A substantial deadline missed
The White House has an Office of Management and Budget. The White House also has an annual deadline for submitting a federal budget plan to Congress.
But for the third straight year, and the fourth time in its five years, the Obama White House hasn’t gotten that spending plan in on time.
Meanwhile, our record national debt continues to climb — and the March 1 deadline for automatic, “sequestered” spending cuts draws ever closer.
So, seemingly, does the administration’s confidence that it will suffer minimal political damage from its repeated failures to fulfill its budget-submission duty by no later than the first Monday in February.
That mandate is part of the 1921 Budget and Accounting Act.
Yet presidential spokesman Jay Carney appeared annoyed Monday when pressed on the matter. From that day’s White House briefing:
Q: “Does [the president] want to submit the budget before or after the State of the Union?”
Mr. Carney: “I don’t have a date for you for when that will happen.”
Q: “Is there a reason why he can’t make the deadline?”
Mr. Carney: “I don’t have anything more for you on it.”
Mr. Carney then urged reporters “to focus on substance over deadlines and things like that.”
How about the substantial growth of the record national debt on President Obama’s White House watch, which has included the first four trillion-dollar-plus deficits in U.S. history?
How about the substantial threat to America’s economic future if we keep ducking the hard choices needed to curb unsustainable federal spending?
Mr. Carney reiterated Wednesday that the president wants to avert those sequestered cuts by advancing “deficit reduction in a balanced way” that includes “spending cuts as well as revenue through tax reform.”
Too bad the president missed that deadline to specifically show what he means by a “balanced way”
At least Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has offered assurances that his chamber will actually pass a budget this year. The last time that happened was April 29, 2009.
And House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s working on a long-term budget proposal that would eliminate deficits by 2022 without raising taxes.
OK, so that sounds like a stretch — as 10-year budget plans invariably do.
But Rep. Ryan is again advocating tough spending calls, including overdue overhauls of Medicare and Social Security, which are both reeling toward dates with bottom-line oblivion.
And unless Washington politicians from both parties, and our nation as a whole, face up to the necessity of making such difficult budgetary choices, no amount of tax increases will ever put our fiscal ship back on an even keel.
As Rep. Ryan put it Monday: “We spend $1 trillion more than we take in each year. In fact, we spend $3 for every $2 we take in.”
He added this fair challenge: “The House Budget Committee will do its job. We’ll write a budget — and submit it on time. In the past two years, we’ve offered our solutions to the country’s fiscal challenges. Now the president must do the same.”