A belated Happy Federal Fiscal New Year to you!
Perhaps you missed the celebration back on October 1st when Uncle Sam officially put the 2014 fiscal year to bed and launched into 2015. That’s because there was none, and why would there be?
The United States government’s record of maintaining its financial house over the previous 12 months makes Bernie Madoff look like the CEO of the Year. The federal government continued to expand its Ponzi scheme, not only by spending more than it collected, but also by not even attempting to fix the problem.
Consider this information supplied by the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFB):
–The Congress passed no appropriations bills for the 2015 fiscal year. Instead, lawmakers simply continued the trend of passing continuing resolutions. The current CR runs until mid-December.
–Just one major tax reform plan was offered. It came from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and included reductions, reforms and repeals of a variety of tax breaks that fill the tax code. The CFB says it’s the most significant proposal in nearly 30 years, but it’s unclear if it will get any traction.
–The government suspended the debt ceiling twice during the 2014 fiscal year. CFB says the government continues to use something called “extraordinary measures” to borrow money to run the government until the next deadline—March 15, 2015.
–CFB says that on three occasions, Congress used budget gimmicks to pay for major expenses. Those include the “doc fix” so doctors caring for Medicare patients would get full payment and something called “pension smoothing” that puts $6.4 billion in the Highway Trust Fund, but fails to account for the red ink in the future.
–The government shut down for 16 days during the last fiscal year because no funding bill had passed and we were 108 days into the fiscal year before lawmakers passed an appropriations bill for 2014.
–We added $800 billion to the national debt, which now stands at $17.8 trillion.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, says there won’t be much to miss about fiscal year 2014. “Who longs for government shutdowns, debt ceiling fights, appropriations stasis and more debt?”
Will fiscal year 2015 be any better? Is there any reason to think so?