December 20, 2014

Budget Process Needs Greater Long-Term Focus

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby offers two key suggestions for improving the congressional budget process: Plan ahead and pay the bills.

Congress could start by simply following the rules and statutory requirements that are already in place, including the “Pay As You Go” standard that requires offsets for new spending or tax cuts.

But more should be done to instill the budget process with a longer-term focus. In an interview and guest column for Federal News Radio, Bixby offers suggestions that include:

  • Congress should switch from an annual budget cycle to a 2-year cycle that would enable lawmakers to spend more time on oversight and longer-term challenges.
  • Instead of simply focusing on the next five or ten years, the budget process should include setting GDP-related targets at 5-year intervals through 2040 for total revenues, defense spending, domestic discretionary spending, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other entitlements and net interest.
  • For enforcement purposes, triggers could be added that would either trim spending down to the targeted levels or raise revenues.

In addition, the debt limit should ideally be tied to some relevant economic measure like GDP growth and to fiscal decisions that require more borrowing.