Saturday, December 30, 2006

Imagine, Fiscal Responsibility

Just for bemusement, ask yourself, if you didn’t have a budget, you’d be pretty reckless, wouldn’t you. If you ran a family without a budget, hopefully a budget that paid for everything that family needed, you’d be completely irrational. Now look at your country. What would it be without a budget? Irrational? Right. Just like the 109th Congress, that out of what appears to be total irresponsibility continued its newfound tradition of extending spending authority without actually putting together a national budget.

In its last hours of GOP control, Congress passed a raft of bills big and small, most significantly a sweeping bill reviving expired tax breaks, extending trade benefits for developing countries and protecting doctors from a big cut in Medicare payments.
The Senate cleared the bill for President Bush's signature early Saturday by a 79-9 vote. Final adjournment followed after the House and Senate cleared away a bevy of other legislation, including bills reauthorizing health research programs at the National Institutes of Health and an overhaul of fisheries management.

Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, gaveled the House to a close for the last time about 3:15 a.m.; the Senate limped to a close about 4:40 a.m.

But Republicans dumped an unfinished budget on the Democrats about to take power, with the Senate barely meeting a midnight deadline to pass a stopgap spending bill putting the government on autopilot until February 15.

The failure to pass budget bills for domestic agencies, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, amounted to "a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times
*********************************************** remained unfinished on nine of 11 spending bills, requiring the stopgap funding bill to put 13 Cabinet departments on autopilot through February 15 frozen at or slightly below current levels.."

It will take the Democratic Congress quite a while to put the GOP’s scrambled Humpty Dumpty back together again. This isn’t going to be a matter of distress to the same clowns who took weeks to hold hearings about a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage. It’s only the responsible and public spirited sort that give a fig about leaving the federal government to shuffle along without its supervision or fiscally sound legislation. Fortunately one of them is taking over the helm of the House Finance Committee – Barney Frank. As he wrote in Business Week in February;

". . .Inequality is not a bad thing in a free market economy; indeed, it’s essential if we’re to benefit from the incentives and efficiencies that make the market so effective a producer of wealth. But left entirely to its own devices, the free market will produce more inequality than is necessary for efficiency or a healthy society.

That’s especially true in an economy marked by globalization, the increased use of information technology, and the rapid flow of capital across borders. Alan Greenspan said as much when he told Congress’ Joint Economic Committee in 2004 that nearly all the benefits of recent productivity growth were going to corporate profits, resulting in “a marked fall” in employees’ share of the gains.

Nothing in the past two years has alleviated that problem. Real wages for the average worker have eroded, and health and pension benefits have faded. Meanwhile, corporate profits and pay for the top 2% of the population have soared.

I have high hopes for the 110th Congress. Despite the rocky start they’ve had foisted on them, they look like they’re up to the job of protecting the public from the depradations we’ve suffered for the past six years.

Labels: ,


Blogger NYMary said...

Oh, man, I hope you're right, Ruth. I just fear that there's so much to do that they will be bogged down in detail immediately and won't capture the imagination of the press, who wil then proceed to snipe nonstop.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

That's why we have to keep after them, on our blogs and elsewhere. I trust us as well as a few really strong characters like Barney Frank.

9:17 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home