NTU strongly urges all Members of Congress to vote “NO” on the “Bipartisan Budget Act.” This spending deal would eviscerate the 2011 Budget Control Act’s spending caps, extend the debt ceiling, and enact policies that would make it harder to achieve fiscal sustainability in the future.
An initial estimate of approximately $300 billion in new spending above the law’s caps barely scratches the surface in terms of total spending. The two-year deal also includes $155 billion in defense and non-defense Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, $5 billion in emergency spending for defense, and more than $80 billion in disaster funding. $100 billion in proposed offsets are comprised of the same budget gimmicks taxpayers have seen used as pay-fors over and over and are unlikely to generate much of a down-payment on this new spending.
In addition to setting new funding levels for Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019, the deal contains other costly policy provisions. A lengthy debt limit extension robs taxpayers of the opportunity to extract long-term budget reforms. The deal would give seed cotton access to Title I commodity income subsidy programs. This could increase taxpayer outlays to cotton growers, who already receive subsidized loans and direct payments as well as access to their own shallow-loss Stacked Income Protection program (STAX), and reignite a trade dispute with Brazil. Likewise, eliminating caps on crop insurance policies for livestock producers and additional funding for dairy producers exacerbates already problematic federal agriculture policies that distort markets and hurt taxpayers, consumers, and small farmers.
Together, these new policies and plus-ups put the true price tag far above the $300 billion advertised. Not only will taxpayers have to foot this bill, such massive increases in spending and adverse changes to policy make it all the harder to accomplish real reforms. Most alarmingly, this capitulation of fiscal responsibility threatens the very economic growth taxpayers had hoped to gain with tax reform.
Roll call votes on the “Bipartisan Budget Act” will be heavily-weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.