March 30, 2001
U.S. Representative Adam Smith announced today that he has reintroduced the Honesty in Budgeting Act, which he had originally introduced in the 106th Congress. The bill encouraged Members of Congress and the executive branch to be honest with the public about true on-budget circumstances.
"I introduced this bill to tackle a very important problem," Smith explained. "Although Social Security is technically off-budget, politicians and government agencies still use the Social Security trust fund to mask the budget deficit. This perception that we have much larger budget surplus confuses and angers the public. I've included the Medicare surplus as well, because with the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers, it's clear we're going to need those surpluses to pay out benefits in the future. The bottom line is, we shouldn't be dipping into either the Medicare or Social Security trust funds, and the public has the right to know about the true state of our federal budget. That's why my bill will help accomplish."
Specifically the bill would encourage the exclusion of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds from the annual Federal budget baseline, and would prohibit trust fund surpluses to be used as offsets for tax cuts of spending increases. It would also exclude both trust funds from any official budget surplus or deficit pronouncements.
Congressman Smith is currently working with his Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle in hopes to convince them that passing the Honesty in Budgeting Act is the right thing to do.
"This is not a Democratic or Republican idea; This is simply good public policy that both parties should support because it will help us regain the trust of the American people," Smith concluded.