"Addressing the challenge of our national debt requires bold leadership and tough choices from members of both parties. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to chart an effective course toward responsible stewardship of the public purse."
-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, March 24, 2010
As the April 15th tax deadline approaches, families around the country are sitting down to make a budget and cut a check to Uncle Sam. Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, may decide to give themselves a free pass on writing a budget for one more year of runaway spending.
Skirting the Budget Process: Since the passage of the Budget Act of 1974, the House has never failed to pass an initial budget to set the spending priorities for the following fiscal year. (The Senate has failed to pass or agree on a budget on occasion, resulting in no Congressed budget for that year.) However, press reports now suggest that the Democrats may simply ignore the regular budget process for the first time since the passage of the Budget Act. No matter what happens, it's clear that Democrats will let April 15th, the statutory target date for completion of the budget process, come and go without taking any action on the FY 2011 budget. While every family knows the importance of sitting down and making a budget, Democrats in Washington still don't seem to get it.
Budget Double-Talk: Democrats say that they're aware of the disastrous crash course that they have put our nation on. This month, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer admitted that runaway spending threatens America's standing in the world, saying, "The course we are on leads to debt that exceeds the value of our entire economy. To a government that does nothing but pay for entitlement and pay interest to our creditors. And an end to American leadership in the world." Similarly, Speaker Pelosi recently said that, "Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to chart an effective course toward responsible stewardship of the public purse." If Democrats believe that it is their duty to chart a new course of fiscal responsibility, why are they threatening to spend an estimated $3.8 trillion in 2011 without first determining whether it is affordable? While Democrats give lip-service to fiscal responsibility, their inaction speaks louder than their words.
Partisanship Trumping Responsibility: According to press reports, the reason Democrats may refuse to address the fiscal crisis facing our country because "there's little appetite for taking on these issues in an election year." If that's the case, Democrats are clearly putting partisanship and election politics ahead of the best interest of the American people.
Ignoring a Fiscal Time Bomb: According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the budget proposed by the President will increase spending by 56 percent in the next ten years, from a record $3.6 trillion in FY 2010 to $5.6 trillion by 2020. Since Democrats took over Congress and the White House, non-defense discretionary spending alone has increased by 84 percent over the previous fiscal year. This is not to mention entitlement spending, which is set to explode when the Baby Boom generation retires. According to CBO, the cost of entitlements will continue to escalate until three federal programs-Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-will chew up the entirety of projected federal revenues by 2036. Instead of addressing these huge problems, Democrats are considering shifting the bill to future generations. It's peculiar that a Speaker so focused on helping the nation's children, would avoid the tough budget choices that are necessary to ensure prosperity for future generations.
The Cost of Busted Budgets: If our spending and debt crisis is not addressed and lower economic growth ensues, Americans will see a much a lower standard of living. Higher taxes, a stagnant economy, high unemployment, less opportunity, and exploding borrowing all threaten to take their toll if spending is not curbed. In addition, countries with too much debt lose credibility on the international stage and extreme borrowing on the part of nations is a direct threat to their national security. Nation's such as Greece, Spain, and Portugal have all recently been the subject of speculation that some of their sovereign powers could be lost because of high levels of debt.
Democrats Must Consider a Budget: Speaker Pelosi has said that addressing the national debt will require "bold leadership." If that's the case, Democrats should act like a Majority Party and consider a budget resolution in a timely, open, straight-forward, and bi-partisan process. American families can't simply choose to stop budgeting and spend without consequences. Congress shouldn't be able to either.