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Friday, October 4, 2013

in praise of piecemeal budgeting

Republicans are now championing a strategy to deal with current budget gridlock and get Old Faithful spewing again: pass a budget piecemeal. Rather than issuing one giant budget, we could authorize from the bottom up, funding individual programs and agencies one-by-one rather than holding them hostage to the most divisive issues. Republicans have already written several bills to this effect, and each has been summarily rejected by Democrats. Yesterday Eric Cantor proposed separately funding the National Institutes of Health after a Democratic outcry about patients going untreated; Cantor's proposal has been turned down. A White House spokesman responded to earlier bills with, “These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government.”
I don't believe anyone up there actually knows how to run a government, given that we haven't passed a budget since 2009. (As you'll recall, Congress no longer bothers to do so, because that would come perilously close to doing its job.) We now fund the federal government via “stopgap” budgets, which are the fiscal equivalent of balancing more and more pizza boxes on top of the garbage bin instead of summoning the nerve to take the trash out. 

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