Yesterday in Albany, N.Y., President Obama presented a "to-do list" for Congress to tackle before November. "I know this is an election year," he said, "but it's not an excuse for inaction."
The list itself, which Obama said could fit on a Post-it note, contained nothing more than a few failed leftovers from past Obama speeches: more targeted tax breaks for favored industries, another bailout for mortgage-holders who borrowed too much and a jobs program for veterans. All of these programs increase the size and scope of the federal government. None of them have a prayer of helping the economy.
By contrast, the House of Representatives has passed a slew of bills that would reduce government control over the economy and empower Americans to put themselves back to work, all without raising taxes or the debt. In fact, some of the measures would reduce the deficit. Among the dozens of House-passed bills are efforts to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency's "crucifixion" enforcement strategy against businesses; speed up the permit process for oil and gas exploration; block the Obama administration's new workplace election rules, which are rigged in unions' favor; and expedite approval of canal and pipeline dams that generate electricity without destroying river habitats.
These bills all await action by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And far more important than these is another accomplishment by the Republican-led House: It has passed not only a budget, but a budget that actually attempts to deal with the nation's debt crisis. That is more than the U.S. Senate can say, as it has failed to pass any kind of budget for more than three years running. During that time, the federal government has added $4.4 trillion to its debt total.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has noted that the U.S. is poised to go over a "fiscal cliff" at the end of this year. If Obama and Congress do nothing, taxes are set to rise by $494 billion on Jan. 1. On Capitol Hill, the coming event is known as "taxmageddon." Except among the most ardent liberals, it is assumed that such a massive tax hike would cripple our already stagnant economy.
But "pass a budget" is nowhere to be seen on Reid's or Obama's to-do list. Why? As Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., explained last month, "This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor. I don't think we will be prepared to vote before the election." Clearly, the election is looming, because Senate Democrats wasted much of yesterday working on a student loan bill that would save the average student borrower a grand total of $7 per month.
If Obama really thinks this election year is no excuse for shirking the people's business in Washington, he should stop shirking it himself, and he should send Reid a Post-it note urging him to do the same.