It is an axiom of politics that little of substance gets accomplished in an election year, but Congress and the president in 2012 have combined to raise procrastination to an art form.
With the national debt increasing $3.85 billion a day and the year-end fiscal cliff looming, our divided government is once again kicking the can down the road. Instead of even trying to pass a budget, Congress is paying for government activities through a continuing resolution, or CR.
Past CRs often maintained spending at current levels. But the latest version, passed earlier this month by the Republican-controlled House and expected to be approved soon by the Democratic-controlled Senate, adds $8 billion to annual spending, which the Congressional Budget Office puts at $1.039 trillion. The Senate, which hasn’t passed a budget in three years, insisted on the increase.
The government is also otherwise adrift. No Child Left Behind was the landmark law of the George W. Bush presidency, passed by Congress on a bipartisan basis with backing from liberal icon Sen. Ted Kennedy. With the educational performance of U.S. students lagging, No Child Left Behind was an attempt to hold schools and teachers accountable through standardized testing. With small differences, Barack Obama and his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, also favor a performance-based approach.