Federal Government Shutdown Appears Imminent

You can’t turn on the news without hearing the countdown towards a possible government shutdown expected tomorrow evening.

How did we get to this?

It is the responsibility of the House, Senate, and President to pass and sign a budget resolution before the government fiscal year begins. The Congressional Budget Act set the deadline to complete action on the FY11 budget as April 15, 2010 ; however, the House and Senate, led by Democratic majorities, failed to offer a proposal.

In June 2010, then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the House would not consider the budget until after the November 2 election. A series of short term funding resolutions were offered and passed to keep the government running in the absence of a formal budget. In late January 2011, while the new House of Representatives worked towards developing the FY11 budget, Democrats (who did not propose or pass a budget prior to the election) begin talking in the media about a government shutdown.

However, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the proposed FY11 budget, on February 19. Representing a compromise between both parties, it cut the expanded federal spending by a mere 2%. John B. Taylor, one of America’s top economists, writes that the House FY11 budget “will increase economic growth and employment as the federal government begins to put its fiscal house in order and encourage job-producing private sector investment.”

If the House passed a budget, what’s the problem?

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, invoked a procedural motion called cloture, which requires 60% approval to bring a measure up for a vote. The Democrat Majority will not allow the House budget to come for a full vote. Instead, they’ve continued issuing and passing the short term funding resolutions while going before the media talking about a government shutdown. For more than six weeks the Senate has not voted on a budget bill that includes all government funding for all federal programs, agencies, and employees, including our military. More than halfway into the current fiscal year, we still do not have a formal, official, budget.

All Talk, No Action

With the last short term funding measure about to expire Friday evening, we’re exposed to government grandstanding and posturing at its best. After Tuesday’s meeting at the White House, President Obama called out the Republicans to compromise. For all of the Democratic posturing in the media about how Republicans can’t have it all, they are brushing aside the fact that H.R. 1 represents compromise. In fact, at Tuesday’s meeting, Boehner actually offered another concession to reach middle ground with Sen. Reid, only to be rejected.

What does the Republican party get for their willingness to compromise? Unending media and Democratic demagoguery – crude appeals to people’s emotions and prejudices – by those like Nancy Pelosi, who recently claimed this tiny 2% cut will force millions of seniors into starvation.

Ideology trumps Fiscal Responsibility

Meanwhile, President Obama is on record saying he won’t sign any budget agreement that cuts funding for Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio, two organizations whose missions have outgrown their need for federal support. By saying this, the President places his own ideology ahead of the good of the country, ahead of government employees, and even ahead of our military – who are currently fighting in not two, but three countries. Instead of working on the budget, yesterday the President left Washington to begin is 2012 reelection campaign.

The Democrats had a year to craft the budget and pass it. They held the majority in both the House and Senate as well as the Executive office, yet they avoided the issue. If it now takes a government shutdown to get the Democrats to take seriously the fiscal health of our nation, then maybe that’s what needs to happen.