Lawmakers Set to Investigate Flawed Budget Estimates

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, 2:50 PM PERMALINK

Our federal budget process is clearly broken and in dire need of reform. Congress has adopted only 7 budgets in the past 15 years. In the last 40 years, the appropriations process has been fully completed just four times. Within the last 20 years, it has only been completed once.

The budget process is plagued with insufficient oversight, unaccountable spending, expired programs, and partisan disagreements. In turn, the broken of process means the outlook to fixing the dire fiscal state of nation faces an uphill battle.

Clearly, drastic change is needed. To fix this broken system, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have both put forward a range of proposals. These proposals are aimed at reforming budget making and enforcement so that federal spending is properly authorized through regular order, not passed at the last minute.

While leaders in Congress have shown leadership in these efforts, they are also conducting strong oversight over narrower, but no less important issues.

Later this week, Chairman Price will investigate the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of proposed tests by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the Obamacare agency responsible for designing and testing new payment and delivery structures. CBO is responsible for producing cost estimates on all legislation and so is an integral part of the budget process.

Currently, CBO utilizes a flawed approach that shows any attempt to block or correct CMMI proposals as costing the government money. This binds the hands of lawmakers by forcing them to consider offsetting spending cuts whenever they wish to exert proper and necessary oversight over federal programs.

Flawed methodology will make it that much harder for Congress to do its job of passing a budget. If lawmakers are needlessly bound by CBO budget estimates, they will have little hope of restraining Washington’s spending problem and returning to regular order.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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