Score one for Senator Jeff Sessions: the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee has been laying a two-by-four to Senate Democrats on a daily basis for some weeks now, blasting them for failing to produce a budget. The Democrats’ abandonment of their duty is so palpable that even their strongest supporters are now forced to acknowledge it.
Thus, we have Dana Milbank, normally a loyal Democrat, writing in the Washington Post:
The Senate is supposed to be in Memorial Day recess this week. But the chamber is so ungovernable that Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t even have the votes to declare a recess. So he decided instead to have a few “pro forma” sessions, such as Tuesday’s, allowing senators to take a vacation without voting for it.
In a sense, the Senate has been in a pro-forma session all year. … Although there’s general agreement that the most pressing issue facing the federal government is its runaway finances, the Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in 762 days, a new standard for dereliction of duty. …
Now, for the first time in a decade, the Senate Budget Committee isn’t even considering a budget. …
It is just the sort of thing that offends Americans about Washington: The triumph of tactical advantage over the national interest.
The New York Times editorial board weighed in on Saturday. Of course, the Times being the Times, its editorial was laced with the usual denunciations of Republicans. But if you wade through the partisan calumnies, this is what emerges:
The truth, though, is that the Republicans also have a point. … Without strong leadership, the Senate’s record is dismaying. … [T]here will be no vote on a budget by the Democratic majority of the Senate, the traditional method for stating the majority’s priorities in black and white dollar signs. That’s because the Budget Committee has not agreed on one. …
With only a three-vote majority, Democrats, led by Harry Reid, are understandably fearful about losing the Senate next year and have decided that treading water is better than taking a showy but risky dive.
But if Democrats are ever going to regain the momentum in the national conversation, they have to stand for something. Standing pat gives Republicans huge openings to move the debate to the right.
As the Democrats fiddle, America’s economy burns. Today’s bad news–private sector job creation falling, home prices dropping, food and energy costs sky-high–sent the stock market into a tailspin. One Wall Street analyst says that “[w]e’re on the verge of a great, great depression.” The Democrats’ economic policies have failed, and pretty much everyone knows it. For them to fail even to propose a budget is, as Milbank says, a dereliction of duty. One can only hope that the voters will punish them for it.