With record deficits producing a level of debt nearly equal to our nation's entire economy, Republicans have sparked a renewed effort to change the way Washington does business and end the spending binge. Predictably, a number of our colleagues have launched the same, tired political attacks that have always made spending cuts and budget reforms a tough sell. For his part, President Obama has focused his time at town hall events and well-publicized speeches to offer proposals to minimally trim spending and significantly increase taxes. These well-known differences – Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem – make any sort of agreement seem incredibly difficult.
Yet, there is a way to drag both Congress and the Obama Administration toward a positive solution to save taxpayers billions of dollars immediately, and it is one that has already received the support of 81 Senators, including 34 Democrats.
Enter the Decrease Spending Now Act – legislation we recently introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Our bill requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House to rescind $45 billion in unspent, unobligated funding from government agencies and report to Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury as to where those cuts have occurred. This is funding Congress voted for and appropriated but which the bureaucracy has not spent – some of it for years. These rescissions would not include funding for the nation's defense, our veterans, or Social Security.
A recent OMB report found that the amount of unobligated taxpayer dollars gathering dust in agencies across the government may top an astounding $700 billion. Certainly, it comes as a shock to no one that the government suffers from a remarkable level of waste and mismanagement. This behavior has meant that Congress has voted to fund the government to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars the bureaucracy has yet to spend – the clearest sign that the federal government can do with less.
That such an extraordinary amount of taxpayer dollars sits idle puts to rest this notion that substantial spending cuts will starve the government of the resources it needs. At the very least, the bureaucracy can do without $45 billion of those unspent funds – the amount we call for in our package.