Friday, July 20th, marks the 1,178th day since the U.S. Senate has passed a budget—an egregious dereliction of duty on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D–NV) watch. By enacting continuing resolution upon continuing resolution (short-term measures to keep the government running, spending money at the current rate), the Senate has taken a pass on leading, all to the detriment of the poor and middle class.
The budget process forces Congress to set priorities to protect the people’s money and put it to its appropriate use. Instead, the Democrat-controlled Senate has abdicated its responsibility. The result? The deficit is soaring, causing a looming tax burden and injecting uncertainty into the economy, leaving jobs and economic growth on the table. It’s no wonder the U.S. economy’s growth is so tepid.
As the 1,179th day nears, here are some facts about America’s budget and why the Senate must take action to be stewards of the people’s money as the Constitution requires:
The last time the Senate passed a budget was on April 29, 2009.
Since that date, the federal government has spent $9.4 trillion, adding $4.1 trillion in debt.
As of January 20, the outstanding public debt stands at $15,240,174,635,409.
Interest payments on the debt are now more than $200 billion per year.
President Obama proposed a FY2012 budget last year, and the Senate voted it down 97–0. (And that budget was no prize—according to the Congressional Budget Office, that proposal never had an annual deficit of less than $748 billion, would double the national debt in 10 years and would see annual interest payments approach $1 trillion per year.)
The Senate rejected House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R–WI) budget by 57–40 in May 2011, with no Democrats voting for it.
In FY2011, Washington spent $3.6 trillion. Compare that to the last time the budget was balanced in 2001, when Washington spent $1.8 trillion ($2.1 trillion when you adjust for inflation).
Taxes paid per household have risen dramatically, hitting $18,400 in 2010 (compared with $11,295 in 1965). If the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire and more middle-class Americans are required to pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), taxes will reach unprecedented levels.
Despite all of these blatant red flags, the Senate has utterly failed to execute the most basic, fundamental function of governance at the worst possible time—when the country’s fiscal house is in disarray, the U.S. credit rating is in continual jeopardy, entitlement spending is ballooning, defense spending is on the chopping block, and the economy is in shambles.
One thousand days without a budget is an embarrassing number, but the level of spending, deficits, and taxation that results from the Senate’s failure to exact even a modicum of fiscal discipline is terrifying. Senator Reid has said it would be “foolish” to pass a budget, but failing to pass it is proving to be beyond irresponsible. The middle class will be left holding the bag, paying for the Senate’s reckless negligence with soaring deficits, higher taxes, and a weak economy as far as the eye can see.