Many of us at Hit & Run will be weighing in with various takes on the looming debt-ceiling deadline (which is patently fake, btw) and other government-spending issues, but here's a question for the right here and now: What's the budget gonna be for the next fiscal year, which starts in October?
The short answer? Nobody knows. The long answer? Nobody cares. At least not in the federal goverment. Especially the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee which, at long last and months overdue, are getting around (supposedly) to releasing a budget proposal. Here's the long-range plan coming from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), which isn't exactly inspiring:
One version of Conrad's budget that was in circulation this spring would cut the deficit by about $4 trillion over a decade. It would do so by raising taxes by about $2 trillion and cutting spending by $1.5 trillion. The additional savings of about $600 billion would come from reduced interest payments.
Several moderate Democrats offered only muted praise for Conrad's plan and stopped well short of supporting it.
Since the Senate Dems haven't put it out there yet, who knows what they will propose to spend in 2012.
This much we do know: President Obama has proposed spending $3.7 trillion; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wants to shell out $3.6 trillion; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to spend $3.7 trillion; and the Republican Study wants to spend $3.6 trillion.
Why oh why don't Dems and Reps agree to spend $3.65 trillion in 2012 and start the appropriations dance? Then they can get on with all the phantom savings and deficit reduction that will come from impossibly-high revenues (Obama's budget anticipates average revenues over the next decade at more than four percentage points above the average of the past 60 years; Paul Ryan believes they will be on average 2 percentage points higher. Good luck fellas!) and historically dubious spending cuts in the out years of whatever timeline is offered?
Why not? Because that would actually bind them to something real. And what fun is that when you're playing with Monopoly money?
Take it away, Zager & Evans!