By Christine Harbin
President Obama missed an important deadline today. He failed to submit his FY2014 budget to Congress, even though he is legally required to do so. This is the fourth time in five years that President Obama has failed to produce a budget on time, even though he is required to do so by law. This highlights how the budget process in Washington has crashed to a halt, and it indicates that President Obama doesn’t take the problem seriously. Failing to produce timely budgets is a failure of leadership from the White House.
Clearly, the federal budget process has completely broken down in Washington. The last time the full federal budget process was completed on time was 1994—nearly 20 years ago. Senate Democrats seem to share the President’s complete disinterest in producing a budget on time—they haven’t passed one in nearly 4 years. It seems that members of Congress are more interested in campaigning for re-election than making tough decisions about budgeting and spending.
When the federal budget process stops working, there are bad results. Budget negotiations deteriorate to closed-door conference committee sessions and thousand-page omnibus spending bills. These plans are rushed through Congress on the threat of government shut down, long before we have time to glean what’s in them. This is why we’ve seen such runaway spending growth in Washington over recent history. This has fueled uncertainty in the market and slowed overall economic growth.
Right now there is a proposal in Congress that propose to impose penalties for missing deadlines. It is a “No Budget, No pay” provision in the temporary debt ceiling bill (H.R. 325), which would mean that members of Congress would have their salaries held in escrow if their chamber fails to pass a budget resolution by April 15.
Washington needs to do better. Now is the time for the White House and Congress to return to regular budget order. Sticking to deadlines is an important first step. We can’t rely on eleventh-hour continuing resolutions forever. American taxpayers deserve a regular and transparent budgeting process, so that they can see how their elected officials plan to spend their hard-earned tax dollars.