Republicans need to stop playing chicken with the economy
When it comes to money, our politicians in congress seem as though they have become nothing more than a young newlywed couple arguing over the numbers. What to invest in, what to buy now, what to save for later and so on. The young couple might argue about where the money will come from or how much is needed, but the couple usually agrees on what their priorities are.
So too is the situation in Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that jobs and the economy are their number one priority, but are in separate worlds when it comes to tackling it. While Republicans want a combination of across the board spending cuts and tax cuts to lead us to prosperity, the Democrats want a combination of spending and cutting… The divorce proceeding is still pending.
The United States Government is supposed to table a new budget every year, but since Barack Obama came into office in 2009, the only budget that has passed came in April of that year as the Democrats soon lost their filibuster proof majority in the senate. What we’ve seen since are constant economic deadlines in respect to continuing budget resolutions, debt ceilings and now the sequester.
Continuing Budget Resolutions
The continuing of budget resolutions allows the government to fund government agencies without actually passing a budget. It provides funding for existing federal programs normally at current levels. The alternative, other than actually passing a budget bill, is for the government to shut down. In essence, continuing budget resolutions allows the government to keep working even if those in office aren’t doing their jobs.
Back in 1995 Newt Gingrich and House Republicans famously allowed the government to shut down by not submitting a revised budget. The shutdown backfired on Gingrich and some say it cost Republicans the 1996 election. It just goes to show that an elephant’s memory isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, some Republicans have been calling for a repeat.
The current continuing resolution expires on March 27th
Politicians have agreed to keep kicking the can down the road with regards to the debt ceiling. It’s been kicked around for decades, but since Reagan decided to kick it up 18 times it had become mere routine, at least until Obama was elected.
Even though raising the debt ceiling is simply a congressional procedure that allows the country to pay its bills, Republicans have taken it hostage for the last couple of years. They’ve done so with the blinded hope they can get Obama to cut spending on social programs like medicare, welfare and unemployment.
A last minute deal was struck to avoid default in the summer of 2011; the debt ceiling was raised to last another year and a Supercommittee was created to find ways to reduce the deficit. The terms of the debt ceiling deal stated that should this committee fail to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, automatic spending cuts would take effect at the end of 2012.
Well big surprise, both parties failed again and we were left with the fiscal cliff. Republicans managed to create the debt ceiling crisis out of thin air thinking Democrats would cave into demands to cut social programs. Instead, what we saw was the extension of the crisis they created and the creation of a new one.
The fiscal cliff deal saw some increased tax revenue with the Bush tax cuts expiring on the wealthy, but the automatic spending cuts got put off a few months without a real deal in place. At the same time, the debt ceiling was also extended until the middle of spring.
The debt ceiling is currently funded until May 19th
The Sequester is a series of automatic cuts in spending left over from the fiscal cliff and super committee. If no deal is reached it will diminish the budgets of most government agencies and programs by 8% to 10%.
These cuts will affect national security, job creation and economic growth to the point where even some republicans are saying sequestration doesn’t make any sense. The solution of course isn’t to strike a more permanent deal; the answer is to delay sequestration further by creating yet another deadline. Both parties are working on a deal… to avoid making a deal.
The current sequester is scheduled to take effect March 1st
How is this any way to run a country? We’ve moved from crisis to crisis to crisis when there was no real predicament to begin with. Yes the debt is high, but the budget deficit has been steadily shrinking since the second year of Obama’s first term and discretionary spending is already at historic lows. Republicans have been playing the president from the beginning and Obama has steadily played along.
These crises and deadlines are great for television ratings, but terrible for a country still trying to get back on its feet economically. Obama was elected twice with the mandate to create jobs and grow the economy. It’s time Republicans stopped playing chicken with the economy and put the debt crisis they created to rest. Let the President do what he was elected to do.