WASHINGTON (May 2, 2019) – The R Street Institute welcomes today’s release of the Republican Study Committee FY2020 Budget: Preserving American Freedom. Though R Street does not agree with every proposal contained in the budget, we are pleased it endorses a number of sensible, pro-market changes to certain federal programs.

R Street is particularly pleased with the RSC’s decision to support reasonable caps on crop insurance subsidies. Specifically, the budget would cap payments at $125,000 per person or $250,000 per couple actively engaged in farming. These are reasonable limits that would begin to pare back a bloated farm safety net.

“For too long, the federal government has provided overly generous crop insurance subsidies that damage the environment, line the pockets of wealthy agricorps at the expense of truly needy farmers and damage our trade relations,” said Caroline Kitchens, R Street’s director of federal affairs. “I’m happy to see the Republican Study Committee put forward thoughtful reforms that would repair our broken farm safety net.”

R Street is also delighted to see the RSC incorporate Congressman Warren Davidson’s, R-Ohio, Global Trade Accountability Act into its budget. The Global Trade Accountability Act would begin to re-establish Congress as more than a bit player in trade policy, consistent with Article I, Section VIII of the U.S. Constitution. “Over the last several years, the Trump administration’s ill-advised trade policies have hurt families and businesses, hamstrung American competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world and damaged relations with longstanding allies,” said Clark Packard, R Street’s trade policy counsel. He added, “Steps to rein in the executive branch’s unilateral trade authority are desperately needed.”

R Street commends the RSC budget’s emphasis on addressing a wide range of national security threats. The focus on readiness and rapid response to threats in physical as well as digital theaters is particularly welcome. R Street is deeply committed to supporting our military and protecting the national security of the United States. And we support the men and women—military and civilian—whose job it is to protect our border and our people from hostile foreign actors. R Street believes that the United States and our allies face a variety of serious cybersecurity threats from numerous malicious cyber actors, especially hostile nation states.

It is wise to invest in more effective and efficient mitigation of the cyberthreats faced by the United States. Moreover, federal funding should be focused on emerging strategic technologies with significant national security and cybersecurity implications, such as artificial intelligence, 5G wireless technology, sensors and robotics. In particular, the United States must make major federal investments in artificial intelligence in order to maintain its economic and military power relative to its main strategic challengers, China and Russia.

It is also critical that the Department of Defense focus on ensuring the security of its supply chain, especially with regard to critical weapons systems; command, control, communications and intelligence; logistics; and information technology. Dedicated spending to maintain adequate, up-to-date systems across government agencies is a necessary component of our cybersecurity.

From a transparency perspective, R Street commends the initiative to fold planned Overseas Contingency Operations spending into the base defense budget so that it may be treated like other parts of the budget, susceptible to sequestration cuts if necessary.

Regarding government reform and reaffirming Congress’s Article I powers, the Preserving American Freedom proposals continue along the well-established path paved by past RSC budgets to promote federal-level efficiency, transparency and fiscal responsibility.

“During a time of general prosperity, we are running massive deficits. Now is time for Congress to act,” said R Street Vice President of Policy Kevin Kosar. As such, R Street commends the budget’s objective to reassert Congress’ power of the purse, all with a deep respect for federalism and the First Branch’s strict constitutional authorities.

The budget’s proposals to shift current mandatory funds into the discretionary realm and establish routine periodic reauthorizations of federally funded programs have been consistently recommended by R Street because of their potential to place Congress back in the driver’s seat of the budget and appropriations process. Similarly, R Street was pleased by the budget’s proposals to craft an affirmative role of the legislature in the act of regulatory budgeting.

Overall, R Street is pleased to see the RSC embrace a number of fiscally prudent, market-oriented reforms. We commend the entire RSC, its staff and members, and  its chairman, Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana. We look forward to working with the RSC to advance these priorities in the 116th Congress.

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