While many Americans resolve to make 2013 the year they really do slim down, exercise more, and spend less, Congress could afford to commit to a few such resolutions of its own. Call them budget resolutions—something Congress hasn’t had in a while. Here are five suggestions:
- Cut spending. The federal government is on course to run a trillion-dollar-plus deficit for the fifth consecutive year, driven by excessive spending. It spent $29,691 per household in 2012, borrowing $3.20 of every $10 it spent. Just as families must make budget priorities and live within their means, so too should Congress. Lawmakers should scale back the size and scope of the federal government, reform entitlement programs, and root out waste and abuse. If debt and deficits are ever going to be brought under control, Congress must curb its spending addiction.
- Return to the regular budget process. Congress has fallen out of the practice of budgeting, instead opting for ad hoc budget measures such as the debt limit deal (Budget Control Act of 2011) and continuing resolutions to fund the government. Budgeting is one of Congress’s main responsibilities; it forces Congress to regularly prioritize spending on programs, which is sorely needed. Congress must return to budgeting according to the regular order to control spending and promote transparency.