Thursday, December 22, 2011

Still No Budget

Three months into the fiscal year and Congress still has not passed an annual budget for most Federal agencies.  This is a big deal, but you would not know it  by watching the news. Every few weeks when the Congress-critters threaten to shut down the government, and then acknowledge that they are incapable of doing their job and pass a short term continuing resolution, it makes a brief blip.  However, it soon disappears from front pages, because they averted a shutdown and “solved” the problem.  But nothing has been solved!  We still do not have a budget!  Most of the federal government is still operating with one hand tied behind their back and their legs tied at the ankles.  It can be argued that funding the government is Congress’s only genuine job. And they simply are not capable of doing it.  There is a reason that Congress has approximately the same approval rating as rabid skunks. 

When the federal government goes unfunded for from 3 to 6 months, as has become commonplace, the spending that is deferred for that long is a significant fraction of our GNP.  This deferred spending all by itself has a strong negative effect on the economy.  If the timing is just right, and it combines with other drags on the economy, Congress’s inaction could certainly trigger the next round of recession.

The amazing part to me is that until somebody yells “Shutdown!” you cannot find mention of the status of the budget in the mainstream news.  You have to dig deep into sites like Government Executive Magazine, or Roll Call to find out what is happening, and sometimes it is page three even there.

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