Unfunded Mandates

Today’s American Spectator Online has a piece by CEI VP Wayne Crews and I on curbing Congressional abuse of unfunded mandates. If the term is new to you, unfunded mandates are basically an accounting gimmick that lets government understate how much it costs taxpayers:

rather than fund a new federal job training program through a Department of Labor appropriation, Congress could mandate that all Fortune 500 firms provide, and pay for, such training. The first appears on the federal budget, the second does not. For politicians, it’s the perfect scheme. The government can spend — or, rather, force other people to spend — as much as it wants without adding to the deficit.

Decency demands this trickery stop; fortunately, a bill from Rep. Virginia Foxx looks like it would do some good on that front.