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Keep It Real after the Deal: Leaders Must Tackle Washington’s Overspending, Taxpayer Group Contends
For Immediate Release August 3, 2011
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700
(Washington, DC) – After shaking hands over a flawed deal to raise the national debt ceiling, elected officials must avoid shaking down taxpayers for more of their money and instead start shaking up Washington’s culture of excessive spending and borrowing. That’s the assessment of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which has already begun efforts to ensure taxpayers get the most out of the debt agreement’s limited potential as well as push for additional reforms that are necessary to change America’s unsustainable fiscal course. NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp offered the following comments shortly after the enactment of the debt-limit compromise:
Yet another budget deal has been signed into law, amid the usual pronouncements that mountains have been moved, cats have been herded, and gallons of midnight oil have been burned to produce the best possible outcome for taxpayers. The reality is less dramatic. Instead of adopting the House-passed Cut, Cap, and Balance plan – the most comprehensive and effective near-term, intermediate, and long-run solution to runaway deficits and reckless debt – Washington agreed to some further borrowing and some modest spending reductions now, while continuing to put off the most important decisions until later.
Taxpayers do have cause to be encouraged by parts of this plan. The President and his allies abandoned punitive tax hikes as an absolute condition for the first chunk of additional debt authority; instead, a larger amount of program cuts will take effect. Moreover, should the ‘Supercommittee’s’ task of identifying $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction in exchange for a second debt-chunk come to naught, a solid “sequester” mechanism to enforce spending cuts – including prudent adjustments to defense – could be triggered. Additionally, the legislation commits Congress to voting on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution.
Unfortunately, taxpayers have more cause to be concerned. As NTU’s Andrew Moylan explained in a recent entry on our blog, the ‘Supercommittee’ will indeed have the latitude to recommend certain tax increases, which could very well have an easier path to enactment than the conventional legislative process might afford. Furthermore, unlike the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan or the modified Budget Control Act that passed the House late last week, Congress is not required to send a BBA to the states for ratification before a second bundle of borrowing could be unwrapped.
Although NTU believed the minuses of this agreement outweighed the pluses and therefore opposed it, leaders must now concentrate on minimizing the potential damage and maximizing the potential gains for taxpayers. This means insisting that members of the Supercommittee rule out tax increases in their quest to shave future deficits. It means pursuing systemic tax simplification and reform, which will stabilize revenues the right way - by growing the economy. It means acting upon more aggressive proposals for spending restraint from both sides of the aisle. It means making honest reforms to all entitlement programs now, not more posturing and gimmickery that will lead to worse pain later. It means a true bipartisan effort for constitutional fiscal discipline, by passing a workable BBA rather than going through the motions of a political ‘show vote.’
In short, a fiscal impasse has been averted, but a fiscal crisis brought on by Washington’s culture of excessive spending and borrowing has yet to be avoided. Our future still hangs in the balance.
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. For more on NTU’s work visit www.ntu.org.