Government Spending

Sen. Kent Conrad, Senate Dems Punt on Producing Budget Because GOP is Obstructionist, Needs Document to Vote On


In the Washington Times, Deroy Murdock reminds us that it's been three years since "Senate Democrats passed a budget. This dereliction of duty lagrantly violates the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act."

Here's Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the head of the Senate Democrats:

"We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year. It's done. We don't need to do it."

And here's the budget chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.):

"This is the wrong time to vote on the floor…I don't think we will be prepared to vote before the election."

Conrad is officially retiring at the end of his current term, which expires early next year. But if we define active employment as, you know, doing your basic job function (such as passing a budget resolution), then he's been off the clock for at least the past three years. He's the king of legislative vaporware, constantly signaling that he's about to release some big plan than never seems to make it out the door so that it can actually be discussed in the light of day.

Well, we know who is to blame for all of this, right? It's got to be the Republicans, even though they don't control the Senate (and they didn't control the House either, until January 2011). Get this: The GOP is going to play politics with a budget resolution, the filthy bastards.

Cue the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who is as good a pal as Kent Conrad will ever have in the press. He writes that the good senator (routinely described by one and all as a "budget hawk," "a deficit hawk," etc., despite his inability to, you know, produce a budget) wants to become more bipartisan. But those freaking GOP bastards really just want to run against any plan and any vote to raise taxes and spending:

Republicans are agog that Senate Democrats have been so absent in the budget debate. They can't believe that, in a period of record deficits, Senate Democrats won't offer a vision and defend it through a normal budget process.

But they don't want Senate Democrats to pass a budget….

…on Wednesday, Conrad tried to do what so many in Washington said was necessary: Move to Simpson-Bowles. Make this debate bipartisan. Instead, Simpson-Bowles got trashed by Republicans and jammed into a protected, partisan process by Democrats. And the GOP provided more evidence that they want to undercut the Budget Control Act, which means we're headed to a showdown over appropriations, and soon. Attempts at bipartisanship, in other words, showed just how partisan this issue really is.

More here.

Conrad is a big fan of the Simpson-Bowles plan, which came out of a commission that President Obama put together to help the government do its job in terms of, you know, actually voting on a real budget rather than a series of continuing resolutions. When the plan, which called for massive spending increases and assumed a level of federal revenue that has never been reached, was voted on in the House, it failed by a vote of 382 against and 38 for. That's proof that even Democrats, who have 190 votes in the House, reject it; so is the fact that White House, which convened the commission, has apparently taken down its final report.

So here's Conrad telling Politico about why Simpson-Bowles is so great and wildly popular with everyone except his own party and his GOP colleagues:

"I'm not interested in furthering the political divide," Conrad told reporters. "I am focused on getting a positive result for the American people. And I believe the best way to do that is to start in the middle with a plan that already has strong bipartisan support both in Congress and across the nation."

The charitable description for this sort of palaver and inaction is delusional. If folks in power ever want to understand why favorable opinion of Congress is slouching toward single digits, this sort of evasion of business and responsibility has got to be right up there with the sex scandals and the coarser stuff. If someone as vaunted and powerful and super-duper as Kent Conrad (so say all his press clippings) can't push his party to slug out their vision of how much the feds should spend and tax in a given year, Congress doesn't deserve any respect.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Orrin Hatch Faces Primary Challenge, Iran May Be Building a Drone, UN to Investigate U.S.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

35 responses to “Sen. Kent Conrad, Senate Dems Punt on Producing Budget Because GOP is Obstructionist, Needs Document to Vote On

  1. I don't understand why the Republicans in the House don't just refuse to take up any Senate business except for a budget resolution.

    1. Because nobody has the guts. If you're going to go full-out brinksmanship, somebody in the driver's seat needs fortitude. Boehner doesn't.

  2. "I've never heard the word 'lagrantly' before."
    "I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word."

  3. Where's shriek with his pattented 'well, if you squint just right, they kinda, sorta have a budget, if a budget isn't really a budget!'

    1. See, I can pound some sense into your hard head. You are learning.

      1. shrike|4.23.12 @ 10:31AM|#
        "See, I can pound some sense into your hard head. You are learning."
        Little slow on the uptake, are you?
        Sorry, 4 (count 'em, 4) legs.

  4. The Budget Control Act of 2011 is a budget even though it bypassed the resolution process. The Senate passed it 74-26. The fact is that it cut spending and now the GOP wants the defense cuts cancelled.

    There may never be a formal budget process again, instead, just last-minute budget compromises like in 2011.

