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Are Democrats setting themselves up for failure in 2011 by not passing a budget?

demsrecinstructions.JPG

The most important job news of the days was not the June jobs numbers. It was a mostly ignored vote in the House of Representatives last night. By a vote of 215 to 210, the House passed a "budget enforcement resolution" setting discretionary spending levels and making it almost impossible to imagine that any job-creation measures will pass in 2011.

The budget enforcement resolution is an alternative to actually passing a budget. It does the main work of the budget, which is telling the appropriators how much money they have to spend, but it includes few details beyond that. The absence of those specifics means House Democrats aren't voting for a budget with a trillion-plus-dollar deficit, which is a vote they don't want to take, and it spares the House leadership the trouble of navigating the normal budget-related squabbles. But no budget means no budget reconciliation instructions, and no budget reconciliation instructions mean no passing jobs legislation with 51 votes in the Senate.

The 2010 elections, however, are likely to return a much-reduced Democratic Senate majority. As the situation stands, Democrats couldn't pass unemployment-insurance legislation with 59 votes, because they couldn't quite get to 60. If they have only 52 members in their caucus, they really have no chance. That's why setting down reconciliation instructions now was so important: It was their best chance to actually govern next year.

Senate Democrats are hanging this one on the House. "It was our intent in a budget resolution to include those instructions," Sen. Debbie Stabenow told me. "And we passed such a resolution out of committee." House aides retort that they were told Senate Democrats didn't have the 51 votes necessary to pass the budget on the floor, and in any case, it's not their fault that the Senate is paralyzed by the filibuster. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called just today for an end to the filibuster.

But the fact remains: By not passing a budget with reconciliation instructions this year, Democrats are setting themselves up for further gridlock and failure next year. If you can't get 51 votes for a budget when you have 59, you sure can't get 60 votes for controversial legislation when you only have 52.

Photo credit: Charles Dharapak/AP

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Next: The importance of getting specific on the deficit

Comments

"But no budget means no budget reconciliation instructions, and no budget reconciliation instructions mean no passing jobs legislation with 51 votes in the Senate."

... and no reconciliation just means one more reason to abolish the filibuster.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats have been setting themselves up for massive failure for the duration of Obama's presidency.

Not because of their agenda or policies, but how they interacted with the opposition. They have been giving in to the bullies that currently lead the GOP and making them even stronger through continued capitulation.

The Democrats need to stand up for their own principles and let the GOP bring the Senate to a standstill. Allow the people to see just who is stopping *everything*. Clearly set votes on the issues and have the GOP stop them.

If you don't call out the opposition for what it is and continually give in to their demands, they won't be held accountable for their obstructionist behavior.

Not passing a budget just gives the GOP another stick to whack at the Democrats.

Posted by: rpixley220 | July 2, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats will kill or substantially reform the Filibuster in Jan 2011. Nancy Pelosi is locking them into this reality by not offering them a fig leaf.

So with 52-54 senators and no filibuster, they'll be better off than at 59 senators and the current filibuster.

Now, if the Democratic senators chicken out and DON'T change the filibuster in Jan 2011, THEN they'll have really screwed up.

Posted by: dplionis | July 2, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

At the beginning of every Senate session, the Senate sets the rules for the year. Do you think there's any chance the Democrats could reduce the number of votes needed for cloture then? I know they can't do it now.

This would be something worth bringing the Senate to a standstill over!

Posted by: stavner17 | July 2, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Those advocating for the end to the filibuster really need to look up the lineup for Senate elections in 2012 and 2014. Both lean heavily, very heavily, toward Republican gains BOTH years.

Posted by: lancediverson | July 2, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

DUMP OBAMA! CLINTON IN 2012! ONLY THIS WILL KEEP THE DEMOCRATS IN POWER! OBAMA IS POISON TO THE PARTY!!!

Posted by: georges2 | July 2, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"But the fact remains: By not passing a budget with reconciliation instructions this year, Democrats are setting themselves up for further gridlock and failure next year."

If you know this, then certainly the Republicans know it as well. Why wouldn't they make a political calculation to simply oppose the budget simply to keep the Democrats from using reconciliation next year?

Posted by: Interceptor402 | July 2, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

What are the prospects for making changes to the filibuster (preferably doing away with it altogether) at the start of the next congress? My understanding is that a set of rules is passed at the start of every Congress by a majority vote and - theoretically - the Dems could opt to do away with it right there.

