Fact: Congress Has NOT Passed a Real Federal Budget Since 1997


The fact remains that Congress has not passed a real federal budget since 1997 (“the first balanced budget in a generation”.)  An “omnibus spending bill” was passed in April of 2009 but that is not technically a budget. 


Congressional inaction has left the federal government running on extensions (“Continuing Resolutions”) of a budget that was passed when Bill Gates was still CEO of Microsoft, NASA landed the first spacecraft on Mars, and Google was working out of a garage. 

The last federal budget is from the time before iPods and iPads, before SPAM e-mail exceeded legitimate email, before Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – and before the global financial crisis that sent the world into recession and US federal spending into the stratosphere. 

(“This is Your Government on Crack,” by Susanne Trimbath 02/12/2013). 

As one very famous Republican President said (repeatedly in his defeat of Jimmy Carter): “There you go again!” 

And, sure, this isn’t the first time the federal government has shut down for lack of spending authorization. I remember when my elderly mother and her sisters – first generation Americans eager to see the place where their parents disembarked after their long ocean voyage from Sicily – were so disappointed to find Ellis Island and the Status of Liberty closed that October of 1996. 

The big difference this time is the way government is spending – which I discuss in detail in the article quoted above. USAToday has an article that summarizes just how different the government operates today than it did 17 years ago. There is a big reason Republicans might want to re-think shutting down the government. According to USAToday, gun permits cannot be issued while the federal government is closed. 

Let’s hope one thing is the same in 2013 as it was in 1996 – when they re-opened the government Congress passed a real budget.


(Susanne Trimbath, Ph.D. is CEO and Chief Economist of STP Advisory Services. She participated in an Infrastructure Index Project Workshop Series throughout 2010. She worked in operations at depository trust and clearing corporations in San Francisco and New York, including Depository Trust Company, a subsidiary of DTCC; formerly, she was a Senior Research Economist studying capital markets at the Milken Institute. Her PhD in economics is from New York University.  Trimbath is co-author of Beyond Junk Bonds: Expanding High Yield Markets. This article was posted first at newgeography.com) –cw




Vol 11 Issue 80

Pub: Oct 4, 2013