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Public Statements

Baseline Reform Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to thank Mr. Woodall for all of his hard work on this issue, as well as Mr. Gohmert, who was here a moment ago, for raising this issue, for keeping focus and attention on it, and for bringing this much-needed reform through the House Budget Committee and to the House floor.

This bill basically fixes a real quirk in our budget process. Under the current law, the Congressional Budget Office assumes every discretionary spending account gets an increase every year to keep up with inflation.

What does that mean? This means that this increase is built into the baseline, and the baseline is our starting point of spending. It is our starting point of budgeting. So every year, Congress moves the line forward. It assumes that there is always going to be an increase in every one of these programs, regardless of the facts on the ground. There is no consideration to whether a program is working or not or even whether it is still necessary.

Under this bill, the baseline would just show the previous year's funding level. That is basically what we are saying. If we are spending X amount of dollars today, when we write next year's budget, we will start with X, and then we will make a decision here in Congress: Should it be more or less or the same?

That is not how it works today. We spend X today, then there is an automatic increase, and then we decide how to budget after that automatic increase.

We should write the Federal budget just like families write their own budgets. They don't get an automatic increase. They don't get to decide like that.

We have got record deficits. We have got an unprecedented debt. Our job here in Congress is to make decisions. It is to set priorities. It is to look at the hardworking taxpayers that are working so hard to pay their taxes, to raise their families, and tell them we are going to watch their money more closely than just assuming automatically each and every year we can just take more from them and then decide how to spend more on top of that. It is no way to run a budget. It is no way to run a government budget or a family budget or a business budget.

So that is all we are saying. This, I think, is an inflated baseline which is a smoke-and-mirror move. What we are saying is take away the smoke and the mirrors, start from scratch, and then make informed decisions from there. That is why I want to thank the gentleman from Georgia for all of his hard work on this. That is why I encourage all Members on both sides of the aisle to support this much-needed reform.


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