What would happen if lawmakers took this year’s budget, subtracted $1, and made that the budget for next year? Let Freedom Ring made this video asking policymakers to do just that:
If lawmakers did this, they would need to cut the 2014 budget by nearly $150 billion. That’s right: Federal spending is already projected to rise by nearly $150 billion in fiscal year 2014. So even keeping the budget the same would, essentially, “cut” the budget by nearly twice the amount that sequestration cut in 2013.
According to Let Freedom Ring’s own polling, 80 percent of the public would support such a commitment.
But instead, spending just keeps going up. Only 4 percent of Americans polled favor increased spending, making Congress, with its whopping 9 percent approval rating, twice as popular as a larger budget.
The ongoing budget conference is an important opportunity for lawmakers to agree to reduce spending in the near term, and most importantly, the long term. Discretionary spending is approved annually by Congress and makes up around one-third of all federal spending. Mandatory programs constitute roughly two-thirds of federal spending and are for the most part not included in annual appropriations; they automatically rise to accommodate new beneficiaries and changes in program costs—rising with changes in the cost of living and the cost of health care, for example. So this is where the budget conference should focus.
Mandatory spending is the primary culprit of higher spending, accounting for a 120 percent increase in spending in fiscal year 2014. Discretionary spending, which is driven down by sequestration—assuming Congress doesn’t undo the cuts—will fall by $45 billion compared with 2013. Without that cut, spending would go up by $190 billion.
Mandatory spending programs need to be strengthened not only to rein in deficits and debt but to preserve economic opportunity for younger generations who would otherwise be crushed by a rising tax burden.
Matthew Sabas is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.