NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Control Spending Before Raising the Debt Limit

May 4, 2011

Congress must accomplish three things to put the United States on a path to financial responsibility, says David Addington, vice president for domestic and economic policy at the Heritage Foundation.

Cut current spending.

  • In making cuts in current spending, Congress should emphasize cuts in continuing programs.
  • This is because, given the budget practices of government that look to existing budgets as a baseline for future budgets, the current cuts likely will result in related reductions in future spending.

Restrict future spending.

  • Congress already has a number of useful budget proposals available to serve as a foundation upon which to base further actions necessary to cut future spending.
  • For example, the House Republican Study Committee proposed a budget designed to reach a balanced federal budget within 10 years.

Fix the budget process.

  • Congress should amend existing federal laws that provide permanent or indefinite appropriations for federal agencies or programs (including entitlement programs).
  • To make the budget process more visible, understandable and accountable to the American people, Congress should estimate and publish the projected cost over 75 years of any proposed policy or funding level for each significant federal program.
  • Congress should require, in addition to the calculation of the costs of proposed congressional actions without regard to the response of the economy to the actions (known as "static" scoring), a parallel calculation that takes account of that response (known as "dynamic" scoring) so as to make more practical and useful cost information available to Congress when it decides whether to pursue the actions.

Source: David Addington, "Don't Raise the Debt Limit without Getting Spending Under Control," Heritage Foundation, April 21, 2011.

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