Memo for the Movement: Congress Must Prioritize Responsible Spending in Year-End Deals

A PDF version of this memo, signed by Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham and other leaders in the conservative movement, can be found here.

Memo for the Movement

Congress Must Prioritize Responsible Spending in Year-End Deals

November 20, 2017
Washington, D.C.

For years, conservatives have been sounding the alarm on growing debt and deficits. A red tidal wave of debt threatens the health of the economy, business creation, the ability of families to create wealth. In doing so, exploding debt threatens no less than the American dream.

When Republicans obtained unified control of the government in January, many conservatives expected a return to fiscal discipline, and an effort to control the massive growth in deficits that occurred under President Obama. Unfortunately, Congress has so far failed to prioritize debt management and deficit reduction.

As Congress approaches the December 8 deadline to fund the government, we urge the House and Senate use this as an opportunity to return to responsible fiscal management. Specifically, we call on Congress to take the following actions.

Maintain the domestic spending cap passed in the Budget Control Act (BCA). According to numerous press reports, Members of Congress are discussing a potential deal that would remove the non-defense discretionary spending cap. This would be a mistake.

The BCA spending caps represent one of the most significant fiscal retrenchments in decades. After years of unfulfilled promises to cut spending, the BCA has actually done it. Since its implementation in 2011, discretionary spending, adjusted for inflation, has been cut by 16 percent from its peak of $1.3 trillion.

If Congress undoes spending caps now, it will undo the first consecutive stretch of declining federal outlays since President Eisenhower’s first term in office. We urge Republicans in Congress to maintain their commitment to fiscal discipline and keep the non-defense discretionary cap in place.

Do not bail out health insurance companies. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have openly contemplated a bailout of the health insurance companies by reinstating cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs). These payments were initiated unilaterally and illegally by the Obama administration, and have been rightly terminated by President Trump.

According to recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the bailout contemplated by Sens. Murray and Alexander would provide $4 to $5 billion to health insurance companies, on the backs of the taxpayer. This would be far larger than any benefit that consumers would receive from the legislation. Worse still, CBO estimates that this bailout would not actually reduce federal spending. In fact, CBO’s analysis suggests that overall federal spending will rise as insurers pocket some of the federal bailout money instead of giving consumers a break on costs.

Bailing out health insurance companies is not the answer to rising healthcare costs, nor is it the panacea to a failing system. Obamacare is a policy failure and Congress needs to repeal it. It is unthinkable that, after promising to repeal this law for nearly a decade, Republicans in Congress have still failed to do so.

The only future action on Obamacare that is acceptable to conservatives is full repeal.

Pay for future emergency spending. Since September, Congress has approved more than $50 billion in disaster assistance to pay for hurricane-related damage around the country. In many cases, this money has been wisely spent. In others, it has not. For example, in a $36.5 billion disaster relief package passed in October, $16 billion went to bail out the financially troubled National Flood Insurance Program without instituting oversight or reforms.

Spending of this nature cannot continue unabated. In just the last fiscal year, government spending increased the deficit by $82 billion, taking the total deficit to $666 billion.

Any future disaster spending must be offset with cuts elsewhere. We applaud the efforts of the Office of Management and Budget, which provided a list of $5.6 billion in suggested offsets to Congress, which were later ignored by lawmakers. Likewise, the President’s budget contains more than $50 billion in cuts to discretionary spending that could be used as offsets.

With dangerous levels of debt, we urge Republicans in Congress to exercise responsible fiscal management and provide offsets to future disaster assistance.

Growing debts and deficits threaten the American economy and the fulfillment of the American dream. We urge Congress to again make fiscal discipline a priority.
______________________________________________________________________

