Throughout the debt-ceiling debate, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking minority leader on the Senate Budget Committee, has railed against the absence of a proper budget process. For over two years, the Senate has not produced a budget. This is not simply a matter of being a stickler for rules. Sessions understood that, without a budget, Senate Democrats could evade responsibility for making tough choices and simply demagogue whatever Republicans proposed.
Sessions warned against letting the budgeting process and the debt-ceiling dispute devolve into a mad rush at the end of a tiresome process. He, alas, gets his “I told you so” moment. In a statement he explains:
“I am glad that this matter appears to be on its way to resolution prior to August 2nd. However, I have warned from the very beginning that by shunning our legislative process and Senate heritage we would find ourselves in the 11th hour forced to vote on a bill with little or no time for meaningful review or public engagement, and without any chance to amend the work. This chain of events was set into motion by the president’s absolute unwillingness to offer any concrete plan to reduce the spending he radically surged over the last two years, combined with the Democrat Senate’s derelict refusal to adopt a budget for 823 days.
His solution, however, is not to try to sink a deal at this stage. Instead, he urges:
But the one fact every American must know is that the level of cuts in this proposal are only a first step. Far more work and much greater reductions in spending are required to balance the budget.
The good news is that we are finally cutting spending, and our Republican leadership deserves credit for fighting hard to achieve this level of cuts given the fierce resistance from Washington’s Democrat majority and the president’s veto pen. No progress would have been possible but for the voters who rose up last election and kicked so many big spenders out of office. But much more work remains. Sound, lasting reform cannot be achieved through special committee or secret meetings, but will require the vigorous participation of the full Senate and the public we serve.”
That is not only accurate as a policy matter (this deal is of limited utility going forward), but it is the basis for a large national debate and the turf on which the 2012 campaign will be fought.
More on the debt standoff from The Washington Post: