Greased Wheels Move Some Appropriations, But Deficits Growing

Blog Post
Monday, September 17, 2018

In the most recent episode of “Facing the Future,” the show returned to its usual format after concluding its New Hampshire candidate interview series.

Steve Winn, Concord’s communications director, joined the program to discuss the shrinking share of the federal budget dedicated to programs for children -- despite all of the political rhetoric about the importance of caring for younger Americans.

Citing a recent report from the Urban Institute, he said that under current law the children’s share of the budget is projected to drop from 9.4 percent to only 6.9 percent over the next decade. This spending and other national priorities are being squeezed as more of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs and rising interest costs on the federal debt.

Winn said all this underscored the need for comprehensive fiscal reforms.

The Concord Coalition’s Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Initiatives Mike Murphy shared their thoughts on this year’s appropriations process, a new round of proposed tax cuts and more.

“It will come as no surprise to you, and probably many of your listeners, that the budget process as it is supposed to work has not been working very well for a long time,” Murphy said. “I believe that there have been only four times since the Budget Act in the 1970s where they were able to pass in some form all of the appropriations bills by the Sept. 30 deadline.”

While Congress has a decent chance at passing most of the 12 appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year, Murphy made it clear that such a possibility should be taken with a grain of salt.

He said that a bipartisan deal earlier in the year, in which Congress increased discretionary spending caps, greasing the wheels for the appropriations legislation because it removed the need for Congress to make difficult spending choices.

That deal helped usher in increased budget deficits.  

Bixby also expressed concern over rising budget deficits. With a strong and growing economy, he said, policy leaders should be looking for ways to start reducing deficits. Now and into the future, growing deficits and a massive national debt bring with them a higher cost to service that debt.

“The fastest-growing spending category: interest on the debt,” said Bixby.

I host “Facing the Future” each week on WKXL Concord News Radio (N.H.), which is also available via podcast.  Join us as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.