The eyes of Texas are on Congress (and McCarthy).

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the Republican Conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. McCarthy met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the debt ceiling. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Paul GleiserThe eyes of Texas are on Congress (and McCarthy).

The biennial Texas Legislative Session is underway in Austin through May 29. It’s the 88th such gathering in the state’s history. If you’re not familiar, the Texas Legislature meets in regular session for only 140 days and only in odd-numbered years to, in part, “…hold hearings to consider all bills and resolutions and other matters then pending…”

One matter that is always pending for the regular legislative session is passing a budget. Texas, like most states (and unlike the federal government), is prohibited by its constitution from passing a deficit budget. Texas can’t legally spend more than it takes in.

That won’t be a problem this session. Texas is projecting a budget surplus north of $50 billion. One of the big arguments in this legislative session will center on what to do with all that money. (Call me crazy, but how about returning a bunch of it to the taxpayers?)

Such is not always the case, however. Sometimes, the Texas Legislature faces a revenue shortfall. When that happens, lawmakers must reduce or eliminate programs, defer capital projects and in general do the hard and often unpleasant work of setting priorities and saying “no” to constituents.

The process isn’t always pretty. But Texas generally does a good job of setting a budget and sticking to it when expected revenues fall short of proposed expenditures. The Texas Legislature, like all legislative bodies, suffers for being populated by politicians. But give them credit. Texas is one of the best run states in the Union.

Contrast the Texas Legislature to the U.S. Congress. It has been decades since Congress actually passed a budget. There is no real budget process in Washington anymore. The U.S. government is funded from year to year either by omnibus spending bills, where separate appropriations for each area of government are mushed into a massive, bloated, pustulated bill that can be passed with a single vote so that specific spending can’t be readily scrutinized — or by continuing resolutions, where lawmakers mindlessly vote to just keep spending what they have been spending.

There is no priority setting. There is no reducing or eliminating programs. There is no hard work. There certainly isn’t any saying, “no” to constituents.

As a result, revenues haven’t exceeded expenditures in decades. Those deficits are financed by borrowing and that debt balance now stands at a mind-numbing $31.5 trillion.

But the U.S. has hit its “debt limit.” The United States –right now, today – cannot borrow so much as the price of a cup of coffee until Congress votes to authorize an increase in that limit.

The Biden administration wants Congress to simply increase the debt limit. (Most) Republicans in Congress want cuts in spending as a precondition.

Texas’s fiscal house is in order. Amazingly, it is still possible to get America’s fiscal house in order, too. But that has to start now. We can’t keep on like this.

So, we’re about to see just what kind of man House Speaker Kevin McCarthy really is. And we’re about to see if Republicans are, in truth, any better than Democrats.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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4 Responses

  1. Greg R says:

    To put trillion in perspective, a million seconds is about eleven days. A billion seconds is about 32 years and a trillion seconds is about 32,500 years. Just a little FYI

  2. Mike says:

    Let’s not forget all those Czars that Bush and Obama added. Anyone heard from any one of those people in the past 10 years? Wikipedia has Bush appointing 28 with Obama upping the ante to 39 of these high-level bureaucrats. Who are they and what government function are they over? How many people do they supervise? I would imagine cutting out 39 additional levels of the Federal Government would be a nice sized cut in the budget. Before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, all these folks did not exist; we were doing just fine without them.

    And how about all that money we waste on California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut greasing the palms of inept bankrupt government programs these states have so criminally employed!!! Those five states were in major debt troubles until Biden was elected and WA-LA suddenly they were running a surplus from out of the blue. How much did we pay Big Pharma for all those “Free” covid shots? Billions upon billions for sure. Covid is a self generating cash cow for Big Pharma and those who favor that scam.

    Without droning on too much, how about all that money we give to those countries that absolutely hate us. Last time I saw the numbers on some discretionary spending package back in 2021 we were shelling out well over a few billion (which is a drop in the bucket on a 3 or 4 trillion dollar budget) to countries like Cambodia, Laos, Miramar, Pakistan, couple of the other “stan” ending countries, Bangladesh, Kenya, Sudan, and others. What favors are we buying with these people that would make our lives better? T-shirt manufacturing or sippy cups for our kids?

    Now it is The Green New Deal that is lining the pockets of electric car producers, China’s solar panels and minerals for batteries, wind turbines that half do not work because parts are not available for repairs, on and on. How many hundreds of billions are being wasted on this nonsense?

    The cancer with the title of Federal Government is in Stage 4 and the patient cannot be saved if we don’t do something about this budget and the disease it feeds.

    • Buddy Saunders says:

      Greg, you and Mike, along with Paul, all make the point very well that government spending is vastly in excess of of what it should be. Unfortunately, that circumstances unlikely to change.

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