Congress Should Limit Discretionary Spending to Help Control the Debt

According to press reports, a number of Members of Congress have called for reducing fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations levels back to FY 2022 levels, reversing a 9 percent increase agreed to at the end of last year.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

It is encouraging that Members are finally talking about bringing spending under control. Both parties have come together to increase regular appropriations by 37 percent since 2017 and have barely offset a dime of the increase. Regular discretionary spending has grown nearly twice as fast as inflation over the past six years.

Congress needs to stop the excessive unpaid-for spending growth and start working to get our fiscal house in order. Restoring discretionary spending levels to where they were a month ago or otherwise reducing next year’s appropriations levels would be a reasonable way to begin that process.

Lawmakers should focus reductions on the lowest-value spending first, putting both the defense and nondefense budgets on the table. And they should enact long-term caps to prevent future spending from growing further out of control.

Controlling discretionary spending won’t be enough to fix our debt; we’ll also need reforms to our entitlement programs and tax code. But it’s a significant step in the right direction, and one worth taking.

See also our analysis on the challenges of balancing the budget in ten years and the need for an achievable fiscal goal.


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