Appropriators have hated the Congressional Budget Act since even before it was enacted in 1974.
During the two years in which that act was drafted, revised, re-revised, debated, re-debated and eventually adopted, appropriators from both houses complained that it wasn't needed, that they already had the power of the purse that was being given to the budget committees, that they had been the stewards of the people's money since the beginning of the republic, that it infringed on their jurisdiction and that it wouldn't work.
That attitude has barely changed over the past almost 40 years, which is why it was hardly a shock when my friend Jim Dyer, former staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, emailed me last week to say that it was time to do away with the budget act. With Jim's permission, here's the exact quote from his email:
Chris Cillizza (AKA @thefix) was kind enough to invite me back on PostTV today to talk budget.
What are the chances that both of us would be wearing the exact same shirt and tie?
As I posted yesterday, House and Senate budget conferees will meet for the first time this week as they begin a process that has a built-in December 13 deadline. It's either budget agreement by that Friday the 13th or bust.
Bust is far more likely. Here's why.
1. There is no agreement about the problem. Almost all previous successfully concluded budget deals have been based on at least a tacit up front agreement about what the two sides are trying to accomplish. Without that this time, Republicans and Democrats will spend a great deal -- maybe even most -- of their time arguing about what they should be debating rather than the possible answers.
2. There's no need for a deal #1. This is not a situation where the political or economic world will collapse if a deal doesn't get done. The debt ceiling has already been raised, taxes won't be raised automatically, the government won't shut down, Wall Street isn't threatening higher interest rates if there's no deal to reduce the deficit, etc.
The speculation about what the conference committee -- the 29-person House-Senate committee that has until December 13 to negotiate a budget deal and which will meet for the first time this Wednesday -- will do will be intense all this week.
In fact, if history is any indication, every interest group in town will be so certain that the one thing it most cares about will be given away in the opening session that it will denounce what the conference committee does even before the first meeting begins.
And pundits across the political spectrum will be predicting that the conference committee will defy expectations and a big budget deal of some kind not only is possible but actually likely.
The technical term for all of this is B.S. (and I don't mean "Bachelor of Science").
The meeting on Wednesday is just the opening session. The 29 members of the conference committee won't do anything other than preen for the cameras and give 5-minute opening statements. 29x5 = almost two and a half hours of vapid oral essays that will have no bearing at all on the deliberations.