Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tried to name legislators to the “conference” so that they could hammer out a reconciliation between the Senate’s budget and the House’s budget, but Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wasn’t having it.
Republicans have been trying to avoid convening a panel to begin reconciling the two budgets, because in reality they know they can’t get the House Republicans to agree to any tax raises. They want to avoid being put in the awkward position of failing on the record. They’ve been demanding compromises first; they want a “pre-conference” now.
McConnell justified their sudden flight from actual budget reconciliation by saying, “To go to conference right now strikes us as not making much sense.”
Which is just as well, because the Republican budget hawk is running as far away from his budget as he can. Paul Ryan (R-WI) threw a fit last week, demanding a “framework” before he went on the record with budget talks. He, too, wants a “pre-conference”.
Reid mocked the Republicans, “It seems House Republicans don’t want to be seen discussing even the possibility of compromise with Democrats, for fear that there will be a Tea Party revolt.”
The conference is part of the regular order Republicans have been whining about on cable TV for years, as they pretended that the Senate didn’t have any kind of budget in place. In fact, the Senate did have a spending agreement in place – it was part of the debt ceiling deal. It’s called the Budget Control Act, but this was no good for Republicans because it wasn’t regular order. Sure, was even more extensive than a traditional budget, it set discretionary caps for 10 years, instead of the one year normally set in a budget resolution, and it addressed “entitlement” spending and revenues by creating the “Super Committee,” which was given explicit authority to reform entitlements and the tax code…
But everything must be regular order, Republicans explained to the public. It doesn’t matter if it functions like a budget mechanism, it must have the proper name and be done by regular order. Only now, regular order is suddenly not looking so good to Republicans. Regular order “doesn’t make much sense” now.
It was easy for Ryan to pass his “budget” in the Tea controlled House. But his budget is a shell game, based on the taxes from ObamaCare while at the same time claiming ObamaCare will be repealed. The math doesn’t add up. Now that the Senate has done things the way Republicans demanded, once again, it’s not enough to get Republicans to come to the table.
Harry Reid is right. Republicans are afraid of going on the record, lest the Tea Party revolts — but by Tea Party, I mean the House Republicans who’ve already demonstrated a penchant for embarrassing Republican leadership at the most inopportune moments.