Rep. Paul Ryan on Transparency: ‘The Books are Cooked in Washington’

By Christopher Goins | December 7, 2011 | 6:29 PM EST

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R.-Wis. (AP photo)

( – Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said 10 bills introduced today by House Republicans will change the “broken” federal budget and provide transparency for a process that he says currently favors the big spenders in Washington and results in a “crushing burden of debt” that hinders  the prospects of future economic growth.

The way things are now, “the books are cooked in Washington,” Ryan said Wednesday at a Capitol Hill news conference, referring to the way Capitol Hill federal budget accounting has been done and emphasizing the need for transparency.

“If we actually were held under real accounting standards, none of us would be here because we’d be in jail,” Ryan added.

Ryan emphasized that the 10 bills are not a panacea.

“This is no substitute for political will on solving our structural budget problems,” Ryan said.

Ryan chided the Democrat-controlled Senate for its failure to pass a budget since 2009 – and its failure to propose one in 2011.

“Look no further than the fact that today marks the 952nd day that the Senate hasn’t even bothered to propose, let alone pass, a budget,” Ryan said.

“The law says we are supposed to have a budget passed by April 15. The Senate has ignored that law for 952 days and we have every reason to believe they are going to ignore it this next year as well,” he continued.

He added that a failure to pass a budget reflect a failure of government and may result in a European-style debt crisis.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a sponsor of the Balancing our Obligations for the Long Term (BOLT) Act, explained that his bill commented on budgetary gimmickry as well.

“One of the most troublesome gimmicks that we use is the 10-year budget window by focusing on revenues and expenditures only within that short period of time,” Mulvaney said.

He continued: “For example previous congresses by frontloading new revenues and back loading futures expenditures on Obamacare were able to make it look like that bill actually lowered the deficit.”

“So by the use of flawed rules Congress is able to make a statement that was at one time true in Washington and completely false and absurd in the real world,” he added.

Mulvaney’s bill is designed to cap spending over the long term and gradually reduces spending so that the burden of government doesn’t exceed 20 percent of the economy. The bill also requires the GAO and OMB to report once a year on the Federal government’s unfunded liabilities.

Rep. JamesLankford’s (R-Okla) bill, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, automatically enacts a continuing resolution for 90 days if Congress fails to pass an appropriations bill by Oct.1. It also reduces spending by 1 percent.

In the case of further indecision by the end of 90 days, another 1 percent reduction in spending will take effect and the process can repeat up to four times – or total four percent reduction in spending.

“When we think about what’s happening here in Washington DC and when people think about gridlock and they come back to what is gridlock you will typically find them to come back to say these government shut downs,” Lankford said.

“This year we have had six continuing resolutions that have all come up to the brink and waited on the final moments for passage,” he added. “We need to bring that to an end.”

The bills focused on three things: controlling spending, enhancing oversight, and bringing full transparency to the federal budget.

The Legally Binding Budget Act sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), the Spending Control Act sponsored by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), and the Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act sponsored by Paul Ryan and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) focus on controlling spending.

The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act sponsored by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), the Baseline Reform Act sponsopred by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), the Review Every Dollar (RED) Act sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and the aforementioned Government Shutdown Prevention Act are all intended to enhance oversight.

The BOLT Act, the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) focus on increasing transparency in the budget process.

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