Government Spending

A Hopeful Ratio

Members of Congress seem less willing to sponsor costly bills

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Once upon a time, sponsoring bills to increase spending was more popular than backing cuts. That seems to be changing.

Since 1991, the ratio of spending-increase bills to spending-cut bills has dropped from 12-to-1 to 5-to-4, according to data from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. In 1992, over 1,000 bills were proposed that would raise spending by more than $1 million; in 1995, there were fewer than 300.

Only around 10 percent of proposed bills ever make it to a full vote, so this trend doesn't necessarily mean Congress will end up spending less. "But that ratio does get reflected in the amending process and in a general pressure to see bills passed," says NTUF Executive Director Paul Hewitt. Hewitt hopes that publicizing the data will have "a shaping effect on the institutional fiscal culture in Congress, making them more reluctant to sponsor spending bills and more willing to sponsor bills that cut spending."