In Federal GovernmentSpeak, a “cut” is a decrease in an expected increase. That is, the budget ALWAYS expands; sometimes, that expansion is not as much as other times; nevertheless, it is still an expansion. Paradoxically, for you and me, a “cut” means having less to spend next year. The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) yearly analysis of inflation and other factors guarantees an increase. Again, the Federal Government’s budget ALWAYS increases. Even in non-inflation years? Well actually, yes.
In the 29 September edition of the Washington Times, Emily Miller addresses Zero Baseline Budgeting (ZBB) and presents some of its supporters. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/29/cutting-uncle-sam-down-to-size/. ZBB is the necessary fiscal restraint Conservatives want and/or need to leash Federal spending. The template: Governor Christie’s FY 2012 budget. According to Miller, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) draws attention to Christie’s plan:
Mr. Jordan believes …, a Balanced Budget Amendment is key to solving the debt crisis. “Louie has a great beginning, but ultimately we want what Gov. Chris Christie has done.”
Who’s Louie? Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Tx). He seems to get it:
… There is no family and no business in America whose budget automatically increases every year. … If we cut, it’s a real cut. And if they want an increase to a program, by golly, they better come in and justify it.”
Want to know more about Christie’s FY2012 budget plan? Twenty pages into it, one finds “the New Normal”:
The New Normal means no longer blindly funding commitments that prior legislators and governors made. Now, the New Normal means knowing how much revenue actually exists and then setting priorities within the funding that is available. (p20)
Sounds like a no-brainer.
The Texas Republican’s Zero-Baseline Budget Act eliminates the automatic increase to discretionary spending that has been in place since 1974. Currently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assumes discretionary spending goes up every year by an amount based on inflation and other factors, generally from 2.9 percent to as high as 5 percent. When the White House and Congress submit their budgets, the baseline includes the baked-in increase from CBO. Zero baseline budgeting means that government programs would start at the same funding level they had the previous year. (emphasis added)
ZBB stipulates that all spending remains at the previous year’s level or baseline? Any spending increases must be justified? Oh my. Legislation for ZBB is in committee. This legislation can and should be voted on. The American taxpayer delivered a clear message in November 2010; the time for action is now.