Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Barrow Announces Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform

John Barrow (D-Savannah) joined fellow members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition in releasing a comprehensive plan aimed at cutting spending and balancing the budget. The "Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform" provides a concrete pathway to reduced deficits, and includes a number of proposals that historically have earned bipartisan support.

"There's no doubt that the system is broken," said Barrow. "We've got to work together to fix it. That means making some tough choices to reduce spending and balance the budget. Folks in the 12th District of Georgia have had to tighten their belts, and now it's time that the federal government does the same thing."

Budget experts from across the political spectrum agree that Congress must put a plan in place now in order to balance the budget and lay the groundwork for sound fiscal policies in the future. The attached Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform puts forth concrete proposals that can be taken to achieve these goals.

Blue Dog Blueprint for Fiscal Reform:

A plan to balance the budget, cut spending and secure America’s future“.

1. Restore Pay-As-You-Go budget rules.

The first step we can take to ensure that government does
not spend beyond its means is to restore the proven, bipartisan pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules that effectively brought about surpluses in the 1990s.

2. Put the lid on federal spending.

In addition to balancing the federal checkbook, Congress should
set limits on discretionary spending. Just like American families who make tough decisions every day Congress must learn to live within its means.

3. Cut programs that don’t work.

Congress must work with the Administration to identify and cut
programs that don’t work. A commonsense budget enforcement tool, “expedited rescission” was passdd by the house with bi-partisan support in the 1990s.

4. Reduce the deficit.

This tool forces Congress to live within its means by keeping our federal budget
on setting a path towards balance. Congress would be required to cut spending to meet these targets, effectively reducing the deficit over time.

5. Balance the budget

A critical component of the plan, a constitutional amendment would require
that Congress balance the budget by 2020

6. Be honest about our long term fiscal obligations

Congress should be required to produce an
honest and open assessment of the government’s long-term financial obligations as part of the budget resoultuion every year.

7. Establish a bipartisan fiscal commission

A fiscal reform commission should be established to force
Congress’ hand in making the tough decisions necessary to put the country back on a fiscally sustainable path.\

8. Improve transparency and accountability

Congress has a responsibility to hold government
agencies accountable for wasteful spending. This measure would reduce the estimated $98 billion that is wasted annually when a federal agancy pays too much or pays twice for a product or service.

9. Establish performance-based budgeting.

Performance-based budgeting is a results oriented
budget tool that sets goals and performance targets for agencies, and measures their results, much like a small business. It is a commom sense policy that has successfully implemented on the state level for many years.

10. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

Research shows that for every $1.00 we put into “program
integrity accounts” that identify and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in government spending, we get $1.50 back. The authorization levels for these programs should be increased.

11. Account for every dollar

Evaluating every dollar spent on our national defense is not only good
fiscal practice; it is a matter of national security. Like all other major federal agencies, the department of defense should be subject to annual audits

12. Close tax loopholes

It is critical that the federal government continue to identify and report
loopholes and inefficiencies within the current tax system. We can expand on these reports to reflect the total revenue lost and to identify inefficient tax subsidies

13. Take the politics out of the equation

In order to promote efficiency and eliminate undue political
pressures, this provision would transition the Joint Committee on Taxation to an independent, non-partisan legislative brance agency

14. Eliminate duplication and inefficiency

Government programs that are duplicative or inefficient can
be a substantial drain on the federal budget. Establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend reorganizational changes to the federal government would help to streamline these programs & save taxpayers dollars.

15. Review and terminate unnecessary federal programs

A “Sunset Commission” should be established to conduct regular reviews of federal programs and agencies, and make recommendations as to those which should be terminated

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