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Congressional Budget Act

Posted by Stan Collender

Appropriators have hated the Congressional Budget Act since even before it was enacted in 1974.

During the two years in which that act was drafted, revised, re-revised, debated, re-debated and eventually adopted, appropriators from both houses complained that it wasn't needed, that they already had the power of the purse that was being given to the budget committees, that they had been the stewards of the people's money since the beginning of the republic, that it infringed on their jurisdiction and that it wouldn't work.

That attitude has barely changed over the past almost 40 years, which is why it was hardly a shock when my friend Jim Dyer, former staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, emailed me last week to say that it was time to do away with the budget act. With Jim's permission, here's the exact quote from his email:

Posted by Stan Collender

OK...I'll admit that saying the agreement will be gone by this Christmas is likely (but not necessarily) an overstatement.

But saying that the "Budget Control Act" -- the debt ceiling increase/deficit reduction deal signed into law on August 2 -- isn't likely to be in place on January 1, 2013, or to have it's projected impact over the full 10 years it supposed to be in effect is anything but an exaggeration. 

The reason? Federal budget agreements have seldom, if ever, gone the distance. Instead, they have always been changed, waived, ignored or abandoned long before they were scheduled to expire.

Posted by Stan Collender

For the record, in 1974 I applied to law school using a picture of me in a brown crushed velvet sports jacket with huge lapels, a wide brown crushed velvet tie, a patterned shirt with a large collar, hair almost to my shoulders, and a mustache attached to my application.

Why is that important?  You'll know after you take a look at my weekly "Fiscal Fitness" column from Roll Call.


The Budget Act Was A Lot Hipper in 1974 Than It Is Today

Roll Call

April 1, 2008

What do the following have in common: the already-enacted economic stimulus, a second economic stimulus, a homeowner bailout, the Bear Sterns rescue by the Federal Reserve, and the soon-to-be-considered emergency supplemental appropriation for activities in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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