(Washington, DC) - A five-year spending restraint blueprint unveiled by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is a sign Congress can stop being superficial and start getting serious about controlling budget deficits, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). At a Capitol Hill event today NTU representatives encouraged lawmakers of both parties to give the RSC plan the equally serious consideration it deserves.
"While big-spending Members of Congress are reacting to the RSC's plan with endless denunciations of shock and dismay, our members have three simpler words in mind: It's about time," NTU Government Affairs Manager Kristina Rasmussen noted. "While Congress took the welcome step last year of slowing the growth of federal spending by less than a third of one percent, Washington can and should work harder at trimming its waistline."
Rasmussen pointed out that the reported five-year, $650 billion in savings from the RSC initiatives would still leave the federal government with roughly 95 percent of its projected outlays from Fiscal Years 2007 through 2011. "To hear some lawmakers tell it the world would come to an end if Congress had to do without this small share of its planned expenditures, but the people who pay government's bills have a different opinion."
NTU offered praise to the RSC's outline for reorganizing the fiscally-challenged Commerce, Education, and Energy Departments, an effort the group has backed for more than a decade. The proposals to control growth in several major entitlement programs also earned high marks. "The Medicare drug benefit enacted in 2003 has only hastened the demise of the entire Medicare system, and the RSC plan recognizes that acting sooner than later is the only prescription for this ailing program."
While the RSC plan proposes increases in military spending, Rasmussen urged lawmakers not to bypass opportunities for reducing waste and realigning priorities in the defense budget. Billions can be saved by forgoing Cold War-era programs, continuing the base closure process, and reforming the Department of Defense's contracting process.
"Congress must find the spinal fortitude to stand up to special interests and craft a sustainable federal budget that doesn't break the backs of taxpayers," Rasmussen concluded. "That means searching every nook and cranny of the federal government for savings. We're glad that the RSC is willing to pick up a flashlight to help, and we hope their colleagues with the Democratic Blue Dog coalition will lead the way to fiscal discipline for their party too."
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: Further commentaries and studies on the federal budget are available online at www.ntu.org.