Because of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, and because the mainstream press is very reluctant to criticize their own political party (the Democrats) a tremendously important story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media: Congress is deliberately planning to have no Federal budget in place for Fiscal 2011.
"If you can't budget, you can't govern," Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., proclaimed in 2006 when the House GOP leadership chose to dispense with passing a budget resolution.
Now that the Dems run the House, Spratt is chairman of its Budget Committee and the April 15 deadline for passing a budget resolution is a niggling detail, easily ignored. House Democrats have decided to not even try to pass a budget resolution before this fiscal year expires on Sept. 30 -- and may well delay passage until after the November elections.
As the congressional newspaper The Hill reported Monday, Spratt announced that in lieu of a 2011 budget resolution, the House is likely to pass a "functional equivalent" measure that leaves out inconvenient budget numbers -- most notably an annual operating deficit averaging around $1 trillion over the next five to 10 years.
The Democrats in Congress believe what Rep. Gerry Connolly told the LA Times, which is that no member of Congress ever lost an election because of a failure to pass a budget. They don't want to be on the hook for the hard decisions that must come in FY2011, which is either to drastically reduce spending from the binge levels of the last three Democratic Congresses, or to raise taxes to cover it. Spending cuts won't change voter perception of this Congress at this late date -- and tax hikes will make it worse.
Spratt is right -- a failure to budget is a failure to govern. Democrats seem intent on proving their unworthiness to lead Congress in even its most basic tasks. At the same time, their leadership wants voters to trust them to make the most personal of decisions in their health care, as well as believe that they can cool the planet and lower the sea level with punitive taxes on energy production and boondoggles in alternative energy.
The Democrats' fear of taking responsibility for their own out of control fiscal policies also seems to explain the sudden departure of one of Obama's most renowned "best and brightest," Peter "Propeller Head" Orzag, the White House budget director. The Financial Times reports:
In particular, [Orzag] has collided with the political team, led by Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's chief of staff, over Mr Obama's 2008 election pledge not to raise taxes on any households earning less than $250,000 a year - a category that covers more than 98 per cent of Americans.
Economists say that would put all the fiscal emphasis on draconian - and highly unrealistic - spending cuts, or else pushing the marginal tax rates on the very rich to confiscatory levels. "Peter feels strongly that this is a pledge that has to be broken if the President is to take a lead on America's fiscal crisis," says an administration official not authorised to speak on the matter."
The Democrats know that with respect to the way they have handled the Federal budget, they have driven the trolley off the tracks. Since FY 2007, they have added over $1 trillion in annual spending, via new programs and aggressive expansion of public sector responsibilities. That money is now anticipated by its recipients and will be very difficult to eliminate. They have all but abandoned their once-sacred "pay-as-you-go" rules -- except when they are trying to advance the notion of tax increases. As DJ Drummond pointed out in an earlier post, they have done nothing to encourage businesses to invest in growth, or to convince consumers that it is safe to start spending again. And they know that tax hikes and trillion dollar deficits will be ballot box poison for them.
The way I see it, the only way to keep the wheels from completely coming off the fiscal trolley is to replace the trolley drivers. We can do that in November, and then pray that a "mad duck Congress" doesn't completely wreck things before new leadership is in place in January.