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The same goes for the many other recommendations we have had. We will study them thoroughly and try to bring such changes about as we can get it adopted.
I yield to the distinguished Senator from Arkansas.
Senator FULBRIGHT. I wish to join the Chairman in his comments about your statement. It is a very thoughtful statement.
With regard to your second point on page 8, I want to ask who would do the reviewing. My committee has jurisdiction over authorizations to foreign aid. We have never developed any effective way of deauthorizing the vast amounts carried over. What do you have in mind? How will we review and deauthorize some of those authorized carryovers.
Mr. RINTA. I have in mind the Foreign Robitions Committee going back to many of these programs which have been initiated maybe 3 or 4 years ago, which are still in the works. Many of these appropriations are not expended until 3, 4, even 5 years beyond the time they were actually provided. They have been obligated but they are not necessarily fully committed beyond recall.
If the Committee should decide, why should this program be going on
Senator FULBRIGHT. The Committee tried to cut this program and the Committee failed because of recalcitrance to get a bill at all this year. But the Appropriations Committee appropriated the money. I thought you had some new idea on how we could approach this matter to deauthorize some money.
Mr. Rinta. I certainly wouldn't exclude the suggestions of the Appropriations Committee.
Senator FULBRIGHT. The Armed Services Committee which has great pull on the Appropriations Committee in the Senate at least, I can't speak for the House, has dominated both those committees. We have got to have some better way in the Foreign Relations Committee to deauthorize some of these. That is part of the whole business, how are we going to do some of the things many of us think ought to be done.
Chairman WHITTEN. The gentleman from Wisconsin.
Chairman WHITTEN. Thank you very much, and because I don't effectively pursue this in more detail here doesn't come from lack of interest, but lack of time.
The next witness, Mr. William C. Conner, Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Conner.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. CONNER, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY,
Mr. CONNER. Dear Honorable Congressmen: I thank you for this opportunity and privilege. I come to you as a member of the public, an iconoclast and scientist. I would like to briefly outline the system and its motivations and to make five relevant comments.
What are the appropriate considerations for a modern national budgetary system? In general there are two main considerations: to what degree will the budget be in balance, and what are the relative priorities of the various national programs? At this time the executive branch, with the advice of the Office of Management and Budget, submits programs, which dictate both of the above considerations to the Congress for its review and approval. I believe that these two parts should be completely separate in origin, as the present system does not sufficiently define the specific accountability for the budget. Separation of the two parts is the most efficient way to assure this accountability.
I believe that the most appropriate division is (1) for the President to submit the figure relative to the overall balance of the budget, and (2) for the Congress, by joint committee, to dictate the relative proportions of spending and thereby the national priorities. This is close to the constitutional definition of the executive and legislative branches. If appropriations are done on a dollar amount instead of a percentage amount one can easily lose the overall view of the total balance; therefore, the obvious method is for funding to be on a percentage basis. In this manner the executive branch is accountable for the balance, and therefore cannot accuse the Congress of irresponsible appropriations with respect to this figure. The Congress will be accountable for the specific relative funding.
This scheme will cause the Congress to assume the overview of the budget that it has been accused of not taking. This initial supervision will be done by a joint House-Senate Committee. This committee is to review the needs and desires of the various funded departments. These considerations are to be presented by the appropriate individual committees. It may be desirable either to have this joint budgetary committee totally exclude or include the members of the various individual departmental appropriations committees. A member or members of the OMB and/or the executive staff may be a permanent or ex officio member.
The budget is comprised of a portion that is separable from the other departmental allocations, for example, Social Security, and basic branch salaries. This portion or first category is comparatively fixed in dollar amount, and, therefore, it is advantageous to exclude this from the proportionation of the second category of the budget. These fixed costs, while subject to legislative review, should be deducted from the overall budget appropriation prior to the percentage funding. These categories should be mutually exclusive; and, whereas each of the funded departments contain fixed costs, they should be inseparable from the overall individual departmental allocations. This would allow a correct evaluation of the relative priorities.
Each vear certain appropriations with immediate need are made to enlarge the jurisdiction of a given department or to fund separate new programs. These funds, such as for disaster relief, for specific investigative studies, or for other programs, can be provided for, to some extent, by the inclusion of a buffer in the funded budget. This percentage, possibly on the order of 5–10 percent, would be available for appropriate allocations during the course of the fiscal year.
That is a thumbnail sketch of my proposal. I should like to make five short comments on this.
A. These costs are to be revaluated but not necessarily similarly re-funded each year. They are subject to close scrutiny and appropriate legislation.
B. The national priorities will be dictated by the proportionate allo
in the total. This will allow for special programs as needed, disaster relief, research studies, et cetera.
The following are my comments with respect to a proposed budget of balanced proportional priorities (quotations are taken from Interim Report of Joint Study Committee on Budget Control):
A. The nature of the proposal is basically an organic hypothesis. The two interdependent concepts are the separation of the consideration of the overall budget balance from the assessment, and allocation of relative priorities on a percentage basis. All other statements with respect to implementation of such a proposal are subject to modification, refinement, and synthesis.
B. Initial action taken with respect to expenditure ceilings and new obligational authority should occur early in each session of the Congress. Procedures should be developed to assure compliance with the expenditure and budget authority ceiling. To provide expenditure and budget authority guidelines which could be ignored at will does not meet the problem of requiring an examination of competing priorities.
There should be a separation of origin and determination of the degree of balance of the overall budget from the considerations with respect to the appropriation of relative priorities within this set budget level. This separation would assign accountability and dictate a balance of power as mandated by the Constitution. This ceiling, subject to congressional approval, should be subject to future revision and should take into account the taxing activities of the two appropriate committees of each House as well as the appropriate appropriations committees. This initiation of a budgetary ceiling could be the function of the executive branch, a function of a separate joint committee or an isolated function of the joint committee for budgetary control.
