Today, Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability, joined by forty-six groups representing millions of taxpayers, urged Speaker-Elect John Boehner to institute a new committee to cut spending. This Anti-Appropriations Committee would focus only on reducing spending and balance the spending interests of the other panels tasked with appropriating and authorizing new outlays. Republicans, who have outlined in their Pledge to America the efforts they plan to take in leading the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, should adopt this new committee to ensure comprehensive federal spending reform. The coalition wrote to Speaker-Elect Boehner:
This “Anti-Appropriations Committee” should be modeled on the Joint Committee on Nonessential Federal Expenditures, which was operational from 1941 until 1974. Commonly referred to as the “Byrd Committee” after its creator, Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. (D-Va.), the committee focused exclusively on cutting spending, much in the same way the standing committees today focus on sanctioning new spending. As such, the panel was able to net real savings for taxpayers, cutting over $38 billion (in 2010 dollars) in waste and inefficiencies.
Many efforts to reduce government spending have been undermined by the distraction of spending and taxes – history shows that only when the temptation of spending is removed can fiscal prudence take center stage. The success of the Byrd Committee was due to this singular nature; tasked only with cutting spending, rather than appropriating, the committee was able to propose targeted and effective rescissions.