Though the federal government is facing a massive shortfall over the coming decades ("$30 trillion in red ink," Comment & Analysis, June 10), there were real savings proposed in the past Congress that could offer solutions to both our short- and long-term fiscal problems.
According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, lawmakers in the 112th Congress sponsored 198 unique bills to cut spending by $1.2 trillion each year. Most of the measures ultimately were not passed, leaving taxpayers with a $669 billion federal deficit in fiscal year 2013. The foundation's Bill Tally project scores every piece of legislation introduced in Congress. A number of these bills would institute across-the-board spending limits as seen, for example, in earlier versions of the Budget Control Act.
Other measures would make additional targeted cuts. Some of the more ambitious efforts included repealing President Obama's Affordable Care Act, block-granting Medicaid and reforming benefits eligibility to reflect America's changing demographics. All of these efforts would have begun the process of real entitlement and budget reform, but elected officials did not act.
That's not the end of the story, however. Many of the savings bills from the previous Congress can be reintroduced, cutting spending rather than relying on budget gimmicks or tax increases. These measures would bend downward the cost curves of the federal government, giving officials more flexibility to enact honest structural improvements to the nation's retirement and health care programs. The key to opening the door for entitlement reform tomorrow may be one that unlocks other budget savings today.
Research and outreach manager
National Taxpayers Union Foundation
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