Primary Lessons

Posted By Jacob Laksin On June 10, 2010 @ 1:00 am In FrontPage | 2 Comments

As President Obama’s poll ratings tumble and the Democratic majority in Congress continues to post record disapproval numbers, some on the Left have consoled themselves with the thought that the growing grassroots hostility to incumbent candidates transcends party and ideology. In this exegesis, liberal and progressive discontents are just as wound up – and just as influential – as their conservative Tea Party counterparts. If this week’s primary election results proved anything, it’s that this reading of the nation’s political map won’t wash. While the Tea Parties continued to notch victories in pivotal primary races, the Left’s insurgents were rebuffed.

The most prominent example came from Arkansas, where embattled Senator Blanche Lincoln staved off a bruising challenge from her union-backed rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Lincoln drew Big Labor’s wrath for heresies like opposing “card check [1]” legislation, which would have eliminated secret ballots to facilitate union organizing. As payback, unions, aided by a battery of progressive political action groups, put their full political clout into the race, sponsoring Halter to the tune of $10 million. But while the lavishly funded challenge did force Lincoln into a runoff, the unions’ purchasing power came up short. As one agonized Obama White House official told Politico: “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.” Lincoln remains deeply vulnerable. Polls show she trails her Republican opponent John Boozman by some 25 points. But her defeat, if it comes, will be punishment for being too loyal to the Left’s agenda (Lincoln cast the decisive 60th vote to pass ObamaCare) rather than for straying too far from it.

Lest one dismiss Arkansas as a one-off from conservative country, liberal bastions proved no more receptive to left-wing insurgents. In California’s 36th district, far-Left candidate Marcy Winograd lost her second successive bid to oust Democratic centrist Jane Harman. Winograd, who styles herself as a “peace” activist, ran a campaign that sounded the full range of the angry Left’s talking points: Harman was variously portrayed as a corporate shill, a warmonger, and a traitor to the Left. An outspoken foe of Israel, Winograd even tried to capitalize on Harman’s pro-Israel record in the context of the recent clash between Israeli commandos and armed Turkish activists attempting to run Israel’s naval blockade. Winograd boasted [2] that as a sign of “solidarity” with the activists, her campaign had sent a Winograd for Congress T-Shirt that had been “worn on the flotilla.” As primary day neared, progressive blogs began trumpeting [3] Winograd as the new Joe Sestak – a true progressive who would oust the incumbent impostor. The hype proved just that, as Harman won by a comfortable 18-point [4] margin.

While primary challenges from the Left sputtered, Tea Party-backed conservatives scored several successes. Most prominently, Sharron Angle [5], until recently a relative unknown, rode the Tea Party movement’s support to victory in a crowded field for Nevada’s Republican nomination for the Senate. Although Tea Party spending to support Angle’s candidacy was limited compared to Big Labor’s efforts in Arkansas – the Tea Party political action committee spent just $550,000 to boost her name recognition – it was far more effective: From a 5 percent approval rating as recently as April, Angle went on to win the nomination. Tea Party-backed candidates also won [6] in Georgia, Maine and South Carolina.

It was not all glory for the Tea Party. In California and New Jersey, Tea Party favorites failed to break through. (A too-close-to-call race [7] between Tea Party candidate Anna Little and establishment rival Diana Gooch in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional district was one notable exception.) Even in defeat, though, there was encouraging news for the movement, as Tea Party candidates ran strongly in almost all races in which they were involved. At the very least, their generally strong showing indicated that despite their now-stale slogans of “change,” the Left is not nearly as energized, and not nearly the same force in primary races, as the surging conservative opposition.

Still, those determined to rain on the Tea Party’s parade ask a pertinent question: Can the movement replicate its strong success in primaries in general election races, where it must court a more ideologically diverse electorate? Democratic strategists and the mainstream media have professed glee over the prospect of Democratic incumbents facing candidates like Sharron Angle, whom they deem too far out of the mainstream. One Democratic strategist suggested [8] that Harry Reid would be “dancing in the streets” were Angle to win the GOP nomination. The Washington Post even did Reid the unsolicited favor of producing a list of allegedly damning quotes [9] that Reid could use to paint Angle as an extremist. But if early poll results are any guide, the Angle-Reid matchup won’t be the cakewalk that Democrats suppose. Indeed, a recent Mason-Dixon poll has Angle beating Reid by 44 percent to 41 percent. The Tea Party, it seems, is just getting started.

Advertisements

“I’m 63 and I’m Tired” — Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate.

“I’m 63 and I’m Tired”
By Robert A. Hall
 
 

I’m 63.  Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.  

 

I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.  

 

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.”  Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.  

 

I’m tired of being told how bad  America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities  America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of  Zimbabwe , the freedom of the press of  China , the crime and violence of  Mexico , the tolerance for Christian people of  Iran , and the freedom of speech of  Venezuela .

 

I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor”; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers”; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery”; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.  

 

I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US. Senators from  Illinois .  

 

I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln  wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.  

 

I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News?  Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.  

 

I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America , while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in  Saudi Arabia  to teach love and tolerance.  

 

I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a  three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.  

 

I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.  

 

I’m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime. What’s next?  Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”?  And, no, I’m not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic, and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion.  I’m willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military…. Those are the citizens we need.  

