Ayotte Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Baseline Budgeting
Baseline Elimination Act would abolish Washington accounting gimmick
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Continuing her efforts to reform Washington's broken budgeting process, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, recently introduced legislation that would end the practice of "baseline budgeting," by which Congress automatically builds increased spending based on inflation into the federal budget.
"For too long, baseline budgeting has perpetuated a misleading picture of the nation's spending habits by baking into the budget automatic, hidden spending increases," said Senator Ayotte. "My legislation puts an end to this tired Washington practice and ensures a more accurate and transparent budget process."
One recent example of this gimmick is the debt limit agreement reached in August which claimed to reduce discretionary spending by $917 billion over ten years. Because of baseline budgeting, a reduction of $917 billion in the deficit, as its claimed, is no cut in spending at all. Under this plan, the U.S. will actually spend over $830 billion more in discretionary spending over the next ten years. This means that there is no real cut in our current spending. Only in Washington would this be called a spending reduction.
The Baseline Elimination Act (S. 1896) would improve the congressional budget process by ensuring there are no automatic, hidden adjustments baked into the baseline for discretionary appropriations and expressly prohibits baseline adjustments "for inflation or for any other factor". It would also establish new requirements to ensure that the budget resolution is more accurately measured against the budgetary levels of the preceding year so that Congress and the American people can have a better picture of year-over-year spending. Senator Ayotte's legislation would also make improvements to the President's budget, requiring it to include new measures designed to ensure more accountability and transparency.