Friday, Nov 28, 2014
Columns

What is a continuing resolution?


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Our government ceased to function again on Oct. 1 because it did not have a budget. It may come as a shock, but our government has not passed a budget for nearly five years. Our Constitution dictates that Congress must pass a budget each year, but for nearly five years, the Senate has refused to do so. Has the population raised hell because of that? If it has, I am totally unaware.

The House of Representatives has passed a budget each year as it is required to do, but the Senate has failed to follow suit. As a result, the government is financed by passing what are called continuing resolutions that allow the government to operate at the current rate of spending for whatever time the Congress dictates with its continuing resolution.

The administration loves that because the rate of spending from the past is the base for spending in the continuing resolution. During the current administration, that has been astronomical since it spends a trillion dollars more than what taxes bring in. Continuing resolutions tend to hide the full budget from the people. The latest continuing resolution expired and that is what this current fiasco is all about. Congress has no authority to spend any more money.

Since Congress has no authority to spend money without a budget, it must pass a continuing resolution, and so we wait with bated breath as our Congress debates the issue. As usual, the Republicans are blamed for the government shutting down since the Republicans do not want to fully fund the government.

The actual truth is much different than what is reported in the mainstream media. To add to the confusion this time about a continuing resolution, the implementation of "Obamacare" has also crossed a significant position. People must sign up for this particular bill or suffer penalties for not doing so as of Oct. 1. The positives and negatives of this enterprise are being recorded as we speak.

Many reports and analyses state that "Obamacare" will do great harm to our economy. The president has delayed the mandate for businesses to provide health care insurance to its employees for a year. He also has allowed Congress and its staff to be funded up to 75 percent for its health care insurance premiums.

The question arises, "If 'Obamacare' is so good, then why are members of Congress and its staff given an exclusion?" I am by no means an expert on law, but I suspect that when Congress passes a law, then it is the only organization that can amend or change it. According to our Constitution, Congress makes the laws and the executive enforces them. The executive, the president, does not have authority to change them. Of course, if anyone has been paying attention for the past several years our president has either ignored or implemented laws as he sees fit and our Congress has been silent.

Since we have a partial shutdown of government, there are about 800,000 nongovernmental government employees who have been furloughed. Again, the question arises, how can the government have that number of nonessential people? The media stresses the point that these employees are going with no pay. In all other government shutdowns, all government employees were given pay for any time that they had on furlough. In other words, it was another paid vacation by the taxpayers.

As I write this, the president has invited the leadership from both parties of Congress to the White House for discussions about the continuing resolution; however, the White House has announced that it does not intend to compromise on any issue. What is the intent if there is no possibility for any compromises?

What has been happening this week is the prelim for what is coming in two more weeks. Our debt ceiling is about to be crossed unless Congress allows it to be increased. The president is already using scare tactics about our not being able to pay our debt on the interest payments and go into default. That is not true.

There are adequate tax revenues coming in to the federal government on a routine basis to pay the interest on our debts, pay for the military and pay Social Security and other key elements of our obligations. Stating that we will be in default is a scare tactic and not the truth. I recall times during my youth when my dad did not have enough money to pay all of the bills.

He always paid the most important such as the mortgage and rotated the others each month until times improved. Most people were in the same boat and creditors were patient. Unlike the current government my family did not increase its spending during these times but rather looked at where expenses could be reduced. Unfortunately our government does not think that its spending is out of control. President Obama stated that raising the debt limit does not increase the debt. If that is true, then why does he want it to be increased?

Donald J. Myers a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at dmyersusmc@aol.com.

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