Talk:Backdoor spending authority

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If you are going to lift language verbatim from a website, you probably should at least footnote it, or better put it into quotation marks. The budget committee may have one view of "backdoor spending authority", the appropriations committee a second view, the authorization committee a third view, and of course, the executive branch a fourth view. If spending authority is included in an authorization bill, the sponsors of the provision (as well as the executive branch) would not consider it to be a "backdoor" item. How "backdoor" could it be if the Congress votes to approve it and the President signs it? The only people who are bypassed are the appropriations committee staff. Wschact 17:59, 10 January 2013 (EST)

The cite is to the former Democratic Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee's own definition of Backdoor authority. The Rules Committee has the final say over what is voted upon on the floor, be it an appropriation bill or continuing resolution. This is a pretty authoritative source. OscarO 20:01, 10 January 2013 (EST)
If you look at the PDF file in Reference #3 at page 29-30, it uses the phrase "backdoor financing" rather than "backdoor spending authority." It is referring to government enterprises like Freddie Mac, Fanny Mae, etc. which issue their own debt to finance their own programs. There is a difference between authorizing an ancillary entity to spend non-appropriated funds ("spending authority") and authorizing an ancillary entity to borrow money ("financing"). I believe that the article in its current form conflates the two. I know that Slaughter used the term "backdoor", but it is used in a different sense in the PDF. Many thanks! Wschact 00:14, 11 January 2013 (EST)
You're on to something. Tax expenditures is what your talking about (I think); mortgage interest deductions is considered backdoor authority. Maybe we can work on clarifying some of that there? OscarO 00:21, 11 January 2013 (EST)
I am willing to work cooperatively with you or any other editor. However, I think we have a difference of view on some fundamental terms. So, working on the definition articles may help us work out a common understanding. Spending and financing are clearly different. "Tax expenditure" sounds very weird, but it represents foregone income and therefore may be "good policy" but it will always be bad for the deficit. Using the Federal government to backstop home mortgages looks like a "good policy" that will not have budget deficit impact, until the housing market collapses, people default, and the government must honor its guarantees. The authors of the PDF are advocating accounting schemes that assess the risk of federal loan guarantees and then build loss reserve contributions into the budget. I can see how most conservatives will like that approach, but there may be other solutions. Here is one plan of action:
  • Restore "spending authority" to its 2008 text.
  • Change this article to "backdoor financing" using the PDF as it main source.
  • Start articles on "private-public partnerships" (for both US and UK)
  • Start article on "tax expenditure"
  • As a second phase, have articles on the TVA, Bonneville Power Administration, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae and other similar institutions.
  • As a third phase come up with a series of article on the ongoing long term federal fiscal challenge, but update the fiscal cliff article with just the round-by-round jousting as each deadline approaches.
I understand that CP's audience level is home-schooled high school students, but I think that we can write easy to understand articles that are still technically correct. Thanks, Wschact 00:46, 11 January 2013 (EST)
Thanks for your kind words. Now, we must understand, the term "backdoor spending" was authored into U.S. law in the Budget Act of 1974. It's also known as 401(c) authority. Here's the actual text of the law (I think). These are big issues in the United States, and numerous attempts to reform it since its inception in 1932 as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation have always, it seems, made the matter worse.
We'll soon be having this discussion again with upcoming debt ceiling debate about March 1. Clarifying some of these deliberately ambiguous terms (like Borrowing authority, also known as "authority to spend debt receipts", pg.46), would be an extraordinary helpful first step for millions of interested parties and readers. OscarO 01:39, 11 January 2013 (EST)

The GAO Budget Glossary, which you just cited, has "Backdoor authority/Backdoor spending" defined on page 18:

A collective designation of authority provided in laws other than appropriation acts to obligate the government to make payments. *** (For a statutorily defined equivalent term, See Spending Authority....)

I agree that 2 U.S.C. Sec 651 stopped authorization bills from creating new "backdoors" around the appropriation process. 651(c) sets forth large categories of "non-appropriated funds" that are still outside the budget process, including Social Security and Medicare. I still have problems with the phrase "backdoor" because there is nothing inherently wrong with establishing government projects that are supported by user fees, public-private partnerships, donations, etc. Let us just call these "spending authority" and use the pre-existing 2008 article to define them. Wschact 02:11, 11 January 2013 (EST)

See the cite I just put in, "Borrowing authority, also known as ability to spend debt receipts". Borrowing authority is spending authority [1]. Several GAO Inspector Generals over decades all use backdoor authority and spending authority interchangeably. The confusion stems from authors like Ruth Marcus who wrote only yesterday, "The other points of leverage [for the GOP] — a government shutdown as spending authority expires, or allowing the spending sequester to take effect after the two-month delay — will also prove too painful and dangerous for Republicans to exploit" [2], when she just as easily could have wrote, "a government shutdown as backdoor authority expires...
As for me, I'm out for tonite. Looking forward to working with you on this later. OscarO 02:42, 11 January 2013 (EST)

Statutory basis

The new material added in the past hour discusses "Section 401(d)" but I can't find that provision. Could we please agree to include citations to the US Code and perhaps links to the gpo or website so that readers can follow the discussion and read each law for himself? Thanks, Wschact 13:32, 11 January 2013 (EST)