Economy & Budget
In recent years, the breakdown of the budget process has become a fall tradition in the nation's capital. The fiscal year ended last month without Congress passing a budget resolution or enacting a single appropriations bill for the new year.
As Congress passed yet another continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown, budget process reform was once again in the news. One proposal known as biennial budgeting would convert the budget and appropriations process into a two-year cycle. Sens. John Thune and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad have recently expressed interest in the idea. Jack Lew, the President's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has also previously testified in favor of the concept.
Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
Should Congress pass a national moratorium on foreclosures?
Many Americans are noticing a fundamental disconnect in American life between the amount of resources consumed by government — including an $814 billion stimulus, a $3.5 trillion budget and a $13.5 trillion national debt — and the lack of results delivered to the taxpayers.
Since the president took office, the economy has lost more than 2.5 million jobs and unemployment today stands at 9.6% and rising.
If there’s anything that the vast majority of Americans can agree upon politically, it’s that federal spending is out of control. The federal budget is $1 trillion higher than in 2007. It has doubled since President Reagan’s second term, even after adjusting for inflation. Our national debt is now $13 trillion -- including, incredibly, $3 trillion from the past three years alone. Regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections, this much is clear: Our citizenry needs to take meaningful action to rein in federal spending and revive the notion of limited government.
The Wall Street Journal’s projection this week that investment banks will pay out a record $144 billion in bonuses this season shows that Wall Street has recovered from the recession. The homeowners whose mortgages were securitized and used to fuel the Wall Street bubble, however, are not doing nearly as well. Foreclosures remain epidemic in harder-hit states like Florida, Nevada, and my home state of Rhode Island, and our economies are slow to recover as a result.
Once again President Obama finds himself faced with a catastrophe created by a combination of big business interests and poor federal regulatory oversight. White House advisor David Axelrod said Sunday that the administration is pressing lenders to accelerate their reviews of foreclosures to determine problems with documentation. Last week I urged a call to action to tell President Obama not to sign H.R. 3808. That bill would have loosened notary paperwork requirements for foreclosing on mortgages, already shown to be lax and in some instances, even fraudulent.
As we work to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, both Republicans and Democrats have offered plans for our economy. Republicans' own Congressional campaign chair admitted that they intend to return America to the "exact same agenda" of the Bush years -- the agenda that got our economy into this mess. Democrats, on the other hand, believe that when more products are made in America, more families will be able to Make It In America. That's why Democrats are pursuing the Make It In America agenda, a plan to create middle-class jobs by rebuilding our manufacturing sector. Reinvigorating manufacturing will be at the top of Democrats' agenda for a long time to come, and it will remain a top priority in the next Congress, where we expect to retain the majority -- because Americans still look to Democrats to strengthen the middle class.