Legislation authored by Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick is at the heart of a deficit-reduction proposal receiving national attention.
Last week, the White House submitted to Congress legislation titled "Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010." The legislation is based on a March proposal from Minnick, titled, "Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool" (BELT) Act. The measure is designed to identify and eliminate wasteful government spending and earmarks through a series of targeted cuts.
"The lack of fiscal responsibility is one of the most dire problems facing our nation, and it requires Congress to change the way it does business, which is why I am pleased to see my proposal receive broad attention and support," Minnick said.
"Neither political party has done enough to reduce reckless spending, and the people of Idaho demand that government tighten its belt during these tough times," Minnick said. "Idahoans make tough choices every day. It is time for government to do the same. Identifying and eliminating wasteful spending is an important first step toward balancing future budgets and restoring fiscal discipline."
The process proposed by Minnick and embraced nationally as a path toward reduced deficits works by enhancing the president's ability to identify cuts or "rescissions" from spending bills and then present those cuts to Congress for an up-or-down vote. The basic concept has been used before as a budget-balancing tool, and has a history of bipartisan support. It is commonly called a "constitutional line-item veto."
Specifically, the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010 would:
* Give the president 45 days after signing an appropriations bill to submit a list of proposed spending cuts to Congress.
* Require both chambers of Congress to vote on the president's list of proposed cuts in a timely manner.
* Give Congress and the president the ability to reduce or eliminate earmarks.
* Allow Congress and the president to zero-out both authorized and unauthorized programs.
* Allow the executive branch to pinpoint wasteful pork spending, while maintaining the ability of the majorities of the House and Senate to exercise their will on specific spending items with an up or down vote.