Posted by: jbossch | July 2, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

2012 will definitely NOT be a good year for GOP. Presidential elections have much higher turnouts which brings out a more diverse electorate.

Speaking of electorates, every election from 2010 on will have increasing demographics for Democrats and decreasing demographics for Republicans. It will only get easier for Dems as the years pass and the Repubs keep trashing Hispanics and everyone who isn't a rich white Christian homophobic male.

2010 may not even be a disaster since the GOP lost Murtha's old seat by 8 points! The exact kind of seat they should have easily won. And the ones who will get wiped out will be worthless blue dogs anyway who are merely getting what they deserve.

The GOP is on its way to a permanent minority status and the world will be better for it.

Posted by: dplionis | July 2, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

A serious question:

Are the Dems retarded?

It seems like many, if not most, are only motivated by what Fox News might say about them.

I'm totally serious.

Posted by: AZProgressive | July 2, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

So the House got tired of the Senate footdragging and did what was politically expedient for their own members.

Posted by: tuber | July 2, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"The Democrats will kill or substantially reform the Filibuster in Jan 2011. Nancy Pelosi is locking them into this reality by not offering them a fig leaf."

I like this interpretation; I hope it's correct.

Given the number of first-term Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2012, the caucus may decide that the filibuster isn't worth another two years of economic stagnation.

Posted by: dcamsam | July 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

As Obama capitulates to the demands of the Republicans, we will collapse into ruin. Welcome to the new 3rd world!

Posted by: markand1820 | July 2, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

As Obama capitulates to the demands of the Republicans, we will collapse into ruin. Welcome to the new 3rd world!

Posted by: markand1820 | July 2, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

All hail the democrat party. A party run by idiots and dimwits!! I can't believe I am a member of such a party that is populated by people so stupid they make michael steele look intelligent. A pox on your house!!!

Posted by: Henry_of_BrowardCounty | July 2, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Is that a serious possibility? Senators on both sides of the aisle know that party control of the Senate can change. Perhaps they could muster support to limit secret holds. Otherwise tradition and just sheer inertia would suggest no major changes in the filibuster rule. At least according to the textbooks.

OT: Happy 234th, America!

Posted by: tuber | July 2, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Hi Ezra,

When you say "If you can't get 51 votes for a budget when you have 59, you sure can't get 60 votes for controversial legislation when you only have 52.", are we sure about this?

As you mentioned in a blog post on FinReg(http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/mcconnell_doesnt_have_the_vote.html), it may be easier to attract Republicans (and maybe to have more cohesion within the Democratic Party): "blame is diffuse and so is punishment" when defecting. Matt Steinglass also had a piece on this here(http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/04/financial_reform_8).

Posted by: PtitSeb | July 2, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

rpixley220 ~ all of that is nonsense. When the Democrats have the ruling majority in both houses (and on financial matters that only takes 51 votes in the Senate) and with the Democrats controlling the White House and the federal establishment, no one except mind-numbed, knee-jerkers will imagine that gridlock is a Republican conspiracy.

Sorry guys. The average citizen will recognize that the disaster is wholly owned by the Democrats.

Posted by: muawiyah | July 2, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats have been behaving like kids in a candy store, because they have been out of office for so long that they are giddy with delight to be in power.

One thing very noticable about the Progressive Democrats is that they demand absolute control of everything at any cost and all the time. Tyranny on steroids. This must be stopped at all costs.

Nancy Pelosi just can't get enough of herself. Ordering a private superjet to be at her disposal at all times for her family and friends. All at the taxpayer's expense. Changing offices for a brand new office costing taxpayer's over $18,000.00 a month in rent. $18K per month rent??? Just who the hell does this woman think she is, God's gift to America?

Now, Ms. Fancypants wants to end the filibuster so she and her cohorts can get they way without so much as a fight from the opposing party. NO, NANCY PELOSI, YOU CANNOT END THE FILIBUSTER, NOR CAN YOU BULLY YOUR WAY THROUGH OUR COUNTRY'S TREASURE ANY LONGER EITHER. SELFISH WITCH!!!

