Sessions: Money Trimmed From Budget Should Go To Debt Repayment

WASHINGTON—Just hours after President Obama charged his cabinet to find $100 million in budget cuts, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) offered legislation in the Senate directing such savings to be used to pay down the national debt.

Sessions’ bill would mandate that any funds left over at the end of the year due to reductions in spending or waste be used to pay down the United States’ $6.6 trillion debt. Under current law, unused funds can be returned to the Treasury to be spent by other parts of the government, removing an incentive for budget-conscious government officials to cut costs or reduce inefficiencies in their departments.

Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Budget committee, said his legislation would encourage frugality and fiscal responsibility among Executive Branch officials.

“Anyone who has worked in government knows the old rule that you either spend all of your department’s money or risk losing the funding. That system begs for a wasteful end-of-the-year spending spree,” Sessions said. “This legislation would allow department heads to cut unnecessary spending and fight waste with the knowledge that every penny saved will help pay down our debt.”

At a White House cabinet meeting today, Obama ordered his department secretaries to find a combined $100 million in budget cuts. It was not immediately clear where those funds would be reallocated, but it is likely the savings will be spent on other domestic programs.

“$100 million is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $1.8 trillion deficit that we will see this year and is a minuscule fraction of our national debt. Even so, as stewards of taxpayer money, both Congress and the Executive Branch must have the mindset that every penny should be spent wisely,” Session said. “If government managers identify areas to save money, eliminate waste, or trim their budgets, they should do so with the certainty that the money saved will go to good use paying down our growing debt and not spent by some other irresponsible department.”

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the U.S. will overspend by $1.8 trillion this year, a postwar record. Both chambers of Congress recently approved a $3.5 trillion budget that calls for deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion a year for the next decade.

Under the plan, which will likely be finalized by Congress later this month, the national debt will double in five years and triple in ten. According to the Senate Budget Committee, the annual interest payment on the debt will soar from $170 billion this year to $806 billion in 2019, consuming 20 percent of all federal revenue.