Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Promote Truth in Federal Spending

 

February 24, 1988

 

To the Congress of the United States:

 

I am forwarding today for your immediate consideration and prompt passage a legislative proposal entitled the ``Truth in Federal Spending Act of 1988.''

 

On November 20 of last year, I agreed with congressional leaders on a package designed to reduce the Federal deficit. That Bipartisan Budget Agreement between the President and the joint leadership of the Congress reflects a strong consensus that Federal spending must be brought under control.

 

Continued spending growth, particularly where wasteful or unnecessary, adds to the Federal deficit and absorbs resources that would otherwise be employed more fruitfully in the private sector of the economy. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement represents an important step in reducing spending growth. But protecting the Federal budget from special interest, budget-busting legislation requires a continued, ongoing commitment. Despite recent encouraging efforts to bring the Federal budget deficit under control, major problems persist.

 

On July 3 of last year, when I outlined our Economic Bill of Rights, I described a proposal for the legislation that I am forwarding to the Congress today. It is designed to discourage wasteful Federal spending by requiring both the Legislative and Executive branches of government to be fully accountable for their respective actions. Key provisions of this draft bill would:

 

 -- Insure that all legislation that would result in increased Federal spending is deficit-neutral by requiring the concurrent enactment of equal amounts of program reductions or revenue increases;

 

 -- Require that all legislation include a ``financial impact statement'' detailing the measure's likely economic effects upon the private sector and State and local governments;

 

 -- Require that regulations and proposed regulations promulgated by Executive branch agencies also be accompanied by financial impact statements; and

 

 -- Permit waiver of the requirements of the Act during time of war or during a national security emergency.

 

In making this important proposal, one point deserves special emphasis. In complying with the deficit neutrality requirements of the Truth in Federal Spending Act of 1988, some may be tempted simply to shift spending requirements, either expressly or implicitly, from the Federal government to State and local governments. This is not, however, and should not be interpreted as being, the intent of this initiative. Instead, through enactment of this landmark legislation, we seek to achieve an historic breakthrough: to make the Federal Government -- both the Legislative and Executive branches -- more fully accountable for its actions and the effects of those actions on all the citizens of our Nation and, in so doing, get its fiscal house in order.

 

Enactment of the Truth in Federal Spending Act of 1988 will help us to carry out the important goals reflected in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of November 20, 1987. It will also continue the important work we have accomplished in reducing or eliminating needless Federal expenditures. It is worthy of broad, bipartisan support. Accordingly, I urge its prompt and favorable consideration.

 

Ronald Reagan

 

The White House,

 

February 24, 1988.