Doggone Budget Doggerel

In high political aeries
There's much palaver, one can see,
On bringing more transparency
To governmental budgetry.

Less sleight of hand would worthy be
And also less opacity,
Yet recent actions convey to me
Scarce hope of fiscal sanity.

The bard could wax on about the unconscionable behavior of those who run our fiscal policy, there being enough to inspire a Swift or Moliere. But lest verse induce the urge to doze, this column now reverts to prose.

Our legislature has given up on passing 10 of the 12 usual appropriations bills for fiscal 2007. The Republican-led Congress didn't stay in session long enough to do it; and after the elections, incoming Democrats announced they'd resort to a yearlong continuing resolution holding most domestic agencies to the same amounts they'd spent in fiscal 2006. This blunt-edged approach to the spending of $463 billion admits to few exceptional needs and disproportionately pinches agencies with heavy personnel costs like the FBI and the Government Accountability Office. With pay increases set for 2.2 percent, agencies with large payrolls will have to offset these and other unavoidable cost increases with cuts on the order of 10 percent in travel and training, delayed contracts and perhaps even through furloughs.

Democratic leaders have announced a laudable moratorium on earmarks until a more transparent process is put into place, and "pay as you go" rules meant to keep deficits from growing. But procedural steps are not enough, and the Democrats' most significant pledge is to reduce the bite of the alternative minimum tax at huge cost-up to $1 trillion over 10 years.

There's plenty to be outraged about in parts of the budget that have seen appropriations enacted-notably those funding defense. The administration continues to insist on using huge supplementals for war funding, and this year the services have a green light to include money not directly attributable to the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. As a result, close to $200 billion of the defense budget will be spared the scrutiny that normally accompanies congressional budgeting action.

Then there's the biggest problem of all: the looming crises in Medicare and Social Security. Barring a miracle, Congress will do nothing about this in the next two years. So we go on borrowing and sinking our children deeper into debt. It's enough to drive one to doggerel.

As I wrote last month, my recent visit to CENTCOM left me profoundly impressed with the troops we have deployed in the region. Far from home, in tough and dangerous jobs, they deserve our support no matter what we may think about the war. For ideas, have a look at America Supports You, a program to recognize and spread the word of efforts by citizens groups, companies and others to help the troops in the field and at home. Find out more online at www.americasupportsyou.mil. And while you're at it, send a card to one of our troops abroad, through the good offices of Xerox Corp., at www.letssaythanks.com.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.