CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the House is scheduled to consider the Conference Report to accompany S.Con.Res. 13, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2010. The Conference Report will likely be considered under a same-day rule. H.Con.Res 85, the House version of the Democrat budget resolution was considered on April 2, 2009, and passed by a vote of 233 - 196. S.Con.Res. 13, the Senate Democrat budget resolution was passed on April 2, 2009, by a vote of 55 - 43.
For more information on H.Con.Res 85, please see the Legislative Digest for Wednesday, April 1, 2009.
For more information on alternative budget resolutions offered during the debate on H.Con. Res. 85, please see the Legislative Digest for Wednesday, April 2, 2009.
Spending: The Conference Report would set the federal government's budget policies over a five-year window between Fiscal Years 2010 and 2014, with a total five-year cost of $18.022 trillion. Total spending in FY 2010 would be $3.554 trillion. The budget assumes a deficit of $1.232 trillion in FY 2010, which is reduced to $522 billion in FY 2014. The debt held by the public would reach $11.577 trillion in FY 2014, or 64 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
Spending Under the Conference Report to the Budget (in billions)
Debt Subject to Limit
While the deficits projected under the Conference Report are slightly smaller than those under the President's budget, the difference is mostly due to using certain gimmicks, such as reserve funds, to hide the true size of budget deficits and its alignment with the President's spending agenda. In addition, the Democrat budget resolution conceals some of the expected costs of the long-term budget by using a five-year budget window and failing to include projections beyond FY 2014, when both the White House and CBO predict deficits to skyrocket.
Comparison Between the President's and Democrat Budgets (in billions)
Taxes: While the Conference Report states that it is the "policy of this resolution to minimize fiscal burdens on working families and their children and grandchildren," the resolution raises taxes by assuming the expiration of numerous tax cuts and clears the path for new taxes on energy, small business, and investment.
Reconciliation: The Conference Report includes reconciliation instructions requiring the House Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and the Education and Labor Committees to report legislation to reduce the deficit by $1 billion over five years by October 15, 2009. The Conference Report also includes instructions for the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees to similarly reduce the deficit by $1 billion over five years. Under the reconciliation process, a budget resolution may require committees to report legislation that adjusts mandatory spending and revenue levels to reduce deficits by a set amount, as prescribed by the reconciliation instructions. The actual policy changes are not dictated to the committees, and each has the discretion as to what policies are incorporated so long as the targets are met. The reconciliation process provides an avenue to avoid the Senate's super-majority procedural hurdles that might otherwise thwart the Majority's policy initiatives.
Pay-Go: Early reports indicated that the Conference Report might contain a provision requiring the Senate to consider statutory pay-as-you-go rules (Pay-Go), which require Congress to increase taxes when spending is increased or other revenue is decreased. However, such a provision was excluded from the Conference Report. In fact, the resolution includes a provision which would exempt certain provisions in the resolution (AMT patch and some expiring tax cut extensions) from House Pay-Go rules. Thus, the resolution would essential negate House Pay-Go requirements for certain provisions.
Reserve Funds: The Conference Report includes 34 deficit neutral "reserve funds" that would supply funding for programs if offsets are provided (i.e., tax increases). The Conference Report includes 20 Senate reserve funds and 14 House reserve funds for the programs listed below. Reserve funds allow the Majority to provide for new taxes and spending at a later date, without including the cost in the budget resolution. Rather than openly adopting expensive policies in the President's budget, the Conference Report to S.Con.Res 13 conceals new policy objectives and their costs by placing them in reserve funds.