Kicking the Can

July 17, 2012

Congress and the administration continue to kick the can down the road today as more talk of negotiations on the automatic budget cuts – known as sequestration – will be moved to the lame-duck session. The cuts, a result of the failure of last year’s super committee, were put in place to motivate Congress to actively seek out $1.5 trillion in spending that the government could do without. Unfortunately though, nothing motivates Congress, or the administration, quite like the upcoming November elections. But, can Americans afford to wait until the end of the year as the economy worsens, as deadlines are missed, and as Washington continues to play politics with policy that could, according to the Congressional Budget Office, send our country back into a recession?

As the tax frenzy on Capitol Hill escalates over the approaching “fiscal cliff,” the administration yesterday missed yet another budget deadline—its mid-session review for Congress, which has itself not passed a budget in three years. This isn’t your normal high school term paper though, and yesterday, July 16, marked the due date for the Office of Management and Budget to release the mid-session review that contains “revised estimates of budget receipts, outlays, and budget authority.”

Last year, the mid-session review was not released until September 1. This may not come as a surprise as the executive branch has released its yearly budget late the last three years as well. However, while the tardiness in regards to the nation’s budget is an unacceptable habit, it is a habit that both Congress and the administration seem to have adopted when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

While we move forward to the election, keep in mind that Congress and the administration will not only have to address a federal budget deficit of more than $1 trillion, the sequestration for 2013, and a possible hike in tax rates from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, but also raising of the debt ceiling and more. The strategy of kicking the can down the road that Washington has used for years may have just found the end of the road. Will Washington act now to remove uncertainty and improve the economy? Hopefully, we will find out sooner rather than later.

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