Leadership, Personal Ambition, and the New (Two-Week) Federal Budget

We have a federal budget. More accurately, we have a two week federal budget now that it has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. Who is at fault for the lack of a budget for the current fiscal year? Who will suffer the consequences?

The President has signed the two week continuing resolution into law. Like many other politicians, the President isn’t crowing about it. Here is the full text of the White House press release:

“On Wednesday, March 2, 2011, the President signed into law:

H.J.Res. 44, which provides FY 2011 appropriations through Friday,
March 18, 2011,for continuing projects and activities of the Federal

Reading the hundreds or thousands of articles on the failure of our politicians to pass a federal budget, there is plenty of blame to go around. The blame for the problem is usually placed at the feet of the entity or the person with which the observer has a political difference.

Perhaps the situation of governing one of the largest bureaucratic entities in the world is the fault of the last Congress which could have passed a budget while the Democrats were in control of both houses of Congress and the White House. But, as it happened, other issues, such as not requiring Members of Congress up for re-election to have to defend their vote during an election year, were more important than continuing to have the government running smoothly. And, even though we are now about halfway through the current fiscal year, there is still no budget for the massive federal bureaucracy that impacts every American. If we needed any convincing evidence that many in positions of leadership are in national politics to satisfy their own unbridled ambitions rather than the overall good of the country, this failure would be at the top of most lists.

Perhaps it is a failure of leadership by President Obama. He has been quick to leap into the fray on some issues like health care but missing in action on other issues. Even the Washington Post, hardly a fan of the President’s political opponents, has noticed his passivity and lack of leadership qualities. It devoted a recent article to the subject entitled “Where’s Waldo?” and contained this observation: “There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.”

Perhaps it is the fault of the Republicans in Congress for trying to cut federal spending.

Perhaps it is the fault of the voters for being concerned about the direction of the country and electing a House of Representatives that has taken a hard line against federal spending.

Perhaps it is the fault of the Democrats in Congress who don’t see a problem with the massive deficit spending by the federal government.

Regardless of each reader’s personal political views, it is obvious that we are at a juncture that will determine the future of our country.

No doubt, the budget debate will be interesting and will have an impact
on all Americans. Perhaps leaders will emerge to get us through this
juncture as they have in our previous history and America will continue
to thrive.

And, in the meantime, there is still a possibility of a furlough for some federal employees in another two weeks as the politicians continue to grapple with how to craft a budget for the current fiscal year. Everyone hopes it will come out in the right way…even if there is little political agreement on what the “right way” should be.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47