Fat Albert could pretend he wasn't breaking his diet if he refused to count the calories he ate - but that wouldn't make him any less dangerously bloated. By analogy, that's what the House Democratic leadership did by announcing yesterday that it won't pass any federal budget resolution this year. It's a stunningly irresponsible decision.
While this isn't the first time both branches of Congress have failed to agree on a final budget, it will be the first time the House hasn't passed at least its own budget resolution since current budget rules were adopted in 1974. This budget failure means Congress will lack any real enforcement teeth when they are needed to rein in individual spending bills this fall.
"If you can't budget, you can't govern," said current House Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr., South Carolina Democrat, back in 2006. He was right. The consequences could be severe.
Inflation, joblessness, the dreaded combination thereof known as stagflation, perhaps even national bankruptcy: With national debt now above $13 trillion, which is well above 90 percent of the entire national economy, these frightening outcomes are all quite possible. While congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blame former President George W. Bush for all the nation's ills, the facts show that Mr. Bush left behind a mere problem; Democrats turned the problem into a looming disaster.
From fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2010, domestic discretionary spending - including last year's "stimulus" bill that stimulated almost nothing good - grew an astonishing 84 percent, from $434 billion to $797 billion. And that doesn't account for all the usual budgetary shell games that hide spending on everything from museums to union-friendly bailouts in "emergency" spending measures or bills officially labeled as "security" measures. It also doesn't count the exploding cost of Obamacare, which grows with every official estimate - or the costs of other initiatives being pushed by Washington Democrats, such as their hugely expensive "cap-and-trade" scheme.
Especially in that current context, failure to adopt a budget resolution amounts to gross dereliction of duty. In excusing the dereliction, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland offered this howler: "Whether we are spending or cutting taxes, creating jobs in a recession means adding to the deficit in the short term." This is ludicrous. Despite liberal dogma, deficits do not cure joblessness. Quite the contrary. When Republican Congresses balanced the budget in the 1990s by making large cuts in domestic discretionary spending and reforming welfare, unemployment dropped to an astonishingly low 4.2 percent. But though the Obama administration promised last year's stimulus would keep the unemployment rate from growing above 8 percent, it instead skyrocketed to 10.2 percent and remains at 9.7 percent despite hundreds of thousands of temporary census jobs.
On June 10, more than 100 economists - including Columbia Business School Dean R. Glenn Hubbard - wrote a letter to President Obama urging fiscal discipline. "Failure to restrict spending," they wrote, "will further balloon the national debt, impede economic growth and threaten our nation's long-term economic health."
As Fat Albert knows, you can't eat yourself thin. Likewise, you can't spend your way out of debt.
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