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President Bush is banking on Americans’ short memories and the fact that most of them, having real lives, are not terribly engrossed in the congressional budget process.
That explains his brazenness in denouncing this Democratic-run Congress for failing to pass all or even most of the 12 funding bills for the government by the Sept. 30 deadline.
The Democrats complain that Bush, who couldn’t be prodded into vetoing anything when the Republicans were running Congress, is now threatening to veto 10 of these bills if they are passed.
The awkward fact is that Congress rarely if ever finishes its work on time. The last time the lawmakers passed all the spending bills on time was in 1994. The next year, they passed none and blundered into briefly shutting down the government.
The typical solution is to buy time with continuing resolutions, stopgap funding measures, for the unpassed spending bills until Congress can agree on the final versions.
As Bush noted, the temptation is to take all the unpassed measures and lump them into a single giant spending bill that the lawmakers can load up with pork.
That showed the president was paying attention last year when the Republicans were in charge and set a record for sloth and irresponsibility on the spending bills.
The GOP-run Congress reached the deadline with nine appropriations bills still unpassed. Instead of concentrating on their unfinished work, the Republican leadership, with an eye on the upcoming election, scheduled a series of pointless but politically gaudy votes on things like the estate tax and gay marriage.
Deservedly, they lost the election and, in a funk and in hopes of gumming up the next Congress, shoved all their unfinished work off onto the incoming Democrats.
The next year the Democrats did indeed wrap up the nine unfinished bills into a single omnibus $464 billion measure that was within Bush’s spending limits and, for technical reasons, largely free of pork.
The president signed it, unlike the present situation, without a lot of noisy talk.