Enough already with the rhetoric about how long it’s been since a federal budget was adopted!
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard some Republican whine about how it’s been two or three years (or whatever) since Senate Democrats have passed a federal budget, I could pay off the national debt on my own.
The same party that frittered away a budget surplus in the last decade just wants to pretend that it could chart a path to fiscal sanity in this decade if the Democrats would just pass a federal budget.
But, of course, all this rhetoric is highly misleading, which is usually the case with these right-wingers. As Brian Beutler POINTS OUT:
[H]ere are two things Republicans don’t mention about this 1000 days teapot tempest: First, Budget resolutions don’t have the force of law, and they aren’t the legislative tool that mandates what the government can and can not spend. That’s what appropriations bills are for, and for the last 1000 days Democrats and Republicans have worked together, however acrimoniously, to devise spending plans for the government.
Here’s how House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer explained it at a briefing with reporters last week.
“I have a bias. I served for 23 years on the Appropriations Committee. What does the budget do? The budget does one thing and really only one thing. It sets the parameters of spending and discretionary caps. Other than that, the Appropriations Committee is not bound by the Budget Committee’s priorities…. The fact is that you don’t need a budget. We can adopt appropriation bills and we can adopt authorization policies without a budget.”
But the much more important fact Republicans have left out is that the Senate passed a budget on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis last summer — one that unlike an annual “budget resolution” has the force of law behind it. The Budget Control Act — the law that resolved the debt limit fight — set binding appropriations caps for this fiscal year and the next and instituted a mechanism to contain spending on domestic discretionary programs — education, research, community health programs and the like — through the next decade.