At least this has the distinction of novelty. After a few weeks of waffling, the incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee has now declared that she might just actually produce a budget — something her predecessor avoided doing for nearly four years. Murray’s office released this statement earlier this morning:
“This year, following the two years that the bipartisan Budget Control Act took the place of a Congressional Budget, the Senate will once again return to regular order and move a budget resolution through the Budget Committee and to the Senate floor. I’ve been discussing this path with my colleagues in the weeks since the year-end deal before I officially became chairman of this committee, and now that Congress is back in session, we are ready to get to work.
“Democrats and Republicans spent the last year laying out our budget values and priorities on the campaign trail, and the American people went to the polls and strongly endorsed the Democrats’ balanced approach that puts jobs and the middle class first, calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, protects seniors and families, and lays down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth.”
Murray follows this up with plenty of attacks on Republicans for wanting to cut entitlement programs and “hostage-taking” — twice, in fact — the fact is that the GOP couldn’t have done that if the Senate had produced normal-order budgets. Instead, Harry Reid wanted to float discretionary government spending at FY2009 levels indefinitely while mandatory spending escalated, and Kent Conrad allowed Reid to do that by refusing to meet his legal obligations to produce budget resolutions. Had that happened, the disputes that Murray cites would have been resolved in conference committee.
This follows Chuck Schumer’s claim on Sunday that Democrats will return to normal-order budgeting, and corroborates it. I’d guess that Democrats had hoped to win control of the House in November if they could stage a series of budget crises and lay blame on Republicans for it. It’s a gamble that didn’t pay off, and now with the traditionally tough second-term midterm in the near future, they want to de-escalate and get back to having these fights on Capitol Hill rather than on MSNBC. I’d consider that a short-term win for the GOP, and perhaps a longer-term win if they can get Democrats to agree to some entitlement reforms now that the spotlight won’t be shining as brightly as during the Age of Cliffs.