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With Focus On Obama Budget, Fiscal Watchdog Warns Of Broken Process

As fiscal experts around Washington and beyond pored over President Obama's 2013 budget proposal, one of the nation's most persistent nags about the need for the U.S. to clean up its budgetary act reminded his fellow citizens of just how much a mess the whole process is.

David Walker, one-time head of the Government Accountability Office, pointed out something that isn't news but still has the power to disturb when you actually take the time to mull it over: Congress has gotten in the habit of not passing spending bills on time or budget resolutions at all, for that matter.

In a YouTube video aimed at educating the public Walker, who now heads the pro-fiscal accountability Comeback America Initiative, also reminds his listeners that only a minority of federal spending is laid out in that spending legislation.

WALKER: "And even when they do pass a budget and spending bills on time, they only control about 38 percent of spending. Can you imagine doing a family budget, a business budget or any other budget that only controls 38 percent of spending. No wonder we have $15 trillion of federal debt and (are) adding debt at record rates..."

Walker means that spending by federal entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare aren't reflected in those spending bills, for instance.

Walker also points his audience to an online Fiscal IQ test that will probably leave many people feeling like they could stand to learn some more about the nation's fiscal situation, which is his point, after all.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


An Exuberantly Dark First Novel Explores The Chaos Of Central Africa

Fiston Mwanza Mujila's novel, Tram 83, is a freewheeling tale about life in an imaginary place inspired by the author's home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Critic John Powers has a review.
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Marion Nestle: "Soda Politics: Taking On Big Soda (And Winning)"

Changing public attitudes have led to a decline in U.S. soda sales. But health expert Marion Nestle believes many people still consume unhealthy amounts of sugary drinks. She argues beverage companies are spending millions on research that misleads consumers.


Sen. Harry Reid Sues Makers Of Exercise Band Over His Injuries

The Senate minority leader and his wife are seeking more than $50,000 in damages over what they say is a defective resistance band that caused him to lose sight in his right eye, among other injuries.

How Skyscraper Construction Ties Into Tech Bubbles

There's a lot of talk in Silicon Valley about a tech bubble.Our Planet Money podcast team examines one possible indicator of a bubble: architecture. Very, very tall architecture.

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