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Letter to the House on Budget Process Bills

February 02, 2012

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we would like to urge your opposition to two budget process bills scheduled for floor debate this week.  We believe these bills — H.R. 3578, the Baseline Reform Act, and H.R. 3582, the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act — are unnecessary and would actually undermine, rather than strengthen, fiscal discipline.  Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress.

The Baseline Reform Act unnecessarily politicizes what is otherwise a fairly simple and straightforward method by which changes in spending policy can be accurately measured.  The bill would require the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget to assume, in constructing budget “baselines” that project funding levels for future years, that annual appropriations will remain frozen indefinitely, with no adjustment for inflation. This would establish an unrealistic and misleading benchmark against which to measure changes in funding. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, removing inflation adjustments from budget projections for discretionary programs would make projections of deficits and debt look more favorable than they really are, by creating an unrealistic assumption that policymakers will cut funding for discretionary programs in real terms every year through a permanent, across-the-board funding freeze, irrespective of the level of inflation.  

The Pro-Growth Budgeting Act would require the use of “dynamic scoring,” or the consideration of "macroeconomic feedbacks”such as how a change in tax or spending policy would  affect the overall economy in scoring estimates.  Because estimates of macroeconomic feedbacks are so uncertain, including them in revenue estimates would be nothing more than a budget gimmick resulting in fuzzy math.

Both bills offer unnecessary changes to the budget process, designed to introduce politics and bias into an otherwise fairly straightforward process.  We urge you to oppose both bills. 

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson 
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations