Last week's news that Congress will likely be unable to pass the FY2011 budget came and went without a whimper. That is a pity. Our Constitution is quite specific, outlining the duties and responsibilities of the Congress in shaping a budget and balancing revenues (via taxes, and duties) with outlays for general welfare and government. Approving the budget, ensuring that our government’s system of checks and balances is functioning properly is one of Congress’ most important responsibilities. Our 111th Congress has decided that other more pressing and demanding issues that must be urgently addressed than to perform their primary Constitutional duties.
Make no mistake, as Nancy Pelosi often claims, our Congress has been very busy. They have focused on a myriad of issues, most of which are designed to impose government directives into every nook and cranny of our lives. Right now, for example, Congress is ramping up efforts to push through an inordinately complex set of new regulations and expand a government takeover of much of the energy sector of the economy. Congressman Waxman held all sorts of hearings earlier and felt compelled to include legislation requiring specific lights for private pools and legislating the temperature of hot tubs. More recently, some members of Congress have turned their attention to baseball, and a botched umpire call that cost a Detroit Tigers pitcher a perfect game. It seems that Congress, with nothing more important to do, is turning its full attention to calling a man out at first base.
At the same time, Speaker Pelosi has pushed through an almost endless stream of new legislation that expands entitlements and government spending on everything from healthcare, housing, unemployment, education, and even support for a small rodent called the Harvest Marsh mouse.
But Congress hasn’t stepped up to its full set of Constitutional responsibilities and approved an annual budget for the full outlays and revenues of the government. So far, we have only seen silliness, and a never-ending stream of new outlays and additional government spending. The acknowledgement and acceptance by Pelosi, Reid and Obama that congress is unlikely to pass the budget illustrates their colossal incompetence and ignorance of consequences. This decision will trigger a series of problems, with unintended consequences to the growing deficit and to job growth.
The federal budget (despite what the Obama Administration tries to tell Americans) is just like a budget for any business or family--just a lot bigger. No family focuses exclusively on expenditures or avoids paying for all its expenses, but that is exactly what our congress has done. They have no plan, nor any intention to develop a plan, to pay for these indulgences.
In failing to pass a federal budget, the Congress not only abdicates their Constitutional responsibility, but they allow the nation’s fiscal problems to worsen. Without a budget, Congress encourages mission creep and inefficient programs and failed efforts that are supposed to be reviewed for effectiveness are allowed to limp on.
In the Gulf of Mexico, we see a painful example of these consequences. The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, in the news for their inability to effectively review drilling in the deep ocean, was, instead, focusing attention and $550,000 in tax payer money studying the giant squid. Without firm budgetary discipline, agencies can lose their focus and fixate on tangential issues.
The decision to not pass a federal budget is also craven. Without a federal budget, pork spending projects that divert taxpayer money to special projects rewarding key constituencies is made easier and more expansive. With one continuing resolution after another, these pork projects are easy to slip into one of the many bills, thereby bypassing the normal hard-nosed budgetary process required of any new spending bill. What a spectacle of Congressional cowardice and irresponsibility.
The triumvirate of Obama, Reid and Pelosi, have decided to focus on the incidental rather than on the national priority. Constitutional responsibilities have been shirked as they made a conscious decision to pursue form rather than substance. They have told Americans by their actions that they care more for themselves, their positions and their personal power than they do for the well-being of the country. These three have abandoned reason, and abjured the oath they took to put the good of the country first.
We will all have to pay for their incompetence, and the difficult task ahead of finding a more competent group of leaders is made even harder by the irresponsibility of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.