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Process Foul

Calling It a Budget Does Not Make It So – Dems’ Deeming Scheme Exposed by Budget Act 

June 28, 2010 

Calling It a Budget Does Not Make It So – Dems’ Deeming Scheme Exposed by Budget Act 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi - “[W]e promised the American people that we would have the most honest and open government and we will.” (Press stakeout, December 6, 2006).

It’s not exactly breaking news that the Democratic Majority won’t pass a budget this year, but their inability to actually own up to it continues to amuse.  Rather than accept their failure to govern, the Democratic Leadership insists on referring to their deeming scheme as a “budget” or “budget enforcement resolution.”  The fact is, no amount of rebranding can change the fact that the House will NOT be considering a budget.  You see, a budget is clearly defined in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.  What’s being bandied about is NOT a budget.  Let’s go to the Budget Act.

The most obvious defect of the deeming scheme is that it will apply only to the House.  The Budget Act is quite explicit that the budget be a “concurrent resolution.”  Section  301 (a) states (emphasis not in original):  “Content of CONCURRENT Resolution on the Budget – On or before April 15 of each year, the Congress SHALL complete action on a CONCURRENT resolution on the budget for the fiscal year beginning on October 1 of such year.”  Not to state the obvious, but a resolution that applies only the House does NOT apply to the Senate.  Therefore it is NOT concurrent, and it is NOT a budget as defined by the Budget Act.

The same section of the Budget Act goes on to demand some very specific content.  “The CONCURRENT resolution SHALL set forth appropriate levels for the fiscal year and for AT LEAST EACH of the 4 ENSUING fiscal years.”  It also requires an explanation of the “surplus of deficit in the budget” and “the public debt.”  Based on their own explanation, the Democratic Majority’s deeming scheme will not include any of this information.  In fact, it’s their excuse for not fulfilling the most basic responsibility of governing.  According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), “It isn’t possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget until we’ve considered the bipartisan commission’s deficit-reduction plan.” 

The Budget Act also spells out the process for drafting a CONCURRENT Budget Resolution.  Section 301 (e) states:  “In developing the CONCURRENT resolution…the Committee on the Budget of EACH HOUSE SHALL HOLD HEARINGS and receive testimony from Members of Congress and such appropriate representatives of Federal departments and agencies, the general public and national organizations as the committee deems desirable.”  Here again, the Majority fails to live up to the Budget Act.  Simply put, there is no budget.

Rules Committee Ranking Republican David Dreier (R-CA) said the Majority’s inability to do their job is made even worse by their inability to actually admit it.  “Across the country, families and small businesses are working hard to live within a budget.  But  Democratic Majority not only refuses to live within a budget, they won’t even consider one.  And it’s not hard to see why – a real, transparent budget would further expose, in black and white, their reckless spending policies and the long-term deficits that are the inevitable result.  Rather than take responsibility and make the tough but necessary choices, they’ve opted to forego the work altogether.”

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