There are some things that We can do to save our country. I am writing a series of short posts to suggest some changes (that no one is really talking about) that would have a profound impact on the country.
Modest Proposal #1: Zero Based Budgeting
Since 1974, Congress has used baseline budgeting to plan future spending. Baseline budgeting assumes a certain growth for every project and program in perpetuity, regardless of efficacy or relevance. This has inexorably led to the explosion in the size of government, government spending, and government debt.
Moreover, with budget increases planned into future budgets, any attempt to even reduce the rate of growth of any program is falsely labeled a “cut” and used as a rhetorical bludgeon on anyone that even tries to reduce the growth of government.
If Republicans take control of Congress, it should be a priority to undo the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and institute “zero based budgeting” as the new method. This would require each and every program and bureaucracy to justify its budget every year from zero.
Will this make budgeting and spending more difficult? Yes. And that is exactly as it should be.
There are proposals to do just that. Here is one by Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida. In addition to the zero based budget, Ross’ bill would require
First, every department and agency of the federal government, when submitting their budget request each year, must provide a description of each activity for which a department or agency receives an appropriation.
Second, every department and agency of the federal government must cite to Congress the legal basis under which they may lawfully receive an appropriation.
Third, every department and agency of the federal government must offer three alternative funding levels. Additionally, two out of the three must be for less money than the prior budget year. This innovative budget mechanism will allow agencies and department leaders to help Congress cut waste, or risk Congress taking an across the board approach. Tell us where to cut or we will cut for you.
Lastly, for each activity a department of agency requests money for, they must provide a summary of its cost effectiveness and efficiency to the taxpayer. This will allow Congress and taxpayers to judge whether we are truly getting our money’s worth.
This would be a good start.