A Few Quick Hits
Some quick budget topics that deserve a mention but not a whole post:
1. About the delayed Obama fiscal 2014 budget
I've already posted once about this. On the one hand, the fact that the president's budget isn't going to be sent to Congress until early April (the current rumored date is April 8) is very distressing. On the other hand, the crocodile tears and phony outrage that will come from GOP members of Congress when the budget finally is released will be laughable.
Think about this: The Obama budget would have been declared dead on arrival by the GOP if it had been submitted by the February 4 statutory deadline and it would immediately have been ignored. Now those same House and Senate Republicans will wail about not having the chance to review what the president proposed before they put together their own budgets.
2. About the fiscal 2014 budget resolution
The House and Senate Budget Committees this week are expected to begin drafting their versions of a fiscal 2014 congressional budget resolution. The full House and Senate may begin to debate the bills next week so that they can meet the requirements of the no budget no pay rule.
Don't read too much into this. The House and Senate passing their own versions of a fiscal 2014 budget resolution will have no more important practical importance than not passing one. Without a budget resolution conference agreement between the two houses -- and no budget person I know thinks there's any chance that will happen -- there will be nothing to enforce and no reconciliation process in the Senate that prevents a filibuster from being used.
3. About the debt ceiling
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week repeated the tea party bluster that when the current agreement expires in May every increase in the debt ceiling must be matched dollar-for-dollar by cut in spending.
As it has been every other time Boehner has said this, it's fiscal BS in it's most unadulterated form. It was said more to keep Boehner's extreme right wing from ousting him than to make a serious statement about fiscal policy. The GOP showed during the fiscal cliff fight that it understands how little (as in no) political value there is in fighting over the debt ceiling. It's hard to see how that will be any different this time.
4. About the president talking budget with Republican Senators
It's nice to see everyone having a good meal together and getting along. But there's far less here about the budget than the White House and GOP senators who broke bread together want us to believe. Even if the president and senators were talking grand bargain over dinner, it's critical to remember that it's the House rather than the Senate GOP that's the problem for the administration. There's no guarantee whatsoever that a revenue and entitlement reform package that passed the Senate unanimously would even be allowed to be debated let alone would actually pass in the House.
My take is that the dinner with GOP senators was as much about driving a political wedge between House and Senate Republicans ahead of the 2014 election as anything having to do with the budget.
5. About the new Ryan budget
I've been told that a spokesperson for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has denied what I said in a post a few days ago that the new Ryan plan will balance the budget in 10 years by not counting interest on the debt. The spokesperson gave no details and Ryan himself provided none when he spoke at a "pad and pen" meeting with reporters last week.
I hope my information was wrong and Ryan is not going to use a gimmick like that to say he balanced the budget. If I am wrong, I will apologize. For now, the statements from the Ryan office sound more like non-denial denials than anything else.