The Honorable Edwin Meese III
Former Attorney General
President Ronald Reagan
The Honorable Becky Norton Dunlop
Chairman, Conservative Action Project
Former White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan
Diana Banister
President and Partner
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Chairman
Constitutional Congress, Inc.
The Honorable T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.
Former Chief Domestic Advisor
President Ronald Reagan
The Honorable Bob McEwen
U.S. House of Representatives
Former Member, Ohio
The Honorable Jim DeMint
Former Member (SC)
United States Senate
Ed Corrigan
Former Executive Director
Senate Steering Committee
Rachel Bovard
Former Policy Director
Senate Steering Committee
David Bozell
President
ForAmerica
Jenny Beth Martin
Chairman
Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund
Alfred S. Regnery
Chairman
Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund
Michael A. Needham
CEO
Heritage Action
The Honorable David McIntosh
President
Club for Growth
Rebecca Hagelin
Secretary, Council for National Policy
Board of Directors, FamilyTalk
James C. Dobson Ph.D.
Founder & President
Family Talk
The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli II
President
Senate Conservatives Fund
The Honorable James C. Miller III
Office of Management and Budget
Director for President Ronald Reagan
Rod D. Martin
Founder & CEO
The Martin Organization, Inc.
Sherri R. Martin
Executive Vice President
The Martin Organization, Inc.
Haley E. Martin
President
The Martin Foundation
Evelio Silvera
Campaign for the American Future
Nicholas Stehle
Campaign for the American Future
Shawn A. Mitchell
Former National Chaplain
National Federation of Republican Assemblies
Judson Phillips
Founder
Tea Party Nation
Col.Francis X. De Luca USMCR (Ret.)
President
Civitas Institute
The Honorable Mike Spence
Founding President
Conservative Republicans of California
Roxanne Phillips
Member, Executive Committee
Council for National Policy
Jim Backlin
Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America
Lewis K. Uhler
Founder and President
National Tax Limitation Committee
Ralph Benko
Columnist
Norm Singleton
President
Campaign for Liberty
Jason Jones
President
Movie to Movement
Anne Schlafly Cori
Chairman
Eagle Forum
Magdalena Briones
Assistant to CEO
Movieguide
Christopher Malagisi
Editor in Chief
Conservative Book Club
Ann Drexel
Member, Board of Governors
Council for National Policy
David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Willes K. Lee
President
National Federation of Republican Assemblies
Dr.Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.
Washington Bureau Chief
James L. Martin
Founder & Chairman
60 Plus Association
Allen Hebert
Chairman
American-Chinese Fellowship of Houston
Kay R. Daly
President
Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
The Honorable Mike Hill
Former Member
Florida State House of Representatives
Robert K. Fischer
Meeting Coordinator
Conservatives of Faith
Peter J. Thomas
Chairman
The Conservative Caucus
Tim LeFever
Chairman
Capitol Resource Institute
Floyd Brown
Chairman
Western Center for Journalism
John F. Tate
President
America’s Liberty PAC
John P. McCardell
President
America’s Liberty Committee
Elaine Donnelly
President
Center for Military Readiness
The Honorable Belden Bell
Legacy Society Co-Chair
The Heritage Foundation
C. Preston Noell III
President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
Penna Dexter
Co-Host
Point of View Radio
William W. Pascoe, III
Managing Partner
Antietam Communications
Ralph A. Rebandt, II
Senior Pastor/Chaplain
Oakland Hills Community Church/Michigan Association of Police Chiefs
Michael R. Long
State Chairman
NYS Conservative Party
Robert Alt
President & CEO
The Buckeye Institute
Nancy Schulze
Founder
Republican Congressional Wives Speakers
Charles J. Cooper
Former Assistant Attorney General, Ronald Reagan Administration
Cooper& Kirk PLLC
Ron Robinson
President
Young America’s Foundation
(All organizations listed for IDENTIFICATION purposes only)

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Trump Can End Congress’ Illegal Obamacare Exemption with the Stroke of a Pen

By John Malcolm, Vice President for the Institute for Constitutional Government and Michael Cannon, Director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute Congress' ongoing failure to repeal Obamacare means ordinary citizens will continue to suffer that law's rising penalties, wage cuts, reduced choice, rising premiums, eroding coverage, administrative burdens, and collapsing markets. But don't worry, members of…

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Trump Is Right. ‘Our Tax Code Is a Giant, Self-Inflicted Economic Wound.’

