1,364. That is the number of days it has been since the United States Senate last passed a budget. One may think that with a national debt approaching $17 trillion (and set to rise without reform) and yearly deficits north of $1 trillion, the upper body of the U.S. legislator would show a little interest in making headway on these issues.
Unfortunately, it is run by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and a Democratic majority that is more interested in winning tactical political victories than saving our nation from fiscal ruin. Dozens of deficit reducing proposals have been passed in the House only to wither and die silently in the Senate. And that is the real scandal, not that the sometimes-bipartisan bills don’t get passed, but that they are usually not even allowed to be legitimately debated on the floor, amended or even voted on. Reid’s goals are simple: prevent any Democratic Senators from having to make difficult votes that may damage their chances of reelection or diverge from the Democratic Party line on taxes and entitlements, guard against the potentially disastrous optics of a tax or entitlement reform bill passing the Senate only to be vetoed by President Obama and, perhaps most importantly, allow Republicans to take all the political risk, thus making them look like a party of extreme radicals.
Rather than understanding the magnitude of what is facing the United States absent a course correction, and acting with the honor and responsibility befitting their office, the Democratic Senate majority is using our nations looming sovereign debt crisis as a political wedge to divide and marginalize the Republican Party.
Politically, the strategy has worked brilliantly (thanks in large part to a sympathetic media and an uninterested American public), but the nation is significantly worse off. The conduct of the Democratic Senators and their leader is a sad, yet revealing, commentary on how the United States of America came to be $17 trillion in the hole. Rather than making the politically difficult, but ultimately correct, decision to seriously examine and reform the drivers of our debt (entitlement programs), Democratic Senators are doing what is politically easy: to deny that there is a problem, demagogue all those who have the courage broach the subject, and pass the problem on for the next generation to solve.
Both parties are to blame for the current state of affairs but the Republican Party seems to have, for the most part, seen the light and is now actually proposing intellectually serious reform proposals. Democratic Senators have not been so reasonable. They continue to live in denial about the nation’s financial state of affairs and remain more interested in using the issue as a political weapon than actually addressing it. That is why they refuse to have any real debates, votes or amendments and why, in dereliction of one of their most basic duties, they refuse to even propose a budget. Their willful inaction is nothing short of cowardice; they are essentially selling the United States down the river for petty, self-interested political victories and that is a disgrace which should outrage all Americans.