I am indebted to Kimberly Strassel, the insightful Washington columnist for the Wall Street Journal, for her learned explication of Harry's obduracy. According to her, he is failing to submit a budget because, in keeping with the perverse ways of the capital, his failure keeps the focus of the press and the politicians on the Republican House of Representatives. The press and the partisan pols focus on what the House accomplishes rather than focusing on the Senate's derelictions. Thus, official Washington is hysterical over the House's threat to go over the "fiscal cliff" or its refusal to raise the debt ceiling, rather than the Senate's repeated violations of the 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Furthermore, by refusing to write up a budget, Harry's Senate continues to keep his Democratic members' true identities hidden from the voters back home. Are they for lavish spending and draconian tax increases? Are they for gun control? Do they want Big Bird reading the evening news on public television? Who knows? They have not voted on a budget. How do the Democratic senators spend their time? No one in Washington seems to care.
Now the industrious Republican members of the House of Representatives have come up with yet another plan for dealing with our fiscal mess and for getting the Democrats in the Senate on record with a budget. The House is voting for a suspension of the debt ceiling at least until May 19. However, the House is also insisting that both chambers of Congress write up a budget by April 15. If one or the other chambers does not submit a budget, its members' pay will be held up until the end of the Congressional session, January 2015. The Senate's millionaires and billionaires will not mind or will they? It can be very expensive in Washington, even living on a millionaire's income. One of the added benefits of the Republicans' strategy is to demonstrate to the popolo minuto how very well off the Senate Democrats are.
In the meantime, I have prevailed upon former House member Bob Barr to investigate how we can put teeth into that 1974 law that Harry has broken (four times!). We may have to replace the Budget and Impoundment Control Act with a new statute to show Harry we are serious. I will not allow Barr to include hard labor among the new penalties, but my compassion for Harry can only go so far.
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