The Contract From America—Agenda Item 6
The sixth item in the “Contract From America” (including the level of support it received in a voting process) is:
6. End Runaway Government Spending
Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
Each year the federal government spends more than $30,000 per U.S. family. We’ve been tracking the current FY 2011 spending process in recent blog posts here, here, and here. (We also track earmarks in spending bills. At this writing, we’re just getting started with this year’s.) We ran down last year’s in this spending-year-in-review post.
This Contract item is modeled on “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (or “TABOR”) bills that have been proposed and passed in some states. In 1992 in Colorado, for example, voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring that any tax increase increasing governmental revenues faster than population increase plus inflation would have to be approved by popular vote.
We haven’t found any bills in the current Congress to do that at the federal level. There’s always S. 1613, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2009 and H.R. 4481, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2009, but they don’t have the simplicity of this proposal.
There are groups that oppose TABOR laws, of course. Here’s a representative criticism of Colorado’s from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
But do you really care about reducing government spending? Let’s review some of the evidence.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 is the bill Congress used to pass many of the annual spending bills for the current fiscal year—about $9,500 per family. At this writing, it has a total of 11 comments.
Compare that to the bill that recently extended unemployment benefits. It has more than 137,000 comments. The Americans who want the federal government to spend more appear to be putting in more effort than the people who want the government to spend less.
Want to stay aware of the annual spending process? Maybe have a say in what Congress does? Subscribing to our email newsletter might be a good way to start.