NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Congress's Fiscal Report Card

July 8, 2002

The Concord Coalition, an advocacy group promoting fiscal responsibility, gives Congress extremely poor marks for its spending habits during Fiscal Year 2001 (which ended September 30, 2001). Although members of Congress all claim that they want deficit spending to be temporary, almost all of them have taken advantage of other members' willingness to dip into the red ink and spend freely on pet projects -- aka, pork barrel spending.

However, although September 11 understandably changed our budget plans considerably, analysts note, the nation's greatest fiscal challenge remains the need to finance the unfunded entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

  • In just 6 years, Baby Boomers will begin to affect the budget by retiring in large numbers, and there is no plan in place to pay for them except to run up the debt, cut benefits or raise taxes.
  • In just one year, we have gone from a $300 billion surplus to a $100 billion deficit, and there are no signs that spending will be curtailed soon.
  • However, if we were fiscally responsible now, we might be able to use surpluses to fund transition costs of Social Security and Medicare reform.

Special interest groups are not helping the situation, either. Groups such as farmers, educators, health care providers, transportation planners and veterans all insist that recent deficits are no reason to scale back their claims on a surplus that no longer exists.

Source: "The Concord Coalition's Report on Fiscal Responsibility," Vol. 4 No.1, June 2002.


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