Newly elected members of Congress are told by their respective party to spend four hours of every day during their four-day work week to call donors when, among their many duties, they should focus on keeping America financially stable. Insuring their re-election obviously takes precedent over maintaining a fiscally solvent America.
Evidence is replete our dialing-for-dollars legislators follow the after-me-you-come-first mantra. Why do we keep electing them to office to repeat their non-fiscally responsible misbehavior?
Fiscally responsible citizens, which accounts for 81 percent of Americans, who even have a modicum of intelligence, have had it with irresponsible members of Congress, which includes Iowa Republican Senators Grassley and Ernst and Representatives Axne (Dem.), Finkenour (Dem.), King (Rep.) and Loebsack (Dem.). Year after year, they have failed to approve a new fiscal year budget by the October 1 deadline. Furthermore, they believe continuing resolutions are acceptable, have refused to tackle America’s $22 trillion federal deficit and haven’t even thought of eliminating inefficient, yet costly, governmental programs; sad.
The last time Congress followed the law and established the fiscal year’s budget by October 1 was in 1998. The time gap between the start of each new fiscal year and the date that year’s final spending bill becomes law has grown to 216 days; how delinquent and irresponsible. You may recall Feb. 9, 2018 was when Congress suspended the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019. What has Congress done to resolve the problem? Nothing.
The Department of Treasury needs to be commended as they have taken numerous steps to avoid defaulting on bond obligations by moving money around and delaying debt payments. In dire times, which we’re in with the Trump administration and the 115th Congress, the Treasury normally borrows more money to stay afloat—Congress has refused to raise the debt limit. Another example: tax receipts, particularly money paid by corporations, due to Trump’s Tax Reform Act, are down by $1.1 trillion; Congress was warned this would occur and ignored sound counsel.
Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently stated America’s economy could suffer “unthinkable” damage if Trump and Congress don’t raise the federal debt limit. Financial experts have projected that failing to raise the debt ceiling could lead to a stock market crash, a significant increase in interest rates and a cessation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments for 178 million Americans. Even Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s month-after-month plea to raise the debt ceiling has fallen on deaf Democrat and Republican ears.
Time to act is running out as the House and Senate take their summer recess on July 26 and August 2, respectively and won’t return to the Capitol until Sept. 3. The Bipartisan Policy Center says our Treasury’s ability to avoid a budgetary calamity has changed from October to now early September. Hence, when lawmakers return to the Capitol after Labor Day, they will only have about a week to prevent a catastrophic default.
I wish Iowa’s Congressional delegation would get off the phone soliciting re-election contributions and solve our current financial mess, $22 trillion federal deficit and meet October 1’s new fiscal year deadline. When legislators realize constituents are giving them a 15 percent approval rating—for good reason—then they might change their fiscally irresponsible behavior.
I’d like my fellow Iowans to please give me one reason we should re-elect any current member of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, who can’t or won’t give us a balanced budget, resolve the federal deficit and abide by the October 1 fiscal year budget deadline while they prefer to spend their time dialing-for-dollars and hoodwinking their constituents by claiming to be responsible legislators.
Steve Corbin is Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa, and a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.