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  • Chairman Conrad's Embarrassing Quasi-Budget

    The Senate Budget Committee stretched a few definitions in announcing yesterday’s “Mark-Up of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.” Turns out it’s not really a budget resolution, per se, and there will be no formal committee action on it—no amendments, no vote, no real committee-adopted fiscal plan. Thus, April 29 will complete the third full year since the Senate last passed a budget resolution.

    “I had considered presenting a budget that reflected the general consensus among the Democratic Members of the Committee,” explained Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D–ND), but “many plans have already been offered that lean right or lean left. Adding another to the stack would do little to move us closer to a bipartisan agreement that can actually be adopted.”

    Except that—not to put too fine a point on it—that’s the Budget Committee Chairman’s job. A committee-approved resolution is not some random bill added to “the stack.” It is the base legislation against which other budgets are measured. Following committee action and lengthy floor debate, it becomes the formal resolution that the Senate takes into negotiations with the House—leading, in the end, to a full congressional budget that will guide all other spending and tax decisions. Conrad’s dismissive approach further denigrates the practice of congressional budgeting and mocks the institution of the Budget Committee itself. It is a discouraging final act for the retiring chairman of a committee that might as well be disbanded.

    As a quasi-budget, Senator Conrad is presenting the Bowles–Simpson fiscal commission plan, which he hopes “we can build upon” for long-term deficit reduction. This is the plan that failed to pass the commission, was ignored by the President, and was resoundingly defeated in the House at the end of March (though it got 38 more votes than the President’s unanimously rejected budget). Good luck with that, Mr. Chairman.

    Conrad and other committee Democrats still trot out the myth—recently discredited by the Senate’s own parliamentarian—that the Budget Control Act (BCA) effectively constitutes a budget resolution for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. They even cite language saying that the BCA, the product of last year’s debt ceiling debate, would serve “in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget.” They ignore additional BCA language saying its budget-like provisions “shall expire if a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2013 is agreed to”—anticipating that Congress would actually return to its budgeting duties.

    The BCA was never more than a poor substitute for a budget resolution—a hastily patched-together, last-minute measure aimed at dodging a phony “default” crisis. The BCA’s cap on discretionary budget authority covers only about one-third of total spending and is punctured with deliberate loopholes that make the limit all but meaningless. Beyond that, the BCA offers no budgeting priorities—as a budget resolution does—no entitlement reforms, and no direction for major spending and tax policies.

    Chairman Conrad and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D–NV) might take a look at a real budget, such as the one recently passed by the House. Alternatively, they could sample that “stack” building up in the Senate, including resolutions by Senators Rand Paul (R–KY) and Pat Toomey (R–PA). These lawmakers, along with numerous House Members, are at least willing to offer their own ideas about how to address the nation’s looming spending and debt crisis, unlike the Senate leadership.

    After learning of Conrad’s plans yesterday, Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R–AL) called the moment a “national embarrassment” for the Senate. But like General Services Administration mega-parties and Secret Service dalliances, this is more than embarrassing; it is an abdication of one of the Senate’s most fundamental responsibilities—at a time when the country can least afford it.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Chairman Conrad's Embarrassing Quasi-Budget

    1. sailcat says:

      What do you expect from Obama's historic, do-nothing Senate.

    2. Regardless of how obstructive you want to say the Republicans are/have been, at least the House proposed several budgets knowing that the Dems would do nothing but take potshots at them. The Democrats in the Senate are scared to death to put up a budget of their own or to have to vote on the House approved budget. Obama and his little band of elves can huff and puff all they want to but the fact remains that the Senate has not proposed a budget in almost three years … a historical record.

    3. BETTY says:

      THANK YOU FOR AN EXCELLENT PRESENTATION OF THE DISGRASSFUL "LEADERSHIP" IN THE SENATE.

    4. Bill Hodges says:

      When are the citizens of the United States of America going to stand up and demand that our 'leaders' lead, follow, or get out of the way ?!
      Are we. Nation of Laws, or aren't we?!

    5. zbigniewmazurak says:

      In addition to the flaws that Mr Knudsen has exposed, Kent Conrad's budget resolution also has many other flaws.

      Firstly, it contains the same deep, disastrous defense cuts that the Simpson-Bowles plan proposed, including cancelling 2 of the 3 variants of the F-35 and V-22 Osprey production. In total, under that plan, defense spending (not including war spending) would be cut by 100 bn per year and 1 trillion over a decade. Moreover, under the Simpson-Bowles plan, defense spending, despite accounting for less than 15% of the total federal budget, would bear 50% of the brunt of the cuts, while all other agencies would skate away with tiny, trivial, insignificant budget cuts. That would be deeply unjust and disproportionate.

      Yet, Kent Conrad does not see any problems with the defense cuts contained in the S-B plan, which is not a serious proposal and should not even be considered.

      Furthermore, according to Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member (i.e. Conrad's GOP counterpart) Jeff Sessions (R-AL):

      "it contains $2.6 trillion in tax increases ($600 billion more than the president’s plan), it contains not one penny of spending cuts, and it produces $8.2 trillion in new gross debt. It is one more-tax-and-spend plan, like the president’s budget."

      (http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=6d650809-85b0-4b62-8e7a-14283f9b66a7)

      Yes, you read that right, folks. Instead of paying off the debt, Conrad's budget plan would create trillions in NEW debt, HIKE overall federal spending (while deeply cutting defense), and raise taxes by $2.6 trillion ($600 billion more than the tax hikes proposed by Obama)!

      No, Conrad's budget would not reduce the deficit and the public debt; it would increase both, by large margins. It would also hike taxes by trillions of dollars and cripple defense. It's completely unacceptable.

    6. Ken Damschen says:

      I have written to Senator Conrad, suggesting he read "Profiles in Courage"…I guess he didn't understand it!

    7. jim says:

      Conrad discussed this budget act on Fox recently, a typical display of gibberish and code, all talk no
      action as usual. The liberals and the rhino's are putting us deeper in debt everyday. The majority of us
      know our only prayer is for the GOP to gain control in both the House and Senate this November. Hopefully the rhino's will get get kicked out and Senator Jim DeMint will be come the leader. The House needs a new leader also. Too much fraud and corruption in D.C., the boys and girls their need a rude awakening, they are way to comfortable. America needs immediate change right now. Thanks Heritage for this opportunity to comment.

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