Top Policy Reasons to Oppose Ryan-Murray

Blog Articles · Dec 11, 2013 · Budget and Spending

Increases spending in the short term

The deal increases spending in the next two years by $63 billion above current law. Current law allows for discretionary spending to be $967 billion in FY14 and $995 billion in FY15. This bill raises that by $45 billion in FY14 (to $1.012 trillion) and $18 billion in FY15 ($1.014 trillion).

Increases deficits in the short term

While the agreement increases spending $45 billion in the first year and $18 billion in the second year, it only contains $6.5 billion worth of deficit-reducing offsets during those two years ($3.1 billion in FY14 and $3.4 billion in FY15). Because the policies on the front end are the most predictable and least likely to be overturned, these are the years that really matter. Unfortunately, only 10% of the new spending in these early years is offset in real time.

The savings are severely back loaded

While the agreement purports to produce $23 billion in deficit reduction in the first ten years, it does so by relying heavily on savings in 2022 and 2023, a full 9 and 10 years into the budget window. In fact, the bill's savings do not fully catch up with its front loaded spending increases until 2023. During this time, we will have had one, possibly two more presidents, and we will have had four different elected congresses with little-to-no ownership of this current deal. The cuts in this bill are so back loaded that a full 55 percent of the cuts ($47 billion out of $85 billion) occur in just the last two years.

The back loaded savings are highly dubious

The largest single deficit reducing provision in the bill is one that is highly unreliable. The bill extends for two additional years (2022 and 2023) the mandatory sequester that is supposed to expire in 2021. This mandatory sequester consists largely of cuts to Medicare providers. Medicare provider cuts are classically hard to maintain over time. In fact every year (and again this year, on the same day the House will vote on the budget agreement) Congress votes to eliminate scheduled provider cuts as part of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR, otherwise known as the "doc fix").

Violates the spirit and timeframe of the BCA

The Budget Control Act of 2011 was intended to offset a $2.4 trillion debt limit increase with matching spending cuts over a 10-year period, ending in 2021. However, this bill violates the BCA during the original 10-year period, and, as explained above, kicks a majority of its deficit reduction into 2022 and beyond.

Full of budget gimmicks and fake savings

As has already been mentioned, the provision generating the biggest savings in the bill is highly uncertain to even happen, and isn't even scheduled to start until 2022. The fourth biggest budget saving is $7 billion by extending the authority of Customs and Border Patrol to collect user fees for two additional years (2022 and 2023). The authority is scheduled to expire in 2021, but there is no question that authority will be extended at that time with or without this bill. This is a scoring change (simply extending the budget window), not a policy change.

Full of commonsense savings that should be done as standalone bills

The bill has commonsense anti-fraud provisions (like not paying benefits to prisoners who are ineligible for benefits) that could and should be passed on their own with easy bipartisan majorities - but that should be done to reduce the deficit, not so politicians can award themselves for doing commonsense work by increasing spending elsewhere.