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Letter to Senate Democrats Opposing Proposals for Discretionary Spending Caps

February 09, 2011

Dear Senator:

We are very troubled by several newly introduced bills that call for statutory spending caps and/or balanced budget amendments.  These proposals would be devastating for public education and retirement security, undermining economic recovery and jeopardizing our future strength as a nation.  We strongly urge you to oppose these bills.

Particularly in these troubling economic times, investing in education makes both good fiscal sense and good public policy.  Funding targeted to quality public schools will see the greatest return on taxpayer money and will strengthen the entire economy.  In fact, research shows an inextricable link between investment in education and economic strength.  In addition to widespread productivity increases, the higher earnings of educated workers generate higher tax payments at the local, state, and federal levels.  Consistent productive employment reduces dependence on public income-transfer programs and all workers, regardless of education level, earn more when there are more college graduates in the labor force.  (Education Pays, The College Board, 2007). 

We urge you to oppose proposals that would undermine these critical investments.  In particular, we oppose:

  • S. 245, the “CAP Act,” by Senators Corker and McCaskill.  Imposing a statutory cap on all federal spending (mandatory and discretionary) as a share of GDP would lead to large cuts in discretionary spending, Social Security, Medicare, and other programs.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, keeping spending at no more than 20.6 percent of GDP, as required under S. 245, would necessitate cutting all programs by some 20 percent (on top of cuts to Social Security and Medicare).
  • S.J. Res 3, a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment, by Senator Hatch that would amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and limit total spending to no more than 20 percent of GDP.
  • S.J. Res 4 by Senator Shelby, which also requires a balanced budget and caps overall spending at 20 percent of GDP.

These proposals will put our nation at great risk by decimating public education and other programs that ensure a competitive workforce and future economic vitality.  We strongly urge you to oppose these dangerous proposals.


Kim Anderson         
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy