02.03.2015 0

NFL is over, send in the clowns

By Rick Manning

us budgetThe Super Bowl is over, Pete Carroll called the worst play in the history of the game, and there are only about two weeks until pitchers and catchers report.  Nationwide Insurance bummed everyone out, Nissan tells us that a lifetime of neglect can be made up for with a shiny new car, and Katy Perry was only so-so on the world’s biggest stage.

Now that the gladiators have gone into hibernation for six months, the nation can turn its eyes to the real reality television show in Washington, D.C.  A town where the self-important actually are kind of important, and the choices made have lasting consequences for the future of the nation and indeed, the world.

On Groundhog Day, President Obama unveiled his vision through his budget for the next year in America, and his assumptions for what is going to happen in the months to come.  If he gets it right this year, it will be the first time in his six years in office that he didn’t overestimate economic growth allowing rosy assumptions to make the rest of the numbers work better.

But everyone knows that apart from giving talking heads something to babble about, the President’s budget is not worth the paper it is written on.  What matters are the thirteen appropriations bills that it is hoped that the House and Senate will pass and send to Obama for signature avoiding the fiscal cliffs that have marked the past four years.

It is through these spending bills that Congress shapes how the government does its business, and it is this process that people who urge legislators to use the power of the purse to rein in Obama need to get involved in creating.

While the appropriations process atrophied over time to being seen by many as the place where lobbyists got their government goodies hidden in legislation, the 114th Congress has a chance to change everything.

Through aggressive oversight, appropriators can and should hold Obama Administration officials to the highest standards.  If they have not been forthcoming with documents to Congress, their budgets should be cut.  If they, as is the case of the EPA in particular, have been the pen that Obama has used to fundamentally transform America through regulatory overreach, intelligently cut their budgets by eliminating resources to their Solicitor’s Offices and prohibit the hiring of outside Counsel.

However, Republicans can do even more in this appropriations process.  They can defund specific Obama policies and force the President to decide if he wishes to veto a major funding bill because one or two of his Agency’s transformative initiatives are stopped cold by Congress’ refusal to fund them.

With Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate, they should send President Obama 13 separate Republican budgets and force him to argue for bigger government or sign them.

This is the opportunity for a Republican majority to make its mark, and ultimately it is the test of whether Congress matters in what many have come to believe is a post-Constitutional era of American politics.

The NFL season is over, but in D.C., the circus has just begun, if only the people cared as much about the stuff that really matters as they do over the deflation of pigskins.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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