Speaker of the House Boehner, Minority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan have all failed America in their leadership of the United States House of Representatives. Under their leadership, Congress has not passed a budget since 2010. What has been passed are “Continuing Resolutions,” resolutions that do no more than perpetuate the financial deficit that they insist is due to the failings of the administration. Under the leadership of Speaker of the House Boehner, a stream of Continuing Resolutions has been passed in place of Legislative Budgets for FY 2011, 2012.
Current Congressional leadership has implemented the Continuing Resolution over seven times. A recap of those actions as published by National Priorities demonstrates extreme prejudice toward the rule of law. (Dana, 2011)
PL 111-242, Oct 1 – Dec 3, 2010
PL 111-290, Dec 4 – Dec 18, 2010
PL 111-317, Dec 19 – 22, 2010
PL 111-322, Dec 23, 2010 – Mar 4, 2011
PL 112-4, Mar 5 – 18, 2011
PL 112-?, Mar 19 – Apr 8, 2011
PL 112-10 July 26 – 2012 “..This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘‘Continuing
6 Appropriations Resolution, 2012’’.
It is extremely important to understand that Congress is completely and ultimately responsible for the Budget of the United States. As stated in the Constitution of the United States,
“..No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time….” Article 1, section 9, clause 7
Congress may write all of the Public Acts it so wishes. Public Acts such as “The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921”[BAA of 1921] require the President of the United States to
“..submit his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year no later than the first Monday of February…”
The BAA of 1921 created the Bureau of the Budget (called the Office of Management & Budget, or OMB); by design, it was sequestered within the Department of the Treasury. This provided immediate access of the Executive Branch to the full budgets of all governmental units. Also, arising from this was the General Accounting Office (GAO) which functioned as the Congressional unit’s point of access. The Act, however, placed certain restrictions upon each branch such as the aforementioned. A series of fiscal power grabs occurred over the 20th Century. Franklin Roosevelt, in 1933 and 1939, issued the Executive Reorganization Plan, which provided more, let us say, “Leeway” in budget appropriations. Richard Nixon changed the name to Office of Management and Budget through Executive Order 11541. The order required all department, agencies and cabinets to direct their individual budgets through the OMB for review and approval.
In 1974, Congress was not too happy with the way the Executive Branch swiped such a controlling interest in the budget. Congress passed the Federal Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Realigning the priorities of Congress with a centralized approach; the creation of the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO), with particular deadlines that each branch of government must fulfill to present a timely budget to reduce the deficit was enacted. As history has proven, this has failed to work out well for neither branch, nor the people of the nation.
There are many more examples of the changes and modifications to this process such as the following:
The Economic Recovery Tax Act (1981)
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings: The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (1985) This was subsequently overturned by: The Supreme Court, Bowsher v. Synar case (92 L. Ed. 2d 583. The SCOTUS ruled this a violation of the separation of powers
The Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 to repair Gramm-Rudman
Budget Enforcement Act of 1990
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
Each of the above pieces of legislation attempted to do certain things. The first of which was congressional reinsertion of legislative leadership; the second, to restore some sort of order to a very serious and contentious problem. The budget was becoming time consuming, unmanageable and unpredictable. Budget planning became a titan of divisiveness – the only thing either party or the Executive Branch could agree upon was the three arenas of discretionary spending: more defense spending, more domestic spending and more foreign aid.
The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 was intended to create opportunity of balancing the budget. It was called a “Pay as You Go” program. New programs had to be paid for or other programs would be deleted. “Pay as You Go” was controlled by the Executive Branch, for the most part, when goals were not attained. This program would be a precursor to the current rage of ‘Cap and Trade.’ To obtain a new program when available funding was not present, a swap could be created between units, agencies, departments, etc., to appropriate the monies.
“Firewalls” became the rage of the 1990’s. Firewalls were legislated into place to halt spending at specific points. However when the legislative or executive branch tried to affect, they found they could not take from one of the three distinct arenas because that surplus had to be applied to the debt of the nation.
One of the major avenues to reduce spending was the attempt to institutionalize a process called “sequestration.” Under the BEA-1990, the Executive Branch controlled sequesters. So if a budget deficit goal, or the ‘cap,’ was exceeded upon a particular program, the President could invoke sequester. The difference between then and now is that with “firewalls” of today, sequestering may occur within the firewall and automatically invokes budget cuts across the spectrum of the budget to achieve the desired maintenance of that budget.
It is very clear that within the constraints of the Constitution which branch of government is responsible for the budget’s preparation and the process. As each branch jockeys to obtain more power for itself, we have concerns and issues such as we have had for the past five administrations. With the advent of political party strength, each party has attempted to, through legislation, advance Presidential Powers and require the executive branch to take the lead on the national budget.
This, however, is very detrimental to separation of powers, to each branch and to the citizen constituent. The reasoning is quite simple: If the legislature does not want to do their job, wishes to write legislation to give those responsibilities over to another branch (the Executive Branch), they should pass an amendment, using the amendment process, to eliminate the legislative branch, thereby appointing the Executive Branch to the position of King/Queen which was one of the reasons why the constitution was written… to not allow for a Royalty/Totalitarian national leader that would control the Revenues and expenses of the nation.
The question now before the people is how to repair the damage done. How do the people interfere with a l¬egislative branch that chooses to ignore the demands of the people, demonstrates a loyalty to specific interests within the nation and brazenly puts American economic interests in peril?
Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin stated in 2012:
“The decision to delay the release of his budget again could not come at a more precarious moment for our fiscal and economic future…”
As demonstrated above, the President is not required to submit a budget. The President is required by Public Law to “…submit his budget request…” The intent of the law is to have the President share his intent and direction – within the constraints of budgetary requirements – to further allow a smooth transition of economic resources that meet the needs of the nation. Congressman Ryan failed to inform the public that no matter who is at fault, no matter who is mistaken, no matter who is right, Congress is ultimately responsible to complete the budget based upon the “Rule of Law” which happens to be the Constitution of the United States.
For Congressman Ryan, and his fellow congressional members, to continue to deride the President about the deficit (which has been reduced by $2.7 trillion, according to Marc Goldwein, CRFB’s senior policy director) is simply drama and deflection.
Speaker of the House Boehner, Minority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan have all failed America in their leadership of the United States House of Representatives. They have failed to uphold the duties they pledged to support. Through their nefarious actions, they have created the fiscal cliff with one simple intention: to place an attack on Social Security, Education and those unable to defend themselves. They obfuscate Public Acts but fail, at the highest level, to follow and enforce the “Rule of Law” of our Constitution of the United States.