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That Was Then, This Is Now (Part 2)

While researching something else, I ran across this editorial from the New York Times, dated September 24, 2004. The editorial is titled, “Congress Slouches Toward Home.” You don’t need to be reminded which party controlled Congress at that time:

The Republican-controlled Congress is shambling to the end of one of the lightest workloads in decades without a hint of embarrassment, concentrating on the defense of the flag, tax cuts and marriage while failing at the most demanding obligations of government.

What might those be? The budget, of course:

When the lawmakers get back home, voters should ask them how they could quit their posts while leaving a dozen basic spending bills in next year’s budget unfinished – hung up once more in back-room feuds about pork and logrolling.

The paper’s standards have declined a bit since 2004. The Congressional Democrats haven’t so much as proposed a budget in two years. Nor do they intend to do so any time soon; when Senate Republicans demanded that the majority produce a budget proposal before adjourning, Harry Reid resorted to keeping the Senate in “pro forma session” next week rather than allowing a vote on adjournment. Anything to dodge having to commit to a budget.
The Times continued:

[T]hey threw moderation to the winds this week on a $145 billion extension of existing tax cuts benefiting families. They hoped voters would not notice that they had not bothered to find budget savings to offset the costs of this program, and that these tax cuts will spawn a borrowing binge by the government from banks around the world. The loans will come due for America’s children and grandchildren, whose earnings may just as well be stamped “Payable to the Bank of China.”

Was that prescient, or what? But something seems to have changed since 2004. The “borrowing binge” for FY 2005 (which began a week after the Times editorial appeared) resulted in a federal deficit of $318 billion. Way too high, in my opinion. But what about FY 2010, when a Democratic President and Congress racked up a deficit of $1.3 trillion, more than four times as much? Or the current fiscal year, 2011, for which the Democrats never adopted a budget at all, but will run a deficit of around $1.5 trillion? As the Democrats leave for the Memorial Day weekend without formally adjourning, so as to avoid a vote on whether to adopt a budget, is the Times telling us that they are “slouching toward home?” No, but it wouldn’t be a bad description.

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