The easiest thing to do in Washington is to increase spending. (The second easiest thing is to increase taxes, but we’ll talk about that later …) Until a few years ago, the one stopgap measure to hold lawmakers in line on spending was a budget — a blueprint of priorities that drew the line in the sand in the name of the American taxpayer. But let’s be honest, the Republican majority in the late ’90s sort of ruined all that. Faced with a seminal moment of truth to do the right thing and restore fiscal discipline once they resumed the majority, Democrats, too, are withering like prepubescents at a Miley Cyrus concert.

The latest profile in buffoonery was on display last week, when Democratic Senate leaders reported the budget resolution may be pushed back again. Let’s not forget that federal law stipulates a budget must be resolved by March. There must have been a good reason to postpone resolution of a $2 trillion budget, right? Sure … Congress wanted to first spend more through the war supplemental. Now, I’m not saying we should nix funding for the war. But how about actually following the playbook that families practice every day — know how much you have and don’t spend more than that!

When was the last time you heard a lawmaker say, “I’m sorry, we can’t do this. It just isn’t in the budget”? Try never. Their fear of losing reelection outweighs any attempt to restrict themselves from the pleasure of spending. Recently, it’s gotten so political Congress can’t even pass the words that statutorily require them to have something on paper that resembles a budget. And to think, these guys want to help everyday Americans with their struggles? If we can’t trust them to spend within their means, how can we expect them to have any credibility on the bills they pass for us?!

I’m starting to sound like a populist, so I’ll get off my soapbox, but c’mon folks, if setting a budget means we have to refuse funding for some items, no matter how noble the constituency, then so be it! Unfortunately, the political atmosphere does not lend itself to such self-restraint. Members of Congress find it difficult to say no to funding just in case that would transfer to a respective “no” on the ballot. As such, creating a budget in the aftermath of funding may have temporary political benefits for lawmakers, but it poses significant problems for us who have to cough up the taxes to pay for their lack of leadership.


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