Budget and Spending Follies Resume
The nation’s budget and spending crisis will take center stage this week. Two big things are going on.
First, Congress will begin to debate a bill to fund the government the rest of the year. The temporary law that currently keeps the government going expires March 4th. (That’s Public Law 111-322.)
A new bill might take us through the end of the fiscal year. H.R. 1 is called “The Full‐Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” and it would spend a little over $13,500 per U.S. family on the operations of the federal government through September 30th. That’s about $65 per day.
It’s not guaranteed that the new Republican House can get together with the Democratic Senate and the president to come up with a spending plan. There may be talk about a government shutdown, but that brinkmanship will probably give way to another temporary spending bill if no deal is in the offing.
The other big thing is the release slated for tomorrow (Monday) of the president’s budget plan for fiscal year 2012. That’s right. It’s already time to start thinking about 2012. (The 2012 fiscal year starts October 1, 2011.)
The political jockeying is already underway. House Republican budget leader Paul Ryan has worried aloud that the president is “punting” on the budget crisis.
It’s an interesting example of how politics is played on the margin: Both parties seem to recognize that there has to be some spending control, but neither one wants to come forward with the cuts and reforms that will produce it. The reason? They believe that they will get savaged politically if they do. There are more people out there in the land (oh, and in Washington, D.C.) arguing for pet spending projects than there are arguing for spending control. Spending is still politically popular.
As always, change is up to you. You can communicate about this with your member of Congress and your senators. They pay attention if they can tell that you’re paying attention.
Here’s the current vote on H.R. 1, the Full‐Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article about the bill.