The Senate is expected to soon follow the House in approving a single budget resolution that promises to balance the budget and substantially slow the growth of the federal debt over the next 10 years.
While The Concord Coalition welcomes the resolution — a compromise between House and Senate Republicans — for moving the budget process forward, it warns that the plan relies on unlikely future policy actions.
“Approval by both the House and Senate of a single plan would be a significant achievement, given the dysfunction of the congressional budget process in recent years,” says Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “However, this would be only the first — and easiest — step in the process. It does not require the President’s approval, nor does it require agreement on how the $5 trillion worth of proposed deficit reduction will actually be achieved.”
Domestic agencies are already struggling to adjust to lower spending levels, so even deeper cuts might not be feasible. President Obama has also promised to veto any appropriation bills passed at the levels assumed in the budget, setting up the prospect of another funding crisis at the end of the fiscal year.
The congressional plan fails to acknowledge the potential impact of recently passed bills in the House that would make a number of tax breaks permanent and eliminate the estate tax.
The resolution also circumvents a cap on defense spending by raising Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to $96 billion, which is $38 billion higher than Obama requested.
The resolution and the President’s proposed budget look very different. He and Congress should look for opportunities to reach compromises that will prevent a government shutdown and move the budget to a more responsible path.