Well, here’s a petition I could get behind. A citizen named Daniel H presents this novel idea to the Obama administration:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
require the U. S. Senate to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year as required by law.
With respect for the coequality of the branches of government, this wouldn’t actually require the Executive Branch to grab any extra power because the writing of budgets is already a law. This is more of a public shaming mechanism, since the political press has deemed it A-okay over the past three years to ignore this essential element of governing.
I struggle to imagine the cacophony of accountability coverage if a Republican Congress had refused to pass a budget for three years for openly political reasons and a transparent aversion to transparency. But alas, here we are forcing the issue through White House petitions and as a negotiating chit in debt-ceiling negotiations.
I’m all for using the debt-ceiling negotiations to get back to some kind of normal budgeting process. Cliffs are both politically high-stakes and all but materially useless in solving our problems, which is the worst combination. But it is a testament to just how far we have sunk under the Reid-Obama combo that the best the American people can hope for is a return to the deeply flawed budget process of pre-2010. We used to dream of budget reform. I’d hate to negotiate back to pre-2010 budgeting without insisting on some budget reform elements mixed in. This issue also offers an occasional bright spot in Joe Scarborough’s Twitter feed these days:
How long is the media going to give Harry Reid and Senate Democrats a free pass on passing a budget. Their recklessness is shameful.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 7, 2013
It’s been 1,350 days since Democrats in the Senate have passed a budget.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 8, 2013
Whatever form this push takes, it must be loud and near-constant leading up to debt-ceiling talks. If it is, there’s potential for wringing a modicum of honest coverage from the press corps and revealing the culprit in the recent cliff-to-cliff existence everyone hates. More importantly, making the American people aware of the lack of a budget process and restoring some kind of order at least modestly improves our chances of solving some of our long-term problems. Each cliff is a convenient distraction for both lawmakers (and to some extent, a public) that would rather ignore them.
It’s not just the debt limit, and it’s not just to keep baseline spending artificially high, either. Ever since it became clear that Republicans would likely win the lower chamber thanks to Democratic overreach, Harry Reid has shut down the budget process in order to create all sorts of false budgetary crises. Issues like tax policy and debt limits would normally be resolved in conference committee, with perhaps a short-time continuing resolution to extend the previous budget authorizations a few days to conclude negotiations at the beginning of a budget cycle.
Instead, we have run the government for 1350 days by continuing resolutions and omnibus catch-alls, perhaps the least efficient ways of legislating and of working out compromises. Why? Reid doesn’t want conference committees and compromises — he wants capitulations. That’s why we keep careening from crisis to crisis, from cliff to cliff.
How serious are Republicans at pressing this strategy? So far this morning, I’ve already received two e-mails from sources on Capitol Hill promoting Byron’s piece. It’s the rare political strategy that not only benefits a party but is also objectively the right thing to do. We need to stop disconnecting debt ceilings from the normal budget process, but that can only happen when Congress has a normal budget process in place. We haven’t seen a normal budget process in more than three years, and the debt ceiling may be the only way to force Reid to abide by the law and get back to work.
Sign away, folks.
Update: Perhaps the best way to get coverage for this petition would be to attach it to the Deport Piers Morgan petition, and then attach both to Piers Morgan’s head.