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April 8th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Letters to the President: #809 'What should have happened last fall'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: A potential government shutdown is still looming as I write this letter to the White House. So, come to think of it, I wonder if it will be delivered?

Dear Mr. President,

I don’t want to trouble you with a lot of so-called “Monday morning quarterbacking” for three reasons: first, it rarely serves much purpose; second, it’s not football season; and third, uh…it’s not Monday.

Nonetheless, I have a question that has troubled me during this whole budget showdown: Can’t we stop this from happening? Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that your party was in charge of the White House and both houses of Congress last fall and could have passed a budget if you’d wanted to. Yes, it would have been messy; and yes, no one in Washington wanted to tackle anything controversial so close to an election. But, like I said, let’s put that aside.

Here is my idea: The fiscal year runs from October to October. The budget we are fighting over right now should have gone into effect last fall, meaning we are effectively duking it out over a document that is already a half year too late!

That could be fixed if you rallied all the reasonable Dems and Repubs you can find and said, “Look, let’s make it a rule. The budget for each coming fiscal year must be approved before October 1, or each member of Congress and the administration faces a fine each day until the budget is approved.”

See what I’m driving at? Instead of letting the whole country get slammed up against a shutdown, create a deadline for a decision and stick to it! Is this too much to ask? When the bank wants the mortgage payment, I don’t get to say, “Sorry, I can’t agree on a budget with my wife, so let’s just not deal with that for six months.” When the waiter delivers the check, I can’t say, “Oh sorry, I left my wallet in this upcoming October. I’ll just pay you then!”

I may be wrong, but while all you political types are calculating who will get more or less blame if a shutdown comes, it seems like such a measure could spare everyone. Then you could get on to blaming each other for other things. And after all, isn’t that next on the agenda?

Call if you can. I mean, if the phones are still working there. Ha!

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. lianne

    Just once i would like to hear congress say what they would give up–golden retirement, health care, pay cut, no trips, all the golf days, or term limits. Cut the budget by showing us you really know what cutting means–beginning with Congress and ending with taxing everyone including big business fairly.

    April 9, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    Tom

    The riders you showed tonight on 360 should not be part of a budget – its all idealogical issues that should be their own legislation – planned parenthood, greenhouse gases, etc. And the worst one (at least to us in conservation) is the rider that prohibits any more regulations to keep strip mining away from fresh water streams – so this one would make it legal for Big Coal to poison the water? That is a Big Coal lobby for mountaintop removal mining to continue and to continue destroying water sources. If this is allowed to stay as a rider then Congress is endorsing polluted water for the people that live in the vicinity of those mines. I guess if its not the water source for Congress then it is ok to pollute it and destroy the health and community of people in Appalachia and elsewhere. I'm sure that our forefathers who gave us the Constitution and the framework of our government never meant for stuff like this to go on and they are rolling in the graves at the going-ons in Congress these days.

    You're right to point out that the budget could have been done last fall and that going forward there should be a rule they have to pass a budget by October for the next year. Keep them honest and don't let them hide these machinations in the depths of their legal talk and fine print.

    April 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  3. sherri edge

    We could save alot of money if we quit fighting wars that are not ours. We spend billions and billions of dollars fighting something that don't have anything to do with the United States and we should also do like the state of Kentucky if you test positive for drugs you have your government assistance terminated. And stop giving illegal immigrants free help with homes, and business keep the money for the Americans that are legal

    April 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Amy

    Does this mean that President and Mrs Obama and the girls will be doing the cooking, cleaning, and care of the White House during this shutdown? Will the President be out mowing the White House lawn? Protecting himself with the dog? Driving the beast?

    Why can't the congress pull some overnighters until they get this solved. They certainly should not leave Washington until it's done.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  5. Michael L. Garvin, LTC Ret USAR

    Our Congressman and Senators that we the people placed in office are doing a CRIMAL JOB with this budget that should have been taken care of last year. Not paying our troops that have and are placing their lives on the line is positively unforgiveable. I will do my best to see that each and everyone of them does not get re-elected. This includes these Tea Party guys

    April 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  6. Marion

    Shame on our government and may the soldiers in harms way forgive the stupidity of our elected officials.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm |