To Budget or Not to Budget That Is the Question

May 21, 2010
Frankly Speaking

In 1974, Congress passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.  This legislation established procedures for how Congress creates and adopts the annual budget for the federal government.  This process allows the American people to see the spending priorities of Congress and also helps to hold Congress to a spending limit.  For the first time since this bill was drafted, it appears as though we may not draft and pass a budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

Although we have heard many excuses as to why Speaker Pelosi and her more than 30 seat majority in the House would choose not to allow a vote on a budget for fiscal year 2011, it comes down to the fact that they no longer have the political will or even the necessary votes to actually pass a budget.  President Obama’s budget proposal weighed in at an estimated $3.8 trillion – the largest in American history.  If Speaker Pelosi went through a full budget process, she would have to explain to the American people why the federal government continues to spend money it doesn’t have – and even with a 37 seat majority in the House of Representatives, she knows that is a pitch she cannot successfully make. 

Instead, she has decided to bypass the budget process, limiting member of Congress’ opportunity to be heard on spending priorities in an open debate on the House floor.  With no budget in place, as the speaker of the House, Ms. Pelosi will be able to determine how the money is appropriated – getting rid of that pesky problem she had of trying to explain unprecedented spending levels to the American people. 

And I am pretty certain that, while her priorities might be in line with the people of her San Francisco congressional district, they certainly do not match the priorities of the majority of Americans.  Whether it’s a massive tax on energy, a government takeover of our health care system, or yet another billion dollar bailout, the American people have made it quite clear over the last year that Speaker Pelosi does not speak for them.

Once again, the Democratic leadership is bypassing regular order in an effort to push their unpopular agenda through Congress.  At a time when federal spending is out of control and our national debt continues to climb at an astronomical pace, it is incredibly irresponsible not to create a spending blueprint.  Budgeting and appropriating federal money is an important responsibility of Congress, and the Democratic leadership is not following through with their responsibilities. 

But you don’t just have to believe me.  Congressman John Spratt (D-SC), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, stated in 2006, “If you can’t budget, you can’t govern.”  Very aptly put Chairman Spratt.  I hope you plan to stick to those words this year and fight to ensure that a budget is drafted, voted on, and followed for the FY11 year.

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