The Budget Control Act is the compromise on federal spending that the Republicans and Democrats entered into last summer, as part of the deal whereby the Republicans agreed to increase the federal debt limit. That increase was conditioned on spending restraint that was spelled out specifically in the BCA. Thus, for the current fiscal year, discretionary spending was capped at $1.047 trillion. That couldn’t be any clearer. But when Kent Conrad, outgoing Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, forwarded the Senate Appropriations Committee its spending authority, the number was higher by $14 billion–$1.061 trillion. This is a clear violation of the Budget Control Act.
But the Democrats’ number is by no means random. On the contrary, the $14 billion that Conrad added is enough to match the discretionary spending that was called for in President Obama’s proposed budget–the one that not a single Democratic Senator or Representative voted for. So here the Democrats are engaging in the ultimate hypocrisy. They vote against the President’s budget because they do not want to associate themselves with its profligacy, lest they pay a price with voters. But then they turn around and slide the appropriators enough extra money to match the budget that they just voted against, confident in the belief that budgetary matters are too complicated for voters to understand, and that their friends in the media won’t blow the whistle on them.
How will the Democrats make the numbers add up? If they bother to try to hide what they have done, it will be by using one of the dishonest budget tricks that would have been outlawed by the Republicans’ Honest Budget Act, which was proposed last year, but which Harry Reid killed in the Senate. Using those dishonest tricks, they will pretend that the $14 billion has disappeared through some legerdemain. But the facts are obvious to anyone who pays attention: the Democrats are like people afflicted with Tourette’s or some similar disease that causes compulsive and irrational behavior. The Democrats suffer from a compulsion to shovel money out the window by the billions, and if they have agreed to a certain level of spending, who cares? Their compulsion inevitably asserts itself and they blow by the statutory restriction at the first opportunity. This is, in microcosm, the reason why it has proved impossible to restrain federal spending to even the slightest degree, as long as the Democrats hold significant power in Washington.