Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dennis Ross knows how to solve Congress' spending problem

The past month has gone by in a blur, traveling to Washington, D.C. for CPAC and then getting everything lined up for my new gig in Massachusetts, so I'm still catching up on the "really want to write a blog post about this but haven't yet" list.

When I was in D.C. last month, Representative Dennis Ross (FL-12) sat down with me for a short interview. We discussed his experiences as a freshman Congressman, his frustrations with how Congress deals with spending, and also his bill for "Zero-Based Budgeting" (more on that below):

YouTube | SunshineStateSarah | Dennis Ross (R, FL-12) on how to solve Congress' spending problem

Here is the Congressional Research Service summary of the "Zero Based Budgeting" bill, H.R. 821, that Ross discusses in the above video:
Requires the President to submit with materials related to each federal budget transmitted to Congress by January 1, 2013, a budget for each agency that contains: (1) a description of each activity for which an agency receives an appropriation in the current fiscal year or for which the agency requests an appropriation for the budget year; (2) the legal basis for each activity; (3) for each activity, three alternative funding levels for the budget year (at least two of which shall be below the funding level for the current fiscal year), a summary of the priorities that would be accomplished within each level, and the additional increments of value that would be added by the higher funding levels; and (4) for each activity, one or more measures of its cost efficiency and effectiveness.
Requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to publish guidelines to carry out this Act that shall require: (1) the baseline budget of each agency to be assumed to be zero, and (2) each proposed expenditure to be justified as if it were a new expenditure.
In other words, every single agency budget will start at zero, and they will have to justify each individual item for which they think is worthy of taxpayer dollars. As Ross points out, this will shine a giant spotlight on the activity of these agencies and naturally lead to significant decreases in spending:
What I'm asking for with this budget, is that we start with a baseline of zero...what it will eventually do, is to really show these agencies, that some of what they spend, if not a lot of what they spend, is not justifiable or necessary. 
I had a conversation over Twitter with Ross last year about his Zero Based Budgeting bill, and he sent this quote:
No more should government be funded based on the "it's always been done this way" method of budgeting. If government were required to justify every dollar, every year, there are hundreds of billions [of dollars] they could not request with a straight face. If Republicans and Democrats truly believe in the programs they fund, then there is no reason not to cosponsor this bill.
(Edited to remove abbreviations; see original tweets here, here, and here.)

Well said, Representative Ross. In my opinion, Zero Based Budgeting is a simple and self-executing solution to our deficit spending. It is one thing to turn a blind eye while fraud and waste continue to grow within an agency's budget; it is an entirely different thing altogether to have to publicly argue in favor of such spending.

Further reading:

More information about Zero Based Budgeting.

Read the bill yourself here.

Representative Dennis Ross' Washington Update newsletter from this week, with a link to my video interview

Representative Ross and Senator Marco Rubio were the only Floridians to receive perfect scores from the American Conservative Union's 2011 Congressional Rankings.

1 comment:

  1. Where can we get about 500 more like him? Linked over at my place...


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