Following President Obama’s final State of the Union address, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) visited the Brookings Institution for a discussion on his vision for a budget process that is transparent, open, and easy to understand.
Topics included reforming the budget process and rethinking how different government programs impact the fiscal health of our country. David Wessel, Brookings’s Director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, moderated the discussion.
Below are several excerpts from Chairman Price’s appearance on Wednesday, January 13:
On Improving the Budget Process |“…We’re really excited and proud of the fact that last year, for the first time in 14 years, the House and the Senate came together to agree on a conference budget that does just that. …however, that’s nothing to celebrate. Every year, the people of this great country ought to expect that their Congress should be able to define in a relatively straightforward way and in a methodical, logical, reliable way, the budget of this country. And the fact is, we don’t do this together. …The process creates the product, or at least a portion thereof. We budget now in this country under a bill that was written 41 or 42 years ago. The world has changed, but not much has changed about the budget process. I think the [Congressional Budget Office] could be a lot more transparent, be a lot more responsive to members of Congress. [We need] a process that will then facilitate not one party or another getting their outcome, but facilitate a process that allows things to move forward in a logical, methodical, expeditious way. A budget process ought to afford every single member, every single perspective, the same opportunity to engage, and then force the members to get to an outcome. Not an outcome that’s pre-determined, but to get to an outcome.”
On Prioritizing Spending | “I think infrastructure is one of those areas lacking in investment in this country. But in order to identify the level that area ought to get spending, you have to identify areas where we’ve got to decrease federal involvement. The left’s slant is by in large to say we need more money for infrastructure, and don’t worry about everything else, we’ll just keep spending at that same level. And that’s not the way real people budget, that’s not the way business budget, and it’s not the way state’s budget. You’ve got to prioritize, and we do a terrible job in this town prioritizing on what we ought to spend.
Why Reforms Matter, Are Necessary | “It is a frustrating place, but it is incredibly important because the consequences of not getting these things right are massive to the American people. We believe that the greatest amount of opportunity and success for the greatest number of number of people so the greatest number of American Dreams can be realized in a fair and compassionate system is the principle that we ought to be moving forward. Right now that doesn’t exist. I would suggest to you that one of the big reasons that it doesn’t exist is because of the rules and regulations and laws coming out of this town. So to be able to have the opportunity to fight for appropriate reforms that then free up the opportunity of individuals to achieve their dreams is an exciting thing to do.”