Today on Capitol Hill, Senators Claire McCaskill and Bob Corker introduced legislation, the Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, meant to cap federal spending. The bill would require spending as a percentage of GDP to decrease over the next decade to the 40-year average of 20.6 percent.
If Congress were to fail to meet its annual cap, the legislation would authorize the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to make even cuts across the board. It would also eliminate Social Security’s “off-budget” distinction.
“[CAP] will help Congress say no” to spending, said McCaskill, who is currently the only Democrat backing the bill, at a press conference. The bill has seven Republican cosponsors.
“We never have a plan,” added Corker, bemoaning the lack of long-term thinking in Washington. The proposed cuts are recurring, meaning that they would be permanent. Corker contrasted this proposed solution with one-time cuts, which he said are only short-term solutions.
According to Corker, the cuts would begin in 2013 and eventually eliminate $7.8 trillion from the budget.
The bill is likely to receive the support of the Republican controlled House, but will probably encounter problems in the Senate. Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid “did not receive [the bill] well,” McCaskill said.
The biggest obstacle to building bipartisan support is that the bill spares no program, including defense and entitlement spending.
Corker argued that the bill would put pressure on legislators to prioritize spending, thus making it more difficult to add new programs.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the 2011 deficit to surpass $1.5 trillion. Federal spending is currently 24.7 percent of GDP.
Corker and McCaskill are both up for reelection in 2012.
Matt Katzenberger is an intern at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.