Before yesterday, Republicans on Capitol Hill liked to feign anger about Senate Democrats’ failure to pass a budget in over two years.
Now that the debt limit deal is done — and it’s essentially a 10-year budget, with the force of law — Republicans are…still attacking Democrats for…not passing a budget!Here’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — the GOP’s top budget guy — in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
“[T]he president still hasn’t shown us his cards. He still hasn’t put forward a credible plan to tackle the threat of ever-rising spending and debt, and his evasiveness is emblematic of the party he leads…. Meanwhile, it has been over two years since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed any budget at all. This is a historic failure to fulfill one of the most basic responsibilities of governing.”
For starters, President Obama proposed a budget in February, as required by law. As is often the case, Congress had its own ideas. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, sat on their hands and the House, under Ryan’s guidance, passed a budget that phases out Medicare. During the debt limit fight, Dems’ budget guy Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) finally drafted one. None of these had, or could have, the force of law — they were blueprints for other policy. Since then both the House and Senate passed, and President Obama signed, the debt limit deal. For better or worse, they all own it, and it is, in effect, a legally-binding budget bill. It lays out spending limits, and calls for further austerity in the months ahead.
But since it’s not technically a “budget resolution” like the Ryan plan Republicans voted for, the GOP’s going to keep poking Dems for this. And the reason is clear: they want Dems to put themselves just as far out on a limb endorsing controversial Medicare cuts, in part so they can neutralize the damage they did to themselves.
It may work, and it may not. A newly created deficit committee will soon tackle entitlement reform, and if their final report includes benefit cuts, and Dems vote for it, we’ll be back, in tennis terms, at love-love.