Budget Watch

A newsletter covering budget reform and the latest news and views on the federal budget, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 (202) 543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, and the Small Business Survival Foundation, 1320 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 785-0238, Fax (202) 822-8118.

Issue # 18 - November 8, 1995 * David A. Ridenour and Karen Kerrigan, Editors

Hill Watch: Update on Budgetary Issues on Capitol Hill

Citizen Congress Act to be Introduced: Initiative Seeks Curbs to Congressional Waste and Abuse

Representatives Wayne Allard (R-CO) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) will kick-off their Citizen Congress Act (CCA) -- a bill designed to respond to growing public demand for a return of a citizen legislature -- at a press conference on Tuesday, November 14 at 10:30 A.M. in Room 340 Cannon House Office Building. If approved, the bill would do away with many of the perks and privileges Members of Congress have grown accustomed to, including the congressional franking privilege which allows Members of Congress to send out millions of pieces of self-serving propaganda to their constituents at taxpayer expense. The franking privilege is believed to be a significant factor in high incumbent re-election rates -- and thus a major obstacle to returning to the "Citizen Legislature" envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The measure would also take aim at the lucrative congressional pension program, which could permit over 250 Members of the 103rd Congress to become "pension millionaires." The program is not only a waste of taxpayer funds, but because it is so lucrative, it contributes to congressional careerism. The CCA would replace the current pension system with one funded out of Members' current salaries. Other CCA reforms include: Termination of automatic congressional pay increases; elimination of special VIP parking lots for Members of Congress, diplomats and Supreme Court Justices at Washington area airports; a ban on the use of military aircraft for congressional junkets; termination of congressional treatment privileges at military hospitals, except for those who are veterans or in the event of an emergency; and a ban on personal use of frequent flyer miles accrued through trips made at taxpayer expense.

The press conference is sponsored by U.S. Term Limits, Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC), and Citizens Against Government Waste, among others. Call U.S. Term Limits at (202)393-6440.

Corporate Heavy-Hitters Openly Lobby to Keep Department of Commerce Open

While most businesses see little use for the Department of Commerce, with 69% of corporate CEO's favoring its termination in a recent Business Week survey, a coalition of big businesses have now come out of the closet to help salvage the agency. AT&T, General Electric, IBM, Raytheon and Westinghouse (all recipients of government contracts or grants) along with 60 other business allies are urging all Members of Congress to oppose dismantling Commerce. Supporters of dismantling the department want the measure to go into the continuing resolution to keep the government running or the legislative package to extend the debt ceiling. The Clinton Administration wants the Commerce provision removed as part of any deal. The big business groups say they want a balanced budget, but apparently not at the expense of their pet programs. Their solution? To set up a non-partisan commission to study federal government restructuring.

A New Misery Index: Indexing Federal Civil Penalties to Inflation

In eleventh hour negotiations, a provision was added to the House Budget Reconciliation to index virtually all federal civil penalties to inflation. Under section 5251 (Subpart E), federal agencies would have to adjust every civil penalty "at least every four years." OSHA civil penalties had already been increased by 700% in 1990, from $1,000 to $70,000. The new provision could result in an immediate increase of these penalties to $80,000. "In a time when we are attempting to change the focus of government from one of punitive enforcement to one extending a helping hand, we believe this provision is impossible to defend," wrote Representatives Bill Goodling (R-PA), Cass Ballenger (R-NC), Howard McKeon (R-CA), Harris Fawell (R-IL), Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), and Randy Cunningham (R-CA) in a letter to Speaker Gingrich.

Small Business Survival Foundation
1320 18th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202)785-0238
Fax: (202)822-8118

The National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Ct NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 543-4110
Fax: (202)543-5975
E-mail [email protected]

Nothing written here should be construed as an attempt to help or hinder legislation before the U.S. Congress.

<<< Return to the Budget Watch Index

<<< Return to National Center Home Page