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Discuss Question 27

27. FISCAL KNOWLEDGE: Congress has never had rules in place that limited the amounts that could be spent or that prevented them from making further unfunded promises.

ANSWER: False – During the 1990s through 2002, Congress had tough statutory budget controls in place that made a difference in controlling spending and reducing the federal deficit. Congress had certain pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules and spending caps in place, which were supported by both President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. These rules helped create the budget surplus of the late 1990s and early 2000s. After these rules expired in 2002, things spun out of control. For more information on Budget Controls and Process Reforms, view the Comeback America Initiative’s Restoring Fiscal Sanity Report.


8 Responses to “Discuss Question 27”

  1. Phillip Finch says:

    In 1986 we had Gramm-Rudman but did it restrict or limit Congress? Congress makes rules but has never been limited by them.

  2. Dennis says:

    Excellent point. Appreciate the clarification, though I’m not sure Paygo was as effective as claimed. Congress grew the size of government dramatically while the go-go 90′s were kickin’. Remember the go-go 90′s?? That’s when tax digest was expanded as the economy was expanding.

  3. Mike says:

    The key word in the above question was “never”. Yes Paygo was enacted but it has since expired and the size of government has grown and it’s many departments have no control of their budgets. The rule is, spend it before the end of the year so we can request more next year. Plus, God forbid that we have to explain to some politician why we did not use all our allocated funds. Hence, we better spend it all regardless if we need it or not.

  4. Dennis Sidwell says:

    Was there any time in the history we are talking about that federal spending was reduced from the base line?

  5. Mike Hurley says:

    Exactly, a true limit would be a constitutional amendment limiting spending as a percentage of GDP. Balanced budget ammendments will not work as spending is not controled. Like Pay-As-You-Go as long as taxes and/or revenue can be raised to cover spending increases then spending can increase.

  6. Greg says:

    Forgot Paygo, which was a step in the right direction of limiting government. But if Paygo was good, how about a balanced budget amendment and constitutional authority to limit and reduce the size of government?

  7. Merrill says:

    Most really like the idea of having a constitutional requirement to “balance the budget” with revenues. The problem with that is, in an emergency, there needs to be a mechanism to override it. The problem with that is, when you have such divided government, how do you get enough votes to recognize the situation is actually an “emergency”. The other side of the coin is, congress could (and likely will) fabricate an “emergency” so they can spend over the limit.

    I think it would be a far better idea to legally require the president to submit a budget by, say March, of each year (or maybe biannually), and for congress to pass a budget by say August. Then of course, there’s the problem of “off budget” spending, like for undecleared wars.

    Maybe the solution is to require both the president and congress to pass budgets and have a constitutional amendment against “off budget” spending. If it’s not in the budget, they can’t spend it. Also, if there’s no budget, NOTHING can be spend for ANYTHING, and no facility for “continuing resolutions”.

    Basically, congress and the president need to be constrained in a way that does not allow them to circumvent the intent.

    I’m also very worried about the electorate’s new found penchant for voting themselves more and more freebies from “the government”. Something needs to be done to begin respecting constitutional limits. In my view, the government has been in blatant violation of the constitution for nearly a hundred years now… aided and abetted by the Supreme Court, I might add.

  8. Delia says:

    Congress should not be allowed to vote anything for themselves. They are required to pass a budget they still don’t. The Constitution limits the area the federal government is allowed to be involved in at all! They ignore the Constitution, THAT is the problem. They all swear an oath to uphold the Constitution against all threats foreign and domestic. Violating the oath of office is treason.

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