James Kennedy contributed to this post.
While The American Republic (TAR) may be merely an online role-playing simulation designed to mirror the legislative processes of our country, it shows an impressive commitment to detail and respect for the institution of the Senate. The Standing Rules of the TAR Senate closely follow those of the real Senate, and floor procedure is quite similar to the real process – albeit somewhat slower-paced. Slower than the Senate? Not possible, you say, but allowances must be made for members’ day jobs; voting and debate usually take place over 24 to 48 hours, so that real life does not get in the way of thorough deliberation.
Among bills currently being considered at the TAR, such as protecting net neutrality, improving benefits for injured veterans, and maintaining port security, is the Save-As-You-Go Act, a version of the budget process reform that the BPC recently proposed. Save-Go is cited in the TAR bill as the inspiration for the Act. This May in a rousing State of the Union address, President Justin Casanova-Davis (a Republican from Florida) announced that passing Save-Go “is not just a priority, this must be the priority.” Since then, political momentum has been building, with politicians from both sides of the aisle expressing support for the tough, effective fiscal discipline that Save-Go forces. The Save-As-You-Go Act is currently being voted on by the Judicial and Regulatory Affairs Committee of the fictional Senate, and should be reported to the floor very soon.
The BPC’s Save-Go builds upon the Pay-Go procedures enacted in the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act that helped to achieve the balanced budgets of the late 1990s. The mechanism would require Congress to set in statute the year-by-year amount of budgetary savings that are necessary to reach a specified debt-reduction goal (e.g., a 60 percent debt-to-GDP ratio within a decade). Annual dollar amounts of savings would be required from each of three areas: annually appropriated domestic and defense spending, health care programs, and other entitlement spending and/or revenue. If Congress failed to comply in any category in any year, across-the-board spending cuts and/or revenue increases (through a reduction in tax expenditures, not an increase in marginal rates) would achieve the mandated savings in that category.
The esteemed men and women of the TAR Senate have demonstrated that partisanship is no obstacle when addressing our country’s future, and they deserve praise for putting aside their differences and working together to pursue sound policy. Credit should also be given to the visionary leadership of President Casanova-Davis, who took a strong stance on a specific proposal to rein in Washington’s profligate ways, and helped to forge a bipartisan consensus through his bold action.
Back in reality, prominent figures on both sides of the aisle recently have praised SAVEGO. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) penned an op-ed, where he stated, “I haven’t seen an enforcement mechanism that would help compel Congress to confront the problem better than this method.” Similarly, columnist David Brooks wrote that SAVEGO would be the “love child” between Democrat’s and Republican’s ideas for enforcing deficit reduction.
The American Republic may be just a game, but Congress and the president would be wise to follow their lead and attach BPC’s SAVEGO mechanism to any deficit-reduction deal, thereby enforcing already agreed upon savings and forcing Congress to address entitlement and tax reform in the coming years.