The Congressional Budget Office pegs the deficit of President Barack Obama's budget at $9.5 trillion over the next 10 fiscal years. House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has produced a plan to reduce that projection by $6.2 trillion, leaving a $3.3 trillion deficit over the same period. If evenly distributed over that period, this amounts to a $330 billion deficit in each of the next 10 fiscal years.
Meanwhile, the federal debt currently stands at $14.3 trillion, and unless the government's authority to borrow beyond the nearly expired debt limit is increased, the government will default on its obligations beginning sometime in July. What to do?
The congressional budget process is defined in the Budget Impoundment and Control Act of 1974. It stipulates the deadlines for annual approval of a budget resolution and a reconciliation bill to conform spending on federal programs to the resolution. Only then can appropriations be assembled to allocate actual spending for programs and entitlements in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The president and Senate Democrats are clamoring for immediate approval of a debt-limit extension. After sending to the Senate a budget resolution containing the Ryan plan and a conforming reconciliation bill, the House should advise the president and the Senate that no debt limit extension exceeding $330 billion will be approved until the Senate approves its version of a budget resolution, reconciliation bill and negotiates in good faith a final agreement on each with the House.
Paul S. Egan