Zero-based budgeting Ensures Responsibility (ZERO) Act | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Zero-based budgeting Ensures Responsibility (ZERO) Act

Letters to Officials

February 8, 2013

U.S. Representative
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Representative:

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) has introduced H.R. 239, the Zero-based budgeting Ensures Responsibility (ZERO) Act, which would require that all departments and agencies in the federal government switch from baseline budgeting to zero-based budgeting.  On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to support this legislation.

Baseline budgeting is one of the most sinister ways that politicians claim to cut spending when they are actually increasing spending.  The Congressional Budget Office defines the baseline as a benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in federal revenue or spending, with the assumption that current budgetary policies or current services are continued without change.  Baseline budgeting, therefore, builds automatic future spending increases into Congress's budgetary forecasts and tilts the budget process in favor of increased spending and taxes.  For example, if an agency's budget is projected to grow by $100 million, but only grows by $75 million, according to baseline budgeting, that agency sustained a $25 million cut.  That is equivalent to someone who expects to gain 100 pounds only gaining 75 pounds taking credit for losing 25 pounds.  The federal government is the only place where this absurd logic is employed.

H.R. 239 would require that, effective January 1, 2015, all departments and agencies of the government utilize zero-based budgeting.  The ZERO Act additionally requires that each department and agency provide a description of each activity that requires an appropriation from Congress; cite to Congress the legal basis under which they may lawfully receive an appropriation; offer three alternative funding levels; and provide a summary of the cost effectiveness and efficiency to the taxpayer for each activity that requires an appropriation from Congress.

Eliminating the inflated budget baseline will force Congress to justify and account for increased spending instead of hiding behind automatic increases.  I urge you to support the ZERO Act.  All votes on H.R. 239 will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2013 Congressional Ratings.


Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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