis?” Ryan said. “This 10-bill effort is a result of that.”

Considering the political obstacles of a Democrat in the White House and Democratic majority in the Senate, Ryan said the lawmakers decided to offer 10 separate pieces of legislation rather than a single large package in order to “increase the likelihood that most of these reforms pass.”

“What we’re trying to do is advance what we think are commonsense, bipartisan reforms that fix the integrity of the budget process,” Ryan said. “A lot of these ideas don’t just come from Republicans. A lot of these ideas come from Democrats to begin with.”

Last week Ryan teamed up with the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, to introduce an expedited line-item veto. He said it’s his goal to pass all of the proposals by March, ahead of next year’s budget battle.

Here is the full list of the 10 proposals outlined by House Republicans today:

The Legally Binding Budget Act, which gives the budget the force of law by converting it from a concurrent to a joint resolution requiring the President’s signature. Upon a presidential veto, the joint resolution automatically reverts to a concurrent resolution.

The Spending Control Act, which establishes binding limitations on federal spending and deficits - all enforced by a sequester of no more than 4 percent of programs - within each category if the program is growing faster than inflation.

The Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act, which provides for the expedited consideration by Congress of specific requests by the President to reduce discretionary spending in appropriations legislation.

The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act, which establishes a biennial budgeting cycle in which Congress adopts a budget resolution in its first session (i.e., odd-numbered year) and considers authorization legislation in the second session, providing greater opportunities for review of government spending.

The Baseline Reform Act, which reforms the budget “baseline” to remove automatic inflation increases in discretionary accounts, and to require a comparison to the previous year’s spending levels.

The Government Shutdown Prevention Act, which provides automatic authority to fund programs at a slightly reduced rate from the previous year’s level if Congress fails to enact appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year

The Review Every Dollar Act, which requires periodic sunset reviews and reauthorization of all federal programs to ensure the programs perform an appropriate role and are operating effectively.

The Balancing our Obligations for the Long Term Act, which caps total spending over the long term to reduce the burden of government to no more than 20 percent of the economy by gradually reducing spending.

The Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, which reforms the Credit Reform Act to incorporate Fair Value accounting principles and also would bring the U.S. Postal Service on-budget.

The Pro-Growth Budgeting Act, which requires the Congressional Budget Office to provide an assessment of the macroeconomic impact of major legislation.

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