Today, House Republicans released their Pledge to America, an agenda based on feedback from the America Speaking Out project. Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Fiscal Accountability are excited to see spending and transparency as two main tenets of their reform proposals. Moreover, we’re glad to see members recognize what is at the heart of the country’s poor fiscal health – the preamble to the pledge states:
“If we’ve learned anything over the last two years, it’s that we cannot spend our way to prosperity. We offer a plan to stop out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government.”
Initiatives we have been supporting and are excited to see included in the package are:
- Rescind unused “stimulus” funds. After 19 months of "stimulus" unemployment still remains around 10 percent, despite the promises from the administration that the spending program would keep jobless rates below 8 percent. Congress should refrain from funneling more money into the black hole of "stimulus" spending.
- Cut spending to pre-"stimulus," pre-bailout levels. The growing level of government intervention into the private sphere has resulted in higher unemployment, strangled economic growth and extinguished investment by provoking fiscal uncertainty. This failed experiment in Keynesian spending policy should not be instantiated in any future spending levels.
- Cap Discretionary Spending. Over the past two years, non-security related discretionary spending has outpaced any reasonable metric of growth, growing by over 88 percent. Much of this spending is wasteful and unnecessary and the status quo should be fixed to not assume exponential growth year after year.
- End TARP. Government should get out and stay out of the bailout business entirely. A good place to start is ending the first bank bailout, and discontinuing any consideration of further public intrusion into private enterprise.
- Institute a net hiring freeze. While private job growth continues to elude the country, the public payroll has exploded over the past few years. The unsustainable compensation packages of federal employees, coupled with an exploding number of hires, places an indefensible burden on taxpayers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
- Root out government waste and duplication. Including a "sunset" clause in all legislation ensures government programs are not funded in perpetuity. Programs will be instituted with the understanding that once they have fufilled their intended purpose, they should be ended.
- Read the Bill. Taxpayers have watched helplessly as massive pieces of legislation are passed through Congress at the speed of light without a single member voting for them having read these bills. This was the case with the catastrophic "stimulus" bill, the Cap-and-Trade bill in the House and the health care bills. Taxpayers demand their representatives read bills they are intent on passing, and citizens should be afforded the same opportunity. Requiring a 72-hour waiting period before a bill can be voted on ensures last minute changes, sweetheart deals and backroom compromises can't be aidropped into major legislation at the last minute.
- Require an Open Rules process for spending bills. Last year was the first time Appropriations bills were heard under closed rules, which severly limit the amendment process and make it nearly impossible to strip spending from these pieces of legislation. Requiring an open rule for spending bills makes it easier for spending to be cut and ensures members on both sides of the aisle have a voice in the process.