Tag Archives: Congressional budget

Congressional Baby Fits Need to End!

I have determined that my family should expect a three percent reduction in our spending capacity this year due to a down turn in our business. As my wife is responsible for spending the budget, I asked her to provide me with a list of items where she would cut that three percent. The following is what she suggested:

We will cut:

School lunches for the children and all food on the weekends

We will turn down the thermostat during the winter to 35 degrees Fahrenheit

We will give away the family pet

The car fuel budget will be set at a maximum. She suspects we will not be able to attend work the last four days of the month

I asked if there were not a more reasonable way to trim a mere 3% of our family budget.

She replied, “Not if I want you to go out and find a way not to trim it!”

All this fuss about the Sequestration is about a 3% cut in national spending. Some say that it is all discretionary spending so that amount is much higher. But in the end, all spending is discretionary. All it takes to make it so is a vote. This cut is about priorities.

Entitlements, whether embedded in the military budget or in the civilian one, are that in name only. If our nation were no longer able to borrow 45 cents of every dollar we spend, what would be our priorities? If we could borrow only 35, 25 , 15, 5 cents on every dollar, what then? What are our nation’s spending priorities? This list of priorities defines a budget, something that has eluded our Congress for years.

If you owned a business and paid an employee to construct a budget as one of their primary functions, and they absolutely and stubbornly refused to comply with your wishes, wouldn’t you fire them? How many businesses can be well run without a budget setting forth priorities? None!

Yet we allow our Congress to cry like little baby boys and girls whenever we ask the same of them. Instead of acting like employees that we pay to form our nation’s budget, they pout and stamp their feet threatening to tear apart their bedrooms and run away to the neighbor’s house up the street if we dare to ask them to grow up.

So now we call their bluff. The nation will be thrown into a scene of watching our Congress meet on their chamber floors in their finest garb to begin to holler and cry and throw fits. They will ask the leaders of the agencies they fund to come before us and to pout and demand with threats that they won’t clean their rooms if we deny them their candy. Let them all meet on the floors of Congress and have the biggest collective crying and screaming fit they can muster.

When its all through, and the tears have dried, and they are calmer in their own minds, they will finally look at each other and wonder why their fuss did not work this time. Perhaps a few will even wonder what all the fuss was about. Realizing the American people have taken on the responsibility that comes with being adults in charge of legislative children, they will finally then get about cleaning up their chambers, dusting off their finest garb, sitting down in their designated chairs, and beginning to do the difficult work we sent them to Washington to do.
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Congress’s FEMA Fight Should Not Forego Federal Recovery Funding

Americans have not yet recovered from Congress’s brinksmanship over the debt ceiling. We thought we might escape a repeat until November 23rd when the super-committee must present its recommendations for budget cuts to be voted up or down. However, the harrowing Congressional votes of August 2nd only raised the debt ceiling. Now Congress must vote prior to October 1st for a continuing resolution to keep funding our government that has not passed a budget since April of 2009. This round of votes is guaranteed to include fights for additional agency funding reductions.

This deadline crisis budget reduction battle is the external discipline that has been chosen to force a divided Congress through small, painful steps toward achieving a balanced budget. America will need to grow thick skin as we endure the coming months while Congress whittles slivers from a bulging budget that must shrink an unbelievable 43 percent. Last week, Congress attempted to whittle a tiny sliver, $1.6 billion or 0.04 percent, from the $3.6 trillion dollar federal budget. The choice offered for vote was to supply an additional $1 billion in disaster recovery funds to FEMA only if the funds are offset by removing a portion of an auto industry loan program from the federal budget, a curiously political tradeoff.

Because FEMA’s funding will run out today without a compromise, funding for emergencies has once again become a battlefield of political partisanship. FEMA’s deadline will be used to elicit crisis compromises from a divided Congress. Even if we don’t question why Congress needs external triggers to reduce their budget, should we at least question the appropriateness of placing our nation’s emergency preparedness squarely in the middle of brinksmanship negotiations?

Congress’s trawling for deadlines caught this year’s FEMA recovery efforts in its nets and may continue to do so for years because our nation’s economy is in crisis, our federal budgets will be reduced, and our budget battles are now locked in forced deadline negotiations. Until a balanced budget is reached, funding for FEMA, HHS, DOD, the VA and other departments tasked with disaster response, will continually face budget cuts. America’s monetary collapse and lack of political unity on how to correct it suggests that budget uncertainty will get much worse before it improves.

Yet our nation cannot afford such budget uncertainty for emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Even as federal funding for emergencies is being threatened, our country is experiencing a surging escalation of emergencies and an increasing financial impact from such emergencies. We know that to leap frog our current federal capability we will need a more certain source of funding. Japan’s insufficient tsunami response from what many perceive as the world’s most prepared nation is a beacon for what will be required here in America.

Congress’s FEMA funding debate should serve notice to our nation’s leaders of emergency agencies that America’s disaster preparedness, response, and recovery must now find funding outside the political arena. Now is the time to press for secure funding outside of Congressional mandates directly from potential users of mass disaster emergency services. Funding should come from current users of EMS services, hospital beds, nursing and other facilities through mandated per bed use fees or other means to support ongoing preparation, response and recovery efforts.

America should have disaster response and recovery insurance that is also capable of funding the steady preparation efforts of our industry, and it should not be subject to the ups and downs of politics. Our national emergency insurance, perhaps through CMS, should instead fund the steady hand of a disciplined multiyear, forward looking process that can be counted on by the American People when disaster strikes, no matter the political processes of our time.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Emergency Response, Federal Budget