House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., recently announced that Congress will not pass a budget resolution this year. That hasn’t happened since Congress adopted the landmark Budget Control and Impoundment Act of 1974, which among much else was supposed to streamline and rationalize the federal budgeting process.
The 1974 bill requires an annual budget resolution agreed to by the budget committees of the Senate and the House as an outline of congressional spending priorities for the coming year. But it’s not hard to figure out why there won’t be such a resolution this year: Democrats want voters to know as little as possible before the November elections about their plans to continue spending, taxing and borrowing at historic levels.
There are, of course, other ways to ascertain their spending intentions. Earlier this year, for example, Congress increased the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, thus giving the federal government a higher credit limit. The increase lets Congress spend and borrow beyond even the current budget deficit, which is now headed for an all-time high of $1.56 trillion.
Going further into the red is inconsistent with President Barack Obama’s professed desire to reduce the federal deficit. But when he appointed members of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, he and Congress agreed that the commission’s report would not be due until December — also conveniently after the midterm elections.
Don’t expect leadership on this issue from White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, even though he has warned that huge deficits could cause credit markets to lose faith in the federal government’s ability to repay its debts. It was Orszag who recently downgraded Obama’s promise during the presidential debates not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 — what was a “firm pledge” in 2008 has become a mere “stance during the campaign.” No wonder we’ve been hearing so much recently about a European-style “value-added tax” that would fall most heavily on lower- and middle-income Americans already buffeted by the recession.
Two-thirds of the deficit resulted from Obama’s bailouts of Wall Street and the United Auto Workers union and the failed stimulus package. As it happens, Hoyer called for “shared sacrifice” in an April 28 Wall Street Journal op-ed, admitting that “the course we’re on will lead to public debt that will exceed the size of our entire economy.” Hoyer didn’t mention that during the first seven months of the current budget year, the federal government took in $1.2 trillion in revenue and spent $2 trillion.
So clearly, the problem here is not that taxpayers don’t send enough of their hard-earned dollars to government. It’s that people in government like Obama and Hoyer have an uncontrollable spending addiction and no intention of kicking it.