The debate over Syria may be taking up all the air in Washington, but there are still other issues Congress is technically dealing with, among them a budget. The federal fiscal year ends September 30, and the Congress hasn't passed a budget to send the president in more than four years. The inability of the Senate to pass any kind of budget out of its chamber means government funding relies on short-term measures like continuing resolutions. Additionally, the federal government's debt limit, currently at about $16.7 trillion, is about to be reached. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew informed Congress just last month that that limit would be hit in mid-October, sooner than expected. Absent an increase in the limit, the federal government won't be able to borrow more money to pay bills it doesn't have the money for.
While some conservatives wanted, quixotically, to use the budget negotiations to secure a defunding of Obamacare, Republican leadership paid lip service only to broader budget "reforms," promising to get the federal government's ability to borrow money expanded in exchange.
Yet even the meager concessions in the "path" to a balanced budget GOP leadership is seeking is enough to trot out the old strategy of fear mongering rather than engaging the actual issues surrounding the federal budget (namely that it spends about twice as much as it collects, an unsustainable situation).
The latest campaign mailer comes via Lindsay Siler, the issues campaign director for Organizing for Action (aka BarackObama.com):
There's been a lot of talk about whether Congress will pass a budget by the end of this month—or instead, as some have called for, let the government shut down.
I want to spell out exactly what a shutdown would mean:
Nearly all federal programs—and the people they work for—would suffer. We're talking delayed military pay and veterans' benefits. Shutting down Head Start centers, and Meals on Wheels programs. Delayed applications for new Social Security enrollments, and loans for students and small businesses.
One thing is clear: Shutting down the government will hurt the American people…
When some members of Congress talk about a government shutdown, they frame it as a viable bargaining chip—just part of the debate over the budget.
The truth is, a government shutdown will shutter crucial services the American people depend on and wreak havoc with our economy.
President Obama has put forth a smart plan for the budget—and he's said he's willing to hear new ideas from people on both sides of the aisle. The budget Congress passes needs to continue to grow the economy from the middle out.
So far in this debate, though, some members of Congress have shown they're just not serious about doing right by the people they represent.
Our elected officials shouldn't use the economy, the budget, or even the threat of taking away health care from millions of Americans just to score political points with their base.
A note to Siler: elected officials, and their various hangers-on and apparatchiks, shouldn't use transparently fearmongering tactics to avoid dealing with serious issues and difficult choices.