Even with the overwhelmingly smaller federal government that existed back then (total spending in 1921, which still included some post-World War I dollars, was $5.1 billion; 2012 spending will be close to $3.8 trillion), Congress found it impossible to deal with the level of detail and lack of coordination between the departments that existed. After all, budget requests were made without any consideration to the overall economy, the level of revenues, the effect on the deficit or surplus or what any other department was requesting. To deal with that, Congress required the president to gather the departments’ requests, make some initial decisions and submit a single document that expressed the administration’s priorities.
Broun also seems not to know that Congress has always found ways around budget process rules that have made life difficult for it in some way. For example, the requirement that Congress adopt a second annual budget resolution each September was routinely rendered meaningless almost immediately after the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 went into effect because the House and Senate didn’t want to vote twice each year on the deficit. Until it eventually was eliminated completely, all Congress did to meet the second budget resolution requirement was to readopt the first budget resolution, even though it was already out of date.
The question for Broun: If Congress found a relatively easy way around a political problem, do you really think it won’t find a similar solution for a provision that prevents Members of Congress from being paid? Do you really think there won’t be significant bipartisan support for the work-around?
Last Thursday was also the day for debate on the House floor on the resolution proposed by Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) declaring that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit.
This was inane not only because there was no chance whatsoever of the resolution being accepted, but also because it was offered as an amendment to one of the budget process changes proposed by the House Budget Committee that, as mentioned above, got this year’s silly season off to such a rousing start.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”