Posted by: prossers7 | July 2, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

As a Democrat, this is just mind-boggling. This is basically a refusal to govern on the part of the House majority. The budget is the primary obligation of that majority and this is just complete abdication and all because they dont want to be on record voting for a deficit number? GOP candidates are still going to blame them for the deficit. Maybe the ads will be worded a little differently, but for that we are doing this? The real response is to say that yes this is unpopular but we are doing it because it is required by the situation left us by the last administration. The deficit is a symptom, and part of the cure, of the acts of the prior GOP congresses and administration but I really wonder sometimes if a lot of Dems even really understand that well enough to say it on the campaign trail. If you are unwilling to use your majority to do what needs to be done when you have it because you are afraid of losing the majority because of what you have to do, then the point of being in the majority becomes what? Its not like members of Congress cant land good jobs after they are defeated. But they are not willing to help preserve the jobs of the people because they might lose theirs and have to become lobbyists, or pundits or businesspersons or professors? PLLLEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEEE. And I thought the Stabenow interview yesterday made no sense either. You have the majority. Thats all you need for this. USE IT even if it means a shorter recess. I am disgusted. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to think that if Dems do lose the House, that we will get it back with a better class of members in 2012, and so I should withhold my vote this time, but, alas, I fear that the class of 2012 is likely to be much the same. Obama came into office really interested in respecting Congress as an institution and his reward has been a Dem congress determined to show him it deserves no respect. Congressmembers say they need presidentail leadership, but thats not what they want. What they want is for the president to take all the heat and to provide cover for their idiocy AND they seem to know thats exactly what they want AND they seem to be proud of it.

Posted by: gregspolitics | July 2, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the House resolution passed is indicative of the loss of power by the Social-Democratic Party. Another indicator is the removal of John Kerry as the Senate negotiator for an energy bill.

It's great news for the nation, in that the SDP is excising its progressive faction. It's also great news in that it virtually mandates fiscally prudent behavior from the next Congress. The resignation of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker might even change the result of the upcoming election.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 2, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is all inside the beltway rubbish. There will be no new jobs bill because Democrats are torn about adding further to deficits in an election year. Anyway the economic recovery will occur when pentup consumer demand finally emerges and American exports increase. GM just announced it sold more cars in China than the U.S. in the last year. That is a good sign.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | July 2, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

..."I respectfully disagree sir, as a registered Voter/Vet USAF, "America must spend it's why out of a deep/Republican/Recession that lost a "RECORD 8.5 MILLION JOBS/FACT, LEFT A RECORD U.S DEBT/BILL/DEFICIT $1.5 TRILLION, AND THE ONLY WAY TO GET US OUT IS FEDERAL INTERVENTION/YESTERDAY!

The President is doing all he can to create jobs, and doing a damn good job in the face of the party of "NO"Republicans who are doing all they can to stop him from cleaning up a Criminal/Republican/Record of the Blew it BUsh/Admin, that has ruined America's economy/fact!

In conclusion folks, these facts are the record, this is why the country is in the MESS it's in, no matter how good you are once you lose the industrial base overseas as the REpublicans did under their boy blew it BUsh losing 8.5 Million jobs, can't be replace in two years what took eight years for the Republicans to lose!

On top of that the REpublicans/Party of NO standing in the way/Will of the American/Majority/People, and that's why I say to my fellow Democrats, and to the President whom I voted for, "TO POUR IT ON, "POUR IT ON, STEAMROLL RIGHT OVER THE REPUBICANS, "Its the right thing to do...

Posted by: ztcb41 | July 2, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow!

Maybe things will get so bad next year in the disgraceful Senate that there actually will be a serious attempt to end, or at least curtail, the filibuster, and other undemocratic dysfunctional rules. One can hope.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | July 2, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I agree with the premise that the House passing a "Budget Enforcement Act" ties Democrats' hands in 2011. First, what passed the House is not binding on the Senate because the Senate has not agreed to it. Second, even if the House and Senate reached an agreement that did not include reconcilliation language, such an agreement would not last through 2011. Democrats, assuming they retain their majorities, will need to pass a budget resolution in 2011 that will be binding once it is passed, and given that it won't be an election year, will likely include reconcilliation instructions.

Posted by: mikejd | July 2, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

A couple points:
#1 One omnibus bill per year is no way to govern.

#2 They have another option to govern. When the new Senate convenes next year, they remove the filibuster from the Senate rules with a majority vote.

