Members of Congress haven't been playing with a full deck for several years now when it comes to the budget. But they still managed to come up with some seriously bizarre moves on the fiscal front in 2013, according to CNNMoney.
1. How would you reform the tax code? We won't tell ... for decades
No lawmaker wants to go on the record with a politically unpopular proposal ahead of a long, complicated negotiation. But keeping such proposals confidential for 50 years -- longer than presidential records are sealed? Seems a bit much. Yet that's just the cone of silence the Senate Finance Committee offered senators who agreed to lay out their favorite tax breaks.
2. Stand up and be counted on the debt ceiling? Um, no thanks
Raising the debt ceiling is a necessary evil if lawmakers want to make good on their spending commitments and don't want the country to default on its debt. But it's also become a politically toxic vote. So Congress has found clever, convoluted ways to effectively raise the nation's borrowing limit without actually publicly approving an increase. Twice this year, lawmakers agreed to temporarily "suspend" the debt ceiling. Doing so allows the Treasury Department to continue borrowing to pay the country's bills, thereby averting default. Then, when the suspension ends, the debt limit is reset to the old cap plus whatever Treasury borrowed during the suspension period. The latest suspension expires on Feb. 7.
3. Spending cuts across the board! Oh no, wait ...
The forced budget cuts known as the sequester -- widely derided as a dumb way to cut deficits -- were supposed to hit thousands of programs, projects and activities equally. The furlough of 15,000 air traffic controllers caused all sorts of delays at airports, public uproar and plenty of media coverage. So lawmakers did an about-face and loosened up the funding rules so that the furloughs could be canceled.
The list goes on.