Assessing the Budget Breakdown in Congress

Friday, October 28, 2011

Center on Congress Director Lee Hamilton’s quote anchors an Oct. 26 Washington Post article on budget gridlock in Washington. When people call Congress “dysfunctional, when they say it’s not working well, the budget process is Exhibit A in that charge,” says Hamilton. “It’s a very serious problem. The world’s greatest democracy cannot produce a budget.” Read the article, by Post reporter Rosalind S. Helderman.

For some historical perspective on the current budget imbroglio, take a look at Hamilton’s June commentary, “The Budget Fight Is A Skirmish, Not The Real Battle.” 

There he writes that “arguing about the size, scope and ambitions of the federal government….has been an underlying bone of contention since the nation’s founding — remember the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over a national bank, federal responsibilities for Revolutionary War debt, and other such matters?

“Now, of course, the specifics are different, but the basic questions — How big should the federal government be? What’s the rightful mix of public vs. private responsibility? Where should power lie on the federal-state-local spectrum? What really is our vision for the country? — haven’t changed all that much.”