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Call The Waaahambulance! (Why The GOP Is Suddenly Budget-Shy)

April 18, 2013
The mere thought of those mean Dems making us vote to privatize Medicare brings a tear to the eye

The mere thought of those mean Dems making us vote to privatize Medicare brings a tear to the eye

A funny thing has happened in Washington: although they’ve whined for four years that Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget resolution and have been working outside of “regular order”, now that the Senate has passed a budget, it is the House GOP who seem unwilling to get this thing done. Rather than proceed directly to conference committee to forge some sort of compromise budget, the GOP wants to head to the proverbial smoke-filled back room to come to some “understandings” before proceeding to conference. Hmmm…

Here’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s take:

“We have had Republicans yelling and screaming — sometimes violently — to have regular order. They said ‘Democrats should do a budget,’ even though we had a law [the Budget Control Act], they wanted a resolution. And we did that. Once that’s done — we’ve done that — they’re not interested in regular order,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing. “Chairman Ryan said ‘we want to have a pre-conference.’ You can’t have it both ways. Does he want regular order? Obviously not. So the prior talk was all happy talk — it meant nothing — because they are not able to fulfill the commitment that they’ve made to do regular order.” (Talking Points Memo)

Clearly, Democrats are taking some enjoyment from prodding the GOP in their current position — but what’s really going on? Paul Ryan tried to justify it this way:

“We want to go to conference when we feel we have a realistic chance of getting an agreement. We don’t want to conference when we have an endless process that focuses on our differences. … What we want to do is have constructive dialogues to find out where the common ground is and go to conference when we have a realistic chance of coming out with an agreement.”

Uh huh. Nice try, Paul, but I think it far more likely that the GOP is leery of making Republican members uncomfortable.  For one thing, there is the fact that a regular budget process would very likely mean Republicans actually having to vote on some very controversial issues. The whole process could also put the fissures within the party on public display. (Many Tea Party members still don’t play nice.)

Today House Speaker John Boehner seemed to confirm my suspicions:

“I think you also know that under rules, if you appoint conferees and after 20 legislative days there’s no agreement, the minority has the right to offer motions to instruct, which become politically motivated bombs that show up on the House floor.” (Talking Points Memo)

Someone call the waaahambulance! We can’t have Republicans going on record voting for/against things they believe in! Sheesh.

At any rate, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: we will again hit the deadline for raising the debt ceiling on May 19th. A cynical person might suspect Republicans of stalling the budget process until they can once again use the debt limit as “leverage” (translation: ‘hostage’).  If one were cynical, of course.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mikey2ct permalink
    April 18, 2013 6:58 pm

    Sandra, you’re right on the money! As far as Boehner goes , I remember real leadership in the role of leader – Everett Dirksen and Chip O’Neill. Great post.

  2. April 18, 2013 1:30 pm

    The budget is just a game to the GOP. They cry foul when the Senate or President don’t do it on time. But they never mention that the budget resolutions are non-binding guides to spending. Nor do they mention that using continuing resolutions to fund the federal government is completely normal.

    On top of that the GOP shouldn’t pretend like they are serious about the budget when they produce documents like the Ryan budget. If Ryan wanted to find agreement and common ground he would not have put out the budget he did. All of his budgets have been purely based on political ideology. There is not even a hint there that his budgets were ever intended to be negotiated over.

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