IMO, there is plenty of justification to do this, after the Republicans' behavior this year.

Posted by: zosima | July 2, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Ordering a private superjet to be at her disposal at all times for her family and friends. All at the taxpayer's expense. Changing offices for a brand new office costing taxpayer's over $18,000.00 a month in rent. $18K per month rent??? Just who the hell does this woman think she is, God's gift to America?

Posted by: prossers7
----------
You left out the fact that Dennis Hastert a former Speaker, who is a Republican, flies home every weekend to IL and that translate to lots of waste of taxpayer's money in the process while the GOP was in the majority. I don't see you calling them out for it! Typical blaming one person while ignoring the other...

Posted by: beeker25 | July 2, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

A couple points:
#1 One omnibus bill per year is no way to govern.

#2 They have another option to govern. When the new Senate convenes next year, they remove the filibuster from the Senate rules with a majority vote.

IMO, there is plenty of justification to do this, after the Republicans' behavior this year.

Posted by: zosima
--------
Ironically Reid has talked about changing the filibuster rule next year, since they can not change the rule during the current session, after what has happened over the past two years.

Posted by: beeker25 | July 2, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse


Hello Dims,

Harry the horse's asp Reid will be ousted from the Senate in 123 days. Reid is not going to be around next session to change Senate rules, or change anything else for that matter.

As for changing the rules of the Senate that takes 67 votes. Dims cannot even manage the 60 votes needed for cloture.

Posted by: screwjob16 | July 2, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the voters would trust the democrats without a opposition party. And they will show it next november.

The democrats own both houses of congress and the presidency and they cannot pass a budget.

A complete and utter abrogation of their responsibilities. A party that is not responsible enough to keep in power.

Posted by: dude1394 | July 2, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats do not allow the Bush tax cuts to expire & do not alter the filibuster to allow the Senate to become a functioning body, I will no longer become upset with the Democratic Party, as I will then only vote for Green Party candidates. No, I will not have left the party, it will have left me & millions more. Others can continue to play the "Lesser of two-Evils" voting game.

Posted by: allen11 | July 2, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey look it's the three stooges.

Posted by: Imarkex | July 3, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

What the heck? They can do this? They can pass a budget but not pass a budget at the same time? Only Congress would think of that...

Posted by: thepeoplesview | July 3, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

So they can amend the Senate rules to eliminate or at least greatly restrict the filibuster in January with 51 votes, right? The Dems aren't likely to get any other major legislation passed without getting rid of the filibuster, so I hope that's what they're talking about doing...

Posted by: MosBen | July 3, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

It's funny to watch the Democratic cheerleaders here whistling past the graveyard.

"Democratic" and "Incumbent" are two words that you don't want on your resume this year.

And Obama is already a lame duck. Everything he has touched has crumbled and made worse.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | July 3, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

"Speaking of electorates, every election from 2010 on will have increasing demographics for Democrats "

I think counting on illegals voting for Obama is a bit premature. Without the illegal votes, and Acorn disgraced, Obama will have to win on the merits of his first 4 years.

He'd better pray to god that it's better than his first two years, because they're the worst since the late 70's.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | July 3, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

When the "LIGHT OF TRUTH" is shone, "THE ROACHES" go back into the woodwork. The Democrats didn't pass a budget, because they don't want attention given to their outrageous spending. Sounds like a no brainer. However, as time goes on, and the American People get the TAX BILL, they will be exposed for who they really are.

Posted by: barrysal | July 3, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Here's the shorthand you need to have complete understanding of the two US political parties:

Democrats are stupid and weak.
Republicans are stupid and stubbornly mean.

Of course, the stupid is different for the two parties. Democrats have no idea of the game they are in, while Republicans are nihilistic without any concept of societal obligations.

Posted by: LosGatosCA | July 3, 2010 2:24 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: georges2
DUMP OBAMA! CLINTON IN 2012! ONLY THIS WILL KEEP THE DEMOCRATS IN POWER! OBAMA IS POISON TO THE PARTY!!!
-----------------------
Can you name one substantive policy difference between Obama and either Clinton. The most controversial provision in healthcare is the individual mandate, which Obama opposed and Hillary supported in the primary, Clinton voted for the TARP, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers & Tim Geithner all worked for Bill Clinton, most of the Democrats pro-business policies which are cited as causes of the financial crisis and BP oil spill happened under Clinton. Hillary Clinton is in charge of Obama's foreign policy. So other than the fact that the Clinton's are white and Obama is black, what is the significant enough difference that will save the Democratic Party?

