Democrats Could Have Avoided a Government Shut Down Last Year

David Williams

April 7, 2011

There has been quite a bit of talk about the government shut down and who to blame.  While it is tempting, and probably accurate, to blame all the “bums” in Congress, there have been serious lapses in leadership from the Democrats.The Democrats failed to pass a budget when they controlled the House, Senate, and White House.

First, a primer, the federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.  So, on October 1, 2010 the federal government was technically in the 2011 fiscal year (FY).  The budget process officially kicks off when the President submits his budget to Congress.  For FY 2011, the President sent his budget to Congress on February 1, 2010.  That was supposed to set off a whole chain of events where Congress would start to debate his budget then pass their budget with accompanying appropriations bills.  That didn’t happen.  The Democrats failed to get a budget or pass one appropriations bill (the good news on the appropriations bills not being passed means that there are no earmarks for FY 2011).  Since October the government has run on a series of continuing resolutions (CR) to ensure that government services would continue, albeit at the previous year’s funding levels.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) downplayed the importance of passing the budget citing the impending release of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  The Commission released its findings in December and there was still no budget.  By this time, elections had taken place, a new House majority was waiting in the wings to take over, and members of Congress were more concerned about holiday plans rather than doing their job by completing work on the budget.

In January, Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives and started to offer spending cuts for the rest of FY 2011.  The Democratically-controlled Senate didn’t pass the spending cuts thus bringing us to this budgetary stale mate.

April 8 is when the latest CR expires.  Many pundits and big government apologists warn about the economic consequences of a government shutdown such as the cancellation of the Cherry Blossom parade in Washington, D.C. if  deal isn’t reached.    The truth is that not addressing excessive deficits and debt will be far more destructive to an economic recovery than a government shutdown.