Dems in Self-Preservation Mode

by Andrew Stiles

Until House Republicans decided to add a balanced-budget requirement to their current deficit plan, Democrats made clear that their only real objection to the bill was the fact that it would necessitate a second vote to raise the debt ceiling before the 2012 election. President Obama even threatened to veto any legislation that did not give him sufficient spending authority through early 2013, saying it was his “only bottom line.” And given the president’s bitterly partisan speeches and press conferences over the past several weeks, it is clear that Obama’s primary concern is getting reelected (if the economy fails, he’ll just blame those rowdy House Republicans).

But that’s not the only way in which Democrats are putting their political interests ahead of the country’s interests. Take Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D., Nev.) deficit-reduction plan, which includes $2.2 trillion in “savings,” about half of which is the result of assuming that funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue at current levels (everyone agrees it won’t). But you can hardly expect the Senate to be honest and forthright with number, given that they still haven’t passed — or even voted on — in over two years.

It is a trend that Harry Reid wants to continue, apparently, because according to his deficit plan, the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 would not be drafted in committee, marked up, and voted on per the traditional process (i.e., the law); rather they would be “deemed” enacted. Once again, this will spare vulnerable Democrats the indignity of having to vote on a budget. Many of the 20-plus Democrats up for reelection next year, despite belonging to a party that insists on raising taxes now, would rather not run on that record. And because Reid’s plan would set revenue levels according to the Congressional Budget Office baseline, which follows current law (including the expiration of business tax extenders, the AMT patch, and the Bush tax rates), rather than current policy, it effectively assumes a tax increase of about $3.5 trillion over ten years. So they get their tax increase, but without having to actually vote on it (they just “deem” you taxes raises). Because casting uncomfortable votes would be an affront to democracy (or something) — “foolish” in the words of Harry Reid.

Indeed, actually solving a problem like our massive debt and deficits is hard, and requires difficult decisions. Why bother, when you can just “deem” them solved?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, slams the president and Senate Democrats for making the debt debate “all about them.”

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