Banana Republic Budgeting

Suppose you were required by law to do a certain thing. I guess that is the case. The law requires you to pay your taxes. And to insure your car. And to register that car. And to have a driver’s license to drive.

Suppose you break the law.

Now suppose your job is to write laws. And suppose you have taken a solemn oath to uphold the laws of the land. In short, suppose you are a U.S. senator.

Finally, suppose you didn’t give a damn.

That sums up the attitude of a lot of the members of the U.S. Senate today. As well as yesterday. As well as 975 more days. This is how many days have passed since the U.S. Senate produced a budget plan. The law requires they do so every year. The plan is supposed to cover the next five years.

There is nothing to stop the majority party in the Senate from passing a budget plan. As required by law. The filibuster rules do not apply.



And so for three years a majority of the senators have thumbed their noses at the law.

This is a serious law. (I suppose all laws are serious.) It was written so that the people might know how their senators want to spend the tax dollars they cough up. It was written so that folks would know what taxes to expect in years to come.  

If you run a business you have a right to know such things. So that you can plan. If you are likely to have a large estate, you deserve to know such things.

Because the Senate passes no budget (breaking the law) it must resort to short-term resolutions. Stopgap deals. This is budgeting by dribs and drabs, hit and miss. And it resembles a dog’s breakfast.

An editorial in a Washington paper called this banana-republic budgeting. They are right. The leaders of the most economically powerful nation in history behave like the bunch of old ladies divvying up the lunch bill. “You had two scoops, so your share should be a dollar more.”

It is another example of how out of touch our political leaders are. As you know, most are millionaires. Few have worked much – or at all – in the private sector. Fewer still have run their own businesses, or any businesses. Few, if any, prepare their own tax returns. Few have had to cope with the laws they pass and regulations they allow.

If only they had to live like most of us. If only. If only they had to obey the law, like most of us.

If they did, they would make it their priority to pass budget plans every year. Just as so many of your local organizations do. The churches. The libraries. The schools. The local governments. The Scouts.

Oh, are you wondering why the majority of the senators have not passed a five-year budget? They are afraid to let you see it. Because it will have to detail how they will deal with massive deficits that lie ahead.

They can deal with them by cutting spending from programs. Or by increasing your taxes. Or both. The senators don’t want to show their hand. Because you and millions of other voters won’t like their cards.

So they will avoid writing a budget that will attract scorn from voters. They will continue breaking the law. Maybe we should get the Scouts to run the Senate for a while.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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