After balancing a budget as a mother, small business owner, and governor, Senator Shaheen understands that every dollar we spend must deliver results. She is committed to fiscal responsibility and knows that public officials have a fundamental duty to make sure taxpayer money is used effectively and that each dollar can be accounted for.
We can only address our record deficit by making reforms to every area of the federal budget: domestic spending, defense spending, mandatory spending, and revenues. Senator Shaheen is working to protect taxpayer dollars by opposing wasteful spending and by working to improve programs that need fixing. At the same time, she is striving to change the way Washington does business.
Fighting Wasteful Spending
Opposing Bank Bailouts
Senator Shaheen voted against the emergency economic assistance program known as TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Program – because she didn’t believe that it included enough protections for taxpayers. In the following months, news reports of executive bonuses and lavish spending reinforced those concerns.
Ending Double Subsidies for Gold and Silver Mining
Senator Shaheen has introduced legislation that would end special tax breaks for companies that are already mining public lands for free. While these extra incentives may have made sense 150 years ago when the government was trying to lure companies to America’s untamed West, they have no place in a modern economy with soaring metal prices.
Stopping Sugar’s Sweet Deal
The government’s sugar program keeps U.S. sugar prices artificially high. This forces consumers and food producers to subsidize sugar growers at a cost of $4 billion every year. Senator Shaheen has introduced bipartisan legislation to protect consumers and American jobs by phasing out this antiquated program.
Eliminating the Joint Strike Fighter’s Extra Engine
Senator Shaheen co-sponsored an amendment to strike funding for an extra engine in the Joint Strike Fighter jet program. Though the Department of Defense under both the Bush and Obama Administrations opposed this wasteful and unnecessary project, it was continued by Congress for years. The Department of Defense believes that the additional engine would require another $2.9 billion in funds to complete development and begin production.
Abolishing Excessive Giveaways for Ethanol
Senator Shaheen is a cosponsor of legislation written by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) which ends the wasteful and expensive subsidy that pays oil companies to blend ethanol into their gasoline. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this giveaway drives up food prices nationwide, encourages the development of preserved land, and is an extremely inefficient way to reduce carbon pollution.
Improving Current Programs
Making TARP More Accountable to Taxpayers
After opposing the bank bailout program known as TARP because it lacked taxpayer protections, Senator Shaheen worked to make the program more accountable. She was an original co-sponsor of a new law that provides the Special Inspector General for TARP with greater law enforcement authority to investigate cases of fraud and abuse in the TARP program. The Special Inspector General ensures greater transparency, enhanced oversight, and robust enforcement of taxpayer dollars expended through the TARP program.
Combating Waste and Fraud in Medicare
Senators Shaheen and Collins (R-ME) introduced the Medicare Transitional Care Act to reduce costly hospital readmissions by as much as $5,000 per Medicare patient. Provisions of the proposal were signed into law as a Medicare pilot program. The program will help ensure that appropriate follow-up care is provided for seniors who are discharged from a hospital and would prevent unnecessary and costly re-hospitalization.
Shaheen also supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which enhanced the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control fund. This comprehensive program will combat fraud committed against all health plans, both public and private. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that for every $1 invested to fight fraud, there are approximately $17 in savings.
Prosecuting Fraud against Homeowners
Protecting taxpayer money from fraud and waste, and punishing those who created our economic crisis, are key components to economic recovery. That’s why Senator Shaheen sponsored and passed legislation to crack down on fraudulent mortgage lenders. She authored an amendment that strengthened the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Inspector General to investigate and remove fraudulent mortgage lenders from federal housing programs.
Consolidating Duplicative Spending and Overlapping Programs
Senator Shaheen voted to implement the results of a major report from the Government Accountability Office, which would save taxpayers at least $5 billion. This report detailed billions in potentially duplicative spending across the entire federal government. For example, the report identified 80 separate federal programs to assist the “transportation disadvantaged” and 82 programs to promote financial literacy. While these are both important objectives, she believes we should analyze whether they can be met with a more efficient, streamlined approach.
Cracking Down on Offshore Tax Cheats
Offshore tax abuses cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $100 billion each year in lost tax revenues. Senator Shaheen cosponsored a bill that would crack down on offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters that corporations use to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. She also supported a new law that eliminates more than $12 billion in corporate tax loopholes. For example, one of these loopholes allowed multinational corporations to claim certain tax credits without reporting the income that led to those credits in the first place.
Changing the Way Washington Does Business
Fixing the Budget Process with Biennial Budgeting
Congress needs to change the way it does business so that we can make the tough decisions that will be required to balance the federal budget. Senator Shaheen joined Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in proposing bipartisan legislation to convert the dysfunctional annual budget process to a more thoughtful, two-year process that would allow Congress to conduct greater oversight. The Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act would also make federal agencies more efficient by allowing them to devote less time to the budget process and more time to achieving their missions. Senator Shaheen has seen the benefits of biennial budgeting firsthand, producing a balanced budget in each of her three terms as Governor. Senator Shaheen saw this work well in New Hampshire and she would like to bring this to Washington.
Supporting Pay-as-you-go Budgeting
Senator Shaheen helped champion legislation that enacted strong pay-as-you-go-rules into law. This law requires Congress to offset any new mandatory federal spending by finding a way to pay for it. A similar rule played a significant role in fighting deficits during the 1990s, but was repealed in 2002. While a comprehensive plan is needed to address our mounting national debt, this rule is an important step in the right direction.
Ending “Secret Holds”
For decades any single Senator had the power to anonymously slow the chamber’s business to a crawl by placing a “secret hold” on legislation, effectively taking the chamber hostage to get what they wanted. Senators were allowed to do this without revealing their identity or needing to explain their reasons to the public. On January 27, 2011, Senator Shaheen voted for a successful reform to end this dishonest tactic and require public disclosure of all “holds.”