Monday, April 11, 2011

All budget, all the time

If you follow politics and you're someone concerned about money matters, then this week is the week for you.

In Washington, all eyes will be on Congress as members put pen to paper to solidify a compromise and avoid a government shutdown. But even before this process is finished, members are also turning their attention to two major fights looming on the horizon - debate over whether to raise the nation's debt ceiling, and the debate over the 2012 budget. If you thought the back-and-forth over last week's threatened shutdown was riveting, then get ready for more.

Then, there's Massachusetts. This week is traditionally the time when the House releases its budget for the coming fiscal year. Look for the document itself to be released mid-day Wednesday, with something like 1500 amendments filed by the end of the week, and a debate after school vacation week.

What's interesting is that all of this discussion is unlikely to produce meaningful change regarding the fiscal health of our state or our nation.

Republicans in Washington scored a major victory last week in getting Democrats to concede to spending cuts, even if they were less than what Republicans wanted. But, these cuts do not produce the systemic reform that is needed to address real deficit and debt reduction. Likewise, the state budget here in Massachusetts is unlikely to yield any meaningful change in the way our state operates, and will likely do little if anything to trim our state debt load, help to make our pension system sustainable, or reform entitlement programs.

As members of the public, we have the luxury of being able to sit back and enjoy good political theater as politicians spar over fiscal matters. But, as taxpayers, our patience should be growing thin as government inaction persists. The truth is that the fiscal health of our nation and our state can't afford to wait any longer for sizable reforms to be enacted - and that's something people of all political persuasions should be able to agree on. We need courageous leaders willing to rise up to this challenge and to take action.


  1. Washington solution.....raise the debt and increase taxes. That will be Obama's message Wednesday. Ugly.......

  2. the debt needs to be increased or we will default on current debt obligations. people (republicans mainly) mistakenly argue this is about adding to future debt. it isn't. this has to do with current obligations. if it is not raised the u.s. will default on debt for the first time ever and spark a global financial crisis. so good news if you want to make sure obama isn't re-elected and you want to trade down from a house to a cardboard box and a gun to fight off marauding gangs of looters.


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