The Republican-led House of Representatives on February 6 passed their so-called “Require a PLAN Act”, a bill that attempts to force President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate to seriously engage themselves in the efforts to cut government spending and outline a plan to balance the federal budget.
Republicans have criticized their opponents in the Senate for failing to pass a budget in nearly four years, something the constitution requires. They have also made hay by pointing out the president has yet to garner a single vote on his budget in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The bill was approved by a 253-167 vote which included 26 Democrats who are considered politically vulnerable in 2014.
Additionally, last month the House passed a measure that puts pressure on the Senate to finally pass a budget and included a threat of withholding Senate salaries unless such a budget is, in fact, passed.
Democratic response was highly expected, especially from the liberals in the Senate, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who charged that Republicans are “Playing games, that’s what they have been ding and that’s what they continue to do as we go into the spring.”
Pelosi’s colleague in the House, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) even called the legislation “stupid”.
Although long overdue, it is highly expected that the Senate will not even take up the legislation – a gimmick Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has used on numerous occasions in order to circumvent Republicans and avoid public scrutiny that would result if it could be shown that the Senate is not serious about deficit spending.
While the House rejected a proposed amendment by Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) that would pass blame onto the responsibility of the Congress to pass budgets, House members did agree to three other amendments on a voice vote:
- Luke Messer (R-Ind.), which requires Obama to submit a supplemental budget to include a per-taxpayer cost of the budget deficit for each year in which a deficit is expected,
- Steve Scalise (R-La.), which would require the supplemental to note the growth of means-tested and non-means-tested direct spending, and
- John Fleming (R-La.), which would require Obama’s supplemental to evaluate the possibility of consolidating agencies.
It has been determined for literally decades that there is significant overlap in numerous federal agencies, costing taxpayers untold wasted dollars.
It is inconceivable that such disregard for the financial planning of our nation would have been even remotely considered acceptable in past decades. Yet, here we are in a global economy, fighting to sustain our manufacturing base against such now high-tech countries as Japan, the Philippines, and China, countries whose labor rates are miniscule in comparison to the U.S., nations whose tax rates are significantly lower, and regulations that are almost non-existent compared to our country.
If we are ever to return to the days where the United States was considered the icon for the rest of the world, we must demand that government perform like its citizens – develop and sustain a balanced budget – of we will go the way of Greece and the rest of Europe.
Spero columnist John Mancino is a political analyst and security professional.