Friday, May 24, 2013

The Federal Budget

      It’s remarkable the number of times we have to explain the Federal Budgeting process.  Lately, it has been primarily to Republicans who repeatedly state that President Obama has not submitted a budget since he has been in office.   That statement is wrong on two counts and generally demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of how the Federal government works, aka Civics 101.
      First, the Federal Budget is Congress’s responsibility.  It is not and has never been the job of the President.  In accordance with the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the President must submit a Budget Request to Congress each year proposing  the administration's intended spending and revenue plans for the following fiscal year, which runs from October 1’st to September 30’th. 
      The House and Senate Committees on the Budget then draft a budget resolution by early April and submit it to their respective floors for adoption.  Once both Committees pass the resolution, selected members negotiate a conference report to reconcile differences between the House and the Senate versions, which still must be approved by both the houses to be binding. They have jurisdiction to authorize programs and make policy decisions. This concurrent resolution binds Congress and does not require Presidential approval. It is the blueprint for the actual Congressional appropriation process and provides control over the revenue and spending process.
      The House Appropriations Committee has Budget authority. It decides funding levels, equal to or less than the amounts authorized in the concurrent resolution of Congress.
      Second, President Obama has submitted a Budget Request every year in which he has been required.  A history of Presidential Budget Requests can be found at
      The problem has been that the Senate has not passed a budget resolution until this year and that created in the House never had a chance for concurrent resolution.  Now that the Senate has finally met its responsibility,
      However, it is difficult to fault my Republican friends when their elected leaders can’t get the fact straight either. John Boehner reports on his website :
Under the law, the president must submit his budget request no later than the first Monday of February.  Last month, the Obama Administration announced that for the fourth time in five years it would fail to meet this deadline.  In fact, The Hill has reported President Obama will not submit a budget until March 25, which would amount to the longest budget delay of any incumbent president in the 90-year history of presidential budgets. (for more check out this chronological review of presidential budget submissions) 

Courtesy of the House Budget Committee, here are some facts about President Obama’s abysmal budget record:
  • In just one term, President Obama has missed the budget deadline more than any other president; TRUE
  • This year, his budget will likely be submitted after the longest budget delay of any incumbent president in history; – submitted April 10’th
  • In the 90 years covering FY 1923 through FY 2013, President Obama is the only president to miss the deadline two years in a row.  He is the only president who has missed the deadline in four of the five years of a term.  And, he holds the record for the longest delay (at 98 days); TRUE
  • All presidents from Harding through Reagan’s first term met the statutory budget submission deadline in every year. In five of these years, a change in the law was requested and passed to extend the deadline, and the president always met it; FALSE
  • Since the budget process moved the date of submission to the first Monday in February, the incoming president’s first budget submission has been delayed for practical reasons (the President’s inauguration is less than three weeks before the budget submission’s deadline). Yet President Obama’s first budget set a new record with a 98-day delay; and
  • Since the statutory deadline was extended to the first Monday in February, with the exception of the first budget for a new president, this deadline has only been missed three times: Clinton FY 1998, Obama FY 2012, and Obama FY 2013.
      So with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Senate Democrats for the first time in four years earlier this year passed a budget. But now, with the House and Senate sitting on differing budget proposals, Senate Republicans have blocked four efforts to form a conference committee that would be tasked with forming a compromise budget. Here are seven times they have blocked forming of a conference committee.

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