A newsletter covering budget reform and the latest news and views on the federal budget, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research and the Small Business Survival Foundation
Issue # 26 - March 22, 1996 * David A. Ridenour and Karen Kerrigan, Editors
Congress Saves Taxpayers' Money Despite Budget Impasse
Despite the on-going budget impasse, Congress has managed to save at least some taxpayer money. With many discretionary programs being funded at reduced levels through stop-gap spending measures -- some funded at 1995 levels, others funded at 75% of 1995 levels and still others at 100% of House-Senate conference targets -- taxpayers stand to save billions of dollars even if a budget is not signed by the President this year. Assuming the funding levels under continuing resolutions 6,7, and 9 were continued through the end of the year, federal outlays on discretionary or "non-mandatory" programs for a full year would total $534.9 billion, down from $547.9 billion in 1995, for a savings of $13 billion. These savings are within $1 billion of the target established by House and Senate Republicans the middle of last year. Under continuing resolution budgets, outlays for Commerce, Justice, and State would be close to $400 million less than the conference targets while Defense outlays would be over $780 million less than the targets. Energy and Water outlays would be $146 million less than the targets. Some may be tempted to ask, "So why do we need a budget?"
President Clinton's budget proposal for 1997 includes bloated tax relief and deficit reduction figures, according to a new 25-page report by the House Budget Committee, "Election-Year Makeover: Clinton's Lemon Budget for Fiscal Year 1997." The White House claims to offer $117.4 billion in tax relief under its plan. But at the same time, the President would raise taxes by $56.6 billion, leaving a net cut of just $60.8 billion. Further, the President's plan would increase domestic discretionary spending by $8 billion next year and push off as yet unspecified cuts until 1998. For a copy of the report, contact Adrien MacGillivray at (202)225-7270.
Stalled Investigation Sends Wrong Message to Would-Be Con Artists
Random House defines "cover-up" as "any action, strategem or other means of concealing or preventing investigation or exposure." By this definition, Senate Democrats may be actively engaged in a cover-up of Whitewater -- a potentially significant case of waste, fraud and abuse. In recent weeks, Democrats have denied continued funding of the Senate Whitewater Committee. Regardless of whether or not the President or first lady are ultimately found guilty of wrong-doing in the Whitewater matter, Democrats are hurting the cause of good government: By their foot-dragging, the Senators are sending a message to would-be taxpayer rip-off artists that they need not fear thorough investigation of their activities. Politics will ultimately be their safe harbor. Madison Guaranty Savings -- the lending institution at the center of the Whitewater affair-- received a taxpayer-financed bail-out to the tune of $65 million. The public deserves a complete, unfettered investigation and disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the thrift's failure -- even though it is an election year. All members of the Senate -- especially members of the President's party -- should insist on it. Unfortunately, their reticence to investigate smacks of a politically-motivated cover-up.
Immigration reform legislation is moving through both houses of Congress and according to advocates of a smaller government it is moving the wrong direction. While the House rejected a mandatory employment verification system, it passed a voluntary system that many believe will eventually become compulsory. Under the system, volunteering employers would call an 800 number to verify that a worker was eligible for employment in the United States. On March 19, a coalition of groups held a press conference in support of an effort by Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) to strip the verification system from the immigration bill, H.R. 2202. During the press conference, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform warned "there are two things that the government does very badly -- temporary and voluntary." Despite this concern, Chabot's amendment was defeated in a 260-159 vote on March 20. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), implementing a worker registry database would cost taxpayers at least $6 billion. No definitive estimate has been placed on yearly maintenance costs or the cost of the 800 number. For more information, contact Renee Stikes at the Small Business Survival Committee at (202)785-0238.
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