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Where's the budget?

Because of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, and because the mainstream press is very reluctant to criticize their own political party (the Democrats) a tremendously important story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media: Congress is deliberately planning to have no Federal budget in place for Fiscal 2011.

Debra Saunders explains:

"If you can't budget, you can't govern," Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., proclaimed in 2006 when the House GOP leadership chose to dispense with passing a budget resolution.

Now that the Dems run the House, Spratt is chairman of its Budget Committee and the April 15 deadline for passing a budget resolution is a niggling detail, easily ignored. House Democrats have decided to not even try to pass a budget resolution before this fiscal year expires on Sept. 30 -- and may well delay passage until after the November elections.

As the congressional newspaper The Hill reported Monday, Spratt announced that in lieu of a 2011 budget resolution, the House is likely to pass a "functional equivalent" measure that leaves out inconvenient budget numbers -- most notably an annual operating deficit averaging around $1 trillion over the next five to 10 years.

Ed Morrisey adds:

The Democrats in Congress believe what Rep. Gerry Connolly told the LA Times, which is that no member of Congress ever lost an election because of a failure to pass a budget. They don't want to be on the hook for the hard decisions that must come in FY2011, which is either to drastically reduce spending from the binge levels of the last three Democratic Congresses, or to raise taxes to cover it. Spending cuts won't change voter perception of this Congress at this late date -- and tax hikes will make it worse.

Spratt is right -- a failure to budget is a failure to govern. Democrats seem intent on proving their unworthiness to lead Congress in even its most basic tasks. At the same time, their leadership wants voters to trust them to make the most personal of decisions in their health care, as well as believe that they can cool the planet and lower the sea level with punitive taxes on energy production and boondoggles in alternative energy.

The Democrats' fear of taking responsibility for their own out of control fiscal policies also seems to explain the sudden departure of one of Obama's most renowned "best and brightest," Peter "Propeller Head" Orzag, the White House budget director. The Financial Times reports:

In particular, [Orzag] has collided with the political team, led by Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's chief of staff, over Mr Obama's 2008 election pledge not to raise taxes on any households earning less than $250,000 a year - a category that covers more than 98 per cent of Americans.

Economists say that would put all the fiscal emphasis on draconian - and highly unrealistic - spending cuts, or else pushing the marginal tax rates on the very rich to confiscatory levels. "Peter feels strongly that this is a pledge that has to be broken if the President is to take a lead on America's fiscal crisis," says an administration official not authorised to speak on the matter."

The Democrats know that with respect to the way they have handled the Federal budget, they have driven the trolley off the tracks. Since FY 2007, they have added over $1 trillion in annual spending, via new programs and aggressive expansion of public sector responsibilities. That money is now anticipated by its recipients and will be very difficult to eliminate. They have all but abandoned their once-sacred "pay-as-you-go" rules -- except when they are trying to advance the notion of tax increases. As DJ Drummond pointed out in an earlier post, they have done nothing to encourage businesses to invest in growth, or to convince consumers that it is safe to start spending again. And they know that tax hikes and trillion dollar deficits will be ballot box poison for them.

The way I see it, the only way to keep the wheels from completely coming off the fiscal trolley is to replace the trolley drivers. We can do that in November, and then pray that a "mad duck Congress" doesn't completely wreck things before new leadership is in place in January.


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Comments (26)

A budget would require hard... (Below threshold)

A budget would require hard numbers on a piece of paper. No Democrat in their right mind would do that with elections coming up. The public would be scared shitless, and Nancy and Company know they'd be given their pink slips.

No, the public would be liv... (Below threshold)

No, the public would be livid, not that they already aren't.

I suspect that there would be enough votes to reject anything stupid they might try to pass and if they did, then it would be front page headlines if a Democrat got elected to anything more than a city wide election.

It's worse than you think. ... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

It's worse than you think. The lack of a budget resolution not only absolves Democrats from voting for a budget with a huge and growing deficit shown in real numbers even the legacy media would have to report, it also sets the stage for more irresponsible spending.

The budget resolution sets limits in the various areas of appropriations, so the Committee Chairmen must balance the priorities in their areas to stay within the budget. With no budget, there are no limits. No one can say they are "busting the budget" with their spending plans, because there is no budget - how can you bust something which doesn't exist?

