Policymakers Should Offset, or Reset, the Budget Deal

According to news reports, the White House recently sent Congressional leaders nearly $600 billion of potential budget savings options, requesting that the sides agree to at least $150 billion in budget deal offsets and a two-year extension of discretionary spending caps. While reports indicate this initial offer was rejected, negotiations are ongoing and decisions over offsets apparently remain one of the final sticking points in a potential agreement to lift the caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

It’s hard to believe there is resistance to finding just $150 billion of offsets over the next decade. This amount represents less than 1.5 percent of projected deficits and just 0.3 percent of the total budget. If Congress can’t even find savings and revenue to cut and pay for 0.3 percent of the federal budget, this country is in much bigger trouble than we thought.

Even $150 billion isn’t enough to fully pay for the bill, so talk of decreasing this amount should be a nonstarter. Any deal should not add to the debt. With the House having restored PAYGO rules and the Senate Budget Committee calling for any increases to be offset, now is not the time to abandon any semblance of fiscal responsibility. If Congressional leaders don’t like the options suggested by the Administration, they should propose alternatives and additions – we’ve recently compiled a list with hundreds of billions of dollars of spending and revenue changes with potential bipartisan support.

The Administration is also right to call for extending the discretionary spending caps, which expire after 2021. Those extensions should be realistic but tight enough to force choices and trade-offs and prevent a debt explosion. Without caps, we’re inviting a fiscal free-for-all.

Now is the chance for Congress to show they can support federal investments and national security without abandoning fiscal responsibility and leaving the bill for future generations.


For more information, please contact Patrick Newton, press secretary, at newton@crfb.org.