By Adam Michel, Policy Analyst, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies In his second speech in two weeks on the need for tax reform, President Donald Trump again made a strong case, explaining that “our tax code is a giant, self-inflicted economic wound.” This time speaking in North…

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Trump’s Budget Deal With Democrats Will Only Worsen Our Fiscal Situation

By Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Late Wednesday night, the Senate released the text of legislation that would provide disaster relief funding and other federal aid for Hurricane Harvey and other 2017 disasters, suspend the debt limit, and extend the National Flood Insurance Program and government…

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Governors Urge Greater Flexibility for States in Creating and Implementing Health Care Policy

By Rachel del Guidice, reporter for The Daily Signal. Five governors—representing both parties and from states across the country—told a Senate committee Thursday that inaction on health care is not an option and lawmakers should look to the states for solutions. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, praised the successes of…

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Trump’s Reversal of Obama Pay Gap Rule Is Good News for Women, Minorities

By Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and Grover M. Hermann fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The Trump administration put a stop this week to an Obama-era rule that would have hurt the wage and employment prospects of all workers, and would have…

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Conservatives Should Take Full Advantage of the Debt Ceiling

By Sutton Truluck, Research Assistant at Heritage Action for America. On Sunday, the Trump administration formally requested Congress pair an 18-month suspension of our nation’s debt ceiling with much-needed emergency spending for Hurricane Harvey relief. Today, President Trump reportedly endorsed the idea of pairing Harvey spending with a short-term suspension…

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Why I and Other Lawmakers Should Live Under Obamacare

By Rep. Ron DeSantis, Republican, representing Florida's 6th District. For seven years, Republican candidates running for every office from president to dogcatcher campaigned on the need to repeal and replace Obamacare. The spectacular collapse of the repeal effort in the Senate revealed that these promises were, at least for some…

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How to Bring Real Stability to the Health Care Market

By Edmund Haislmaier, expert in health care policy and markets at The Heritage Foundation. Following Congress’ failure to enact “repeal and replace” legislation this summer, the new Obamacare buzz phrase for the fall is “market stabilization.” An ad hoc group of House members calling themselves the “Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus”…

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As GOP Senators, Governors Pitch Plan to Save Obamacare, White House ‘Can’t Imagine’ Backing Bailout

By Fred Lucas, White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. The White House says it “can’t imagine” supporting an Obamacare bailout, even as some Republican senators and governors are urging boosting federal subsidies to insurance companies to stabilize the endangered Obamacare exchanges. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee…

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VIDEO: Michael Needham discusses Harvey aid and the debt ceiling

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham discussed the debate on America's debt ceiling and relief funding for Harvey on Fox News Sunday September 3, 2017.…

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VIDEO: Dan Holler on Harvey spending package

Heritage Action Vice President Dan Holler discusses the Hurricane Harvey spending package on Fox Business's Varney & Co. September 5, 2017.…

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Budget Reconciliation: A Viable Path for CHOICE Act Reforms

By Norbert Michel, Director, Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. One of the big unfinished items on this year’s Congressional agenda is financial regulatory reform. The House passed the Financial CHOICE Act, a major financial reform bill in June. But the Senate has yet to offer a companion bill, and it is pretty…

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3 Ways the US Tax Code Is Killing Our Economy’s Potential

By Sondra Clark, Managing Director of Communications and Grassroots at Heritage Action for America. President Donald Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the American people that if they gave Republicans the chance to govern, pro-growth tax reform would be their major legislative priority in 2017.…

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VIDEO: Michael Needham discusses tax reform

Heritage Action for America’s CEO Michael Needham discusses tax reform on Bloomberg TV.…

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Trump Says Tax Reform Could Create ‘Millions and Millions of New Jobs’

By Fred Lucas, White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. President Donald Trump hit his campaign themes of bringing back American jobs and raising wages in launching his quest for tax reform, while blasting special interest loopholes. “Let’s put, or at least try to put, the partisan posturing behind us…

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OPINION: The key to passing tax reform: Keep it simple, stupid

By Stephen Moore, Distinguished Visiting Fellow for Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation. One of the most enduring lessons from the ObamaCare fiasco is that to win a political battle, it is best to keep the message simple. If there are too many moving parts to a plan, if…

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Conservatives Must Oppose Obamacare Bailouts

By Sutton Truluck, Research Assistant at Heritage Action for America. Last month, Senate Republicans failed to deliver on their seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Understandably so, many conservatives were left demoralized. Millions of Americans remain stuck with a failing health care law—due in part to Republicans inability to…

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Taxes, Regulations Hurt Economy

By David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D, Senior Research Fellow, Labor Markets and Trade at The Heritage Foundation. If bigger government, higher taxes, larger subsidies, more regulations and double-digit minimum wages led to better middle-class incomes, the U.S. would be experiencing the fastest wage growth in its history. However, they don’t, and…

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VIDEO: Dr. Feulner discusses tax reform and Trump, Congress.

