Congressional Extravagance and the Budget

March 7, 1924
Entire Report

A gradual realization by Congress that the Budget Bureau's estimates of probable Treasury surpluses for the fiscal years 1924 and 1925, under existing revenue laws, were made on a most conservative basis, and the expectation of many members that the surplus at the end of the present fiscal year will largely exceed, the $329,639,624 estimate, formed the principal basis for President Coolidge's recent warning against Congressional extravagance in appropriations.

Condition of the Treasury

The Treasury ended the fiscal year 1923 with a surplus of $309,657,460, in spite of the fact that expenditures at the end of the first eight months exceeded receipts by $84,313,221. On March 1 of the present fiscal year, on the other hand, receipts exceeded expenditures by $14,851,522. In other words the Treasury was 099,164,734 better off at the beginning of the last quarter of this fiscal year than in 1923. And the surplus estimated by the Budget Bureau, for this year, is only $19,982,164, in excess of the actual surplus for last year.

During the first eight months of the fiscal year 1923 the Treasury devoted $252,501,150 to retirement of the public debt. For the corresponding period of the present year $410,374,900 was devoted to debt retirement. Of this sum, which was $177,873,750 in excess of the retirements for the same period of last year, $91,858,200 was received from foreign governments under debt settlements.

New Appropriations Proposed

In a campaign year, with a large treasury surplus anticipated the temptation upon Congress to authorize new projects requiring large appropriations is very great. There have been introduced in the two houses thousands of bills granting and increasing pensions, providing for new public buildings, proposing new appropriations for agricultural relief, irrigation and reclamation, new government establishments, large road building programs and new federal activities of many varieties. The pressure for an omnibus public buildings bill and for increased appropriations for river and harbor improvements is enormous. Pressure is being brought also for increases in salaries for federal employs. It is estimated that the Kelly-Edge bill increasing salaries in the postal service alone would call for increased expenditures of $122,000,000 annually. President Coolidge is fully justified in his belief that the enactment of large numbers of these bills into law would call for outlays exceeding the whole cost of the federal government before the war. Many hundreds of these bills were introduced purely for local political effect, however, with no expectation by their sponsors of favorable action upon them. The appropriations called for by others would be spread over

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