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NTUF Study: Sharpest Rise in Budget-Cut Legislation in 12 Years, Yet Spending Still Ruled in 111th Congress
For Immediate Release March 15, 2011
Douglas Kellogg, (703) 683-5700
(Alexandria, VA) - The relentless torrent of new spending proposals introduced in each Congress over the last decade appears to have finally eased off as Senators and Representatives in the 111th Congress authored the greatest number of budget-cut bills in 12 years. Overall, however, legislative activity to boost federal expenditures dominated 2009 and 2010. These and other findings from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) BillTally study vividly demonstrate an ongoing clash between lawmakers inclined to back higher government outlays and those responding to public clamoring for budget restraint.
Click Here for the full report.
Since 1991, the BillTally cost accounting system has computed a “net annual agenda” based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or co-sponsorship of legislation. This unique approach provides an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committees, party leaders, and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates for bills are obtained from third-party sources. Congress Members’ offices, or are calculated from neutral data.
NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and BillTally Project Director Demian Brady said, “BillTally results certainly showed how the 111th Congress drove the budget to unprecedented levels of spending and debt. However, we did see a slight drop-off in the number of spending-increase proposals. We also witnessed the most significant jump in savings proposals in 12 years, along with House Republicans sponsoring, on average, a net annual agenda that would cut spending. Taxpayers concerned about budget deficits would hope to see these trends carried over and strengthened in the 112th Congress.”
Key findings include:
Amid BillTally data that indicated rising interest in spending restraint among many lawmakers during 2009 and 2010, Brady noted that most spending-reduction activity in the 111th Congress focused on non-defense discretionary spending. A major question now is whether the new Congress will expand the budget-cutting horizon to include some of the bigger cost-drivers such as entitlements.
“In the 111th Congress, more Members actively sought out savings, but those pushing for higher spending without corresponding budget cuts ultimately had their way,” Brady concluded. “Taxpayers will soon know whether Members of the 112th Congress intend to take a different direction and tackle our growing budget crisis head-on. As previous BillTally reports have amply shown, we likely won’t see a balanced federal budget until a majority of Members balance their own spending agendas first.”
BillTally Report 111-3, Destination: Debt – How Unbalanced Agendas Led to Unbalanced Budgets in the 111th Congress, is available at www.ntu.org. Updates on BillTally data for the current Congress are provided through a weekly e-newsletter, The Taxpayer’s Tab. Click here to subscribe. NTUF is the research affiliate of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy group founded in 1969. Click here for more information on the BillTally system.