Trump Executive Order Could Save Taxpayers Billions

Trump dems executive orderIt’s rare to find good news when it comes to the federal government’s fiscal health. The national debt is now a staggering $22.8 trillion, the current fiscal year deficit is likely to exceed $1 trillion, and annual federal spending increases far exceed economic growth even during good years.

All this makes the latest executive order signed by President Donald Trump so necessary. If federal agencies and future administrations stick to the rule, it could prevent billions of dollars in debt-financed spending.

The rule, which builds off a less-binding memo issued in 2005, requires the federal government to cover the cost of agency decisions that would increase spending. The process is called administrative “pay-as-you-go,” or PAYGO. The Trump administration has seen positive results from a similar 2017 initiative on regulations.

Even for Americans with a strong understanding of civics, the concept of administrative PAYGO can be confusing. After all, Congress is supposed to make spending decisions through legislation, and the executive branch merely puts those laws into action. How then would federal agencies have the ability to raise or cut federal spending?

This dysfunction is a result of two types of congressional irresponsibility.

First, Congress has placed larger and larger amounts of federal spending into the “mandatory” category. Such programs do not require annual spending authorizations, and are able to avoid many budgetary restraints even on the rare occasions when Congress bothers to pass a budget.

Autopilot programs, which include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, are the driving force behind the rapid growth of federal spending.

Second, Congress has delegated more and more decision-making power to agencies. Laws that create mandatory programs often contain language allowing federal agencies to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to carry out a directive, which almost has the effect of giving bureaucrats a blank check.

If a law provides an agency with significant leeway in terms of designing and changing programs, the agency can re-design the program later to make it more expensive with few or no consequences. The new PAYGO rule would create consequences where none currently exist.

Ironically enough, a significant example of an agency initiative increasing spending took place under the Trump administration.

The Department of Agriculture through its so-called trade aid for farmers has spent and promised to spend tens of billions of dollars without explicit authorization from Congress. This is possible due to broad powers granted to the USDA through the New Deal-era Commodity Credit Corporation, which includes a $30 billion annual spending limit.

Even setting aside the many flaws with the USDA program, the fact that Congress has created a law that doesn’t require legislators to have meaningful input in the design and implementation of a federal activity that spends billions of dollars a year is a constitutional travesty.

It takes a year’s hard work from tens of thousands of Americans to produce $1 billion in the economy. Any program spending such enormous amounts should receive serious scrutiny.

The “trade aid” itself only came about because of yet another area of congressional dereliction: trade and tariffs.

Laws have repeatedly delegated trade-related authority to the executive branch. In the case of the ongoing trade dispute with China, this has resulted in U.S. farmers losing billions of dollars in sales without direct approval from Congress.

Had the new administrative PAYGO rule been in place two years ago, it is possible that the USDA’s “trade aid” would have been much less expensive for taxpayers. Although Section 7 of the PAYGO rule authorizes waivers based on standards such as “effective program delivery” and “the public interest,” the administration’s intent is clear.

If agencies follow the rule as closely as possible, and if future administrations keep the rule in place, it could stop wasteful initiatives from getting off the ground.

Yet the fact that the rule is even necessary is genuinely shameful. Congress, which has made a mockery of its own version of PAYGO, should reclaim decision-making powers ceded to executive branch agencies and use those powers responsibly.

The new executive order is a step in the right direction. However, it is no substitute for vitally needed laws to create comprehensive budgeting covering all categories of spending, robust fiscal rules, and a more manageable federal government.

Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by David Ditch

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Morris Hewitt
11 months ago

Trump trying to do the right things however he is fighting an uphill battle from both sides of the aisle. I have a friend retiring from Congress this year that I have Known for years. He was the CFO of two corporations and he says fiscal responsibility in congress will never happen until you get term limits and when Congress can no longer vote themselves a raise etc etc.

11 months ago

Nice article about the Constitutional issues, but the “ifs” are just laughable.

“If agencies follow the rule as closely as possible, and if future administrations keep the rule in place”

Not going to happen. The only way bureaucrats will find ways to save money is if their next pay raise/promotion is contingent on them doing so.