Even if we kick butt in November, Democrats can use this year's lame-duck session to pass bloated spending which will instantly become the new "baseline" for future budget years, enabling them to portray any Republican attempts to roll back the levels as "draconian cuts, starving the poor, attacking minorities, etc., etc."

And you know they will do it, because Democrats are lying scum.

Thaye also may be expecting... (Below threshold)

Thaye also may be expecting that the House changes hands to the Republicans. In that case the hard choices become the property of the R's and the D's can then demagogue those choices.

No budget = No projected de... (Below threshold)
retired military:

No budget = No projected deficit. Wanna bet it hits $2 trillion next year?

Jim and Eric,I thi... (Below threshold)

Jim and Eric,

I think you're both absolutely right.

However, Republicans essentially solved this problem during the 90's by doing two things: holding spending increases to very modest levels dictated by inflation, and passing tax cuts and other incentives to spur economic growth. By preventing the government from burying the economic growth that accompanied the tech boom with tax/spend hysteria, they ended up with a balanced budget. (Unfortunately they also allowed unsustainable "bubbles" to develop within some sectors of the economy ... but that's a subject for another time.)

They could easily do the same things during the next four to eight years and probably straighten out the mess the Democrats have created. Of course that won't stop the Democrats from their "starving the children, destroying the environment, forcing Grandma to eat dog food" demagoguery, which seems to be the only way they know how to react when the "dark side" is successful.

Republicans need to be shou... (Below threshold)

Republicans need to be shouting about this at every talk show, news bite and in print. They need to make this a talking point, daily. Because if they don't the dems will ignore it, wait til the November fallout and scream about how mean the Republicans are and how they haite poor people. Sheesh, learn from history Republicans, This is their only play in their playbook. It works cause the Republicans let it work.

Weve already seen they cant... (Below threshold)

Weve already seen they cant govern, so why be bothered by budgeting the taxpayers money.

November cant come soon enough.

Michael Leparie, your recol... (Below threshold)

Michael Leparie, your recollections of the 1990's are skewed.

First, Republicans didn't even get a tax cut in until 1997 - after which Clinton's policies had been helping the economy recover for a good 4 years.

Of notice in particular is how:

1- Clinton's budget passed without a single Republican vote, raising taxes on the wealthy while cutting them for the poor and middle class.

2- Clinton resisted Republican attempts to cut taxes in 1995, to the point of shutting down the government rather than letting it go through.

Results: record budget surplus.

Above should read "Clinton'... (Below threshold)

Above should read "Clinton's 1993 budget".

jim x - "2- Clinton r... (Below threshold)

jim x - "2- Clinton resisted Republican attempts to cut taxes in 1995, to the point of shutting down the government rather than letting it go through."

Close but no cigar.

It was caused by the expiration of a continuing
funding resolution agreed to on September 30, 1995, and by President Clinton's veto of a second continuing resolution and a debt limit extension bill.

Marc, I don't see how that'... (Below threshold)

Marc, I don't see how that's really different from what I said.

Clinton's veto of that resolution was due to GOP tax cuts which Clinton considered unnecessary to balance the budget - in addition to medicare and education cuts, which he also considered unnecessary and in addition irresponsible.

Since Clinton's budget continued on to produce a surplus for the first time in decades, it would appear that he was right.

The GOP response to Clinton's persistence was to not allow debt limit expansion - but this was in Dick Armey's own words a way to try and force Clinton to his will, by accepting both unnecessary tax cuts and budget cuts.

And Clinton's veto of that bill resulted in a government shutdown.

Of course, Gingrich's own embarassing immaturity played a part, by Gingrich's own admission:

He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One...




What should Republicans do?... (Below threshold)
John S:

What should Republicans do? Claim the Pelosi-Reid budget -- if it existed -- would show a $3 trillion deficit. And that's why the Democrats refuse to release a budget before the mid-term election. What can the Democrats do to refute that?

Poor Jim has a defective me... (Below threshold)
John S:

Poor Jim has a defective memory -- assuming he was born in 1993. The Clinton tax bill (the biggest in human history, until Obamacare) raised taxes across the board, poor, middle class, rich alike. All of us watched our paychecks shrink. And there never was a surplus (unless you add in the spending of Social Security receipts). The deficit temporarily shrank due to a stock market bubble and the capital gains tax (that Bubba also raised). And both of those turned out well.

I second John S's slap down... (Below threshold)

I second John S's slap down.

