Freshman Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona introduced legislation last week that directs unused congressional staff funds be used to reduce the deficit or pay down the national debt.
The Give it Back to the Taxpayers Act (2019) requires “all unused funds from the Members’ Representation Allowances be returned to the U.S. Treasury to be used for the purposes of deficit reduction or to reduce the federal debt,” according to a news release from the congresswoman.
“Members of Congress must lead by example and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Lesko tweeted. “My bill will return millions of dollars back to the treasury to help reduce our crippling national debt and deficit.”
Today our national debt stands at $21,968,156,302,745 and growing. Members of Congress must lead by example and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. My bill will return millions back to the treasury to help reduce our crippling national debt and deficit.https://t.co/YYbfzmI4Lb pic.twitter.com/O1l8SgbxXW
— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) February 8, 2019
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In a statement to The Western Journal, the legislator added, “The federal government must live within its means. Our future generations are going to be crippled with debt if the federal government cannot get its fiscal house in order.”
“With our debt at over $22 trillion, we must act to preserve our national security and give our economy the stability it needs.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, members of the House of Representatives have one consolidated allowance to operate their offices.
The amount allocated for Fiscal Year 2019 is $574 million, which works out to about $1.3 million per member of Congress. Members receive more or less depending on the expenses involved in the districts they represent.
The funds are used for congressional staff pay, official travel, rent and utilities for district offices, communications and franked mail, as well as supplies and office equipment.
The national debt crossed $22 trillion for the first time on Tuesday, USA Today reported.
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CNBC’s finance editor Jeff Cox noted that the total stood at $10.6 trillion when former President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
His administration then proceeded to rack up nearly as much debt in eight years as all the previous administrations combined over the course of more than two centuries.
When he left office in Jan. 2017, the total was $19.9 trillion or an average deficit of $1.16 trillion per year.
President Donald Trump’s tally has come in at a slightly lower $991 billion per year.
Cox pointed out, due to the strong economic growth under Trump, the total debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio has gone up less than one percent on his watch to its current 104.1 percent.
By comparison, the debt-to-GDP ratio under Obama rose from 77.3 percent to 103.6 percent when he left office.
At the current pace, the debt held by the public (which excludes the money the government owes to itself through the Federal Reserve) in relation to GDP will hit levels not seen since the end of World War II in the next 10 years. Further, it will reach 150 percent of GDP by 2049, which Cox relates is well above what economists believe is sustainable.
State of the Union: not strong given that we have $20 trillion of debt hanging over our heads and one day precipitating a crisis. https://t.co/ohEoIEKm7v pic.twitter.com/ww2vRgyF9F
— Chris Edwards (@CatoEdwards) February 6, 2019
James Capretta — a federal budget expert with the American Enterprise Institute, who served in White House’s Office of Management and Budget in the early 2000s — told The Western Journal last summer, “There is a major disconnect between the level of revenue we’re willing to collect at the federal level and how much spending commitments we’ve made.”
“You’re not going to be able to correct that quickly,” he added, but urged policymakers to start looking at adopting policies now that bend the debt curve down in the years to come.
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