A Washington Post feature story on Kent Conrad refers to the retiring U.S. Senator as “the Democrats’ balanced-budget guy for more than a decade.”
Of course, no budget has been balanced for “more than a decade.” Being the Democrats’ “balanced-budget guy” is sorta like being the Taliban’s diversity outreach guy or AARP’s youth activities director or the bartender for the Temperance League.
I won’t dispute Sen. Conrad’s claim that he’s “done [his] level best,” but, in the time he’s been in Congress, the federal debt has climbed more than 700 percent, from $2.1 trillion in 1986 to $15.4 trillion today.
Nonetheless, Conrad continues to work his colleagues in the dark corridors of the capitol, and The Post reports his goal is to “draft far-reaching legislation to tame the debt and present it for a vote after Election Day, when lawmakers will be under intense pressure to reach an agreement to avert huge tax increases and deep spending cuts set to hit Jan. 1.”
But how will the desire to avoid tax increases and spending cuts “pressure” Congress to pass Conrad’s preferred package of tax increases and spending cuts? Especially in a lame duck session that sidesteps public pressure?
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan offers a different view: “We shouldn’t be insulating this from the American public, trying to cut back room deals on commissions or whatever. I think the process is moved forward if we put plans out for the public to see and defend our ideas.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.