Welcome to the most transparent Senate evah. Despite not having produced a normal budget for two years, the Harry Reid-led Senate Democrats will keep their current budget plan under wraps for a while longer. Apparently, Budget chair Kent Conrad is waiting to see whether the White House and House Republicans let him off the hook … again:
Senate Democrats decided Thursday not to release their spending plan to counter the budget blueprint approved last month by House Republicans, saying they will wait to see whether talks at the White House produce a compromise plan for reining in the national debt.
Democrats said they are close to agreement on a spending plan that would reduce borrowing by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, with about half the savings coming from higher taxes. That would offer a sharp contrast to the GOP budget, which relies entirely on deep cuts in spending.
But rather than subject a proposal for higher taxes to Republican attack, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he would “defer” action “because of the high-level bipartisan leadership negotiations that are currently underway” involving lawmakers from both parties and Vice President Biden.
“If you go through a partisan markup, it hardens people’s positions and makes it more difficult to get a bipartisan agreement,” said Conrad, a member of theSenate’s Gang of Six, which has been trying to draft its own debt-reduction framework.
Not to pick nits here, but isn’t producing a budget the job of a Budget committee? Not lately, of course. The Senate could just as easily change its name to the Responsibility Shirking Committee and give voters a more accurate picture of their mission under Democratic leadership.
Excuse me … that should be the Responsibility Deferment Committee.
The Senate Budget Committee hasn’t produced a workable plan in 750 days, a point rammed home by Senator Jeff Sessions on the floor yesterday:
Republicans led by Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) have been lambasting Democrats for weeks over their failure to propose a budget for a second straight year. Sessions spoke on the Senate floor Thursday with a giant sign saying “750” — the number of days since the Senate last passed a budget.
He also ripped the Democrats after Conrad’s announcement Thursday.
Roll Call reports that Conrad and Democrats are “punting” on the budget. They’ve been doing a lot of punting while in the majority. If Harry Reid and Kent Conrad aren’t interested in leadership, perhaps they should just resign and let Republicans provide it instead. At least they’d get the work done, as House Republicans demonstrated by passing the FY2011 budget in weeks when Democrats couldn’t do it in a full year with large majorities in both chambers.