In his last year of office, President Obama released an unserious budget that proposes to hike taxes $3.4 trillion over the next ten years, never balances, and creates a $320 billion energy tax for wasteful new spending on bullet trains and self-driving cars.
Not only does this budget take the government and the economy in the wrong direction, it also breaks Obama’s “firm pledge” against “any form of tax increase” on any American earning less than $250,000.
Congressional republicans have the opportunity to show a clear contrast and release their own budget based around pro-growth reforms, spending restraint, and fiscal responsibility in contrast to the unrealistic and partisan proposals in the Obama budget.
However this budget should also reflect a commitment to governance, and a commitment to regular order that Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Ohio) frequently touts.
While lawmakers should be applauded for pushing for lower spending levels, members should not hesitate supporting a budget at current law spending levels. Doing so will allow Congress to exert its power over the purse by passing appropriations bills and ensure resources are spent appropriately -- not just rolled over from previous years.
Most importantly, passing a budget allows the use of reconciliation, which is one of the best, real opportunities for Congress to implement a conservative limited government vision. The only catch is that it requires a budget be passed.
Last year, this procedure was successfully used to pass a bill out of Congress that repealed key provisions of Obamacare. While President Obama disappointingly vetoed this bill, it would have repealed 16 taxes that hit taxpayers to the tune of $833 billion over ten years. It also would have reduced spending by $1.35 trillion over the same window.
Congress again has the same opportunity to put major reforms on the President’s desk – but only if they pass a budget. The key difference this time is reconciliation can be used when the next president is in office – giving members an opportunity to enact real change.
By passing a budget, Congress has the opportunity to restrain and control spending through both the appropriations process and through reconciliation. As an added bonus they can draw a contrast with the President’s unserious, fiscally irresponsible proposals.