Letter of Support: Rep. Lamborn's Budget for Disasters Act, H.R. 4386
Dear Representative Lamborn,
On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I write in strong support of your recently-introduced Budget for Disasters Act, H.R. 4386. Your bill closes a loophole built into last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, a budget trick that allows lawmakers to work around the law’s spending caps that are supposed to be in place to save taxpayers money.
In August of last year, Republican leadership and President Obama struck a deal to raise the nation’s unprecedented $14 trillion debt ceiling. While the deal was far from perfect, one positive change from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) did create immediately-enforceable caps on discretionary spending—a solid tool to restrain out-of-control growth in this part of the federal budget. These caps promised to save nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.
A loophole in the law, however, allows Congress to spend additional funds on disaster relief, above and beyond the agreed-to spending caps. When several tornadoes ripped through the South and Hurricane Irene pummeled the East Coast in 2011, the federal government spent more on disaster aid than it anticipated. Incredibly, instead of cutting spending elsewhere in the federal budget to make room for this additional expense, Congress was able to work around the spending cap entirely. Lawmakers spent an additional $11 billion on disaster relief—all of which was exempted from the cap.
Spending caps are intended to promote fiscal responsibility, but when they can be easily sidestepped, they defeat this purpose. When you exclude the extra disaster relief funding, lawmakers from both parties can claim they cut discretionary spending by $7 billion last year. But in reality, with disaster relief included, spending actually increased by $4 billion last year. Only in Washington can you increase spending and call it a spending cut at the same time!
Congress’s approval rating stands at a paltry 14 percent, and one major reason is that American taxpayers are tired of budget tricks just like this one. It’s simply wrong for lawmakers to promise fiscal restraint to the American people and then turn right around and do the exact opposite when they think no one is looking. Your bill makes the BCA spending caps work more like they ought to: enacting strict limits on discretionary spending, forcing Congress to honestly budget and set priorities with Americans’ tax dollars, with no special exceptions.
Americans for Prosperity is proud to support H.R. 4386, the Budget for Disasters Act. I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.
Adam A. Berkland
Federal Affairs Manager
Americans for Prosperity