Hoping to inspire a fiscal “wake-up call” in the new session of Congress, Representatives Jim Renacci (R-OH), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and 40 other original co-sponsors introduced the “Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution.” Similar to the president’s State of the Union Address, Renacci’s resolution invites the Comptroller General of the United States (the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office) to give an address to Congress and the public that is focused on our “Fiscal State of the Nation.” Renacci and Representative John Carney (D-DE) introduced a similar version of this resolution last Congress.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, voiced her support of Renacci’s measure, saying:
The debt now represents the largest portion of our economy since just after World War II. Unlike the situation then, current debt levels are projected to continue rising unsustainably. Lawmakers need to take action soon to correct our nation’s fiscal course. The Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution would focus public attention on this unsustainable path and inspire the new Congress to find a more fiscally responsible way forward. Hopefully that will motivate policymakers to stop digging the debt hole deeper.
David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General and CRFB board member, praised an earlier version of the resolution, stating:
I commend Rep. Renacci for introducing this legislation. I believe it is wholly appropriate for the Comptroller General of the United States to make an annual presentation of the state of the Union's finances. This is a critically important subject and the Comptroller General is the right non-partisan professional to perform this function.
Renacci and Kilmer developed this bill as chairs of the Bipartisan Working Group (BPWG). The BPWG consists of 26 Republicans and Democrats who meet weekly during Congressional sessions to discuss and propose policy ideas, and it has previously developed legislation focused on budget process reform and job creation.
We have developed a series of budget process reforms through our Better Budget Process Initiative that overlap with some of the BPWG’s budget process reform efforts. Additionally, former House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) included the BPWG’s Fiscal State of the Nation proposal in his budget process reform agenda, which he first presented at an event co-hosted by CRFB and the Brookings Institution last November.
As our national debt is nearing $20 trillion, we appreciate Renacci and the BPWG’s willingness to find bipartisan solutions that address our unsustainable long-term debt by inserting transparency and accountability into our budget process. We hope this proposal can draw considerable public attention to matters of fiscal responsibility as the new Congress debates healthcare reform, tax reform, and infrastructure investment.
To read more about the budget process and avenues for reform, please see our Better Budget Process Initiative.