EDITORIAL: Can Washington act responsibly?

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Given what we’ve been seeing from our elected officials in recent months, perhaps it’s appropriate to provide some context in the form of thoughts from some of America's Founding Fathers.

The conduct of those currently in Washington reminds us of something attributed to John Adams, who said: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Adams, the second President of United States, could foresee what would eventually happen in Washington. But even Adams may not have known of how vicious things would become. The great man would not likely have used the terms that best describe today’s unpleasant environment in Washington, such as vicious, vulgar, bullying and obnoxious.

These days, it’s not unusual for an individual’s proposed legislation or action to be rejected out-of-hand; often, the lawmaker is also verbally attacked. This shutdown of any debate prevents the public from being informed and participating in the discussion because the focus becomes the attacks, not the legislation.

It’s the new state of “politics as usual.” It’s been four years since the federal government has passed a budget — not just a failure to act responsibly, but a violation of law.

The U.S. Constitution does not specify how the budget process is to work. Congress, however, has established a process that has evolved over time. It passed laws that stipulate how to move the process forward in an orderly fashion. In accordance with the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the President must submit a budget to Congress each year. Federal budget legislation also requires the President submit the budget between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February. The President’s budget should contain details about government spending and proposals to provide revenue.

Wonder why a budget isn’t forthcoming? Perhaps one reason is the federal government is borrowing more than $4.5 billion each day — hard for families to do, but easy for an entity who can print money.

As we pointed out a few days ago, the so-called “sequester” triggered on March 1 is just another in a long list of “sky-is-falling” disasters purposefully created by Washington politicians who have only their self-interest in mind. This mind-boggling antic will not cut spending at all. It merely slows the growth of spending and by very little. Spending will continue to grow this year, and over the next 10 years, it has been estimated that it will increase by $2.4 trillion. Incredibly, the Washington political class calls this “budget cuts,” even in the absence of a budget.

The sobering fact is that those elected to honestly represent the public’s interest are failing to do so. An overdose of truth serum may be needed to get them on track.

A review of the U.S. Constitution confirms that it was indeed, “made only for a moral and religious people.” John Adams, for one, recognized that. Unfortunately, few recognize it today.