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You had one job, Congress, and you blew it.


Actually, they have more than one job, but allocating spending is a big one. To wit, Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.”

That means you, Congress! You have to pass legislation to spend government money, and you have to let people know what and how you are spending it. It seems like all you want to do is spend money, and you can’t even do that right.  (For a full list of all the jobs Congress is supposed to do, check out Article 1, Section 8. Declaring a “National Pi Day” is not on that list. Shockingly.)

I notice that a lot of information is assumed in much of the reporting and punditry on the shutdown. We read about “continuing resolutions” with very little explanation of what that is and no explanation of how the budget process is actually supposed to work. Just from my own — albeit anecdotal — conversations with friends and family, most people have no clue about how the budget process works. I understand not wanting to know how the sausage is made, but as it is our money they’re spending and our children’s money they’re borrowing, we have a duty to be informed. Remember, the Constitution also says we are the boss of them. (That’s a paraphrase or in the penumbras or something.)

I decided what we need is a primer on how Congress is supposed to spend money — the budget process explained for the average citizen. In my Washington Times Communities column, you’ll find part one of a three-part interview with Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
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Ornstein describes himself as a centrist, and it’s safe to say he and I are not on the same section of the “I stand with” graph.  However, the idea that we must all be in ideological agreement before we can agree on the basic functioning of government is kind of what got us into this mess in the first place. Ornstein is very knowledgeable and clearly communicated all the details necessary for the average citizen to understand this very important role of our government.

Let me know what you think, and pass it on to your friends and family. “We, the people” are ultimately responsible for the type of government we have. If we don’t even know what the government is supposed to do, how can we properly chase them through the streets with pitchforks? Let’s get educated.

Start at Between Errands on The Washington Times Communities Pages.


One response to “You had one job, Congress, and you blew it.”

  1. […] You had one job, Congress, and you blew it. […]

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