In a recent article from the Hill, “Washington is ready to spend,” Rebecca Shabad highlights how Members of Congress are seeking to eliminate spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Those budget caps proved successful in forcing Congress to spend less and budget more efficiently. Not surprisingly, politicians find it easier to eliminate budget caps and increase spending than to save taxpayers money.
While members of Congress cry for more funding, they are simultaneously finding inventive ways to waste taxpayer money. As Citizens Against Government Waste notes in their 2015 Congressional Pig Book Summary, $15,000,000 was set aside for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) by Congress to “reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead, supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.” The organization notes that “since FY 2000, 20 earmarks costing taxpayers $149.5 million have been added for the PCSRF.”
As Congress squabbles over how to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, eliminate the national debt, and fund our military, policymakers need to examine their own spending habits before looking for new taxes and fees on Americans. Instead of calling for more spending, lawmakers should rein in government waste and put more of that money back in taxpayers’ wallets.
As ATR noted recently, federal funds are being spent on projects like “squirrel sanctuaries” and “bicycle paths, walking trails, and environmental projects” in addition to the PCSRF. Washington may be “ready to spend” but the federal government does not need more money to misuse. If Congress is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order, the first step would be for lawmakers to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written promise for no new tax increases and focus on spending cuts. This commitment protects American taxpayers by reducing government waste and eradicating burdensome tax hikes. Maybe instead of preserving fish, Congress should spend more of its time focusing on lowering taxes and cutting spending.