Shame on You ‘Cause You Get Fooled Every Year
Sleight of hand is the magician’s best friend. Audiences enjoy wonderment and delight when their eyes have been fooled. So you might think that the distraction of the debt ceiling debate will lead to some magical outcome. Oh, quite the opposite, my friends.
You see, while government-watchers like you have focused on the debt ceiling stand-off and the downgrade of U.S. government debt by one analyst group, you have completely missed the fact that Congress is well behind schedule on passing the annual spending bills for fiscal 2012.
If the bills aren’t passed on time, you don’t get the fiscal discipline that seems to be appropriate for the country right about now.
As you can see in the chart on the left—perhaps the most displayed image on this blog—the House was supposed to finish work on the spending bills by June 30th, giving the Senate plenty of time to pass its versions, and for the two houses of Congress to get together on a compromise.
It’s mid-August, and only nine of the twelve annual spending bills have been introduced. Of those, six have been passed by the House. Only one of them has seen a vote in the Senate. (See list below.)
Around this time, all twelve bills should be out of the House. The House and Senate should be having relatively leisurely debates about how the government will spend our money next year, and you, the voter and citizen, should be overseeing those debates.
When Congress doesn’t run these trains on time, we don’t get good, open debates. We get a last-minute, closed-door deal that we get to find out about after the bill is passed.
But that doesn’t hurt Congress very much. Their jobs get easier when you’re kept in the dark, because then you can’t ask hard questions. Oh, they’ll publicly lament not having the spending bills done in an orderly way, but really they’d rather let things go to the last minute to keep you out of the mix.
And you the, the public, fall for it year over year. You know the old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well you’re getting fooled every year.
Now here are some things you can do:
Sign our petition: “We Want a Transparent and Orderly Congress.” Do so after you create an account and log in, because then you can comment on the petition. We’re going to use the petition’s page to organize a non-partisan campaign to get Congress doing its job right once it gets enough people signed on.
Pass this information along to a friend or colleague. Things only change when people get organized. YOU need to organize the people around you. So send people you think would be interested a link to this blog post!
Contact your member of Congress: Tell him or her that you want to see all appropriations bills finalized by the beginning of the fiscal year, and ask what specifically he or she is doing to make that happen. Please post anything you learn here or on the “transparent and orderly” petition page.
Below is a list of the twelve annual spending bills and their status at this point:
H.R. 2112, The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $1,200 per U.S. family – passed House
H.R. 2596, The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $600 per U.S. family – passed House committee
H.R. 2219, The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $6,300 per U.S. family – passed House
Energy & Water
H.R. 2354, The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $425 per U.S. family – passed House
H.R. 2434, The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $430 per U.S. family – passed House committee
H.R. 2017, The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $435 per U.S. family – passed House
Interior & Environment
H.R. 2584, The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $300 per U.S. family – passed House committee
not yet introduced
H.R. 2551, The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $35 per U.S. family – passed House
H.R. 2055, The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 – spends $1,400 per U.S. family – passed House and Senate, awaiting conference committee
not yet introduced
not yet introduced