Bloomberg was ambitious in its take on the story, touching on all sorts of elements that the others left aside—and leaving readers to muddle through a lot of confusing assertions. Here’s one:
“If President Obama is truly committed to fiscal responsibility, he will use the authority he already has under the law to force Congress to vote immediately on spending cuts,” Boehner said in a statement, referring to a section of the 1974 Budget Act that compels such votes.
Is that true? Bloomberg doesn’t even try to answer the question. Luckily, for the truly interested, the budget brains at Capital Gains and Games have a fascinating back and forth about the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and what it does and doesn’t permit.
Stan Collender seems to make the most important point for today’s debate: Under current law, if Congress takes no action on a rescission proposed by the president, the spending cuts are considered to be disapproved—and the money is supposed to be spent. Under the Obama proposal, if Congress doesn’t act within the required time, the proposed rescission would be considered to be approved—and the money would not be spent.
Sure, that may be deeper than most readers want to go. But there ought to be some middle ground, between lessons in legislative history and political jabs over whether the proposal has a chance of passing—or working.
As I’ve said before, our political leaders aren’t out there very much, explaining the real spending tradeoffs the country faces. And the press could be asking a lot more about those choices.