Senate Budget Resolution Aims to Shrink Deficit

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2020. The blueprint presents a five-year plan to reduce the deficit by over $538 billion over the next five years. This would cut the on-budget deficit from 3.2 percent in 2019 to 2.3 percent in 2024, well below the historical average of 3.5 percent.

Specifically, the plan would:

  • Use the reconciliation process to instruct five committees to report legislation that would reduce the deficit by at least $94 billion over five years.
  • Adhere to the Budget Control Act caps while avoiding the Overseas Contingency Operation funding gimmick in the President’s budget to boost the defense budget outside of the caps. The Enzi resolution provides that any agreement to yet again increase the caps must be fully offset.

  • Eliminate use of the “changes in mandatory programs” gimmick whereby authorizations for mandatory spending that were unlikely to be spent are rescinded and used to “offset” appropriations.

  • Require the Congressional Budget Office to continue to account for macroeconomic feedback in scores of major legislation.

  • Establish a new point of order against legislation that “circumvents existing scorekeeping and federal estimating guidelines by dictating its own accounting.” This would target a gimmick in provisions that employ directed scorekeeping to boost discretionary spending caps.

The resolution recognizes that mandatory spending is “out of control” and seeks to find sensible reductions. In a perfect world, taxes would be low and the budget would be balanced. The Chairman’s summary of the resolution notes, “This budget does not presume to solve all of our shared fiscal challenges. Rather, it is intended to start a gradual process of addressing our unsustainable deficits and debt.” Enzi’s resolution is commendable for seeking to build momentum toward balance through sensible, achievable budget reforms.