REFORMING CONGRESS

PLAYING BY THE RULES

The American people deserve a responsible Congress that maintains common sense and contributes to good governance. It is not enough to simply hope that the people's representatives will do the right thing—Congress needs a robust set of rules that emphasize fiscal prudence, stronger ethics, and greater transparency. Endlessly borrowing money will only aggravate our nation's long-running debt problem. Thus, Congress must hold the line on the reforms it recently enacted in the budget process. The hard-working taxpayer should demand nothing less. Congress wisely imposed a rule called "CUTGO," which requires it to find revenue offsets for any increases in spending. Congress also needs to continue its ban on earmarks. These pork-barrel projects are the epitome of what has gone wrong in Washington, where legislators pile waste onto the budget only to promote their re-election efforts. Earmarks not only waste money; they also corrupt the budget process because they allow Congressional representatives to trade votes. They should be eliminated once and for all.

EMULATING THE STATES

Congress also should emulate reforms already in place at the state level. The vast majority of state constitutions have requirements that limit legislation to one subject. These "single-subject rules" can disrupt the logrolling, vote-trading, and interest-group politics that diminish public trust in government. Moreover, nearly every state has some form of balanced budget requirement. The federal government, by contrast, is consistently unable to balance its books. Lawmakers concerned only with re-election will continue profligately spending taxpayers' money until we impose a balanced budget requirement. Finally, more than 40 states empower their governors with a line-item veto. A federal analog would allow the President to excise wasteful portions of appropriations bills that Congress lacked the willpower to reject.

MINIMIZING DELEGATION

Congress should ensure that regulations handed down from federal agencies promote national economic health. Rather than delegating lawmaking authority to administrative agencies, Congress should hold a floor vote on all regulations that impose $100 million or more in compliance costs. Our elected representatives should review the merits of these consequential regulations before they take effect. Congress also has ceded too much ground to the executive branch, which is typically allowed to review the effectiveness of its own spending. Congress should exercise the power of the purse to rein in inefficient programs. Congress should consider routinely including sunset provisions in authorization bills, which will force it to review the track record of federal programs before spending additional funds.