Spending is Too High, But At Least Congress Avoids Debt-Fueled Christmas Tree Bill

Lawmakers unveiled an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2023 today. The bill would set discretionary spending at around $1.65 trillion, while also providing $85 billion of emergency funding and enacting a package of health and retirement policies that appear to be fully offset on paper but partially rely on budget gimmicks on the retirement side.

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

Here we are again, in December with Congress having failed to pass a budget on time, doing a last-minute scramble to avoid a government shutdown – this is no way to budget. This budget is too late and too big. Our politicians need to start taking budgeting more seriously.

That said, it could have been worse in that Congress thankfully avoided the massive package of deficit-financed tax cuts and health spending that was previously on the table. And the package seems to responsibly phase out and offset health care spending increases. For that we can be thankful.

We believe the discretionary spending boost in the package is too high. While much of it is to keep pace with inflation, a lower number would help bring inflation down – a stated goal of almost all policymakers, and one which their actions keep contradicting.

Washington needs to be better. With inflation surging and debt approaching record levels, we should be growing appropriations by a lot less, avoiding silly gimmicks to mask the cost of new tax breaks, and focusing on real deficit reduction.

But it is a good outcome that this bill didn’t turn into a larger debt-fueled Christmas tree of goodies paid for by our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Once government funding is out of the way, policymakers should turn towards getting our finances under control by helping the Fed tame inflation, securing the nation’s trust funds, and putting the debt on a sustainable downward path. That’s the best gift they could give Americans this holiday season.


For more information, please contact Kim McIntyre, Director of Media Relations, at mcintyre@crfb.org.