RELEASE: Rep. Cloud, Colleagues Increasing Legislative Transparency with the Cost Estimates Improvement Act

May 15, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, Representatives Michael Cloud (R-TX), Rep. Ed Case (D-HI), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Jared Golden (D-ME), and Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation that would help lawmakers address America’s enormous national debt and the associated interest costs in the legislative process.

H.R. 8341, the Cost Estimates Improvement Act, would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), to the extent practicable, to include the cost of servicing the public debt in legislative cost estimates. This commonsense government reform would enhance fiscal transparency by identifying the true cost of proposed legislation, promoting informed decision-making and long-term fiscal sustainability. The idea is that the public should be given a full picture of the ramifications of our debt, including the cost of servicing.

This is especially needed given that this year, for the first time, our country is approaching a threshold where the cost of servicing our debt will exceed our entire $822 billion defense budget, reaching $870 billion – a stunning number.

“For years American taxpayers have heard talking points about how our debt is reaching unsustainable levels, but too often, Washington D.C. uses convoluted metrics and reporting systems to evade accountability for reckless spending,” Rep. Michael Cloud (TX-27) said. “When government reports the information to the public, they should be required to give the full picture – the full truth – as to just how dire our situation is. The fact that we’re on the precipice of spending more money on interest payments than we are on the existential defense of America should be a major wake up call, and even more importantly, a major catalyst to getting Washington spending under control.”

“Interest payments on the national debt already cost taxpayers more than we spend on education, infrastructure and veterans combined and will surpass our entire defense budget by the end of the year,” Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) said. “It’s beyond time for Congress to treat interest payments as the major expenditure they are, and that starts by informing lawmakers about the entire, long-term cost of a bill before a vote.”

Rep. Meuser (PA-09) added “Responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars is an obligation Congress must take seriously. The service on our debt will soon reach $1 trillion – meaning it’s well past time the CBO included interest projections when scoring a bill. Members of Congress and the American people deserve to know the long-term implications any bill will have on our national debt, which is why I support the Cost Estimates Improvement Act.”

The Cost Estimates Improvement Act is supported by Americans for Prosperity, BPC Action, Cato Institute (Romina Boccia), Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Heritage Action, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Manhattan Institute, and the R Street Institute (Nan Swift).


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