Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Democrats' inability to pass a budget comes back to bite them

Byron York points out this nice little irony. Remember how the Democrats crammed through ObamaCare under the rather arcane rules of reconciliation that allowed them to pass it with 51 votes and avoid a filibuster? Their defense was that the Republicans had done the same thing with the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. So why couldn't they push through the sort of tax cut provision they wanted in the lame duck session when they still had large majorities in each house? Ah, here is where the irony sets in. Reconciliation must be attached to a budget. But the Democrats haven't passed a budget.
To pass a measure by reconciliation, the Senate must pass a budget that contains what are called reconciliation instructions. But this year, as they faced an angry electorate and grim prospects in the midterm elections, the Democratic leadership made the specific decision not to pass a budget. Revealing their spending priorities to voters already unhappy with out-of-control federal expenditures was just too risky, so Sen. Harry Reid and party leaders punted, even though passing a budget is one of Congress' core constitutional responsibilities.

With no budget, there could be no reconciliation. And no possibility of using reconciliation to extend the Bush tax cuts -- which were originally passed with bipartisan support -- on the Democrats' terms. Shirking your constitutional responsibilities can have consequences.

Without that option, and with Republicans united, the only question was how long it would take for Democrats to admit defeat.
The Democrats haven't done what their basic job is - passing a budget for the government and it's just delicious that their cowardice has come back to bite them.