C. “The present institutional arrangements, in many cases make it impossible to decide between competing priorities.” The Congress of its own initiative should dictate the national priorities. Appropriations by dollar amount have of necessity an inhibiting effect on the required separation, as discussed above. Percentage allocation permits and dictates an overall view of the budget as well as facilitating a proper assessment of national priorities at the time of their assignment. Those funds which are fixed and isolated from the departmental appropriations can be deducted prior to partition by priorities.
D. Each appropriation bill should include long range estimates of future funding and the relationship to the previously funded future, yearly, fixed expenditures of the related department. This would allow an assessment of the degree of commitment to future national priorities. Provision for future consideration of previously funded programs should be taken into account and defined. This would permit an evaluation of the relative effectiveness of the programs with respect to the departmental and national orientation.
E. In general, the justification and necessity of implementation of such a budgetary system can be found throughout the interim report by the Joint Study Committee on Budget Control. It is redundant to repeat the concise arguments that are presented in this document. I believe that all the conditions and considerations for budgetary reform are or can be met by the system of budgetary procedure that I have outlined.
I am available now for any questions or at any future time if you would like to correspond with me.
I thank you for your time and consideration.
Chairman WHITTEN. We appreciate your appearance here. Your presentation shows much preparation and I repeat again, as I have to others, one of our major problems in Congress is not getting sound ideas but how to get them adopted.
I am sure your suggestions will be considered as we approach our job of trying to come up with something not only sound but which we can adopt.
Senator FULBRIGHT. I have no questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, a very good statement.
Mr. Davis. No questions. Thank you.
Chairman WHITTEN. We have with us today, our colleague from Arizona. We are glad to hear from you at this time, Mr. Conlan. STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN B. CONLAN, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Mr. CONLAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of this committee, I am pleased for this opportunity to appear before you today on behalf of my 42 freshmen Republican colleagues.
As you know, 54 freshmen Congressmen from both sides of the aisle, including all freshmen Republicans, this week signed a short resolution endorsing the Interim Report issued by this committee last month. The resolution reads as follows:
Whereas, a Joint Study Committee on the Budget has been established in the United States Congress; and
Whereas, the bi-partisan Committee of Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Representatives, has completed its interim study, issued a report and made tentative recommendations favoring an overall ceiling on expenditures and budget authority.
Therefore, be it resolved. That the undersigned freshman members of the 83rd Congress do hereby express their support for the tentative work of that Committee and do further strongly urge their senior colleagues to take all posisble steps to bring about at the earliest possible date congressional reform of the budgeting process—including an overall spending limit and provision for the necessary committee structure, staff and resources by which Congress may review and control expenditures.
Gentlemen, 80 percent of the freshman class of the 93d Congress have indicated through this resolution enthusiastic support of your initial recommendations.
And 33 freshman Congressmen, joined by 7 more senior colleagues, discussed at length the issue of congressional budget reform on the floor of the House of Representatives last Wednesday. I believe this to be an unprecedented show of bipartisan unity on an issue that should be of vital concern to all Americans.
And I know from the record of the discussions this week that I speak for all those freshmen Congressmen when I say that Congress can wait no longer to put its own house in order.
We must waste no time reforming the archaic and deficient budget procedures that encumber responsible legislating. And we must bolster public confidence in the legislative branch of government by establishing a firm ceiling on Federal spending.
There are those in Congress who have criticized President Nixon's so-called impoundment of funds appropriated by Congress for Federal programs. But the vast majority of Americans throughout this country agree with Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson, when he said yesterday before the Congressional Conference on Congress and the Executive that he was grateful for the President's action. Executive impoundment of appropriated Federal funds, he said, may have forced Congress to save itself.
It is a sad commentary that this body has resisted budgetary reform for so long—that it took bold action from the White House in behalf of fiscal responsibility to shake us into realizing the urgent need for a realistic taxing-spending process.
The current hodge-podge system of raising and spending money only serves to protect big spenders among us—those intent on supporting their own pet porkbarrel programs without being publicly accountable for the economic consequences to the country. The current process is to fund programs as they come along, with no chance to add up the total until it's too late.
Mr. Chairman, this body desperately needs to establish a tight ceiling on total spending early in each session. It needs a permanent effective mechanism to conduct a coordinated and comprehensive review of budget totals so that we can establish appropriate tax rates and debt levels at the end of each session. Specifically, I believe that we must establish:
One, a permanent Joint Budget Committee, composed of members from both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.
Two, a Joint Budget Committee staff which will help the Joint Budget Committee in developing a legislative budget analysis concurrent with the executive department's budget.
Three, we should then stop duplication in assignment of annual agency budget bills which now obtains when they are sent to one committee for authorization and another for funding, when, in effect, many bills are in reality an annual operational appropriation.
Four, we need a single, general appropriation bill that will allow us to look at the spending budget as a whole and conduct a final wrapup vote on all spending toward the end of each session. Such a bill would allow the Appropriations Committee to establish more definite priorities and to make any necessary adjustments to meet the spending limit, including possible cuts in appropriations, increased taxes, or acceptance of responsibility by each individual Congressman for deficit spending.
Five, we need to have the Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees work its annual budget bill between January and June with passage of the appropriations bill prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year. For Congress to be so far behind in schedule is disgraceful.
Only when such reforms are made will hard-working taxpayers know which real culprits among us are responsible for enormous Federal taxes and inflation that imperils the entire national economy. And only when we assume some fiscal sanity in the legislative branch will we be saved the embarrassment of executive remedial action to protect the health and strength of our economy.
As I said in my remarks on the floor last Wednesday, the current scatterbrained system of Congress taxing with its left hand and spending with its right and “never the twain shall meet” has just got to