WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama earlier this year promised America a new era of fiscal responsibility.
But with his first full fiscal year about to begin Oct. 1, the Democratic-controlled Congress has not passed a single major fiscal 2010 spending bill, and is virtually certain to begin funding the government next month with the same kind of stopgap steady-spending measure used during all eight years of the Bush administration.
“This is indicative of a larger problem,” said budget expert Susan Tanaka.
Those issues involve making the tough decisions that would pare the anticipated $9.05 trillion in deficits that the administration forecasts over the next 10 years, said Tanaka, director of citizen education and engagement at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which promotes fiscal responsibility.
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The White House and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted last week that the fiscal 2009 budget deficit would reach about $1.6 trillion, or 11.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product, a post-World War II record. CBO sees a 2010 deficit of $1.38 trillion, or 9.6 percent of GDP next year.
Congress in April approved binding guidelines for the 2010 budget, which aim to cut the deficit in half by 2012 and provide for increased funding in many domestic programs. Congress’s next step is to specify how that money will be spent by passing 12 appropriations bills, each on a different subject.
The House did its part, passing the spending bills before leaving for its summer recess on July 31. But the Senate has passed only four of the spending measures, and no compromises have yet been reached.