Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Budgeting in Washington: It is what it is, isn't it?

Don't you dislike the phrase, "It is what it is"?

What a ridiculous way of taking no responsibility for your actions or not doing anything about the transgressions of others.

That's Congress' attitude today: casually seek a resolution before March 3 that keeps government open until September as it bashes the president's budget proposal, which doesn't take effect until Oct. 1 and only with Congress'approval.

Debating tomorrow's budget when we don't have one today. Does that make sense?

Republicans say: "Let's see, we failed to come up with a workable spending plan last year because those lousy Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Now we have to concern ourselves with tomorrow, Obama's budget, and let today take care of itself."

Democrats say: "Those lousy Republicans blocked our efforts last year to pass a budget, and now we can't get them to concentrate on today because they are so focused on the politics of making Obama look bad and winning the White House back in 2012. They are so irresponsible."

So, it is what it is? Well, this is how it is:

Article 1, Section 8, U.S. Constitution
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."

This includes borrowing money, regulating commerce, coining and setting the value of money and approving a spending plan (budget) to pay all those debts.

Article 2, Sect. 3, U.S. Constitution
"He (the president) shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

The president recommends while the Constitution commands Congress to act on all matters financial for the United States.

This is what is is: The people stepped up in 2008 and elected Obama because they were tired of business as usual in Washington. They did the same in 2010 when they wrested control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats.

Congress needs to get the message. Stop playing around, get the 2010-11 budget passed rather than wrangling over how much Obama wants to spend or not in 2011-12. We have time for those arguments in April when the legislature releases its plan for next year. Congress — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — can't shirk their constitutional responsibility, It's just so much more important than Congress thinks it is.