Budget Deal Casts Doubt If Congress Will Ever Control Federal Spending
But there was a catch, according to R Street Institute Senior Fellow James Wallner.
“It is important to note that the BCA did not actually reduce spending. It relied instead on the assumption that future congresses would pass appropriations bills that complied with the spending caps,” Wallner wrote in an analysis on the think tank’s web site Monday.
Wallner also pointed out that largely for the same reason none of the preceding budget agreements going all the way back to the Gramm-Rudman Act of 1985 achieved their purpose. Gramm-Rudman was the first big budget agreement with a sequestration process to enforce spending limits.
So the main lesson of recent history, Wallner wrote, is that “Congress’s track-record when it comes to automatic enforcement mechanisms suggests that there is no way to automatically control the urge of its members to spend in the future … spending caps were repeatedly revised upward after they became law to allow for more spending.”
In other words, Wallner pessimistically concluded, “if Congress wants to spend more than the law permits, it will.”
A broad spectrum of political experts interviewed Monday by The Epoch Times agreed with Wallner, but not everybody.
“I think Wallner is too pessimistic,” said Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Richard Manning. “From 2011 to 2014, federal government spending declined or was flat, which accounted for the dramatic drop in the federal deficit.”
Two things must happen before such a day comes, according to Senate staff veteran Brian Darling, who said Wallner is “spot on” because “statutory budget agreements have proven to be a failure from Gramm-Rudman in the 80s to the ‘sequester’ that was just breached in the most recent budget agreement.”
Wallner told The Epoch Times he thinks “a constitutional requirement that budgets must balance will make it harder for legislators to deficit spend,” but he pointed out that “legislators’ already have a mechanism at their disposal to enforce a balanced budget, the debt ceiling.”