Thankfully, the House passed Boehner 3 tonight, 218-210. Now it is the Senate’s turn. The House has passed a budget; cut, cap and balance; and now the Speaker’s plan to raise the debt ceiling while simultaneously making modest cuts in current spending. The Senate has passed nothing.
The Democrats have been telling us for weeks what disasters will ensue if the debt ceiling isn’t increased. Fine: the House has voted to raise the ceiling. Now it is the Senate’s turn.
President Obama and Harry Reid keep saying they want to make a “deal.” But that isn’t how it works. The Senate needs to pass a bill. Next, leaders of each chamber appoint representatives who participate in a conference committee. The conference committee comes up with a compromise between the House bill and the Senate bill, and that conference bill goes back to each chamber for approval. It will be appropriate for Harry Reid to negotiate with Mitch McConnell over a Senate bill, but Boehner should go on vacation unless and until the Senate acts.
What the Democrats are trying to do, of course, is gain absolution for all of their fiscal sins by negotiating a cosmic deal with the GOP that, as I once put it, would put Republicans in the position of going over the waterfall holding hands with the Democrats. If Republicans are dumb enough to let that happen–which I doubt–then it will indeed be time for a third party.
The Democratic Senate has now gone for more than two years without adopting a budget. That is not only poor practice, it violates federal law. Why won’t the Democrats adopt a budget? Because they don’t dare put down on paper, for the American people to see, what they really want: skyrocketing spending, higher taxes and spiraling deficits. Forever. The Democrats don’t want to commit to anything until they have bullied the Republicans into signing onto it.
One of the little-known features of Harry Reid’s “compromise” proposal–no detailed version of which exists–is that it would “deem” budgets to have been enacted for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. In that event, our government would go a full four years without a lawful, statutory budget being in place. Today, the Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee sent a letter to Reid protesting this procedure. You can read the letter here. It says, in part:
This is an abrogation of the responsibilities of the Senate Committee on the Budget and the U.S. Senate. We were not elected to this body and chosen to serve on the Committee on the Budget to see most of the budget levels automatically set based on spending growth projections made by staff. It is this kind of process that has placed the country in a fiscal crisis.
While we have other objections to your proposal, we specifically ask that you remove this provision from your amendment and allow the Committee to fulfill its duties and responsibilities, as set out in law, by allowing the markup of a fiscal year 2012 budget resolution in Committee and, once adopted, its immediate consideration in the Senate.
You could say that the Democratic Party is fiscally irresponsible, but that would be an insult to irresponsible people everywhere.
UPDATE: The low comedy that has prevailed in the Senate continued tonight, as that body rejected the House plan 59-41. There were a few Republican defections, but they were all from the right–Rand Paul, for example. But that isn’t the funny part; the funny part is that the Republicans wanted a vote on Harry Reid’s proposal, and Reid objected to consideration of his own bill! Here is the video: