I've come back from two weeks on the mountaintop (and a few beaches) with an additional healthy dose of skepticism -- and that's saying a great deal given how skeptical I was before -- about what Washington says and does on everything having to do with the federal budget.
From my vantage point 5000+ miles away from the beltway, it was simply impossible not to think that what was happening in DC -- the House and Senate passing fiscal 2014 budget resolutions -- as being even slightly important.
I know that wasn't what was being said in Washington. The GOP was taking credit for its No Budget No Pay provisions pushing the Senate to pass a budget resolution for the first time in four years. Senate Democrats were crowing about passing that budget resolution. The House GOP was bragging about it adopting the latest plan drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) even though it has no chance of becoming law. And Dems were expressing a great deal of pride about the job first-year Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) did in getting the resolution out of committee and adopted in the floor.
What's the digital equivalent of "gone fishin"?
Whatever it is, that's what I and CG&G will be doing the next two weeks.
See you March 25...renewed, refreshed, raring to go...and, with a little luck, decaffeinated and a few pounds lighter.
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
This is not a post about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) exercise and diet program. It is, however, a post about how he's planning to produce a budget that gets to balance in 10 years without actually balancing anything.
What Ryan is proposing is the fiscal equivalent of him saying that he wants to lose 20 pounds but isn't going to counting the fat around his midsection to achieve it.
For weeks the budget and political worlds have been buzzing about how Ryan was going to be able to keep his pledge to bring a plan to the House floor that would balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes. That's a substantial task even after the already enacted revenue increases in the fiscal cliff deal and the $85 billion in sequester spending cuts, both of which Ryan has said he will include in his plan. It requires significant and politically very sensitive reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and probably Social Security.
We now know how Ryan's planning to do it: by balancing the budget without counting interest on the national debt. In economic terms, that's called bringing the budget into "primary balance."