Thursday, April 7, 2011

Go Ahead: Take the Rest of the Year Off!

Just for the record, the budget our legislative and executive branch are fighting over right now, was due last October. October 1, 2010.

During the budget fights I covered in the Reagan administration, the fears and threats of shutdowns actually took place when the budget was due. Imagine that. Such a long time ago.

Today, in 2011,  if Congress passes another continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down we will be past the half way mark of the year with no budget, and just six months to go until the next one is due.

Under the circumstances, I think a government shut down is an excellent idea. Why don't they take the rest of the year off?

Last fall, September 2010, the White House was held by a Democrat, and the Senate and the House had firm Democratic majorities. If this group of stalwarts wanted to pass one of those bloated, pork laden, debt-inducing, middle-of-the-night bills that have been the norm in recent years, all they had to do was do it.

They could even have gone one better and passed a thrifty budget. Whooppee for that idea.

Ah, but there was an election in November. No one wanted to go into that dragging around the weight of having made a decision. Someone might hold it against one.

So all of the weasels--and I must say there are a large number of them in both parties--slunk out of Washington, having passed a continuing resolution and, like Scarlett O'Hara, said they would "think about it tomorrow."

Tomorrow came after the election, when the Democrats still had the majority until the new Congress arrived in January. And, once again, they decided to "think about it tomorrow." Christmas was coming and they wanted to fly off to Bermuda or Borneo or the U.A.E. to give those zillion dollar speeches that include private jet travel and executive suites for their families (and/or mistresses) and golf rounds with the local emir. (Don't think I'm exaggerating. You can look it up.)

Another continuing resolution.

And now, the tomorrow that they were going to think about several yesterdays ago, has arrived again.

If they can't get an agreement this time, I hope they refuse to pass a continuing resolution and just shut the thing down.

Give everybody the rest of the budget year off. Don't worry: the "essential" government workers will still be funded from some mystery account, so the G-men will still hunt perps and those old folks won't go without their checks.

Sure, we'll miss our National Parks and I know a lot of people will be sorry to know those IRS auditors will be "on leave." But, we can all save gasoline by having a barbecue in the backyard this summer instead of going to Yellowstone. Put that stack of tax receipts back in the drawer with a sigh of relief. Who understands the tax code anyway?

So, no budget?  Give our federal workers the rest of the year off. Force austerity through stupidity if you can't find it any other way.

And Congress should be on the furlough list too: at present, they are a luxury we can ill afford.

Volunteers could do a better job.  Girl Scouts anyone?

P.S.The next budget is due October 1, 2011.

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Skywolf said...

The problem in not only the federal government as Washington’s dysfunctionality is really just a symptom. The problem lies to a large degree with the U.S. electorate. For quite some time now, the American public has been complaining about how lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle have been unable to get anything accomplished. Yet in November 2010, the electorate voted for the 112th U.S. Congress; a Congress that is even more conservative and more liberal than the one before it. As a result, the differences have increased as the political divide has become still greater. Perhaps this is once more proof of the erosion of the center in contemporary U.S. politics.

The recent budget agreement is certainly a welcome development…even if six months into the fiscal period. But the actual cuts are really miniscule when compared to the bigger fiscal picture. The agreed $38.5 billion in cuts - however painful - only add up to about 2.9% of the present budget deficit of $1.35 trillion…or 0.27% of the total national debt of $14.3 trillion. By comparison, the national debt currently increases by approximately $4.5 billion each day. Hence, the budget cuts passed the other day are a meager 8.5 days worth of national debt increase.

That is not enough; that is not sustainable…and I anticipate that the 2011 budget negotiations will pale compared to what’s ahead for 2012.

Robin Chapman said...

I hope they do get tough. I think we need a superior leader before any real improvements can be expected.