With all the political fights we’ve had over the past six months or so, it’s hard to believe that we’ve actually not had one that we should have. It’s one that we are used to having every year.
The regular battle of the federal budget.
The formula is simple, and spelled out by law and tradition: the president submits a proposed budget to the House, which by the Constitution must originate all spending bills. The House passes its form of the budget (which occasionally bears a passing resemblance to the president’s) on to the Senate, which passes its own version. The two Houses get together and settle on one version of the budget and send it on to the president, who signs it.
The timeline is simple: the president’s budget is due to be submitted between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February. That gives us over half a year to hammer out the details before the fiscal year kicks in on October 1.
This year, though, has been a bit different.
President Obama didn’t bother to submit a budget to Congress. The House, which could have simply started work on their own budget (which they usually do — most presidents’ budgets are pronounced “dead on arrival,” especially when the House and the president are from different parties), decided to follow Obama’s lead. The Senate, which has nothing it can officially do, could have put pressure on the White House and House of Representatives to get them to fulfill their legal and Constitutional duty — but didn’t.
This is when we usually expect Obama and the Democrats to blame “Republican obstructionism” for foiling their plans. After all, they’re not called “the party of No” for nothing.
But that simply won’t work here. Because the Republicans had nothing to obstruct.
The Democrats never even started, so there was nothing to stop. If Republican opposition played a factor, it speaks volumes about just how politically craven the Democrats are — the mere possibility that the Republicans might resist cowed the Democrats so thoroughly that they’re not even bothering to try.
That might have been a factor, but a trivial one. The real force behind the Democrats’ refusal to put forward a budget is fear, but not fear of the Republicans — fear of the American people.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from their refusal to act is that the numbers they intend on spending are so horrific, they don’t want them written down. They don’t want to commit them to black and white, they don’t want people to be able to look at the bottom line — just how much money the government plans on taking from us, and how they plan on spending it — and hold them accountable.
This, along with the open admission that many of our legislators don’t bother to read the bills they pass into law, demonstrates the absolute need for cleaning house. We need to pretty much wipe out the existing ruling class in Congress, voting out entrenched incumbent after entrenched incumbent after entrenched incumbent. We need to go to the ballot box and commit the political equivalent of the ancient Roman punishment of decimation. We need to target the worst offenders we can, the most entrenched and corrupt members of Congress, and make examples of them by kicking them to the curb, “pour encourager les autres.”
The Tea Party is off to a hell of a start. They’ve already taken down eight entrenched Republicans, and in November those candidates who took out the incumbents will take on Democrats.
It’s like the old joke about what do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.