Posted by: bravestar360 | July 3, 2010 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Government creates jobs by cutting taxes. That is all.

Posted by: soma_king | July 3, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Add this to the long list of reasons the Dems are going to get thumped in November! Until Obama learns to read and react to the pulse of ALL Americans, he and his administratioin is doomed to more failures!

2010...WITHOUT DOUBT, VOTE THEM OUT!

http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | July 3, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

awesome to think we have come to a point where we have no choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. lol

the Republicans hate Americans, while the Democrats are afraid of the Republicans. so nothing gets done.

hoping the Republican take back the House so Darrel Issa of CA can subpoena Obama to death is going to be fun to watch. that way the evil Republicans will be able to claim "moral righteousness."

and the Democrats will help them. now is that not a "Groucho Marx" movie or what!

sad part is that Harry Reid will probably return to office. what is with these eunuchs. at least i learned from Reid that 51isn't a majority out of 100

Posted by: Beleck31 | July 4, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Ezra

The talk on the broadcast spectrum is that you are good at what you do? But too me, I can never understand what the hell you speak on...You tend to be a "George Will" of economics if you get my drift

Posted by: danson1 | July 4, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

No budget creates a level of suspicion. If a budget were to be passed, the voter would KNOW that the demonkrats were putting the U.S.S.A. into bankruptcy. Better to suspect it or to KNOW it?

Posted by: IQ168 | July 5, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This is the first time since 1974 that a budget has not been passed. That is because the Dems have spent so much of our money that the debt is now tripled. They don't want to bring that out into the open and let Americans see how they are squandering our future and leading us toward bankruptsy. They have tried all kinds of slimy twisting of house rules to pass there far left agenda. The only hope is voting them all out in 2010 before they destroy our country with spending and taxation and corruption.

Posted by: joanz3 | July 5, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I think rpixley220 has said it just right.

Everyone knows what the Republican strategy is by now: Get in the way of all reform and then claim in 2011 and 2012 the Dems could not lead the country to prosperity during their time in charge. Okay, but it is still disconcerting that the best minds of the Democratic party leadership cannot figure out how to break the deadlock and get a jobs bill and unemployment payment bill through. Or just figure out a way to do it by executive order. The Pres needs to get out and start hammering his agenda loud and clear so that not one more day goes by with this impasse. Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes, despite their widely varying talents, would have been raising their voices and demanding responses 24-7 until they got their way. Leadership and action is not just about the existing vote tallies.

Posted by: jcluma | July 5, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Movement in government only happens to strengthen one party and weaken the other thereby insuring nothing gets done the way it should be done because the majority would claim "We did it!" Add in enough Senators obligated to their corporate donors to stop any legislation their donors don't approve of and government becomes the problem Americans and increasingly, the world, must overcome.

Example: When G.W. Bush told us and the world that Iraq was a threat and the weapons inspectors said they could find nothing, it would have been reasonable to monitor Iraq, not invade it. But with emotions running high after 9/11 Senators were so afraid of looking weaker than their opponents, they didn't even look at the CIA report that suggested Iraq was not a threat and voted us into a tragically, meaningless war we can't get away from for the same reason we got in it - the party in control is afraid if they pull us out, the other party will use it against them. It's so bad that when the leader of the Republican party speaks the truth of the war his own party excommunicates him and so the cost of war in lives, money and honor, drags on. The same can be said for pollution, illegal immigration, alternative energy, Cuba, Israel/Palestine - anything of importance.

The world is moving forward and our government is sitting still, going broke, fighting unnecessary wars, losing the trust of the American people and the world.

Mr Obama was elected on his promise to change all this. But he has reneged on just about every major campaign promise made from closing Guantanamo to ending the war to making government more transparent. Either he lied to us or he's a weak leader afflicted with "Democrats Disease": Spinelessness in the face of "Republican Disease": Brainlessness. A spineless, brainless government more concerned with being re-elected than dealing effectively with the major problems of today is why I say, "Government is the problem Americans and the world must overcome."

Posted by: thestoryplease | July 5, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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