Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dereliction of Duty part III - Three years without a budget

Congratulations U.S. Senate on your continuing dereliction of duty. As of today, it's been three full years that you have failed to pass a budget.

As I wrote earlier this month:

The Congressional Budget Act requires both houses of Congress to pass a budget - and the deadline is April 15th. In fact, the Senate's own website details the law and dates.
This is a clear dereliction of duty. They have failed to uphold their responsibilities under a law that they, themselves, have passed. They have ignored their duty to represent us by providing an authorized budget to enable and limit the spending by the federal government.

And why haven't they passed a budget? Well, according to Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), it's the "wrong time."

“This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” he said. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”

You see, they have an election this year and heaven forbid that they have to actually vote to do something about the debt (amount they owe because they've been borrowing for years) or the deficit (the amount they spend over and above the amount of revenue they take in). Why - gasp - voters might actually hold them accountable! What a novel idea.

The Democrats in the Senate did have an opportunity to at least begin the process of budgeting. They held a 'markup session' on April 19th, though Rep. Conrad made it known that it would be discussion only - no votes would be taken.

Democrats again were derelict in their duty.

All 11 Republicans showed up for the meeting - no Democrats did. As @BudgetGOP tweeted: "Based on participation, it's almost as if Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about reducing our deficits."

So why aren't they giving us a budget? Democrats obviously don't like President Barack Obama's budget. Both budgets he presented failed to garner a single vote - even from members of his own party.

Perhaps this information from last June will give us a clue:

“The Budget Committee Chairman says he now, once again, has a budget that he is sharing secretly with his Democrat colleagues. Yet we hear no indication that a full text of the resolution will be made public or, crucially, that it will be slated for a public mark-up in the Committee as required by law… Making matters worse, we have reason to believe from statements and news leaks that the budget will have even more taxes and even fewer cuts than advertised. Tax increases may well exceed $2 trillion. And it may cut, or save, as little as $1.5 trillion—just one-fourth of the spending reductions achieved by House Republicans… A colossal tax hike combined with anemic spending cuts only speeds our current trajectory towards a bigger government, a bigger debt, and a weaker private sector.”

The nation is heading toward an abyss and Americans know that we cannot continue to borrow and tax in order to maintain spending beyond our means. Democrats know this too. They realize that any budget that proposes huge tax increases (on everyone because there just aren't enough 'rich' people to tax despite their rhetoric to the contrary) will be at odds with their constituents and they don't want to risk their potential re-election by actually doing their jobs. So they do nothing, hurtling us closer to the drop-off.

I take that back - they do do something. They commit dereliction of duty hoping you won't notice.

Sadly, they're probably right.

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