It seems the Associated Press is determined to place the blame for our current budgetary mess on a single party, but is that really true? John Hindraker takes a look at their assertions.
– The President submits a budget by the first week of February
– Committees in both the House and the Senate take up the budget and submit their resolutions by April 1st.
– Each chamber is expected to debate, amend and approve their own versions of the budget by April 15th.
– A committe is appointed to reconcile any differences between the budget bills, and each chamber votes on the reconciled budget.
– If approved, the budget goes to the President to sign or veto.
– If not approved, or vetoed, the process begins again with each chamber coming up with their new resolutions.
– The new budget goes into effect on October 1st. If no budget has been approved, Congress must pass “continuing resolutions” to avoid a government shutdown.
This process has failed to produce a budget on time, resulting in a government shutdown, at least 17 times since 1976, the most recent in 1995 and 1996, during President Clinton’s tenure.
So why is it happening this time? Well, as best I can tell, because both parties ignored the lack of a budget until a few weeks before it would have gone into effect. President Obama’s budget was submitted on April 10th. By then both houses of Congress had submitted their own budget proposals (both on March 15th). That the two bills, coming from a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House, were vastly different is not surprising. However, the process is supposed to be able to deal with this. According to wikipedia, however, “As of early April 2013, neither house had begun debating the budget resolution passed by the other, and neither house had requested a conference or named conferees.”
So, in other words, they’ve done nothing since April, five months ago. It’s as if they wanted this game of fiscal “chicken”. Considering that neither house has made any effort to negotiate a compromise in all that time, it’s really difficult to see how this is any one party’s fault. If you listen to the news, however, it would sounds like it’s all because of the Tea Party. Except the numbers don’t add up. There are 49 members of the House of Representatives listed as part of the Tea Party Caucus. Yet according to Hindraker, “The House passed its continuing resolution by 231-192, with 229 out of 231 Republicans voting in favor.” Quite obviously, if the Tea Party Caucus were the only ones interested in passing that particular continuing resolution they would have failed. Like it or not, this is still a “Republican vs. Democrat” problem, no matter how much the media and liberals like to cast the Tea Party as the villains.
But what of the Senate? They passed their version of the CR, 54-44. And around we go again.
Most of the press claims it’s the GOP that is unwilling to compromise. But I’ve not seen or heard anything that suggests the Democrats are willing to compromise, either. And, frankly, there is no rule that I know of that requires either side to budge. As much as I’d like to see a compromise, neither side seems willing. They prefer to wait for the other side to blink.
What I’m waiting for, perhaps even more naively, is for either side to own their responsibility for what’s going on. This showdown was purposely set up (yet again) back in April. This cannot be considered accidental. It’s intentional negligence.