We’ve gone three years without a budget. We’ve seen the spectacle of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (R-N.D.) retreating from his timid effort to present and finally get a vote on a budget.
Rich Lowry recently reminded us:
Fresh from his stalwart act of nonbudgeting, Sen. Conrad said it was too hard to pass a budget in an election year. But Senate Democrats hadn’t passed one in 2011 or 2010, either.
This year is a presidential election year, 2011 was an off-year, and 2010 was a midterm election year. That covers every kind of year there is in Washington. By this standard, the Senate will have an annual excuse not to pass a budget resolution for the rest of time.
Now there is a question for Senate Democrats: If you are reelected, how and when will we ever get a budget?
Now, some Democrats cry buckets of crocodile tears over the lack of a budget. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) conceded in December that there was no excuse for failing to pass a budget: “I don’t have an excuse. There’s no excuse. I would have been impeached as Governor. I would have been impeached. I’ve had to put a budget together and I had to look at it.” He even showboated with a bill (which was never going to see the light of day) to stop paying lawmakers if they don’t pass a budget.
Manchin even has gone so far as to say he might not vote for President Obama. But what about his support for Harry Reid? It’s well and good to come up with gimmicky legislation to give yourself cover for not passing a budget, but his vote — and the votes of all the other Senate Democrats — has been to ratify the “Look, ma — no budget!” philosophy of Reid. Why would Reid and the Democrats ever pass a budget if they can keep power after three years of shirking their job?
Manchin can’t be faulted, I suppose, for Obama’s dereliction of duty, but he and Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D- Mont.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and the rest of their caucus certainly are responsible for Reid’s no-budget strategy. They put him in charge, and now they can fairly be held to answer for his fiscal irresponsibility.