If Congress was ever in search for a theme song, it would surely be the 60’s hit by Sonny and Cher called—“The Beat Goes On”. Americans received yet another reminder of just how far this group of fiscal miscreants will go to avoid making tough budget decisions when Congress passed a “minibus” spending bill. This hodgepodge of appropriations manages to simultaneously delay, once again, the painful necessity of confronting excessive spending, while simultaneously eroding the little fiscal discipline that does exist.
No one should be surprised that fiscal malpractice continues in Congress as we lurch from CR to CR to Omnibus budget for the past few years. Our Senate has been too busy for the last 960 or so days to submit a budget, and it has become clear that congress doesn't have the stomach, nor the will, to truly trim the fat off the federal budget. Instead, members of congress focus their efforts on lots of photo ops, sound bytes and a Supercomittee Big Top circus that would put Barnum & Bailey to shame.
But, tucked away inside the most recent spending bill, is language that will further erode our finances and fiscal health. While Obama's signature on the legislation will keep the doors open for continued operations of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, USDA, NASA, FDA, Transportation, HUD and several other federal agencies, the bill, in no way, encourages restraint in spending.
Given the language used, the new Minibus bill will almost certainly cause more problems than it solves.
One example of the language problem, which seems to encourage unfettered federal spending is clearly outlined in Section 524 of the recently ratified H.R. 2112 (the "Minibus") spending bill, in which congress tells the leaders of agencies that it is okay to exceed the budget allocated by congress.
In fact, so certain is congress that one or more agencies is going to exceed the budgets set for them, that the "Minibus" proceeds to outline the process these agencies should follow when they blow the budgets.
Here's what the "Minibus" tells executive agencies to do.