On Wednesday of this week, Congress passed a budget that exceeded $1 trillion, funding the federal government through 2015. They even increased funds to many domestic programs, some of which by millions of dollars. The threat of another shutdown was looming, as the memory of the angst of the October 1, 2013 shutdown lingered. But it’s a done deal. We have a real budget. If you’re interested in the details of the budget figures, check them out here.
I think it’s actually pretty miraculous. Not only did they agree and smoothly promulgate this budget legislation, but they did so by a very wide margin. The Senate passed it 64 to 36; the House passed it 332 to 94. That truly is remarkable. No threat of more furloughs or government shutdowns, and most importantly, this budget means that the Continuing Resolution (CR) is over. We’ve been functioning under a CR now since 2009. . . for 5 years. If you don’t know what a CR is, that’s just a measure that funds government programs temporarily using the previously approved levels. It doesn’t matter whether the money is sufficient. It doesn’t matter whether it includes funds for things that no longer are needed. It lumps it all in a bucket and Congress votes yes or no. It’s sort of a blind vote, pending an agreement of a formal budget.
The thing to note here that I want to know is, why has the Congress suddenly reached an agreement and passed this budget when they vowed just 2 ½ months ago that they would not pass a budget? Some of them, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, even warned of another government shutdown, possibly this month. But surprisingly, they got this budget passed, and I’ll tell you why. It’s isn’t a coincidence. It’s politics. This year, 2014, is the time for mid-term elections.
So, what’s the big deal about that, you ask? Well, this year all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs and will be contested. In addition, 33 of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs and will be contested. (Thinking out loud: the year of mid term elections is the best time for a president to get something passed that might otherwise not pass.).
The Congress obviously wants to leave a positive, lasting memory in the minds of voters. Because let’s face it, The American people are forgetful. They seldom look at the totality of all the facts, the preponderance of the evidence, before casting their votes. The averages voter casts their vote based on what’s going on today, right now, this very minute. They will forget about what happened with the health care debacle and the Affordable Care Act. They will forget that the power struggle in Congress shut down the government, jeopardizing services at all levels all over the country and abroad. They will forget all the things that everyone complains about when the subject of Congress comes up. By the time November gets here, all the things of the past will long be forgotten.
Maybe this should be a wake-up call to folk. Wake up and pay attention to your representatives and remember what they do or don’t do. Lots of folk can remember things that people did to them 20 years ago, but they selectively forget what their Senator did last year. That has to stop. People need to start remembering, paying attention to what’s going on down on Capitol Hill. As long as we keep forgetting, letting them get away with it, they’ll keep using the American pepel as a doormat.