Well past the April 15 deadline to pass a budget, Congress has yet to introduce one. House Democrats now intend to use a “redeeming resolution” that will save them the hardship of having to vote on deficits.
The Hill quotes House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina as saying that the alternative would be the “functional equivalent” of a decent budget. “But because it won’t be a traditional budget resolution, it will be silent on future deficits, which are expected to average nearly $1 trillion for the next decade,” according to the newspaper.
Democrats have expressed concern about voting for a document showing lots of red ink in an election year.
A traditional budget resolution sets the discretionary spending levels and also lays out the majority’s fiscal policies for future years. Alternative budget measures, known in past years as “deeming resolutions,” set spending caps but lack the statement on future spending and tax policies.
Daniel Foster at National Review notes that this is the first time a Congress has failed to even bring a budget to the floor. Deeming resolutions were previously adopted in the late 1990s when the Republican opposition wouldn’t accept the Clinton Administration’s budgets. With majorities in both houses of Congress however there should be no reason for the Democrats to refrain from introducing a budget now.
“The Democrats’ ersatz budget would be attached to war funding, oil spill aid, and — if they can round up the votes — the president’s favored $20+ billion bailout of public-sector unions,” writes Foster.
Meanwhile, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag is expected to leave his job in the months ahead. The same Peter Orszag who warned in October 2008 that unless the United States pursue a sounder fiscal course in the decades ahead, “we will ultimately reach a point where investors would lose confidence and no longer be as willing to purchase Treasury debt at anything but exorbitant interest rates.” His own party hasn’t been listening though.