Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander - “Creating New Forces to Restrain Spending”

Posted on June 19, 2006

Washington, D.C. is filled with forces that encourage spending. Last week, I joined Senate Majority Leader Frist and Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg to introduce legislation to create new forces to restrain spending. Some of the new provisions included in this legislation, the Stop Over-Spending (S.O.S.) Act of 2006, are: · a line-item veto tool that would allow the President to target wasteful spending, ask that it be repealed, and receive a speedy vote from Congress. Forty-three governors have the line-item veto. I had it as governor of Tennessee, and it helped me to balance eight budgets; · a two-year budget cycle, so Congress spends less time spending money and more time exercising oversight and making sure the money we spend is doing what it’s supposed to do. The first year would be spent writing a two-year federal budget and completing the appropriations process, and the second year would be spent on oversight and getting rid of programs and spending that we don’t need; · a bipartisan Commission on the Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies (CARFA) that would review all federal agencies and make recommendations for eliminating unnecessary programs. Congress would take an up-or-down vote on the entire package of recommendations; · caps on the amount of money we can spend each year. If we break those caps, we must return to the drawing board to cut spending; · caps on our budget deficit to put us on a path towards a balanced budget. Deficits above those caps would trigger across-the-board spending cuts; · a commission to look at our entitlement spending, which makes up almost two-thirds of the entire federal budget. We must look for ways to reduce the spiraling costs of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security by controlling the rate of growth. Tennessee families make hard choices every month to balance their budgets. They don’t have the luxury of spending more than they take in year after year. Our nation’s debt now stands at over $8.3 trillion and each American citizen’s share of that debt is over $28,000. It’s time for Congress to take serious steps to restore fiscal discipline. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Stop Over-Spending (S.O.S.) Act, and I hope my colleagues from both parties will join us in this effort to balance the federal budget.