Obama budget goes down in flames; the whole process needs reform

Here’s a story you are certainly not going to hear about from the mainstream media. Breitbart.com reports, President Obama’s budget failed in the House of Representatives today with only two Democratic members voting for it, the latest in a series of instances in which congressional Democrats have emphatically opposed the president’s budgets when put to a vote.

The budget was proposed as an amendment to the House Republican budget by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC), in order to force Democrats to go on the record in support of the president. Reps. Jim Moran, (D-VA) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) were the only Democrats voting in favor of the bill.

Democrats rejected the vote, calling it a political stunt. This same vote was done when I was serving. Why? Because the Democrats in the House would not sponsor the President’s budget to come forth as a standalone. And yes, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), a member of the House Budget Committee sought to force Democrats to support or reject Obama’s budget before. It seems that the vote was on the Obama budget as a separate amendment.

“This budget will also continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long-term — not by putting the burden on folks who can least afford it, but by reforming our tax code and our immigration system and building on the progress that we’ve made to reduce health care costs under the Affordable Care Act,” Obama explained after rolling out his budget in March.


Well, we reported here on his budget, the one that NEVER balances, increases the debt, and explodes our net interest on the debt as part of the mandatory spending side of our federal budget.

Now, we can go back and forth on the issues of political procedures of the House of Representatives, that’s not the point here. The real question is, what is the purpose of a federal budget? And I’m not just talking about the typical Obama budget of $3.9 trillion, which included billions of dollars in new spending, cuts to the military and included higher taxes on the wealthy.

I am asking why the federal government presents a budget when there is no balanced budget amendment in place? Instead the budget resolution has become simply a political straw man, nothing more. It’s not a binding agreement and has seemingly no relation to the appropriations process — Hence why we have an endless stream of “continuing resolutions” which just allow the government to continue to spend money, with no fiscal restraints.

As well, the appropriations (spending) procedure known as baseline budgeting means that each year there is an automatic increase in spending, and any cuts are just reductions to the increases. The federal government needs to move towards “zero-based budgeting” where the budget planning starts every year, yep, from zero.

However, I don’t see how that can happen when there is no priority on reducing spending in Washington DC. There are twelve appropriations (spending) bills that are done annually, generally not on time and therefore Omnibus spending bills are produced, indeed laden with unrelated spending known as “pork barrels.”

While in Congress, I wrote a letter to House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky) inquiring why we didn’t have a tiered priority process for these spending bills; Tiers I to III. Tier III spending bills, as the lowest priority, could be done on a biennial basis. Each tier would contain four of these appropriations bills and their tier positions would be based upon their constitutionally-driven priority. Needless to say, I never heard back from Chairman Rogers.

So, you want to talk about waste? Consider all the man hours and paper that goes into all these folks producing a budget. The President does a budget. House Democrats do a budget. House Republicans do a budget. The Congressional Progressive Caucus does a budget. The Congressional Black Caucus does a budget. The Republican Study Committee does a budget. Senate Democrats do a budget. Senate Republicans do a budget. And in the end, none of them truly matter.

My recommendation? Go back to the 2006 federal spending level, the last time we had an annual deficit under $400 billion. Establish a balanced budget amendment for the federal government. Maintain federal government spending between 20-22 percent of our GDP — right now it is almost 25 percent and could explode to 30 percent if we don’t get federal spending under control.

If you’ve have read this far, I commend you because I imagine most will see the headline and not bother — and that’s we why have out-of-control spending in Washington DC. The only entitites doing a budget in America are states that have balanced budget amendments, local governments, and the American people.

You may think this is boring — but I bet you won’t on April 15th or whenever you write that check to the federal government so they can study Mexican male sex workers. Oh you’ve forgotten about that one already?


  1. Thx for doing the boring stuff, Mr. West. I hope all of this hard work your doing is leading up to the day when you announce for the presidency! I’ve been watching your progress and your following has reached phenomenal proportions.Keep up the good work, we appreciate it.

  2. I don’t even bother with the mainstream media anymore. Occasionally I watch our local station to check the weather report.

    • I’m the same way. I even resort to foreign news outlets that have English versions. They tell it the way it is without all of the ideology of the sycophant liberal MSM here in the USA.

  3. LTC West, you and I and the rest of the population of the country have to come up with a balanced budget. Companies come up with Balanced budgets.
    It is only the Feds who never come up with a balanced budget. They avoid it at all cost.
    They duck, dodge and weave, to keep from having to cut anything. They don’t even try.
    They should be held accountable, just like the rest of the population.
    My whole adult life I have never heard this government of having a surplus, not ever.
    It needs to change and yes I realize I am talking to deaf ears in Congress.

