NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 21, 2005

The war on terrorism and homeland security costs are putting new financial pressure on spending, stressing the need for Congress to reform its budget process, writes Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation.

Indeed, the existing budget rules have been subject to abuse for the past three decades, stifling debate and often breaking down.

Reidl says a reformed budget process should be simple, easy to implement, less prone to loopholes and designed to facilitate communication and cooperation between the administration and Congress. He recommends:

  • Placing annual caps on total spending rather than bringing back ineffective multi-year discretionary spending caps and pay-as-you-go budget restrictions.
  • Promoting cooperation with the president by requiring that annual budget resolutions become binding acts when they are signed into law, so that the appropriations process can run more smoothly and with more discipline.
  • Clarifying budget allocations by breaking down spending appropriations by committee or subcommittee rather than by function.

Despite past difficulties in passing budget reform, Reidl says a disciplined budget process that best allocates the federal government's resources is now a matter of national security and economic health.

Source: Brian Riedl, "What's Wrong with the Federal Budget Process," Heritage Foundation, January 25, 2005.


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