Budget Resolution Principles for Fiscal Year 2020

The congressional budget resolution should establish the nation’s priorities, the approach to financing them, and a plan to ensure the nation is on a fiscally responsible track. We recommend that Congress adheres to the following principles when crafting a budget resolution:

Set a meaningful fiscal goal, and put forward a plan to achieve it

  • Aim for specific debt, deficit, and other budgetary targets. The goal should result in a falling debt-to-GDP ratio over the budget window.
  • Set revenue and spending levels to meet the fiscal goal, backed by achievable policies, realistic assumptions, and reconciliation instructions.

Propose specific plans to address mandatory spending and revenue

  • Advance detailed reforms to slow the growth of Medicare, Medicaid, and other direct spending programs.
  • Propose specific policies to increase revenue and responsibly address expiring tax provisions.
  • Include reconciliation instructions for assumed mandatory savings and revenue.

Set responsible, achievable, and enforceable discretionary spending levels

  • Set realistic and affordable discretionary spending levels, offsetting any increase relative to current law.
  • Limit abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) designation and of Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs).

Enforce the PAYGO requirement that legislation does not add to the deficit

  • Require full offsets for any bill that reduces revenue or increases mandatory spending.
  • Maintain and strengthen PAYGO and other rules prohibiting legislation that would increase the deficit over the medium or long term.

Rely on credible and realistic assumptions

  • Use economic assumptions based on Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Require current law baseline rules for evaluating costs of legislation.

Improve the budget process and budget enforcement

  • Ensure strict enforcement of spending and revenue levels in the budget resolution.
  • Adopt budget process reforms such as those considered by the joint committee on budget process reform.

Anticipate negotiating with the other chamber

  • Recognize divided government as an opportunity for bipartisan reforms.
  • Prioritize governance and our fiscal future over partisan messaging.