Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- A couple of weeks ago, I elaborated on how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had at the time failed for three straight years to write up a budget in the Senate, thereby breaking the law three -- now four -- years running. I said that he should write up a budget in part to inform the citizenry how their tax dollars were being spent. How much was going to the Pentagon and our nation's security? How much was going into green fantasies like Solyndra and payoffs to the Democratic Party's friends. That would be friendly fascism, the left's post-liberalism evolutionary stage. Some call it Obamaism.

Where is the accountability? Failing to write up a budget is a dereliction of duty. At the time, I speculated ever so gently about what sort of crime Harry was committing. Everyone agrees that not writing up a budget is crime. Is it a felony or a mere misdemeanor? I innocently joked that senators from Nevada are not known for committing mere misdemeanors. Now having spent two weeks studying Harry's case and counseling with members of Congress -- past and present -- I think I am closer to excogitating a penalty for the wretched Harry.

The law we are referring to is the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which was passed to override President Richard Nixon's veto of those expenditures in the federal budget of which he did not approve. He called it impoundment. His high-minded opponents responded that it was an extravagant extension of what was then called the "Imperial Presidency." Today I suppose we call it Obamacare or Rule by Executive Order. To the Democrats it is very progressive.

At any rate, the 1974 law was written in a more innocent era. It was the time of Watergate and impeachment. In those more easygoing days members of Congress could not imagine themselves coldly and with malice aforethought breaking the law. Thus they would not bring embarrassment to Congress by even suggesting penalties. Today, we live in a more ruthless era. There are sitting in the Senate people who would deny the citizenry the simple illuminating document of a federal budget.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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