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Dereliction Of Duty

With all the political fights we've had over the past six months or so, it's hard to believe that we've actually not had one that we should have. It's one that we are used to having every year.

The regular battle of the federal budget.

The formula is simple, and spelled out by law and tradition: the president submits a proposed budget to the House, which by the Constitution must originate all spending bills. The House passes its form of the budget (which occasionally bears a passing resemblance to the president's) on to the Senate, which passes its own version. The two Houses get together and settle on one version of the budget and send it on to the president, who signs it.

The timeline is simple: the president's budget is due to be submitted between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February. That gives us over half a year to hammer out the details before the fiscal year kicks in on October 1.

This year, though, has been a bit different.

President Obama didn't bother to submit a budget to Congress. The House, which could have simply started work on their own budget (which they usually do -- most presidents' budgets are pronounced "dead on arrival," especially when the House and the president are from different parties), decided to follow Obama's lead. The Senate, which has nothing it can officially do, could have put pressure on the White House and House of Representatives to get them to fulfill their legal and Constitutional duty -- but didn't.

This is when we usually expect Obama and the Democrats to blame "Republican obstructionism" for foiling their plans. After all, they're not called "the party of No" for nothing.

But that simply won't work here. Because the Republicans had nothing to obstruct.

The Democrats never even started, so there was nothing to stop. If Republican opposition played a factor, it speaks volumes about just how politically craven the Democrats are -- the mere possibility that the Republicans might resist cowed the Democrats so thoroughly that they're not even bothering to try.

That might have been a factor, but a trivial one. The real force behind the Democrats' refusal to put forward a budget is fear, but not fear of the Republicans -- fear of the American people.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from their refusal to act is that the numbers they intend on spending are so horrific, they don't want them written down. They don't want to commit them to black and white, they don't want people to be able to look at the bottom line -- just how much money the government plans on taking from us, and how they plan on spending it -- and hold them accountable.

This, along with the open admission that many of our legislators don't bother to read the bills they pass into law, demonstrates the absolute need for cleaning house. We need to pretty much wipe out the existing ruling class in Congress, voting out entrenched incumbent after entrenched incumbent after entrenched incumbent. We need to go to the ballot box and commit the political equivalent of the ancient Roman punishment of decimation. We need to target the worst offenders we can, the most entrenched and corrupt members of Congress, and make examples of them by kicking them to the curb, "pour encourager les autres."

The Tea Party is off to a hell of a start. They've already taken down eight entrenched Republicans, and in November those candidates who took out the incumbents will take on Democrats.

It's like the old joke about what do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.


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Comments (8)

Yes, the TEA Party activist... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Yes, the TEA Party activists are done with the Republicans, on to the Democrats.
They have plenty to fear too.

But the "Battle of the Budg... (Below threshold)
Neo:

But the "Battle of the Budget" is even worse.
By law the "budget" (i.e. the priorities for spending) are to be passed by April 15th, but shen somebody finally noticed that it had been done, they quickly passed a bill "deeming" the "budget" passed.
This did a number of things. The biggest is that it meant that without a real "budget," which contains the rules for the reconciliation process, there would be no "reconciliation" for FY2011.

That's okay; the dems who c... (Below threshold)
Bill Fabrizio:

That's okay; the dems who cowered and had the "shakes" when considering and then ignoring the 2011 budget requirement will soon have a piping hot pot of tea to comfort them through their winter of unbudgeted unemployment!

We need to go to the bal... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

We need to go to the ballot box and commit the political equivalent of the ancient Roman punishment of decimation.

Decimation only killed one in ten. We need more than that.

Decimation is letting them ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Decimation is letting them off easy. I'm thinking more along the lines of "Carthago delenda est".

-syb

The Democrats don't dare pu... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The Democrats don't dare put out an 'official' budget. You don't tell the proles that "we're broke" in an election year.

As for Barry. What the hell does he need a 'budget' for? He does nothing put propose SPENDING money that we don't have. Don't need a "budget" for that.

I'm afraid it is far more n... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

I'm afraid it is far more nefarious than you realize.

Sure, the lack of a budget avoids putting even a CBO-massaged deficit number before the public in an election year, and hides the cost of Obama's spending party so far, but there is more to it.

It's the budget which limits the appropriations committees. The Chairmen must fit all their bills into the budget limits in their areas. With no budget, they have no limits, no controls. They can spend without restraint. And it gets even worse . . .

Because current law sets the "baseline" for all agencies at what was actually appropriated for the previous cycle, the higher spending (if passed) becomes built-in for future years without the scrutiny of a budget debate. Even if Republicans win both House and Senate and try to roll it back, Democrats will scream about "draconian cuts" and do their usual stuck pig squealing, and our explanation doesn't fit well into a sound bite.

We can probably stop most of the extra spending in the Senate, but it was a good gamble by Pelosi and Reid to cover their own ineptitude by not having a budget, while hiking spending anyway.

Jim,Sounds like we... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Jim,

Sounds like we need a Republican with cojones grandes to file a lawsuit declaring ALL government spending to be unconstitutional, since they haven't passed a budget!!!

-syb




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