As a third temporary spending bill expires next week, the attention of Capitol Hill will once again be focused on producing a permanent spending bill to keep the federal government open and operating. The threat of a government shutdown would not exist had the Democratically controlled 111th Congress passed a budget for this fiscal year. In fact, not only did they fail to pass a budget, but for the for the first time in the history of the budget-making process, last year's Congress failed to even vote on a budget. And now, even as the consequences of their failure are just days a way, the Democrats have still failed to agree on a plan that cuts spending.
Thirty-eight days ago, on February 19, the House of Representatives passed a budget that would keep the federal government open for the rest of this fiscal year. Responding to the overwhelming mandate from the American people delivered last November to cut federal spending, that House budget cut $61 billion in spending from 2010 levels. The Democrats then produced a plan that they said "cut spending," but even The Washington Post Fact Checker found no real cuts.
And they will not even go on record identifying which cuts in the House's bill they are willing to accept. The Post explains why: "Such a move would force Democrats to go on record defending programs that Republicans had identified as wasteful."
It is understandable why the Senate is so afraid to offer its own spending plan. When the President offered his own budget for next year, he claimed that it would produce only a $7.2 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. At the time, we predicted that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would produce vastly different numbers, since the President's proposal included audaciously hopeful economic forecasts and fake spending cuts. Sure enough, on March 18 the CBO scored the President's budget as causing $9.5 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. That is more debt than the federal government accumulated from 1789 to 2010 combined. Heritage analyst Brian Riedl surveys the damage:
These large deficits will persist because the President's steep tax hikes cannot keep up with his runaway spending. Relative to the historical averages (which were also pre-recession levels), President Obama would raise taxes by 1.3 percent of GDP yet increase spending by 4 percent of GDP. The main drivers of runaway spending—surging Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs—would not be reformed at all. Accordingly, the annual cost of interest on the national debt would quadruple. ... Under President Obama's budget proposal, taxpayers would see large tax increases, bigger government, and slower economic growth. The President who declared that "I didn't come here to pass our problems on to the next President or the next generation—I'm here to solve them" would, over the next decade, drop an additional $80,000 per household in debt onto the laps of our children and grandchildren.
The White House spent all of 2010 deflecting criticism about its deficit spending by pointing to the President's debt commission. Then when the commission finally produced a report that included actual spending cuts, the White House couldn't run from it fast enough. Congressional Democrats have no plan to cut government this year, next year, or any year. Conservatives should hold firm to their $61 billion in cuts and force Democrats to produce their own spending cut plan.