The last time the Federal government passed a budget was April 29, 2009. To give perspective, the popular box office hits of the time were, Hannah Montana, The Movie, and Fast and Furious.
Technically speaking, this was not a traditional budget, as it was a complete reworking of the president’s submitted budget, which failed to garner a single vote from even his own party. In order to find the last “real” budget passed, one that was offered by the president and voted on intact (for the most part) by both houses of Congress, we have to travel back to 1997 under Bill Clinton. The FY2010 budget passed on April 29, 2009, was actually more of an omnibus spending bill, constructed by a dominate democrat Congress under the auspices of ’saving us from the terrible calamity left by Bush’.
It contained billions of dollars in economic stimulus, even though an additional stimulus bill was in the works. It pumped money into education, health care and green energy, the top priorities of the new president. Of course, it was still a $1.7 trillion budget deficit, but that was a far better alternative than the president’s original $3.6 trillion proposal.
The Constitution requires the president to submit an annual budget to Congress no later than the last week in February, so why are we talking about this budget passed in 2009? Hasn’t the president been following the Constitution? Well, of course he has, we just don’t hear much about it from the mainstream media. In 2010, he submitted a budget for FY2011 with a $3.8 trillion deficit, followed in 2011 with a FY2012 budget with a $3.7 trillion deficit and FY2013, back to $3.8 trillion again. Needless to say, these did not pass Congress. Furthermore, Congress has not been able to agree on an alternative budget, so they have been operating the government on a series of “continuing resolutions” which are basically stop-gaps to keep the government open.
The baseline for these continuing resolutions continues to be the last fiscal budget passed, April 29, 2009. Oh, there have been some tweaks and adjustments made, the republicans have forced the democrats to accept a few cuts here and there, but the CRs only last a few months, and the whole issue of funding for the government comes back up again, and has to be dealt with. This is a terribly inefficient way to run government, as it wastes an extraordinary amount of time in Congress, and doesn’t allow the various agencies and departments to sufficiently plan anything, they don’t know what funding may be received in a few months, it’s all perpetually up in the air.
Even worse, is the failed promise of Obama’s original failed budget proposal and subsequently approved 2010 budget, of slashing the deficit to half-trillion dollar levels in five years. You see, there were supposed to be “phased in” cuts along the way each year, but by not adopting a new budget with these phased in cuts, Congress essentially resets the clock on these with each continuing resolution, and kicks the can down the road. So we remain perpetually stuck with +$1.5 trillion deficits as a result. In fact, when we factor in the mitigated effects of revisiting the funding issue every few months, it’s more likely over $2 trillion it is actually costing us.
We’ve watched sweet little Hannah Montana turn into a twerking soft porn starlet, and Vin Diesel is now working on Fast and Furious 6, but we haven’t seemed to notice that Congress is perpetually haggling over spending and funding, and has little time for anything else. We’ve added deficits to double our national debt, but if Obama had his way, this would be triple our national debt. When is America going to pay attention to this? When are we going to demand a return to fiscal sanity, and reasonable, realistic budget proposals by the president, as required by our Constitution? Perhaps it’s like expecting Miley Cyrus to put her tongue back in her mouth?