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Cushman: Budgeting blame game
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By failing to pass a 2011 budget last fall while still in charge of the House, Senate and presidency, the Democratic Party set up the potential for the Democrats to blame the Republicans.

How could this happen?

Who is responsible for the U.S. budget? The president? The Senate? The House of Representatives?

The president submits his "budget," but it is only a recommendation, a suggestion or wish list of what the administration would like to see raised and spent.

All bills that raise money through taxes and borrowing and then spend that money must begin in the House of Representatives as outlined in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. This is by design. House members are elected every two years. Senators are elected every six years, and the president is elected every four years. Additionally, there are 435 House members, 100 senators and only one president.

The House's more frequent elections combined with the fact that it comprises more members results in it being the government body whose will most closely reflects that of the American people.

The people spoke clearly in the 2010 elections by electing a Republican House. This reflects a desire by the people for smaller government and fiscal responsibility.

The government is facing a potential shutdown because no 2011 budget was passed last year, when it was supposed to be passed. At that time, the Democratic Party controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency. The 2011 budget year began Oct. 1, 2010.

Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama failed last year in their duty to pass the 2011 budget.

They failed the American people.

Was this an inability of the leaders of the party in control (the Democratic Party) to work together and do their job? Or was this a deliberate and strategic play, devised under the specter of the Republicans taking over the House, with the goal of setting up a possible shutdown once that happened?

The last time the government was shut down, the Democrats blamed the Republicans. The time period was Nov. 14-19, 1995, and Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 6, 1996. This was the first full year budget of the new Republican Congress, not a budget left by the Democrats as unfinished business, as it is this time.

The 1995 shutdown led to a balanced budget and welfare reform. Good conservative fiscal outcomes of real programs, a win for Republicans. The Democrats won the media spin.

The Republican House Should:

1) Remind the American people why we are in this mess - the Democratic Party did not do its job. Also, remind them that you are thrilled to have been elected and are looking forward to making the hard and tough decisions the Democratic leaders avoided.

2) Reconcile the House and Senate versions stipulating that members of Congress will not get paid during a government shutdown. If the Democratic-controlled Senate stalls, or the Democratic president vetoes, then make sure the American people know about it.

3) Hold firm to ensure that the next budget contains serious expense reductions and tax reductions that will lead to growth in the private sector. This would be a real recovery, not the false recovery that results from government spending.

4) Continue to approve 2011 budget bills even if the Senate stalls or the president vetoes. Keep the pressure on the Senate and the president. Make sure the American people know that the House passed a budget that reflects the will of the people based on the most recent election.

Here's the way it's supposed to work: The House passes the budget bill, the Senate approves (and often reconciles with the House), and then the bill gets sent to the president for approval. Since the House is the closest to the American people, it would be wise for the Senate and the president to open their ears and listen.

Based on where we are on the 2011 budget, either the Democratic Party is critically inept or strategically brilliant while being duplicitous.

You decide.

Learn more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman at Creator's Syndicate,