Lost in all of this budget, debt ceiling, deficit, spending cuts, “tax the rich” fiasco is the law. So, now might be a good time to actually review the law.
In 1974, Congress passed what is known as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. It requires basically three simple things from our elected officials:
- the President must submit his budget by the first Monday in February,
- the Congressional Budget Office must “score” (i.e., tell the American people what the President’s budget will cost us) by February 15, and,
- both the House and the Senate must either adopt the President’s budget, or submit their alternative budgets, by April 1.
Right now, we don’t even have a budget for our country’s 2012 fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2011.
Here is how we got here.
The President did his job by submitting his budget by February 1. The CBO did its job by “costing” the President’s budget by February 15. Unfortunately for the President, his budget was so detached from reality that the Senate rejected it by a vote of 97 – 0.
The House passed its alternative budget by April 1.
Thereafter, the President both vilified the House budget, and presented his own “do-over” budget.
The terms [of the President’s “do-over budget”] were so vague that CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told Congress he could not score it.
Meanwhile, back at the Senate, no alternative budget was passed by April 1. In fact, not only has the Senate not yet proposed a budget for 2012, it hasn’t passed one since 2009.
Raising the debt ceiling is now the “crisis du jour”. But, once we deal with that, as we will, the next “crisis du jour” will be the 2012 budget.
Never let a good crisis go to waste… even if the crisis is of your own making.