11 months ago

Bless his heart, President Trump, a very successful businessman, is trying to lead this horse (ie congress, senate) to water, but who’s going to make them drink? Most of them have never run a business, or even had to balance a checkbook. Fiscal responsibility is a foreign concept here folks. If they want to spend more money on dumb ideas to get more votes, it’s an easy thing, just raise taxes on hard working Americans, and voila, money magically appears!! And even more frightening, voila, the “lobbyists” (legal bribery) put more money in to their campaign funds. That’s how economics… Read more »

11 months ago

Go Trump Go 2020

11 months ago


Helen Corey
11 months ago

Eliminate Dept of Education. Rules for governing how children should be educated should be made at the local state level, not federal level.

Stephen Lykins
11 months ago

The absolute LEAST “mandatory” government spending is Congressional salaries!

11 months ago


11 months ago

Thanks to all the benefits and tax money that go with politicians when they leave Congress, BO still gets over 1 billion a year of our tax money – FOREVER – and he truly was an illegit President. He was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, he went to school in Jakarta from age 5 until he they moved to Hawaii when he was going into high school – which he proudly explained to the people he went to high school with in Hawaii. One of the reasons facebook Hawaii blocks anyone who knew him or says anything about him from… Read more »

11 months ago

Convention of states, folks, convention of states!!

Rick J.
11 months ago

Fiscal responsibility and the federal government is about equal to mixing oil
and water. It just doesn’t happen !!!! But all taxpayers can have a fantasy !!

Jon Kirsch
11 months ago

5% across the board reduction in spending in 2020, ALL departments including DOD. I did NOT say military, I said DOD. It CAN be done, no doubt. Then do it again in 2021, 2022, etc. Some could find much more (100%) such as the Department of Education. Put the mandate out there and make it the responsibility of the Department heads to come up with the savings. This is done every day in businesses. Melania did it by reducing the staff from 33 for Michelle to 6 for Melania – Follow her lead……

Ed J
11 months ago

There is absolutely NO incentive for any governmental department, agency or bureau to ever pursue anything resembling “fiscal austerity.” In fact, just the opposite is true. Expansion is the order of the day — every day, every year and forever! After all, wouldn’t EVERYONE want the government to do “more good?” The almost universal mentality of government employees is: “What we have now for our current budget is our starting point, and going forward building upon that base is the only acceptable outcome (i.e., just expand our budget each year regardless of any genuine need or efficacy).” Given the level… Read more »

Larry Palen
11 months ago

Just another example of Congress not doing their job. TERM LIMITS NOW.

11 months ago

it would be nice if they did pay for their own programs but that introduces other forms of revenue such as Big Business supporting them just like Monsanto supports the FDA. Then the FDA says Monsanto is okay when we know it is a carcinogen(Poison). And the special funds such as Social Security are 100% OUR money not congress’s budget. no federal dollars go in there, it all comes from the FICA taxes we pay and our employers match dollar for dollar. Of course, Congress has stolen some of it for their own purposes, roads, farms etc. It was NEVER… Read more »

Pat R
11 months ago

How can we ever think/believe Congress will behave/make decisions responsibly? #1 It is not them working to make the money over which they have control, so budgets are a nuisance; #2 What person/group who has power over their own salary & benefits, will not give themselves raises, deserved or not? #3 DC politicians are by and large all narcissists; #4 They’ve gotten away with ignoring laws for years, gotten away with passing on authority to another branch (don’t want to deal with it – lazy); #5 Have pretty much become worthless, though wealthy and narcissistic & think they can do/say… Read more »

Richard Stanley
11 months ago

We are talking about the “Federal Government” here! Since when has that government ever had a conscience about anything it’s done or displayed fiscal responsibility. This Government is just way too big as proven by the actions of our own Congress. Congress follows the mentality: Out of sight, out of mind. So they are abdicating their power to do anything. Thanks, Mr. President, but once your Administration is gone, the problem will be back.

11 months ago

Another reason why there should be term limits in Congress!

Douglas Weise
11 months ago

It’s time to institute the Penny Plan to bring federal spending under control. Spending in TRILLIONS is absurd. One description of the size of BILLION is a stack of $1,000. bills, laid flat, which would reach a height exceeding that of the Washington Monument. Now, try to picture one thousand of such stacks and you have one TRILLION.

11 months ago

Cutting spending will never happen until the down home grass roots people in this country demand it and our representatives decide in their hearts that they definitely need to! It will require an act of the individual WILL to carry it out and to do so! The leftist deep state pressure has gotten so bad that when they do start to cut they will be called terrorists and evil! In fact, that’s exactly what Pelousi called the peaceful protesting tea party years ago!

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