By Representative Tim Huelskamp
August 11, 2012 marked 1,200 days since the U.S. Senate last passed a budget.
A family business or corporation could not operate even 30 days -- let alone 1,200 -- without a plan for how it would spend and borrow money. Even a household cannot function without some semblance of an idea about where money goes.
Yet, somehow, the U.S. Senate believes America can operate responsibly without a budget.
Without a budget, it is little wonder that the federal government borrows $4 billion a day, resulting in trillion-dollar annual deficits and a $16 trillion mountain of debt.
Without a budget, it is little wonder that the last time the federal government actually cut spending was before Elvis Presley released his debut album -- that's 1955.
Without a budget, it is little wonder that the "solution" favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama is to just find a way to get more money -- without having to cut spending. They would rather allow all the Bush-Obama tax relief to expire than produce a budget.
If only Washington could behave more like American businesses and families. When they face hard times, rarely is there the option to find new money; no, the only choice remaining is to rein in spending. But, instead, Washington just continues to spend more than in takes in.
According to Congressional Budget Office data aggregated by The Heritage Foundation, spending as a share of the nation's economy averaged 20.2 percent between 1960 and 2008. Revenue has averaged 18.1 percent. Yet, in 2012, spending is projected to account for 23.3 percent and revenue for 16.1 percent. So much for a balanced approach!
Certainly a poor-performing economy is the chief reason that Washington has less revenue. The formula is easy: the less economic activity, the lower the tax revenue. But, rather than address the reasons why our economy is in shambles, too many in Washington -- including Harry Reid and President Obama -- would rather just spend more money we do not have and raise taxes.
Without a plan for spending, Washington will continue to spend more than it takes in. And, Washington will continue to send a message of uncertainty to businesses and consumers - the very entities and individuals we need to engage in commerce (and, thus, spur increased revenue as a result of more economic activity).
Not only would a budget fix Washington's spending woes, but so too would comprehensive tax reform. While the House has passed a one-year extension of all the major Bush-Obama tax cuts, we have also advanced a bill paving the path for full, comprehensive reform in 2013. Perhaps Senator Reid and President Obama could take a little time off the campaign trail to tackle this issue, too.
America cannot afford to wait another 1,200 days for a budget or for an overhaul of our outdated, ineffective and punitive tax code.