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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Laws Are For Little People, I Guess

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Deadlines are for chumps, apparently. Yesterday, as the president unveiled his stunningly dishonest and demagogic push for a  higher debt ceiling, we also learned that he has no intention of meeting the legally required deadline for submitting a budget.

Congressman Paul Ryan notes that this not the first time Obama has decided to ignore the plain language of the law:

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the President to submit his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year no later than the first Monday of February. Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced that for the third time in four years it will not adhere to this legal deadline. The Office of Management and Budget cites “the need to finalize decisions and technical details of the document.”[1] This failure to meet statutory budget obligations has become a pernicious pattern for the President and his party’s leaders. For over 1,000 days, Senate Democrats have failed to pass a budget resolution, ignoring the legal requirement to pass a budget resolution by April 15 of each year.

As House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan recently noted, “The decision to delay the release of his budget again could not come at a more precarious moment for our fiscal and economic future. Rather than tackle these challenges head-on, this President continues to punt, while his party’s leaders in the Senate have simply abandoned responsible budgeting altogether.”[2]

Despite trillion-dollar deficits and a growing urgency for Washington to put its fiscal house in order, President Obama continues to demonstrate an unprecedented disrespect for his legal obligations. A review of the historical record reveals that no administration has so flagrantly ignored its budgetary roles and responsibilities. The House Budget Committee has compiled a chronological review of Presidential budget submissions dating back to 1923. Several key points from the data:

  • In just one term, President Obama has missed the budget deadline more than any other President.

  • In the 90 years covering FY1923 through FY 2013, President Obama is the only President to miss the deadline two years in a row. He is the only President who has missed the deadline in three of the four years of a term. And, he holds the record for the longest delay (at 98 days).

  • All Presidents from Harding through Reagan’s first term met the statutory budget submission deadline in every year. In five of these years, a change in the law was requested and passed to extend the deadline, and the President always met it.

 

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