Rodriguez for Congress campaign
Fiscal Accountability

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[August 11, 2016]  Rodriguez Says More Transparency Can Reduce Congressional Spending - Fiscal responsibility is essential in the U.S. House of Representatives if we ever hope to see a balanced budget and begin the important work of reducing the national debt.

Since past Congresses have shown little effort to achieve this end, it is therefore necessary to force a procedural rule that will make it much more problematic for members of Congress to continue to fund so called “pork projects” or legislative earmarks. A spirit of total transparency is necessary in the legislative process so that the American people can readily see how much government largesse their Representative is spending on pet projects that are largely deemed nonessential.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a nonpartisan agency that operates within the government to provide data-driven analyses of any pending legislation that has been approved by a committee of the House or Senate. Accordingly, the CBO uses its analytical skills to make cost estimates of most pending legislative bills, but according to congressional custom it does not follow this practice for appropriations bills. As a result, these are the pieces of legislation that often become filled with special earmarks during those late evening sessions when the give-and-take of political deal-making is in full swing. If we want to fix broken government, the fix must begin here.

Junius Rodriguez is proposing a procedural rule that would require an estimate from the CBO on all pending bills that have made their way through committee, including appropriations bills, so that an analysis can be made regarding the necessary cost of the pending legislation and the additional cost that would be added if legislative earmarks were included. Since acronyms can serve a useful purpose here, the CBO should be required to affix a label on all pending legislation—the Fiscal Accountability Tracker (FAT)—to provide the American people with the exact cost of legislation that is pending before the U.S. Congress. Moreover, the procedural rule would require a minimum of a forty-eight hour waiting period for the CBO to conduct its estimate before legislation could be put forward for a final vote. This would put both transparency and rationality as the driving forces in the legislative process and would eliminate the circumstance of late-night votes upon massive bills that no one has read.

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In short, this procedural rule is necessary because we cannot allow congressional fat to clog the arteries of the body politic. It is certainly possible that some of the items that are currently funded as congressional pork projects might well have a legitimate purpose, but if so, these projects must stand or fall on their own merits and not as quid pro quo compensation for a rightly-cast vote. Although every legislator would love to return more funding in appropriations to the district than was paid out in tax revenues, this is financially untenable and logically unsound. The U.S. Congress must learn to live within its means.

If this procedural rule is established, the Fiscal Accountability Tracker (FAT) label would be included on all legislation that is up for consideration by the Congress. It would also be available for public review online at the Library of Congress website (Thomas) where voters can review legislation that is pending. This rule would also provide a new metric by which we could measure the effectiveness of legislators in keeping their promises regarding fiscal accountability. Many would agree that Washington, D.C. needs a diet, and perhaps the use of a FAT label is one method that can begin the process of restoring our fiscal health and wellness.

[Text from file received]

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