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.



  1. Ted Biondo

    Pat, how’s not having a budget worked out for American taxpayers thus far with the $5 trillion dollars added to the debt by the Obama administration. Unfortunately Obama and the Senate are using taxpayers credit card!

    The Republicans did fritter away money under Bush – that doesn’t make it right for this administration to double down on Bush’s debt. Besides, the Democrats had control of both Houses of Congress in Bush’s last two years – no wonder everything is so screwed up now!

  2. “The Republicans did fritter away money under Bush” really Ted? When you total the cost of all unnecessary wars and tax cuts you get a lot more than fritter. BTW St. Ronnie was the first to pull the credit card out of the wallet.

  3. Russell Ciokiewicz

    Pat, if you have been in congress for 23 years then you should know a budget is important. the most important factor associated with a budget is the IDEA of fiscal responsibility. Apparently your “liberal” views and party feel you should not be held to that standard.

  4. Ed Mattson

    Every household in America has a budget or they are down the sewer. As to “continuing resolutions”, talk about enforcement…they are already to negotiate away the provisions of our last resolution as they always do…hence $16 trillion in debt.

    They all need to be run out of town on a rail for dereliction of duty, and malfeasance for violating their jobs as legislators. The media is part of the problem…but you guys just keep voting for this ilk in DC, letting the bureaucrats slide on important spending issues, and then keep wondering why you word has withered away to zilch! I’ll bet you were all for the vast tax hikes in Illinois recently. That will ready draw in a lot of new business

  5. If a budget isn’t important, then why did Congress feel it necessary to pass a law requiring a budget be passed every year. Didn’t they break the law every year they failed to pass a budget. Maybe they should all be fined or imprisoned for their lawlessness.

    Yes a budget is important, it is the guide to fiscal responsibility. That is why families and businesses across America use budgets to guide their spending.

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