Christine Harbin Hanson

Second, the separation of powers is once again at stake. Even though Congress has been transferring ever-increasing amounts of authority to the executive branch, it still has control over budgetary issues. Allowing the President to allocate tens of billions of dollars above the spending caps gives him outsized power over the federal purse. Letting the President allocate the sequester cuts, for instance, gives him the power to create the kind of panic he tried to get this past March when the first round of sequestration cuts went into effect. With nine months of hindsight, we see that the President overplayed his hand by going after the highly visible cuts such as closing White House tours instead of going after all the waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending. We learned that cutting two percent of the discretionary budget did not cause the world to end.

Third, the federal government will spend $967 billion, one way or the other. Even if Congress passes legislation exceeding $967 billion, sequestration will bring the spending levels down to the appropriate level. It’s better budgeting to spread those reductions over all 12 months instead of concentrating them in the last three quarters of the fiscal year, between January and September, as the sequester mechanism would require. It’s also better to focus these cuts on mandatory spending on entitlements instead of spreading them across-the-board.

Americans for Prosperity has more than two million activists living in all 50 states, and they are fed up with their elected officials’ unwillingness to live up to their agreements. The grassroots are paying close attention to what Congress does next on spending. They want real spending control, not more empty promises. While American households and businesses continue to struggle in the sluggish economy, now is not the time for ever-higher levels of spending coming from Washington.

Christine Harbin Hanson

Christine Harbin Hanson is the federal affairs manager at Americans for Prosperity, a nationwide grassroots organization. Follow her on Twitter at @HarbinHanson.