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Senate Passes Big Spending Bill – Now, On to 2010!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  And with another couple days at it, the Senate has cleared the big omnibus spending bill and it goes to the President for his signature.  He is sure to sign it as funding for most of the government runs out if he doesn’t.

Spending per U.S. family in the bill amounts to just under $4,100 per U.S. family. The Washington Post has a good write up of some of the process and the issues that made the bill tough to pass.

Now that we’ve swallowed that gourd, ask yourself: Is this something you want to see happen again? Huge spending bills, passed in haste, with thousands of earmarks amounting to billions of dollars?

President Obama said he would get rid of earmarks, but politicians don’t actually do things that you don’t hold them to. So let’s look after it ourselves, and start where earmarks start: in the appropriations process. (Oh – by the way – “appropriations” is fancy Washington-speak for “spending.”)

When that process is working, there’s plenty of time to review bills and debate spending. When it’s not working, huge bills with all kinds of earmarks and nonsense flow in.

The fiscal year 2010 spending process is already underway. A brief write-up of that process is here and the chart above is a handy summary. Let’s see how the process is going so far:

  • President Submits His Budget (due: first Monday in February) – LATE – President Obama produced his budget on February 26th, over three weeks late.
  • Congressional Budget Office submits report to Budget Committees (due: February 15th) – OVERDUE – CBO has yet to produce its analysis of the President’s budget proposal (which will be here).
  • Committees Submit Views and Estimates to Budget Committees (due: not later than six weeks after President submits budget) – President’s budget was late, and views needed by April 1 deadline for Budget Committees to report budget resolution, so DUE MARCH 31.

Now, this is a lot of complex jargon, and maybe we’ll spend some time in upcoming posts unpacking what all of these steps are about, but here’s the quick summary: THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS HAVE ALREADY FALLEN BEHIND ON THE FISCAL YEAR 2010 BUDGET PROCESS. The forecast is for earmarks.

It’s up to you whether you like that kind of thing. If you don’t, tell a friend. And make sure that your Member of Congress is your friend.

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