The Broken Budget Process & How Mike Enzi Wants to Fix it

If it’s April, it must be budget season in Congress—or, more specifically, time for Congress to blow its annual budget deadline. April 15 is the official target. But no one takes that seriously. Often, lawmakers spend an extra month or so hammering out a budget resolution. More often these days, they opt not to pass one at all.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, for one, is fed up. Looking to spotlight the insanity, he is holding a series of hearings this month exploring “How to fix the broken budget process.” With House Republicans spending yet another spring beating each other up over a budget plan, Enzi is digging deep, looking at ways to overhaul the system from soup to nuts. The first hearing, held April 6, looked at “how the federal government’s financial mismanagement contributes to the broken budget process.” For this, the head of the General Accounting Office came in to lament how his people can’t even do a proper audit of the government’s financials because the data is so shabby.

This Wednesday’s session featured a collection of academic types talking about shifting the way government is organized and funded to an outcomes-based “portfolio” system that would make decision-making less fragmented and more goal-oriented. Next week’s hearing will focus on ending “crisis budgeting,” and the final one, at the end of the month, on transforming the president’s annual budget proposal and Congress’s budget resolutions from meaningless, toothless guidelines into real “governing documents.” Then there’s Enzi’s pet issue, biennial budgeting, which enjoyed its own set of hearings in the fall. (Multiple bills on this issue are already drifting around Capitol Hill.)


By:  Michelle Cottle
Source: The Atlantic