Politics

Democrat Budget Strategy Lacking The Force

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The three-week budget extension passed by the House on Tuesday was reported almost universally as being "approved despite GOP defections." Politico points out that House Democrats aren't exactly operating as a coherent block either:

Direction of life force flow unclear

The top two Democratic leaders in the House have twice split on whether to approve short-term government funding bills that cut billions from federal accounts. Senate Democrats haven't put forward a long-term spending plan that can move through their chamber, and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol say they have no idea where the White House stands or who's running the show.

The result is a rank and file that is confused about its direction and unhappy with the leadership — or lack of it — on when to go along with the Republican-controlled House on budget matters and when to stand and fight.

"The sum and substance of our strategy can't be waiting for the other side to [mess] up," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told bloggers Wednesday.

But for many Democrats, that's exactly what their leaders' short-term strategy amounts to.

In a follow-up interview with POLITICO, the Brooklyn liberal said if there is a more elegant Democratic plan, "it's such a Jedi mind-meld going on that it hasn't filtered down to my level."

Speaker Boehner's argument is that the short-term resolutions add more opportunities to make cuts, while notable defectors like Mike Pence (R-In.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) want to make a stand now. The split in Democratic ranks appears to be between those who want to do nothing but cry and those who will go along with some cuts as long as certain sacred programs aren't touched.  

Divided government can be a marginal improvement over the free-spending ways of an unified Congress and executive. Yet this squabbling over crumbs doesn't mean jack squat if the only thought given entitlement reform is "consideration."

Watch Matt Welch discuss entitlement reform on Freedom Watch:

More from Reason on the legislative branch here.