Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Every year since 1974, the House of Representatives has passed a budget resolution. No matter which party was in power or whether the economy was booming or struggling, the House has never failed to pass a budget blueprint setting spending limits for the year.

A Failure To Govern
By Congressman Tom Cole

Until now. For the first time in decades, Democratic leaders announced, House members will not get to vote on a budget plan.

In announcing the decision to punt on the budget, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that debating a budget "isn't possible... until we've considered the bipartisan commission's deficit-reduction plan." Leaving aside the fact that the commission isn't set to release its recommendations until December -- and, thus, was never meant to impact this year's budget process -- this excuse does not hold water. Regardless of the activities of President Obama's symbolic, powerless debt commission, Congress is mandated by law to pass an annual budget resolution by April 15. Under the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, both chambers are obligated to adopt a framework to guide funding decisions for the coming fiscal year.

The real reason the liberals in Congress do not want to debate a budget resolution is that they don't want to call added attention to their reckless spending record. In just the first eight months of this fiscal year, the majority party has run up $935 billion in deficit spending, pushing our national debt to more than $13 trillion -- of which $5 trillion has been added in just the past five years. Paying off the debt would require the equivalent of $42,000 on behalf of every man, woman and child in America. And it will only get worse. Within the next 10 years, the interest alone on our debt is expected to reach almost $1 trillion a year.

The liberal agenda of increased spending and government expansion is damaging the economy so much that even Obama allies are speaking out. The chairman of the Business Roundtable, a group of corporate executives consulted frequently by the Obama administration, publicly accused the president and congressional Democrats of creating an "increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation." The Washington Post reported that roundtable Chairman Ivan Seidenberg -- a guest at Obama's Super Bowl party, no less -- delivered a 54-page document to the White House detailing how "by reaching into virtually every sector of economic life, government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise capital and create new business."

That job-killing uncertainty and federal encroachment will be even worse without a budget to provide a check on spending decisions. When his party was in the minority, Hoyer seemed to grasp the importance of budgeting, declaring it in 2006 "the most basic responsibility of governing." With our fiscal security in such dire straits, passing a budget is more important than ever. Congressional conservatives are not waiting on a toothless debt commission to take action. We've proposed deficit-reducing budget plans and numerous spending cuts. The majority party's inability to do likewise is nothing short of a failure to govern.

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