Thomas Jefferson is widely credited with coining an adage that makes fools of procrastinators: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” But where budgets are concerned, Congress has failed to execute the third U.S. president’s advice for three years.
April 29, 2009 was the last time the Senate passed a budget — three years ago today. Articulating a budget for the United States is among senators’ legally required duties.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, told The Daily Caller that Senate Democrats’ obfuscation is to blame.
“This is a deliberate plan that the Democratic majority has executed for three years to avoid the responsibility of laying out a financial plan for America,” he said in an interview.
The Democratic majority in the Senate, Sessions said, “cannot lead.”
“When your party cannot coalesce around a plan that your members can support and the American people can support, then you’ve got a very deep, serious problem. And I think that is basically what it is,” he explained.
“So you’ve got to hide that by avoiding any public accountability. So you have secret meetings, the gang of six, and those kind of things — trying to move along without every having to lay out their vision.”
In the three years since the Senate last passed a budget, the federal government has spent $10.4 trillion and accumulated $4.5 trillion in debt, an amount that equals $13,000 in new debt for every individual American and $34,000 per family.
While Republicans lodge thir protests, Senate Democrats claim the blueprint for 2013 was decided upon with the August debt ceiling compromise.
“We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year — it’s done, we don’t need to do it,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said of the 2013 federal budget in February.
Sessions said such delays are par for the course with this Congress, whose modus operandi in recent years has been last-minute patch-up jobs.
“The only thing that has worked is when we get into a crisis, like when we had to have the debt ceiling raised and the Republicans were able to force $2.1 trillion in spending reductions over ten years,” Sessions said. “It was a step — not enough — a step”
“Already they are trying to undermine that. The president’s budget wipes out half of that $2 trillion in savings. All we’ve done is lurch through deadlines and crises, which is not good for the economy.”
He added that he believes the American people should take this into account when the vote in the fall.
“The message of the 2010 election was not heard by the majority party in the Senate,” Sessions said. “I mean, they demanded more public accountability on their representatives, that you do something about the debt course of America, and you stand up and be accountable.”
“I think it is fair to say it has gotten worse. There is nothing but secret meetings and an effort to avoid public debates and votes.”