It’s no secret that Washington is addicted to spending. Though, it’s true that the budget deficit is expected to decline this year, after four consecutive years of $1+ trillion deficits, the decline is spending isn’t because of any actual spending restraint, it’s a result of gridlock in government.
But declining budget deficits don’t reflect the desires of many members of Congress. According to a new report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), the net-cost of legislation introduced in 112th Congress (proposed increases less proposed cuts) would have increased the federal budget by $1.3 trillion.
Despite the large increase in federal spending proposed last year, the “BillTally” report has some encouraging findings. Demian Brady, director of research at NTUF, noted that there was a increase in legislation to cut spending.
“The 112th Congress saw a sharp rise in the number of bills to reduce federal spending, with 221 introduced in the House and 127 in the Senate,” wrote Brady. “This is the highest number of spending-cut bills NTUF has recorded since the 105th Congress (1997-1998) when there were 265.” The report also found that legislation to increase federal spending is “being introduced at a much slower pace than in the previous Congress.”
There is also a stark difference between Republican and Democratic spending agendas. “In the House, Democrats bucked the overall trend by totaling around $20 billion more in spending proposals than they did during the prior Congress, for a $556 billion average,” notes Brady. “House GOP Members more than doubled the savings of their colleagues in the prior Congress, with $169 billion in budget reductions.”
Senate Democrats were not nearly as bad as their counterparts in the House, in fact, there was a significant improvement over the previous year. Senate Republicans were even more fiscally responsible than the last Congress.
“The Senate saw the biggest turnaround in agendas between the 111th and 112th Congresses: the average Democrat proposed a net agenda of $39 billion – down by $157 billion from the previous Congress,” noted Brady. “Senate Republicans shifted all the way to a $273 billion average savings agenda from a $25 billion spending agenda during the previous Congress – about 12 times less spending!”
The report also found that more members wanted to cut spending than increase it. NTFU notes that this is the first time that’s happened in 12 years.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) had the largest net-spending cut agenda in the House, proposing over $608 billion in reductions. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the best in the Senate, offering $650 billion in net-reductions.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who introduced the most costly piece of legislation in the 112th Congress, proposed a net-spending increase of $1.8 trillion, making him the worst in the House. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-described “socialist,” proposed largest net-spending increase in the Senate, at $1.1 trillion, which is by far the worst in that chamber.
You can check out the best and worse from the House here and the Senate here. The NTUF has also put together a handy database where concerned taxpayers can search members of Congress and view their net-spending agenda.
NTFU’s “BillTally” report can be read below.