In case you missed it, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia yesterday strongly indicted his fellow Democrats for their failure to produce a budget in — what is it now? — 958 days. (Yes, that’s right. In little more than a month, we’ll have been without a budget for 1,000 days.)
In an appearance on “Morning Joe,” Manchin said no excuse exists for this Democratic inaction — especially, I might add, given that Democrats controlled all three branches of government for the first two years of President Barack Obama’s term and could have crafted a budget entirely to their liking.
The take-home quote comes at about 0:36. “I would have been impeached as governor [if I hadn’t produced a budget],” Manchin says. “I would have been impeached. I had to put a budget together.”
To his credit, Manchin hasn’t been present in the Senate for the entire span of budgetary laziness: He was sworn into the Senate Nov. 15, 2010, to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Robert Byrd. Based on the Morning Joe appearance, he has clearly been uncomfortable from his earliest days in office with the Senate’s haphazard approach to governance.
“‘Does anyone have a plan?'” he says he asked shortly after he entered the Senate. “I’m not used to that. So, I’m thinking, ‘This is a little different than what I’m used to, so I’m going to have to kind of sit back and watch this.’ I just want to contribute. I just want to help.”
If, as a member of the Senate, Manchin feels helpless and overwhelmed at the ineptitude of his colleagues, surely he can understand why we unelected peons feel the way we do in the face of Harry Reid’s flagrant disregard for both the law and what’s best for the country.
The hosts of “Morning Joe” evidently enjoyed Manchin on the show — and I can see why. He seems like a likable, sensible sort of man. But I couldn’t help but feel disheartened even by this clip. It’s easy to laugh at the poor math that characterizes Congress — but, in the end, bad budgeting has real consequences. Most of those consequences are felt by the middle class Obama so loves to laud in speeches, but hammer in his policies. No matter what accounting gimmicks the administration uses, we can’t spend our way out of debt — and, so far, nearly all of the president’s policies, including his latest darling of the payroll tax cut extension, are just proposals to spend more. Without a budget, Congress has a hard time holding him accountable. When, oh when, will it stop? After 1,000 days? 1,500? 2,000? Let’s hope it stops Nov. 12, 2012.