Q: Will the president’s budget be “dead on arrival” when it reaches the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday?
A: It appears lawmakers from the president’s own political party are set to mark “Do Not Resuscitate” on the proposal before it even crosses the legislative threshold. In fact, the leadership in the U.S. Senate has abandoned even the pretense of producing a budget as required by law. The head of the Senate Budget Committee announced last Friday that the panel on which I serve would not write a 2015 fiscal blueprint to avoid “relitigating” details of the two-year budget deal approved in December. Seems like a cavalier attitude when we’re talking about $1 trillion in discretionary funding that will operate government agencies, including those responsible for administering military, transportation and education dollars. It’s a slap in the face to taxpayers who foot the bill and who would face fines, penalties, liens and fees if they opted not to comply with federal tax laws. Previews of the White House budget proposal suggest the president himself has abandoned any pretense of getting serious about putting America’s fiscal house in order. And when the president pitches adding more projects and programs to the federal ledger, it may tempt lawmakers to take a bite at the shiny red apple. But the reality is these programs would not only grow the size and scope of the federal government, they also would extend Uncle Sam’s reach even deeper into taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Apples grow on trees; money doesn’t. It’s reckless and irresponsible to continue lifting the lid on spending again, and again and again. The president also has proposed to fix stagnant wages and joblessness in America by raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. If only that would cure what ails the sluggish economy. When the president talks about narrowing the wage gap and addressing income inequality, he’s targeting the architecture of America’s extraordinary system of free enterprise, productivity, innovation and economic mobility. That’s why it’s so important to vet the tax and spending details of the federal budget. What the president is selling as economic elixirs may bear negative side effects that the taxpaying public won’t want to swallow. Restoring fiscal discipline and demanding accountability for the way tax dollars are spent are a sorely needed reality check in Washington. Economic growth is what drives the creation of good-paying jobs that will lift standards of living for people working hard to make ends meet.