American families make and live by a budget. But not the Congress. Thursday marks the 1,086th day since Senate Democrats passed a budget plan, despite the fact that doing so merely requires a simple majority vote. Yet Sen. Harry Reid’s decision to kill the Senate mark-up process this week ensures that the United States Senate will not pass a budget until after the November election. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said Wednesday:
“The effective cancellation of this mark-up puts in crystal focus that the Senate’s Democrat leadership is determined to go to November without ever bringing a budget to the floor… They have proven themselves unable to meet the defining challenge of our time. But if Republicans are honored with a Senate majority next year, we will conduct a real mark-up and we will pass an honest budget. And it will change the debt course of America.”
A “mark-up” is a process wherein a congressional committee debates on voting amendments while adding and removing language to a provision.
Republicans on Capitol Hill believe Sen. Reid made his last-minute decision to stop the budgetary mark-up because the process would have forced Senate Democrats in tight races to make difficult political choices that might undermine their chances at reelection.
“The decision to kill the mark-up came as a total surprise,” said one Budget Committee staffer in an interview with Big Government. “Sen. Sessions was literally in his office working on amendments when he saw Chairman Conrad on TV announcing that the process would no longer go forward.”
Despite Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) contention that he modeled the Democrat’s plan after the Bowles-Simpson plan, a closer look at the Senate Democrats’ plan may reveal why Sen. Reid stopped it from proceeding, as the plan contained huge tax increases with no net cut in spending. Specifically, the Democrats’ plan included:
- $2.6 trillion in tax hikes
- Spending that would grow at twice the rate of inflation
- Debt increases by more than $8 trillion that would make the U.S. total debt $23 trillion by the end of 2022
- Mandatory spending growth at 3 times the rate of inflation
Sen. Sessions blasted Senate Democrats’ for playing politics with the nation’s purse at a time when the United States is facing an unprecedented $15+ trillion debt.
It is clear that, in addition to being unable and unwilling to publicly defend a plan of any kind, Senate Democrats also did not want to conduct a mark-up because they would have been compelled to cast votes on and defend the president’s fiscally ruinous health law that they supported, as well as the widespread taxpayer abuse and waste exemplified by the GSA. As for Chairman Conrad’s plan, it is easy to understand why Senate Democrats don’t want to vote on it, even in committee: 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. Never in recent memory has a majority party in Washington been more inadequate to meet the great challenge of our time than Senate Democrats now leading this chamber.”
With Republicans seeking to regain control of the U.S. Senate, the long timeline of budgetary inaction by Senate Democrats may now hold electoral consequences, as Sen. Reid’s last-minute maneuverings can only be seen as cynical Machiavellian politics of the most irresponsible kind.