Bringing accountability back to Washington
When the police talk about the 'use of force,' they mean it
Guest Opinion - By Congressmen Reid Ribble and Paul Ryan

Dec. 7, 2011

The way Washington operates is broken. This is not a new problem, but one that has become more pronounced as Washington stumbles from budget crisis to budget crisis, with little oversight of how the government spends taxpayers’ money. It has been more than 950 days since the Senate has passed a budget. This failure to complete one of government’s most basic responsibilities has enabled unsustainable spending habits and driven our country’s debt from $10 trillion to $15 trillion in the last three years.

We need to change the culture of Congress from one that prioritizes unchecked spending, to one that prioritizes responsibility and savings. Spending is out of control, in part because the rules of the game encourage spending money we simply don’t have. Hard-working taxpayers deserve more from their government than excessive borrowing, spending, taxing, and unnecessary budget crises.

Congressmen Reid Ribble and Paul Ryan

As members of the House Budget Committee, we have spent much of the past year developing credible solutions to fix Washington’s broken budget process and grow our economy. To that end, we’re introducing a series of bills that strengthen controls on spending, enhance accountability and increase transparency in the federal budget process.

The Path to Prosperity budget we passed earlier this year in the House showed how we can tackle the crushing burden of debt to improve economic outcomes today, while offering future generations a brighter tomorrow. With that same effort in mind, we are now proposing budgetary reforms that will make it easier for the government to save money and operate more efficiently. The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act and the Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act are two of the specific solutions we’re offering to bring long-overdue spending discipline to Washington.

The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act would establish a two-year (“biennial”) budgeting cycle for the U.S. government. Year one would be focused on drafting and executing a responsible budget plan for both years, while year two would be focused on performing detailed oversight of government agencies and programs. By providing enhanced oversight and a more orderly budget process, this reform will go a long way toward ending the spectacle of a Congress that wastes taxpayer dollars and budgets from crisis to crisis.

The Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act would give the president the authority to identify wasteful spending items and send them back to Congress for an up-or-down vote, with any savings going toward deficit reduction. Building on the House-passed ban on earmarks, this proposal is a commonsense tool to discourage pork-barrel spending.

Only when Washington can be honest about the true size and scope of our fiscal problems can we engage in a much-needed debate over the nation’s fiscal future and what kind of country we want to leave to our kids and grandkids. As members of the House Budget Committee, we will continue to offer solutions to fix what’s broken with the federal government’s budget process, to end the culture of wasteful spending, and to restore fiscal responsibility so the economy can grow.

(U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble represents Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.)