The Washington Times
April 15, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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A few months after moving into the White House, President Obama promised to reduce the large deficit in 2010 and continue reducing it further in 2011. This promise was broken, and the deficit in 2010 is expected to be approximately $200 billion more than in 2009. This creates political danger for Democrats, as the party in power is reluctant to acknowledge its stewardship of worsening budget problems with midterm elections coming in November. As a result, congressional Democrats are shying away from a vote on this year’s budget resolution, causing chaos to the federal budgeting process.

Avoiding a budget resolution would be unprecedented. Since the Budget Act was passed in 1974, the resolutions have served as a blueprint for Congress to identify priorities and set parameters on budget proposals, which help ensure that spending doesn’t go even further out of control. In the absence of a resolution, congressional committees operate without any stipulated limits, which encourages freewheeling spending.

The passage of Obamacare gave Americans a lesson on one of the more obscure Senate rules: reconciliation, whereby differences in House and Senate versions of bills are reconciled. Without passing a budget resolution, Congress is not allowed to use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and Senate adopt different budgets. Without reconciliation rules, the filibuster can be used to stop the budget after the conference committee has ironed out differences in bills from the two chambers.

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