As Congress begins work this week on the fiscal year 2003 budget resolution, The Concord Coalition has the following recommendations of things to do and things not to do:
Things to do
- Reaffirm the fiscally responsible goal of balancing the budget without using the Social Security surplus ¾ understanding that it will take a few years to achieve.
- Recognize that in the post-September 11, post-surplus environment, all fiscal policy options should be on the table ¾ from spending cuts to a freeze on tax cut phase-ins.
- Stick with CBO numbers rather than the more optimistic numbers used by the Administration (OMB) in the President's budget.
- Adopt the Administration's suggestion that the FY2002 emergency supplemental spending passed in response to September 11 ($20 billion) be excluded from the baseline.
- Establish a new budgetary enforcement framework to replace the expiring provisions of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (discretionary spending caps and the “pay-as-you-go” rule for tax cuts and entitlement increases).
Things not to do
- Do not use an Orwellian definition of “balance,” by excluding the cost of the recently passed stimulus bill or any other popular legislation from the calculation.
- Do not adopt back loaded initiatives that rely on unrealistic assumptions.
- Do not enact any new tax cuts or remove the “sunset” from last year's tax bill unless it is done within the context an enforceable plan to balance the budget without using the Social Security surplus.
- Do not assume large unrealistic savings, as the President's budget does, by holding non-defense discretionary spending below inflation over the next decade.
- Do not engage in empty rhetoric about Social Security “guarantees,” and trust fund “solvency.” Current law is unsustainable. The only way to actually do something about that is to change the law.