Government Spending

Don't Forget to Blame Senate Democrats and Harry Reid for any Government Shutdown

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Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has a column up at USA Today discussing the brinkmanship involved in last-minute budget negotiations. Here's the lede:

So the Republican-controlled House of Representatives -- with the help of a couple of Democrats -- has voted to defund ObamaCare. In response, President Obama, declaring that the Republicans are "trying to mess with me," has accused the House of trying to shut down the government.

But the government will only shut down if Obama vetoes the budget that comes to his desk. The House budget funds everything except for implementation of the Affordable Care Act better known as ObamaCare. In truth, by refusing even to negotiate with the House leadership and threatening to veto a budget that doesn't fit his own specifications, it is Obama, not the House of Representatives, who is putting the country at risk of a government shutdown.

Read the whole thing, in which Reynolds goes on to note "Obama will negotiate with Iran or Syria, but not with the House Republicans." Ouch.

There's no doubt that Obama - like all presidents and most members of Congress - has an outsized ego. But I think Instapundit only has things one-third right. Sure, the president is stubborn and selfish. But so is the Republican House, which features a majority of supposedly small-government enthusiasts who find it tough as hell to ever cut year-over-year spending (especially when such a development has the chance of actually becoming law). And then there's the other one-third of the budget negotiating quagmire: The Do-Nothing Senate.

Whatever else you can say about the House of Representatives and President Obama, at least these folks have consistently produced spending documents in rough approximation to legal requirements (to be sure, Obama's latest offering, showed up two months late and $5.2 trillion long when it came to increasing deficits over the next decade).

In contrast and despite a solid one-party majority, the Senate has passed exactly one budget in the past four years and in most of those years, they didn't even produce the necessary document as mandated by law. Instead, we were treated to journalistic valentines to former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the guy in charge of the Senate budget wonkery, by a pliant press.

As my colleague Ed Krayewski reminds us in his essential survey of "4 Washington Scandals That Still Matter," the Democrats couldn't pass a budget even when they controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House. It's been the Senate all along that's been the problem, at least since Sen. Harry "We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year," Reid (D-Nev.) has been running that godawful show.

If Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is being held captive by the "wacko bird" wing of the GOP (thank heavens for small favors, at least when it comes to spending, military adventurism, and civil liberties issues), then surely Senate Majority Leader Reid is being held captive by something - his president? the all-but-extinct species known as Bluedog Democrats? his own incompetence, zombie-like leadership skills, and well-documented lack of charisma? - that has been far more detrimental to passing a goddamn budget than anything Obama and Boehner can muster.

So when blame gets passed around for credit downgrades, government shutdowns, rising health insurance costs, and everything else on God's green Earth, make sure to save a big space for the Senate Democrats who have done so much to drive the country into whatever ditch we've been in for lo these many years.