Results: record bu... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
Results: record budget surplus.

Ah, the stupid in this one strong is.

Clinton ran a budget surplus strictly and solely because of tax revenues from the dot-com bubble. California ran one then too, and the Dem-infested legislature (in connivance with recalled shithead Gray Davis) raised its spending accordingly.

Dot-com bubble bursts, tax revenues plummet... but spending is now mandated in the state budget (e.g., 40% of the CA state budget must be spent on education - by law. Think the teachers' union had anything to do with that?)

Bottom line: Clinton gets no credit for the budget surplus. He just happened to be in office playing the tuba when it rained gold. Only a complete idiot would postulate a causal relationship to his policies.

Debra Saunders used the ter... (Below threshold)

Debra Saunders used the term 'niggling', what a racist term. After all any term beginning with 'nigg' must be racist and thus must be banned!
Just like the term 'black holes' or 'black ho's' must be banned. /huffpo.

"...so the Committee Cha... (Below threshold)

"...so the Committee Chairmen must balance the priorities in their areas to stay within the budget."

When did they start doing that? Oh wait, was you're tongue in your cheek when you said that?

Budget? ......fudgit!... (Below threshold)
Sir Toby Belch:

Budget? ......fudgit!

This whole mess is starting... (Below threshold)

This whole mess is starting to look like a replay of the Labor party's recent scorched earth policies in the UK... they think they're likely to lose control of one or both houses, so they set up a budgetary clusterfuck for their successors.

And as a side note, IIRC, most of those revenues credited with creating the Clinton era surplus were never actually collected, resulting in an illusionary surplus.

Epador, you can indeed seco... (Below threshold)

Epador, you can indeed second John S. slap down. However, you both would be sadly celebrating a slap that missed the facts and caught only empty air.

This being the inconvenient reality that Clinton DID NOT raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

If you can find any facts to the contrary of that, please let me know. Otherwise, fail.

The Rovian talking points a... (Below threshold)

The Rovian talking points are strong in that one - but not strong enough for the Truth Side.

Clinton ran a budget surplus strictly and solely because of tax revenues from the dot-com bubble.

No, because the economic expansion and budget surplus began as soon as Clinton's tax policies of 1993, and through 1994 and 1995 - which is well before the Internet began having any appreciable effect on the economy, in 1996.

Thanks for giving me a chance to destroy that meme though.

Bottom line: Clinton get... (Below threshold)

Bottom line: Clinton gets no credit for the budget surplus. He just happened to be in office playing the tuba when it rained gold. Only a complete idiot would postulate a causal relationship to his policies.

So, 8 continuous years of economic expansion including the first actual budget surplus in decades can't be at all due to Clinton's policies.


That would only make sense to a fact-blinded partisan. Nice to meet you.

No doubt, the wee couple of years of expansion in Reagan's administration that came with the price of tripling the national debt, are proof Voodoo Economics saved mankind.

"first actual budget surplu... (Below threshold)

"first actual budget surplus in decades"

Jay's right - the stupid IS strong with you. Alrighty, jim x - show us all which years in Clinton's presidency had reductions in national debt; that would be the ultimate indicator of 'surplus.' Or is 'surplus' the effect of inter-governmental transfers that are off the books?

Apb, the "ultimate indicato... (Below threshold)

Apb, the "ultimate indicator of surplus" is: there was a budget surplus. The government took in more money than it spent, for the years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

But, you asked which years had reductions in national debt? That would be 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.


It is the third year in a row the federal government has taken in more than it spent, and has paid down the debt. The last time the U.S. government had a third consecutive year of national debt reduction was 1949, said the official. "

Figures for 2001 included here:

This can be heard to see in simple listings of the national debt, because those payments were going towards the *interest*. Which is over $200 billion a year.

Figures for national debt here:

Next time, perhaps you will take the effort to be clear on basic facts before calling someone else stupid.

And just so it's absolutely... (Below threshold)

And just so it's absolutely clear to you, here's the table from that page for the years in question. Notice the first year's interest, and the last year's. Notice the reduction.

date / total / interest
2001: $5,807,463,412,200.06 $359,507,635,242.41
2000: $5,674,178,209,886.86 $361,997,734,302.36
1999: $5,656,270,901,615.43 $353,511,471,722.87
1998: $5,526,193,008,897.62 $363,823,722,920.26






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