On September 24, The Daily Signal posted an article about some recent comments made by Senator Joni Ernst. The Senator highlighted the practice of ‘Christmas in September’ spending by government agencies. There are some problems with the way our federal government’s budgeting system works. There is something called ‘baseline budgeting.’ This simply means that your starting point for your yearly budget is how much you actually spent of last year’s budget. Therefore, unless you want your budget to be cut this year, you had better spend all of the money you had in your budget last year. This means that as the fiscal year draws to a close, government agencies have the incentive to spend wildly. It also results in statements that actually make no sense but are widely accepted as fact. For instance, if I ask for a ten percent increase in my budget and only get a five percent increase, I will complain that my budget was cut five percent. In any other world, I got a five percent increase. In the world of government, I got a five percent cut. That is the reason that even though you are reading that the federal budget got cut, the spending actually increased. Unfortunately, to Washington it is all a game. Wild spending of taxpayer money is not a problem to our Congress–only to the taxpayers who have to pay the bill.
The article at The Daily Signal reports:
The fourth-ranking Republican in the Senate called on colleagues Tuesday to pass her legislation to reduce wasteful government spending and rein in agencies’ spending practices.
“Government agencies are going on their annual ‘Christmas in September’ use-it-or-lose-it shopping spree,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor.
“If not spent by midnight on Sept. 30, leftover dollars expire and can no longer be used,” Ernst said. “Rather than returning the money to taxpayers, binge-buying bureaucrats are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars needlessly.”
The federal government’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Ernst’s legislation, called the End of Year Fiscal Responsibility Act, would end agencies’ annual 11th-hour sprints to spend all their budgeted money before the fiscal year runs out.
Her bill would curb how much an agency could spend in the last two months of the fiscal year to no more than what the agency usually spends each month on average during the rest of the year.
…“This bill won’t end all wasteful spending, but it will force agencies to put more thought into long-term planning and curtail the bad habit of out-of-control impulsive spending,” Ernst said.
Ernst said “spending sprees” in the past have included almost $12,000 for a commercial foosball table; $4.6 million for lobster tail and crab; $2.1 million for games, toys, and wheeled goods; over $53,000 on table china; and over $40,000 on clocks.
“With our national debt now surpassing $22 trillion, Washington should be looking for ways to save by canceling or delaying unnecessary expenses, rather than splurging on end-of-year wish lists,” Ernst said.
Another piece of legislation pushed by Iowa’s junior senator would keep her colleagues from returning home until they passed a budget.
“Through my No Budget, No Recess Act, members of Congress would be prohibited from leaving Washington if we fail to pass a budget by April 15 or approve regular spending bills by Aug. 1,” she said.
The government must stop enabling agencies to spend money that shouldn’t be spent, Ernst added:
I think Senator Ernst has some really good ideas.