Of course that hasn't prevented Congress from passing bad legislation that denies our freedoms, such as Prohibition or, more recently, Obamacare, which will force Americans to buy health insurance they neither want nor need. But that has meant blocking good legislation, too, such as the House's mid-fiscal-year budget cuts, which will carve $61 billion out of President Obama's 2011 spending binge as a down payment for bigger budget cuts to come in the fiscal 2012 budget bill. The House bill is blocked by an unyielding Democratic majority in the Senate, the body that Thomas Jefferson said was needed to "cool the passions of the House."
In this case, the House Republicans were fully justified in their mission to end the runaway spending that has marked the Democrat-run Congress over the past two years -- pushing spending up to nearly $4 trillion a year, driving this year's budget deficit to an unprecedented $1.4 trillion, and ballooning our national debt to over $14 trillion, putting it on a fast track to another $10 trillion in this decade.
But here is where the spending battle gets complicated and very tricky. The budget for the entire government has been running on a so-called temporary, month-to-month continuing resolution (called a CR) for this fiscal year, which ends six months from now. That's not the way the budget process is supposed to work, but Democrats did not enact a budget, and somehow were never held accountable by the news media for their failure to carry out their chief fiscal responsibility.
So the House GOP's demands for spending cuts have been tied up by the continuing resolution that received a two-week extension to keep the government running while both sides worked on a compromise.
However, there wasn't much of a compromise. President Obama, not wanting to get his hands dirty, has stayed out of the budget process to the angst of Senate Democrats, who offered a puny $10 billion budget-cutting package to the CR that Republicans said was laughable and that some 10 Democrats voted against. So now, as the CR's expiration draws near, a growing number of tea party conservatives are opposing a further extension to force Democrats to negotiate a budget-cutting deal or else face a government shutdown.
The latest proposal from Republican leaders offers to extend the CR again, this time until April 8 in the hopes of negotiating deeper spending cuts for the remaining fiscal year. The CR contains $6 billion in cuts.