Policy: Budgets & Deficits

With elections looming and debt rising, Senate Democrats won't put out fiscal 2015 budget

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Paul Ryan,Senate,2014 Elections,Budgets and Deficits,Patty Murray

Senate Democrats won't do a fiscal 2015 budget resolution this year, saying it's not necessary -- a move that conveniently insulates them from having to take tough votes in an election year even as the Congressional Budget Office estimates that gross federal debt is on pace to hit $27 trillion in 10 years.

“Fiscal Year 2015 is settled, the Appropriations Committees are already working with their bipartisan spending levels, and now we should work together to build on our two-year bipartisan budget, not create more uncertainty for families and businesses by immediately re-litigating it,” Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has avoided the regular budget process since Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 elections, because it would require red-state Democrats to choose between the spending priorities of the party's base or those of their more conservative constituents, possibly putting their seats at risk.

The deal negotiated by Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was supposed to return order to the budget process, but the Democrats have reverted to the argument they previously used under the Budget Control Act of 2011: that spending levels function as a substitute for a legally required budget.

"We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year — it's done, we don't need to do it," Reid told reporters in 2012.

Democrats adopted a budget in 2009, but then did not do so again until 2013, when the House passed a "no budget, no pay," bill designed to put a spotlight on the issue.

Before the sequestration legislation passed, Reid simply refused to follow the budget law. “There's no need to have a Democratic budget in my opinion,” he said in May 2011. “It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage.”

In December 2011, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that Democratic leadership didn't want to hurt the party heading into the presidential election by revealing their spending plans. “They don't want to risk the next [2012] election,” he said on MSNBC.

Looks like they are using the same strategy for 2014.

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