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Public Statements

Baseline Reform Act of 2011

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I first want to start off by thanking Mr. Woodall and Mr. Gohmert, two of the leaders on this policy. This is the second of 10 bills on fixing the broken budget process that we're bringing to the floor to try to bring back accountability, transparency and responsibility to our Federal budgeting process. What this bill does is it removes the pro-spending bias that currently exists in the baseline we use as a starting point in Federal budgeting.

The baseline we currently use assumes automatic increases in spending in the discretionary budget. So, for instance, instead of basing next year's discretionary budget on what we spent this year, we don't do it that way. The way it works is we automatically assume spending increases. We automatically assume that government agencies can't live with what they had last year, can't be more efficient, can't be more productive, and we assume inflation in it already.

We think for honesty, for transparency, if we spent X dollars this year, that is the base on which we ought to consider next year's budget. And for all those programs where inflationary updates are already legislated, such as Medicare, Social Security, or the tax brackets to prevent inflation, this doesn't affect those. Those programs by law adjust for inflation and, therefore, so should their baselines. Discretionary spending, something Congress controls every year, does not have that because Congress legislates every year.

So what we're simply saying is let's err on the side of the taxpayer. Let's not err on the side of assuming every government agency automatically needs a spending increase one year to the next. If we think they need more money, then we should measure it on an honest basis and then legislate more money for those agencies.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will turn over the rest of my time to Mr. Woodall, the author of this legislation, and reserve the balance.

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