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Congress must make a budget, and stick to it

Date published: 2/3/2013

Congress must make a budget, and stick to it

Even if the debt limit deadline is pushed back a couple of months, we can still look forward to more turmoil this spring and summer on matters related to federal spending. It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that legislating by closed-door, last-minute deals is a deliberate tactic designed to preclude meaningful input by the American people.

A pathway to fiscal sanity must include:

Returning to the budget schedule already set forth in law, but rarely followed--passing a budget in both houses, holding hearings, and then passing appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year, and

Incorporating debt limit changes in the budget process. When the budget is passed, the next year's deficit is known, except for possible fluctuations in revenue estimates. The debt limit should be raised enough to get through each fiscal year with enough leeway to account for underestimated revenue. Any emergency or supplemental spending outside the normal budget process would have to include a provision to raise the ceiling to allow that spending.

Lester Gabriel