Sen. Sessions, Rep. Brooks Warn of Budget Deal Tricks

Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions ApplewhiteAP
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Halloween is this weekend, but two Alabama lawmakers are warning of tricks not for candy but hidden in the budget deal unveiled this week.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), expose what they say are accounting gimmicks included in the budget deal to lift spending caps and the debt limit.

“The proposed debt deal takes as much as $150 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund for retirees and transfers the cash to the fraud-ridden disability program,” the conservative pair said. “There is no ‘surplus’ in the retirement Trust Fund to spend somewhere else – Social Security will be insolvent by 2034 and has a $9.4 trillion unfunded liability.”

According to Sessions and Brooks, the budget deal would only further tap the already stretched Social Security Trust Fund and accelerate its already expected insolvency.

Another problem with the deal, the Alabamians said, is that it is engaged in “double-counting.”

“In order to pass Obamacare – and produce a score suggesting it did not increase the deficit – Democrats double-counted the funds cut from Medicare,” Sessions and Brooks said. “They claimed some $500 billion would be used to both extend the life of Medicare and also pay for new Obamacare spending.  Of course, the same dollar cannot be spent in two different places.”

A similar trick, Sessions and Brooks continued, is also used in the legislation to raise federal spending caps and increase the debt limit.

“Promoters of the legislation boast of minor savings from Social Security Disability to be collected in the distant future,” they said. “But those insufficient ‘savings’ – which should be used to extend the life of a program facing dramatic insolvency – are spent instantly on new discretionary spending.”

They stress that this move “is not ‘entitlement reform.’” Rather, they write, “this is an accounting gimmick: any savings to be captured in the future from Disability Insurance are being spent instantly, today, on boosting bureaucratic budgets for federal departments like the EPA and the Department of Labor – making government bigger and more expensive.”

Sessions and Brooks concluded by spotlighting another gimmick, counting the “savings” from future spending limits.

“Another accounting trick is removing today’s spending limits and then counting savings from new spending limits that are supposed to be put in place a decade from now,” they said. “The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget writes: ‘we strongly oppose the flagrant use of budget gimmicks and are disappointed by the general lack of serious entitlement reform in the legislation.’”


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