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Nick Wakeman

The 2014 budget (yawn) is released

I remember the good old days when the president would release his budget. We’d actually plan ahead of time. There would be the main budget briefing, and then most of the agencies would have individual briefings.

We make assignments, and of course, we had to order copies of the budget ahead of time and dispatch a couple people to pick printed copies. This was before they were available online.

The release of the budget kicked off a whole process of hearings and more hearings and counter proposals and budget committee markups and committee votes and then actual votes by the House and Senate.

Usually, it wouldn’t get passed by the end of fiscal year, but it usually was completed in the first quarter of the next fiscal year.

Geez, I almost feel nostalgic.

So today (April 10) the president released his $3.77 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2014, and I’m scratching my head and wondering if it even really matters anymore?

If you look at the budget process over the last few years, it seems that there is, well, no budget process. We just lurch from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, and actions are only taking place under some dire threat of catastrophe.

Can we glean anything meaningful or actionable from the budget? Maybe, but you can’t count on the numbers. Your best bet is using the document to understand the priorities.

For example, the Social Security Administration wants mandatory funding for more Supplemental Security Income re-determinations and Continuing Disability Reviews, which sound like audits and fraud, waste and abuse activities.

Will that get mandatory funding? Probably not, but this is the kind of work will still be needed. The budget document says that for every $1 spent on Continuing Disability Reviews, the government saves $9.

At the Homeland Security Department, cybersecurity initiatives get a call out and $44 million in new funding. E-verify gets $114 million. Again, these are areas that will be priorities regardless of the budget.

But frankly, most everyone knew this before the budget proposal was released. Are there any surprises in the budget?

I really wonder what the relevancy of the budget is, and I’m concluding that it’s not very relevant.

It’s a talking point that both parties use to shout down the other side. It won’t be relevant again until the budgeting process gets back on track, and the debate among the political parties and the White House and Congress focuses on how to move the process forward.

As crazy as it sounds, it can be done, but the question is, if not this year, then when?

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:24 PM


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