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In our opinion: Continuing resolution continues Congress’ craziness

SHARE In our opinion: Continuing resolution continues Congress’ craziness
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Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

Members of Congress may have assumed grave and serious tones this week during endless impeachment hearings aimed at impeaching the president. But when it comes to things truly grave and serious, they quietly kicked the can down the road, again.

Many Americans may not have been aware the government was set to shut down again at midnight on Thursday. The House and Senate avoided that by passing another continuing resolution with only hours to spare — this time pushing the deadline for writing a new budget to Dec. 20.

Think of it as if your roof is leaking, your foundation is crumbling, your credit cards and home equity levels are maxed out, and yet the members of your household have decided to postpone writing a budget until the middle of the Christmas season.

Then imagine what a financial adviser might tell you. 

The difference is that politicians in Washington don’t feel any pressure to actually budget because the economy is strong and, after all, the Federal Reserve could simply print more money if it needed to.

But when (not if) the good times end, all those grave and serious tones will shift focus and demand to know who is responsible. The answer is, all sides are. 

While we don’t condone betting, we doubt you could get great odds on anything of consequence happening by Dec. 20. The new deadline is a mere five days before Christmas, and we doubt the serious and grave matter of impeachment will have ended by then. The nation may indeed be enduring a Senate trial at that time. 

Look for another kick of the can, and a new deadline somewhere in the new year.

Politicians in both major parties love continuing resolutions because they offer no potentially embarrassing transparency and zero accountability for out-of-control spending. Continuing resolutions merely keep the federal government spending money at current levels.

Politicians in both major parties love continuing resolutions because they offer no potentially embarrassing transparency and zero accountability for out-of-control spending.

That is, except for a few items. This week’s resolution included $7.2 billion in new funding to pay for the 2020 Census, a gracious move considering the Constitution requires it. 

Oh, and lawmakers also approved a 3.1% pay raise for members of the military.

The sticking point, now as in months past, is the president’s insistence on $5 billion to help build a border wall. The Republican controlled Senate seems set on approving this, while the Democratically controlled House is set in the other direction.

Politics is the art of compromise. Unless both sides can budge a little, this budget charade could go on as long as Donald Trump remains in the White House, and that’s not fair to Americans.

We’re glad politicians didn’t decide to close the federal government again. Despite snide jokes by some that average people breathe easier when Washington shuts down, closing the federal government ripples in bad ways through the economy. 

Still, the American people elect representatives to do the hard work of governing, and a perpetual failure to pass a budget is a dereliction of that mandate.

Meanwhile, also going relatively unnoticed is an annual budget deficit that exceeds $1 trillion and a national debt that has topped $23 trillion. So far this year, the Washington has collected revenue that amounts to $10,596 per citizen, but it has debts equal to $69,851 per citizen.

Whether people realize it or not, the roof is leaking. History won’t be kind to today’s lawmakers after it caves in.