The Heritage Foundation’s President Dr. Ed Feulner discusses tax reform and the relationship between President Trump and Congress on Fox Business Network.…

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How the Senate’s baseline budget could make or break tax reform

By Romina Boccia, fiscal and economic expert at The Heritage Foundation, and Adam Michel, policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation. Tax reform is one of the most important legislative priorities for Congress and the administration this fall. Good tax reform will unleash economic growth, creating greater opportunity and prosperity for all…

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This Key Reform Must Be Central to Any New Tax Plan

By Salim Furth, Research Fellow in Macroeconomics at The Heritage Foundation, and Adam Michael, Policy Analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute at The Heritage Foundation. As Congress and the president move toward consensus on tax reform, one key reform should remain the centerpiece of any plan that moves forward: making…

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VIDEO: IRS Rehires 213 Employees

213—that’s how many employees the IRS rehired after they were dismissed for falsifying documents and avoiding paying their own taxes. How does this happen? To view this video on The Daily Signal Facebook page, click here.…

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Why Bernie Sanders’ Single-Payer Health Care Bill Would Be a Disaster

By Robert E. Moffit, senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies. Senate Republicans’ failure to enact a health reform bill has created a big policy vacuum, and liberals in Congress and elsewhere are eager to fill it. Their solution: Move to a “single-payer system.” That anodyne…

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Over 45 Conservatives to Congress: Support the Employee Rights Act

Dear Members of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of Americans we represent across all fifty states, we encourage you to co-sponsor H.R. 2723, the Employee Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe. This important bill represents the first major update to federal labor law in seventy…

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Business Owner Legislative Strategy Call 08/17/17

Yesterday conservatives working in the business owner community all came together for our monthly Legislative Strategy Call. During the call, we heard from Heritage Action’s Wesley Coopersmith, Policy Manager, and Matt Lauer, Grassroots Director.  Wesley walked through updates on the state of tax reform, legislation to establish a budget, and health care reform.…

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Tax Reform for Investment and Jobs

By Adam Michael, Policy Analyst for the Thomas A. Roe Institute at The Heritage Foundation. Fixing a quirk in the U.S. tax code would let businesses add new jobs and increase economic growth immediately. The remedy, known to economists as “expensing,” lets businesses deduct from their taxable income the full value…

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Corporations, Democrats Join Forces to Block Trump Nominee to Run Export-Import Bank

By Fred Lucas, White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. The business community of South Carolina is pressuring Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to oppose President Donald Trump’s nomination of a critic of the Export-Import Bank to run the institution. Thus far, the most vocal critics of the…

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Farmer Faces Multimillion Dollar Fine For Plowing Fields Without Government’s Permission

By Amy Swearer, visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. This week, a federal judge will determine whether to levy a multimillion-dollar fine against John Duarte, as requested by the Department of Justice. Duarte’s wrongdoing? Plowing fields without first asking the permission of the…

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America Is Heading Straight Into Its Most Avoidable Crisis Ever

By Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation, and Chase Flowers, member of The Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders Program. In the looming shadow of another debt limit debate, Congress should stand firm and demand spending controls before increasing the debt limit again. Most people are familiar…

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Add Homebuilders to the List of Industries Hurt by Tariffs

By Tori Whiting,  Research Associate in the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform at The Heritage Foundation & Robert Bellafiore, Member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. New data show that protectionism is taking a toll on the confidence of homebuilders. Last month, homebuilder confidence hit its lowest reading since…

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These Obama Regulations Make a Strong Case for Tax Reform

By Adam Michel, Heritage Foundation Policy Analyst & Jacob Lubenow, member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Congress is pivoting to tax reform, which if done correctly, should replace a list of draconian Obama-era regulations that went to extraordinary lengths to keep American companies from leaving the U.S.…

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A Conservative View of Trump vs. Amazon

By Dan Holler, Vice President of Heritage Action For America Amazon’s successful business model is “destroying department stores and retailing all over the country,” President Donald Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt last year. How should free market conservatives interpret the president’s continued critique of Amazon? That question becomes particularly important as…

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