    1. shrike|4.23.12 @ 10:30AM|#
      'See, "up" equals "down" if you're team blue.'

    2. Most of the GOP wants the defense cuts canceled, but there's enough of them that prefer (or are forced to prefer by voters and supporters) the defense cuts to increasing overall spending. There's more than two policy positions, and you get some Condorcet cycles.

      There never would have been defense cuts, and they wouldn't be sticking, without the House GOP takeover in the midterms combined with enough GOP House members scared by primary challenges.

      That's despite most of the party not wanting defense cut, yes.

      Remember that Obama threatened to veto the first House GOP defense budget because it cut defense too much for him.

  5. The Budget Control Act of 2011 is a budget

    No, its not. Unless you consider a continuing resolution to be a budget.

    This bill was essentially a continuing resolution (with a few cosmetic cuts, perhaps), with a promise to cut spending later. That is not a budget, which goes through each department in painful detail and sets spending.

    1. The cuts were $1.2 trillion (10 yrs) spread over defense, DHS, and Medicare and begin in 2013.

      But now the GOP is balking at those "cosmetic" cuts.

      1. OTOH, it took the GOP getting elected to even get defense budget cuts, if you look at the previous two non-budget continuing resolutions.

        I can certainly accept an argument in favor of gridlock, shrike, which appears to be the one you're making.

        As someone who favors defense spending cuts and other cuts, you must welcome the GOP House takeover then.

        1. Yeah, I am for gridlock with a liberal President and budget hawk House.

          Clinton-Bush-Obama is proof. The sag in the middle there was disastrous. We will deal with Bush problems for 30 years.

          1. Only an idiot would want a liberal president - or would put a capital P in that word.

            A social-neutral, fiscal-conservative president is what we need. Not another fucking Clinton or Obama... or worse. Imagine an idiot like Bernie Sanders at the helm... we'd be super-fucked in no time.

          2. We will deal with Bush problems for 30 years.

            Considering we are still dealing with FDR, Johnson, and Nixon problems. You are probably wrong.

          3. shrike|4.23.12 @ 11:03AM|#
            ..."We will deal with Bush problems for 30 years."

            It's Bush's Fault (tm)!
            For pete's sake, give it a rest. No one's buying baloney that old.

          4. Gee, does that mean that all the left wing screwups will always be Bush's fault. WOW!

      2. The cuts were $1.2 trillion (10 yrs) spread over defense, DHS, and Medicare and begin in 2013.

        There were no cuts. Fed outlays get bigger year-over-year.

    2. You know who else just wanted to make a few cosmetic cuts?

      1. Suicide Girls?

  6. Cut spending. Fucking cut spending. Jesus.

  7. Here's Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the head of the Democrat:

    So is Harry Reid like the Black Lion from Voltron?

    1. That's... oh, screw it.

  8. If folks in power ever want to understand why favorable opinion of Congress is slouching toward single digits, this sort of evasion of business and responsibility has got to be right up there with the sex scandals and the coarser stuff.

    It's ridiculous to say that continuing budget resolutions are the reason Congress's rating is so low. No one knows or cares about budget resolutions outside of DC. Congress gets low marks because it always has and because the economy is bad.

    1. He's not saying this is the reason, he's saying this is an example of how much congress sucks at its job which is why congress gets such low marks.

      1. And I'm saying no one outside DC knows or cares about this kind of stuff. This is the sort of thing that excites hyperwonkery on Sunday morning shows, and that's about it. Congress has always been unpopular, and its popularity goes lower when the economy is bad.

        1. So Nick shouldn't write about it because nobody cares? Even though, clearly, many people do care?

        2. Didn't Lewis Carroll write a poem about a hyperwonkery?

          1. "The odd thing about Lewis Carroll's much-loved poem, 'Jabberwocky', is not the character of its nonsense rhymes."

            Ogden Nash

  9. This is soooo much fun to watch... and will be even funnerer if the day comes when Team Red is obstructed at every turn by Team Blue.

    1. Yeah, watching Team players do an about-face and make the exact same arguments and talking points as their adversaries are currently making is a fucking hoot.

      1. That's odd... Tony usually pops his head up and whines that no, Democrats wouldn't dream of obstructing a Team Red majority.

        I wanna see fistfights on C-SPAN. Fuck this "my good friend from the great state of [insert some random state here]" fake get-alongism.

  10. That third picture is just begging to be put next to the stock photo of Cheney making that exact same expression.

  11. Why produce a budget. There's no control of spending anyway.

Comments are closed.