Will Congress Punt Budget to Newly Elected Members?

As the end of this Congress approaches, members of Congress are beginning to consider a second sequester, according to Politico.  Lawmakers have an inclination that neglecting to deal with our nation’s budget and tax code issues is not acceptable, but they cannot agree on how and when to resolve them.  In reference to Congress not dealing with the budget, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), the Budget Committee chairman, has stated the obvious, “There would be consequences for failure to achieve the results.”

Politico reports that the new proposal being considered in Congress is to mandate the House and Senate tax-writing committees to rewrite the tax code.  If that fails, they continue:

“Some mechanism would kick in to force Congress’s hand to slash the deficit and overhaul tax and spending laws. The goal, just like this time, would be to make the cost of failure greater than the pain of any compromise. Of course, it was only a year ago that Congress did something similar with the Budget Control Act, the bipartisan accord that increased the debt ceiling. The law called for a congressional supercommittee to reach a major deficit-cutting deal, but since it didn’t, the statute mandated $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts to take effect starting next year.”

The last sequester was immensely unpopular with both the American people and with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Democrats didn’t want to see entitlement spending cut, and Republicans were displeased with how defense spending – which had already absorbed significant budget reductions – was cut even further in a non-strategic way and without reference to the actual needs of the military.

So why would Congress go this route again?

It seems the only answer is that they want to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff” and simply haven’t been able to agree on a coherent budget and tax plan thus far, so their hand is being forced.  Nevertheless, it is still possible that they will punt the decision to the next Congress.

What is at issue here is two opposing philosophies about government spending.  Rep. Allen West (R-FL) summed it up nicely when he explained that there is a “huge philosophical difference. It is based upon will America be a constitutional republic or will it be a socialist, egalitarian, welfare nanny state. I think the choice is pretty simple.”

That is why it is probable that Members of Congress will leave these issues to be resolved by the next Congress, once the voters have spoken in the election.  Lawmakers are hoping that voters will offer a more unified vision for the country by the way they vote in this election.

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