Budget deal and path forward (DE members)

Response at end

SECURE AMERICA’S FUTURE ECONOMY, http://www.s-a-f-e.org
Advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996.

August 5, 2019

Sen. Tom Carper

CC: Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

Dear Sen. Carper:

You may have already seen SAFE’s two-part series on the Bipartisan Budget Act and what can be done at this point to rekindle support for fiscal responsibility:

7/29/19: Latest budget deal: faster process, similar results;

8/5/19: Continuing efforts to improve the budget process.

Browser access path: Secure America’s Future Economy – Blog – dates.

You are quoted (favorably) in the 8/5 entry, and there is also an update on recent activities of Sen. Mike Enzi and other members of the Senate Budget Committee.

Jim Thomen and I are hoping that it will be possible to schedule another discussion on this topic, perhaps during the August recess. It would be great to have your reactions to our comments on the SBC approach to reforming the budget process. Also, what can be done to make sure that this issue is meaningfully discussed in the 2020 presidential campaign?



#Response from Sen. Coons, 8/6/19 - Thank you for contacting me regarding the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which President Trump signed into law on August 2, 2019. I appreciate having the benefit of your thoughts on this issue.

I am glad that a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders and the President were able to work together to craft a budget deal that lifted the debt ceiling and eliminated sequestration for the next two years. The bill raises the caps on federal discretionary spending for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021 by $320 billion, increasing both the non-defense spending limit by 4% and the defense spending limit by 3% in FY 2020. The bill also lifts the debt limit for two years, extending the deadline to July 31, 2021.

Passing a budget deal that raises the federal spending caps is important to avoid harmful sequestration. As you may know, the Budget Control Act of 2011 included a sequester mechanism to automatically enact across-the-board spending cuts, evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending that was scheduled to go into effect in the beginning of 2013. In spending negotiations since 2013, Congress has agreed to increase total discretionary spending above sequester-level spending caps. Unless Congress passed legislation to raise topline discretionary spending levels for FY 2020, funding for non-defense discretionary programs on average would have been cut 11% after adjusting for inflation.

In addition to avoiding sequestration, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 ensures that the U.S. government will not default on financial obligations by raising the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is a legal limit on how much the U.S. Treasury can borrow to pay for spending Congress has already authorized, like funding our military, operating our schools, maintaining roads and bridges, and much more. The debt ceiling does not determine how much the U.S. government is already approved to spend. There are significant consequences if the U.S. government fails to raise the debt ceiling. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Treasury, refusing to raise the debt ceiling could create a catastrophe for our economy, cause havoc in our financial markets, and likely result in the loss of trillions of dollars in the household wealth of Americans.

I understand your concerns about the impact of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 on the national debt. I recognize that the current paths of our budget deficit and national debt are unsustainable. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 includes $55 billion of offsets, I agree that is not enough. The national debt currently stands at $22 trillion, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that passed with Republican-only support contributing approximately $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2028, the national debt will rise to 105% of GDP. That percentage would be the largest since just after World War II.

Members of both political parties agree that excessive debt hurts our competitiveness and causes interest rates to rise over the long term. Higher interest rates threaten critical investments in our country's future, in areas like education, infrastructure, research and development, and defense. To put the deficit on a sustainable path, we must evaluate ways to limit the growth of spending and ways to bring in more revenue. Both parties have to be willing to make sacrifices and be open to a serious debate to curb federal spending but also raise revenue.

I am committed to working to promote the balanced approach necessary to stabilize our nation's debt. During my six years as County Executive of New Castle County, I worked very hard with the County Council, county workforce, and the public to make extremely difficult choices to achieve balanced budgets and maintain fiscal responsibility in Delaware. Since coming to the Senate, I have worked hard to convince my colleagues that similar sacrifices must be made in Washington, and that bipartisan compromise is the only way forward. Now, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Ranking Member of the Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support appropriations bills that are responsible, fair, and forward-looking. I will be sure to keep your views in mind as spending negotiations advance in the Senate this year and beyond.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I am honored to represent Delaware in the United States Senate and value hearing from Delawareans on issues of concern. My website, www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.

#Response from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, 8/15/19 - Thank you for sharing this interesting article and your thoughts with me. I appreciate your continued engagement!

I consider myself an avid reader and writer, it's the best way we can learn from one another. During my time living in China, I cowrote a book, THRIVE: 34 Women, 18 Countries, One Goal, which shared the stories of women from around the globe. It's important as Delaware's sole Member of Congress that I represent all my constituents and learn about the pressing issues that you care about. One way I can do this is for you to continue sending me articles that highlight initiatives, challenge the status quo, and tell the human stories of many legislative matters lawmakers discuss in Congress.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts and interesting articles with me. I hope that you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you, as your input helps me to better represent you in Congress. If you would like to stay up to date on my work in Delaware and Washington, you can visit www.bit.ly/LBREmail to sign up for my newsletter, "Lisa's List."

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