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Simple changes in budget process would benefit U.S.

Apr 21, 2016 U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, Washington, D.C.


America's current budget process is designed to fail. It is time to focus on creating a transparent, accountable and predictable process that actually fits the problem. Even small changes can begin to help our country succeed in addressing its runaway spending and our exploding national debt.

Nearly every aspect of the current budget process is riddled with uncertainty. Consider the annual budget resolution that should serve as a long-term planning document that signals to stakeholders how Congress will allocate the country's limited resources. Instead it currently has little bearing on the tax and spending decisions Congress must make every year. Annual appropriations bills in Congress are chronically late and have not passed through regular order in more than 20 years.

There's also significant uncertainty generated by the government's future overspending. The Congressional Budget Office states the government's continued overspending will add $11 trillion in additional debt in the next 10 years as entitlements begin to take over the budget. Even more alarming, the annual interest costs on America's debt alone will total $839 billion per year in just 10 short years, which is more than the nation spends on defense and education annually.

An effective budget would enforce long-term spending discipline so that agencies, businesses, and constituents can plan accordingly. At the agency level, government managers should be held accountable for performance. And inadequate results should trigger increased scrutiny and program review.

A longer appropriations cycle also would reduce uncertainty. If Congress enacted two years of funding in appropriations bills, agencies could plan for two years, rather than one year. And they could spend less time formulating new budgets and worrying what Congress will do in the next fiscal year.

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