Posted by: SWL | April 1, 2011

Another Continuing Budget Resolution

Congress has been providing funding for the current fiscal year (which ends September 30) through a series of continuing resolutions (CRs). Generally, a continuing resolution says various programs and agencies can continue to operate at the same budget level as the previous year. CRs can be used to quickly fund the government when other issues have kept Congress from dealing with the budget. But CRs can also be used to avoid the budget process, which is likely the case this year because Congress knows the US is in financial trouble but dealing with necessary funding cuts could endanger political careers.

In the last two CRs, Congress has added provisions to cut some money from various areas. The first of those, passed on March 1, cut $4 billion. That’s the equivalent of maybe a restaurant meal in a family’s budget. The way some of our representatives in DC complained, you would have thought they were forced to totally gut government agencies.

Current funding runs out on April 8. At least this time, Congress has begun to deal with the issue more than a week in advance. But with the extremely partisan rhetoric reported every day, it’s likely a CR won’t be passed by both houses until the last minute.

The Democrats are touting $20 billion in cuts; there are no specifics. Republicans want a $61 billion reduction; the House has already passed a bill which includes these cuts. $61 billion is about the equivalent of around $100 a month in an average family budget. Not easy, but doable with some self-discipline.

The House and Senate are talking about a compromise. Rumors suggest the result could be about $30 billion in cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called the $61 billion worth of specific cuts in the House bill “ridiculous”. What I find ridiculous is arguing over such small amounts when the US will have spent around $800 billion more than it received in revenue and owe a record $1.48 TRILLION* by the end of this fiscal year.

If you want to see the government reign in spending and work toward a balanced federal budget, go to the “Contact Congress” page and send an e-mail to your Senators and Representative. (There were some problems with the links but these seem to be resolved now.) If you don’t agree with this opinion, you should contact Congress too. Our government works best when citizens are involved. Even if things do not go the way I’d like, I’d be satisfied if Congressional votes were cast based on the views of constituents rather than because of campaign contributions from special interest groups and big business or the possible effect of a vote on reelection prospects.

* Congressional Budget Office, Jan. 26, 2011

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