The Federal Budget Is a Myth
Despite all the political jockeying, the budget is essentially meaningless to the president, Congress
Imagine sitting down at your kitchen table to work on your family's budget. You pull out the calculator and spreadsheet, slip into green eyeshade mode, and start estimating your revenues and expenses for the coming year.
Several hours later, you have a solid guideline for your annual revenues and expenses -- which you immediately push aside, never to be looked at again.
Sounds like a huge waste of time, doesn't it? If you're not going to use the budget to guide your future behavior, why go to all that trouble? But believe it or not, that's what
Here's how it works: This morning, President Obama will present his administration's annual budget document. This will set off a predictable round of news reportage and commentary, along with a series of accusations and counter-accusations from the political parties. Unfortunately, the process is little more than an exercise in kabuki theater, since the budget is largely a formality.
Many people believe the president's budget document serves as an "opening bid," a starting point for the House and
The dirty little secret that everyone in
There is one number in the budget that's worth watching: the "top-line" number for discretionary spending. House and
Since this number is already set by law, it makes it very unlikely a budget will actually move this year. If the appropriators already have their top-line number, why would they bother? Answer: They won't. In fact, Senate Majority Leader
This is in keeping with the pattern of recent years. For the last three years, the
So the budget isn't real. Big deal, right? Actually, it is a big deal, because the real losers here are the American taxpayers. It's easy to see how this farcical process has led to our current dire budget situation, where towering debt and endless deficit spending have put our nation on an unsustainable fiscal course.
Think about it: The national debt is more than
Recent polling results tell the story. A January survey by the Gallup polling organization showed that 81 percent of Americans disapprove of the job
The fact is that developing and presenting a budget is important for households, businesses, and, yes, even national governments. Budgets are how we plan for the future, set priorities and prepare for the unexpected. And it's one way we keep our elected officials accountable, by demanding that they show us in advance what they plan to do with the taxpayers' money.
Would it be too much to ask that
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The Federal Budget Is a Myth | Politics
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