Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Dynamics of Budget Spending in the US Government
Seeking control of the budget process by both the legislative and executive branches of government is part of the system of checks and balances of American democracy. While it is true that the annual budget emanates from Congress as it has always been deemed to possess the power of the purse, it does not entirely control the budget process as the executive branch will also have to determine his legislative agenda for Congress – the priority bills and projects which Congress must speedily enact and finance, such as healthcare, education, and war spending.
Congress, on one hand, can choose not to follow the President’s legislative agenda if it stands on opposite sides of a political debate, such as the funding for the war in Iraq, as the President is having such a hard time, in a Democrat-dominated Congress, to convince the lawmakers to speedily and fully finance the ongoing military operations and infrastructure building in the war-torn region.
On the other hand, the President is not at all beholden to the whims and caprices of Congress, as he possesses veto powers to junk bills, including budget items in general appropriations, which he deems inconsistent with the general executive policies set by his administration. More so, these checks and balances can even escalate into political struggles that may not only create legal problems for both branches of government but polarize public opinion especially on very divisive issues, such as funding for stem-cell research, abortion, education, healthcare and the war spending.