By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery was in the witness chair Thursday testifying to the House Committee on the Budget about her legislation, the Honest Budget Act.
Congresswoman Roby told the Committee, “I want to express briefly my concern regarding the practice of using budget gimmicks to distort the truth about federal spending. At times, both Congress and the President have exploited these institutional loopholes to create false savings. Without a doubt, we know that Republicans and Democrats have relied on these tricks to skew the numbers. These gimmicks, deeply engrained in the rules of the budget and appropriations process, have led to the erosion of confidence in our government and its leaders.”
Rep. Roby continued, “I believe that all of you on this committee agree that the American people deserve a budget system that is real, genuine, and authentic. And the only way to guarantee the truth is to root out and end the gimmicks that obscure it. As many of you know, last October Senator Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the Honest Budget Act of 2011. The legislation, which is currently pending in the Senate, addresses the nine most commonly used budget gimmicks and accounting tricks. Senator Sessions’ legislation would strengthen the Senate’s rules to provide budget-minded members more procedural power to block the abuse of these gimmicks.”
“I, with many of my freshman Republican colleagues, introduced the Honest Budget Act of 2012. Our legislation, based on Senator Sessions’ bill, expands this common sense approach to the House of Representatives. Like its Senate counterpart, the legislation empowers rank-and-file members to weed out the use of deceitful budget distortions. I’d like to discuss briefly, and I know my time is limited, a few of the budget gimmicks addressed in the Honest Budget Act. My hope is that this Committee will keep these concerns in mind as it works on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget,“ Rep. Roby testified.
Rep. Roby said, “The bill requires that the Senate has a budget before approving any annual appropriations bills.” ”This is a very commonsensical request that we actually pass a budget before we appropriate money. This is a basic requirement of government and until that threshold is met, no money should be spent.“
“No Phony Emergency and Disaster Designation. The second provision makes it difficult to use the often-abused emergency or disaster designation. As you know, designating funding as disaster or emergency spending generally means it is “off-budget,” in other words, it is deficit spending.”
“Accurate Scoring of Home Loan Guarantees. I am pleased that this Committee and the full House of Representatives recently approved legislation that is substantially similar to this provision in the Honest Budget Act.”
“No False Rescissions. At times, Congress may legitimately rescind appropriated funds to use for other priorities. But too often, Congress makes phony rescissions that look good on paper but, in reality, only create the illusion of savings.
“Again, this bill goes through the nine most commonly used budget gimmicks. I’ve highlighted more of them in my written testimony. It is my hope that Congress will take a really good hard look when it comes to budget reform and the institutionalized practices, again, of both Republicans and Democrats, and that we will take this opportunity to reform these practices so that we can be honest with the American people.”
Congresswoman Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District and is unopposed in the March 13th Republican Primary.
The national debt has reached $15.5 trillion and our federal budget deficit is $1.3 trillion.
To read Representative Roby’s statement in its entirety