WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition said today that the Conrad-Feingold-Domenici bipartisan budget enforcement amendment provides a strong and needed dose of fiscal discipline. It sets new discretionary spending caps for two years at tough but achievable levels, extends the pay-as-you-go (paygo) requirement for entitlement expansions and tax cuts, and renews important points of order that enforce discipline.
The rapidly deteriorating budget outlook highlights the importance of this amendment. With sudden speed, budget deficits are back and for the first time in several years there is no clear agreed upon fiscal goal. As a result, open-ended budgeting is back. Rather than setting priorities and making hard choices, Congress and the President are falling back on an old habit - cut taxes, increase spending, eat up the Social Security surplus, and run up the debt. It's a dangerous path to follow when looming just beyond the artificial 10-year budget window are the huge unfunded retirement and health care costs of the coming senior boom.
Restoring a sense of fiscal discipline -- and eventually returning to non-Social Security surpluses -- is a very difficult challenge. It is virtually impossible without the type of enforcement mechanisms established in this amendment.
With the discretionary spending caps, paygo, and vital enforcement points of order scheduled to expire, the choice for policymakers is whether to extend the current mechanisms -- and thus maintain a measure of fiscal discipline -- or to simply let the entire budget enforcement framework expire and be left with renewed deficits and no mechanism for enforcing fiscal discipline.
In Concord's view the choice is clear. Allowing caps, paygo, and 60-vote points of order to expire is an open invitation to fiscal chaos. The Concord Coalition strongly commends and supports this bipartisan effort to restore fiscal discipline to the budget process.