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At the end of last month, a Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll found that a mere 11 percent of likely voters rate Congress's job performance as good or excellent. Apparently, some lawmakers believe that the 11 percent approval is higher than they deserve. So, in an effort to drag its own approval rating into single digits, Congress is prepared to take unprecedented levels of inaction.
It was reported late last week that House Democrats will likely not pass a budget resolution for this year. Congress has passed a budget every year since the modern budget process was first enacted in 1974. Its decision to neglect one of its most fundamental responsibilities represents a new level of arrogance on the part of the Washington establishment. As happens far too often, Congressional leaders seem to be placing their own political careers ahead of fiscal responsibility. According to the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl:
Members of Congress are likely hesitant to show the American people how seriously they have damaged America’s current long-term budget picture. This Congress has refused to pare back runaway spending and deficits, and many of its Members may now hesitate to pass a budget resolution that shows the resulting trillion-dollar deficits. Instead, Congress is likely to try burying this vital issue in this election year.
A recent poll by the Democracy Corps and Tulane University found that 93 percent of Americans surveyed called the federal deficit a "crisis" or a "major problem." Yet it's clear that few politicians agree with that assessment... It should come as no surprise that politicians spend even as families have to cut their budgets. That's because to an elected official, the biggest "toxic asset" on the books these days is the federal budget deficit. No one wants to touch it.
Taking the steps necessary to address the deficit may be politically unpopular, but ignoring the problem can only make the situation worse. According to the Heritage Foundation:
...the failure to pass a budget resolution prevents Congress from capping discretionary spending for FY2011, and it’s an indication that Congress won’t find a way to limit runaway entitlement spending. It also means that other priorities, such as extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts will fall by the wayside, leading to steep tax hikes, all while America is in the midst of a recession.
With over five months left before the November elections, the House has plenty of time to draft and pass a budget resolution. Its unwillingness to do so proves that it is unworthy of the approval of even 11 percent of voters. Ironically, by prioritizing the November elections over the well-being of the nation, some Washington elites may actually be ensuring their own defeat come November.