Issue: In the past 47 years, Congress has only passed four balanced budgets—all of which were proposed by the Clinton Administration. The federal budget process has not been reformed since 1974, and it is clear that the system is no longer working. Political polarization prevents representatives from working together and compromising, presidents regularly submit budget proposals late, and Congress rarely manages to pass all twelve appropriations bills necessary to constitute a complete budget resolution. When the deals that keep the government open become increasingly precarious balancing acts and postponing resolutions are the best we hope for anymore, the country suffers the consequences. Not only do we face problems with just passing a budget, but we have skewed priorities within our budget that aren’t representing the needs of the American people.
Proposal: There are no quick fixes to the hole Congress has dug us into. If we are going to create a budget process that
works for the people and ensures the long term sustainability of our economy, we need reform that holds Congress accountable for their inability to work together. We need to pass a permanent no-budget-no-pay rule that withholds all compensation from representatives who fail to pass a complete budget resolution by a predetermined deadline.
Once we get Congress working together on the budget, we need to set defined guidelines for incremental decreases in the annual deficit of each budget, with the goal of achieving a balanced budget within six years. Ultimately, the budget passed by Congress every year is a statement of our values as a nation. When we fail to come together and pass budgets, instead bickering over partisan disputes and sliding into government shutdowns, we abandon our commitment to these values. It’s time to make a statement that the we are ready to work together again, starting by getting our budget in order.
When we elect representatives who represent the priorities of lobbyists, we can take an honest look at the state of our priorities - particularly the 50% of discretionary spending that goes to national security. Instead of throwing hundreds of billions at bloated Pentagon programs, we need to do more to help the people who can’t afford education, who can’t secure housing, who are struggling to find a job, and who are dying of opioid overdoses and gunshots every day. We need to reinvest in our people and set better priorities. Only once we commit to investing more in these areas, we can begin to lift people up. And only then, we will truly see an increase in our national security.