According to CNS News, with fiscal year 2010 set to end at midnight on Sept. 30, there is no sign that Congress is on track to pass any of the 13 appropriations bills needed to keep the U.S. government up and running in fiscal year 2011.
What Can Congress Do Now?
It seems that Congress may only have one option left: Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution in order to keep the U.S. government from having to shut down until they can pass the appropriations. Worried that they don’t have any experience with such a move? Don’t be.
When transitioning from fiscal year 2008 to 2009, Congress had to pass not one, but two continuing resolutions. Why? It seems no one wanted to tackle decisions about budgets and debt leading up to the presidential election.
What Happens if Congress Fails to Pass the Appropriations?
CNS News is reporting that as of 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 29, Congress had not even finalized the wording of the continuing resolution. So what, you may ask, there’s still time, right? Considering that President Obama sent his fiscal year 2011 budget to Congress in February, things don’t look promising for a quick one-day turnaround. Complicating the matter, the House, who, along with the Senate must pass all 13 appropriations bills in order for any of them to become law, has only passed two so far. The President must also sign off on the appropriations before they become law.
Why Isn’t Congress in More of a Hurry?
When most of us have a work-related deadline, we burn the midnight oil to get it accomplished on time. Why doesn’t Congress do the same? Well, it seems that a whole gaggle of congressmen are up for reelection and eager to get home to campaign. Voting on a spending bill or for more debt may not exactly guarantee them a return trip to their congressional swivel chair.
President Obama’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 Comes with Hefty Price Tag
According to the White House website, President Obama’s 2011 budget calls for investments in “education, clean energy, infrastructure, and innovation.” How does the President plan to do this? According to the official stance, by “jumpstarting job creation, works to strengthen the economic security of American families, and makes the tough choices to put our Nation back on the path to fiscal responsibility.”
But also needed will be a lot of money — $3.8 trillion to be exact. That would put the government on the line for a $1.34 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2011. That’s a pretty hefty price tag. To put it in perspective, $1.34 trillion is 8.9 percent of the GDP and would be the third-largest debt since WWII. What is on the horizon for fiscal year 2011?
Defense and Security
Perhaps the biggest development in the area of defense and security for fiscal year 2010 was the end of the war in Iraq. While it remains to be seen exactly what financial impact the end of the war will have, there is sure to be some major shifting around of funds. Though the cost of having U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq was enormous, returning service men are entering a shaky job market. This may put a further strain on programs such as food stamps, unemployment and welfare.
Could the lack of a military paycheck force more families into foreclosure? Although only time will tell for certain, fiscal year 2011 just may turn out to be the year of the unemployed ex-soldier.
Jobs & Economy
Living in Michigan, jobs are constantly at the forefront of my thinking. Fiscal year 2010 saw the creation of more minimum wage, as well as technology, scientific and green, jobs. President Obama’s stimulus plan was a shot in the employment arm of many states, though many critics complained that states were simply using the money for frivolous and unnecessary projects. Looking ahead to fiscal year 2011, CNN reports that Obama has proposed spending $50 million on improving the nation’s aging infrastructure.
Obama certainly took steps toward becoming an education president in fiscal year 2010. As reported by CNN, the President’s education goals are multifaceted: get more college students to graduate, retain high-quality teachers and improve education for elementary students. Fiscal year 2011 promises to continue the President’s education platform as he has proposed pumping more federal money into Pell Grants for college students, School Turnaround Grants, President’s Race to the Top schools, curricula grants, competitive improvement grants for schools and teacher education.
The big news in health care for fiscal year 2010 was, of course, the passage of the universal health care bill. How this will ultimately pan out financially has been a topic for hot debate. Though fiscal year 2011 will certainly see some changes, the bulk of change seems to be further down the road.
Update: On Sept. 30, ABC News reported that Congress passed the continuing resolution and then adjourned. That means the U.S. government will continue to function until Congress returns after the November elections.