Congress gave us another false choice: either shut down the government, or vote for more debt. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 dictates that Congress is to pass 12 separate appropriation bills, as opposed to an omnibus bill or a continuing resolution.
Instead, they’ve chosen to raise the deficit by nearly $1 trillion this year, and subsequently create another $1 trillion worth of economic inflation; inflation that will no longer be sustainable, and will make this economic growth a mere bubble, long term.
There are a couple of reasons why the 12 appropriation bills are important:
- Congress can debate the necessity of big and small government programs, and either shut them down, or allocate appropriate funding.
- Congress can properly balance a budget in correspondence with current revenue (taxes).
So why doesn’t Congress do their job? I have a couple of theories:
- Partisanship. When one party controls both houses and the executive branch, the other party wants them to fail. The Democrats have no problem watching the deficit climb through overspending. It’ll give their constituents what they want in the form of entitlement programs, and balloon the deficit at the same time, making the other party look irresponsible. Republicans do the same.
- When a congressman votes for a CR or an omnibus, they’re voting to fund the whole government in one bill. They can then go back to their constituents and say, if they’re Republicans, “today I voted to fund our military, see how patriotic I am?'” Or, if they’re Democrats, “today I voted to keep SS and Medicaid alive, see how much I care about you?”
They do this while ignoring the fact that each of these colloquial representatives voted for the exact same thing, with none of the blow-back they would receive from trying to eliminate or reduce funding from one thing or another in order to balance the budget properly. If questioned by their constituents, they can make the argument that everything was wrapped up in one bill, and that they simply had no choice. It’s manipulative and wrong.
This brings us back to the first point: There is another choice.
The other choice is clear, and it implies that Congress does their job. Passing 12 appropriation bills allows for debate within the House on what will be appropriate to continue spending money on, in order to avoid the ballooning of our deficit.
I can certainly think of at least 5 or 6 programs that would receive bipartisan support. Shouldn’t the rest, at the very least, be up for debate?
As I’m sure most readers well know, the recent debate that has held the budget hostage and allowed Congress to trample all over the Congressional Budget Act, has been between border security, and immigration. Let’s take a closer look at these 12 appropriation bills, in order to solve the problem of overspending and the shutdown. They are as follows:
1. Department of Defense (military)
2. Commerce (constitutional) holds patent office, Department of Justice (courts), and science (NASA)
3. Department of Veterans Affairs
4. Financial services and DC (DC is Democrat, and Republicans won’t tell their banker friends they didn’t get financial services passed)
5. Legislative branch funding
6. Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers (maintains dams and ports, perhaps city water supplies)
7. Transportation (infrastructure) Housing and Urban Development
8. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration
9. Department of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services (regulatory authority that tells you what healthcare you can and cannot buy)
10. Homeland Security (immigration and borders)
11. Interior and Environment (EPA)
12. Foreign aid
Now I’ve labeled these in a particular order for a reason. Assuming Congress does its job, at a minimum, with some debate regarding the budget of each program; the first 5 programs will receive bipartisan support and get passed easily. There isn’t a congressman in Washington, DC who doesn’t want their name on those bills.
The sixth bill may receive some debate regarding budget, but I think that it would inevitably pass as well; which brings us to the rest of the budget.
As I stated before, this ongoing shutdown has held the entire budget hostage over immigration reform and border security. The rest of the appropriation bills would be heavily debated regarding budget allocation, and inevitably would help to achieve a balanced budget through debate. They might even decide to cut some military spending, but inevitably the budget could be balanced through this process.
Furthermore, could you imagine Chuck Schumer holding the EPA and the Department of Education hostage over DACA? I think not.
The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was put in place for a reason. There should not be a single congressman willing to put his or her name on an omnibus or continuing resolution, under the false pretenses that it is the only option if they want to fund x, y, or z.
The last time Congress passed all 12 appropriation bills was 1997. Only four times in 41 years has Congress done its job – that’s insane!
We have to listen to and vote for congressmen like Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, who are demanding that 12 appropriation bills get looked at when the time comes to fund the government. (For the record, Austin Petersen is running in Missouri and will likely join the Republican Freedom Caucus.)
If not, we will allow our Congress to continue their manipulation, their fiscal irresponsibility, and the trampling of the United States Constitution for years to come.
* Alan Holmes is a veteran who served a nine month tour in Afghanistan as an airborne infantryman. He is currently working on his degree in political science and economics, and is inspired by classical liberal thinkers such as Lao-Tzu, John Locke and the Levellers, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Ron Paul.
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