As House Democrats continue to ponder whether they will — or can — do a budget resolution this year, the nonpartisan Concord Coalition on Monday beseeched Congress to fulfill its annual budgeting responsibility.
“Failure to adopt a budget resolution when fiscal ‘resolution’ is needed most would send the worst possible signal,” Concord wrote in an issue statement. Noting projections of growing deficits and debt about which “the public is increasingly, and justifiably, concerned,” the group that advocates responsible budgeting says that not doing a budget “would say to investors in Treasury securities, foreign and domestic, that the federal government is still in denial about its fiscal problems and has no plan to address the situation anytime soon. It would say to the public that their leaders are incapable of leading or unwilling to do so.” Concord says, “Neither signal is likely to provide ‘political cover’ ” for Democrats who may not want do a budget to avoid a politically difficult vote. “Any temporary political relief [afforded by avoiding a budget vote] would soon be overtaken by the shame of having failed to enact a budget in the face of record deficits and rising debt.”
The group’s statement appears to include an appeal to House Blue Dogs to back off from their demands and to support a budget resolution with somewhat higher spending than they would otherwise like. “Those who want tougher spending restraint and lower deficits are unlikely to get their wish by simply refusing to vote for a budget. All they will get is criticism for ducking hard choices,” Concord writes. “Appropriations bills eventually have to pass or the government will shut down. Without a budget, Congress would likely ‘deem’ spending limits for 2011. There is no reason to believe that such a cap would be any tighter than a cap passed through the regular budget process. On the other hand, adopting a budget resolution would allow Congress to demonstrate a more serious approach to fiscal restraint by including multi-year spending caps as recommended by the Senate Budget Committee,” its statement said.
Concord also argues a budget is needed to provide reconciliation protection to legislation that “could prove crucial in enforcing the new pay-as-you-go law” — an issue on which Concord and the Blue Dogs have been strongly aligned in the past. Noting that offsets will likely be needed for a new jobs bill, as well as for longer-term extensions of AMT relief and estate tax legislation, Concord writes, “This will require new revenues or substantial spending cuts that will be easier to pass in the Senate through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process.