      • Running around for weeks, like a chicken with its head cut-off. Totally exhausted and run down, but I’m staying home for the weekend to catch up on my own stuff. Never ends!!
        I’m sure you are having more fun than I have been having. LOL

      • ahhhh, yup, i cannot say you are wrong. I have my son for the weekend 1st time in 3 weeks so yep I am having a good time I won’t be on this weekend much. I wish you well though 🙂

      • Yep, going to be goofing off and deserting me, huh? I wish you a wonderful time with your son, but you know as well as I do, you will check in from time to time. 🙂

      • allenbwest/oops_state_department_under_hillary_clinton_lost_track_of_6_billion

        I posted to “the moderate” I would like you to see what I wrote.

  4. What’s the point of balancing the budget over a 10 year span, future Congresses will only vote for more spending and taxing every time the Congress changes.

  5. This is how politicians justify their existence in DC…endless rounds of useless paper shuffling…I think this is how the pols should run the budget – you take in 2.5 trillions in taxes, high priority of 30% or so of the budget go to national defense and the rest breakdown based on what LTC West said -tiered priority… no borrowing, etc, etc… that’s your baseline budget…

  6. i was going to try to leave a reasoned comment, but what’s the use! The folks here are the choir, and the ones who NEED to listen (congress) don’t give a rats a$$ or care anyway!

  7. I believe in zero based budgeting!! Meaning I don’t care what you got last year. Start with a clean sheet of paper and identify and justify each expenditure that needs to take place this year!!

  8. Here’s an idea. Keep the present system, that’s right, I said keep it the way it is.
    Instead of fighting over this mess, just add something to the forms that already exist.
    Add a portion to the tax forms that all of who pay taxes have to fill out, allowing us the taxpayers to decide what our money goes to. That’s right, we would be able to decide if we want 50% to go to defense or to welfare or to infrastructure improvements! Supposedly, we elect people to do this for us. They seem to be screwing it up badly.
    This would return at least some control to the people paying the bills, and take it from the obviously delusional legislators in congress. Since they can’t seem to figure out that just because you have checks, it doesn’t mean you have money.

  9. why would we need a balanced budget amendment? we just need to have people in place that have common sense. of course this would mean no more liberals, which would be fantastic, but to have an amendment for something that should not be an issue is just silly. y’know our founding fathers knew there were things that they felt were “self evident”. the people we have in Washington today are totally clueless.

  10. A Balanced Budget Amendment sounds like a good idea to me. The way one forms that is to take a look at the Tax Revenues from the year before and make that the goal amount of the Balanced Budget for the next year, and not “one dime more”. In fact, BECAUSE we are running such a huge national debt, the amendment should probably say: use the Tax Revenues from the year before minus ten (-10%) or twenty (-20%) or twenty five (-25%) percent so that one does not over-run this upcoming year tax revenues on the budget and contribute even more to the Debt with deficit-spending. The other reason for keeping it lower than last year tax revenues (by a certain percentage) is so as to have a ‘cushion’ in the event that emergency funds are needed for spending during the year (without creating the deficit-spending and the adding to the national debt as is common).

  11. I worked as a finance director in local government in the 80’s. The most frustrating part to me was watching departments spend like crazy at the end of each fiscal year, mostly for things noone needed. When necessities arose, there was always a “special appropriation”. Such a waste!! Zero based budgets at all levels of goverment would be a great start. Justifying continuation of projects, departments, initiatives, etc should be done on a regular basis. When I audited governmental grants, it was all about meeting stupid requirements, never about how the goals were being met. The waste breaks my heart, as I watch my grown children fight to survive in this economy.

  12. This time in history will become known as the Era of the demise of the United States of America! There have been programs and giveaways created to bankrupt this Nation. No longer one nation under God no Longer Land of the Free or Home of the Brave !!

  13. “The federal government needs to move towards “zero-based budgeting” where the budget planning starts every year, yep, from zero.”Exactly. Just like in the real world outside of DC, NYC and Hollywood live. Rather than “move towards”, we need to “move in” and make zero-based budgeting mandatory throughout government. Justify every penny of requested spending based, as Col. West suggests, on 20-22% of GDP-the previous year’s GDP. Any year GDP drops, the budget should also drop by the same %–doubled…call it a penalty for poor performance. Oh, and have all Representatives’ and Senators’ pay and benefits and expenses set and paid by their state. You know, the actual people for whom they “work”.
    Radical, I know.


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