It’s been over 1350 days since we have had a budget in this country. The Senate, under the leadership of the detestable Harry Reid, has refused to pass one. Instead, we do our spending via continuing resolutions.
Why? The first (and only) budget of the Obama years was the budget passed in April of 2009, passed by the Harry Reid led Democrat majority (super majority) Senate and the Nancy Pelosi led House of Representatives. This budget was massive, with well over a trillion dollar deficit. Remember? This huge number was because we were in an emergency situation with the economy crashing (although a recovery had already started prior to the spending). Since then, there has been no budget, just the continuing resolutions, which have made the trillion dollar deficit numbers the baseline. That one-time stimulus? Still there!
This is, of course, incredibly irresponsible and even illegal. Harry Reid is breaking the law. By not demanding a budget, and offering his own budgets that are so silly that they can’t even garner Democrat votes in the Senate, Obama is complicit in this lawlessness.
But there’s a payoff. There’s always a payoff. And the payoff is that the incredible spending continues and the American people are kept in the dark about where our government is planning on spending our tax dollars. The promised “most transparent administration in history” gets to hide behind a lack of debate over spending. They get to demonize any Republican plan that comes out of the House (since Republicans won the House in the elections of 2010, giving them the majority in 2011) without ever offering their own plan and having open debate. You know, the kind of debate one would expect in a republic where the government is supposed to work for and protect the people, not the other way around.
The debt grows. Nobody is really responsible for it, because nobody has had to stand up and say what their intentions are with all of the spending or what their plans are for the future.
As I noted in my post below, President Obama is now saying that he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling because Congress passed the spending laws and he won’t have his hands tied by them now refusing to deliver the authority to pay “their” bills. Does he note that it was his party that passed those spending laws, or that he signed off on them? No. Does he acknowledge the irresponsibly of not having a serious, transparent conversation about spending–like a budget negotiation, which is not like the back room emergency negotiations on the debt ceiling in 2011 or the fiscal cliff negotiations in 2012–caused by Harry Reid and his own lack of leadership (and willingness to preside over the LEAST transparent administration in living memory)? No.
Further, and worse, he doesn’t seem to understand that raising the debt ceiling is not about CURRENT spending, it’s about FUTURE spending. How much do we raise it to accommodate future deficit spending? To do that, we don’t have to know what laws the Congress passed in the past, we have to know the spending plan for the future. It’s not even about the laws passed previously, unless your attitude is that the budget the (Democrat controlled) Congress passed in 2009 is the law of the land from that point into perpetuity. You can’t make cuts. You can’t do anything about entitlement programs. 2009 was the zenith of lawmaking and from there on you can only nibble around the edges with a little promised cutting here and there (“cutting” of course, actually being future promises that won’t be kept by subsequent Congresses to make budgets grow at a slower rate, not to actually pare them down immediately) and adding some revenue through taxes (always immediate and real). But, overall, damn it, the Congress passed a budget in 2009 and that’s the way it’s going to be basically forever. That trillion (plus) dollars added just a few years after the deficit was only (only! if you can believe this is how far we’ve fallen) $162 billion can not and will not ever go away. As a result, there’s nothing to negotiate. Congress passed what seems to be a permanent law, so all he can do is pay the bills. He had nothing to do with it, of course. He’s just managing the branch of government that writes the checks. His hands are tied.
The approach to the debt ceiling negotiations should be that the Republicans demand that any rise in the debt ceiling is contingent upon there being a duly passed budget, negotiated in public, in Congress, the way it is supposed to be done. The Republicans have to remind the public that the only way to know how much to raise the debt ceiling is to know what the budget is. How much are we planning on spending and borrowing? We know what the plan was in 2009, but that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE PLAN now. That it does is a fiction being created by this President.
If it were me, I’d also throw in a repeal of baseline budgeting. That’s a travesty.
There is an opportunity before us to at least get back to a transparent budget process. And, Glory be to God!, it looks like some Republicans are thinking along these lines: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/01/will-we-finally-get-a-budget.php