 

I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war?  You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave?  Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are?  Not even close.  So here’s the deal. I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.  

 

I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers; bums are bipartisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship. I live in  Illinois , where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet.  

 

I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.  

 

Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.  

 

I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.  

 

Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to have to see the world these people are making.  I’m just sorry for my granddaughters.  

 

Robert  A. Hall is a Marine  Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the  Massachusetts   State  Senate. 

 

There is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!  This is your chance to make a difference.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/imtired.asp

Morning Bell: “We’ve Come to Take Our Government Back”

Morning Bell: “We’ve Come to Take Our Government Back”

Posted By Michael Franc On May 19, 2010 @ 8:57 am In Ongoing Priorities | No Comments

[1]

Last month the Pew Research Center reported [2] that only 22% of Americans trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time. And that was the good news for incumbents:

Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.

Significantly, a majority of Americans (52%) see the members of Congress themselves as the source of their dissatisfaction. Only 38% attribute their frustration to “a broken political system.”

Last night’s election results in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas seem to bear that out:

  • In Kentucky, political newcomer Rand Paul trounced Secretary of State Trey Grayson. As a proxy for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Grayson had inadvertently become the Washington insider in the race despite never having been elected to federal office. And, as the son of libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, the younger Paul was also a proxy of sorts. He came to embody the desire of voters in the Bluegrass State to send the ultimate outsider to Washington. His mission? Shrink the federal behemoth, balance the budget and reduce the federal debt while exhibiting some long overdue humility from our public servants.
  • In Pennsylvania, given the opportunity to oust a five-term incumbent Senator with plenty of inside-the-Beltway clout, Democratic primary voters cheerfully complied. They dumped Arlen Specter in favor of a relative newcomer, second-term Rep. Joe Sestak. In his victory speech, Sestak struck a defiant populist tone, characterizing his victory as a “win for the people” over “the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.”
  • In Arkansas, Democratic primary challengers from both the right and left squeezed incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln into a run-off against the state’s leftist Lt. Governor, Bill Halter. While Halter galvanized Arkansas’ Democratic base on the political left, businessman D. C. Morrison ran to Lincoln’s right as a conservative, Reagan-loving Democrat. Morrison cast his vote for Ron Paul in 2008 and spent considerable time railing against Obamacare, bailouts, the stimulus bill and mounting government debt, Morrison pulled a not insignificant 13% of the Democratic vote.

Seniority on the most powerful congressional committees and endorsements from Washington’s most powerful insiders, including President Obama, were liabilities last night.

So, what explains the outcome in the special House election to replace recently deceased Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)? An aide to Murtha, Mark Critz, handily defeated Republican businessman Tim Burns in a contest many pundits felt would serve as an early barometer of Republican prospects in November. As one political consultant noted last night: “I think us pundits in Washington are going to have to revise our thinking about whether this is a wave election year for Republicans.”

Ron Brownstein, the brainy political expert at National Journal, argues that to regain control of the House, Republicans must prevail in seats such as this one. Districts where there is little racial diversity (i.e., where whites comprise 90% or more of the electorate) and few attended college. Murtha’s seat, Pennsylvania-12, fits this profile to a tee.

Get ready for an outpouring of new analyses spouting a new conventional wisdom, one that dismisses the power of the Tea Party movement, and questions whether 2010 will be a watershed election after all.

But, if Critz’s victory is to serve as some sort of a blueprint for Democrats, it will require some serious triangulation. Critz, after all, campaigned (rhetorically, at least) to the right of most Washington Democrats. “I opposed the health care bill,” he insisted during a debate, and then added for good measure that “I’m pro-life and pro-gun. That’s not liberal.” As with the outcomes in those Senate primaries, Washington’s Democratic establishment cannot draw much solace from this development.

There is an overriding lesson for conservatives from last night’s results as well.

Many are prematurely confident that November will be one of those rare “wave” elections that upend the Washington power structure and realign our politics. Maybe. But the early warning signs have been there for everyone to see for awhile now, at least since Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) historic election in January. Savvy liberal political strategists and worried Democratic primary voters, moreover, have had ample time to adapt to the demands of an angry and increasingly conservative electorate. Few Democrats in swing or conservative districts will run as Pelosi or Obama liberals. Instead, expect their rhetoric to morph the populism of Joe Sestak into the conservatism of Mark Critz. As Rand Paul said [3] last night:

I have a message, a message from the Tea Party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We’ve come to take our government back.

Quick Hits:

The Fall of the Incumbents

The Fall of the Incumbents

Posted By Frontpagemag.com On May 19, 2010 @ 1:03 am In FrontPage | 5 Comments

For months now, speculation has been rife that the Tea Party movement and the grassroots revolt against big-government that it represents poses a real threat to political incumbents of both parties. Yesterday’s primary election results have transformed such speculation into political reality.

In Kentucky, the Tea-Party backed candidate, Rand Paul, the son of libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul, won a convincing victory over Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Greyson. Greyson enjoyed the support of the GOP establishment, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell, but Paul had the Tea Party insurgents on his side. Unapologetically embracing the Tea Partiers, Paul ran on a straightforward small-government platform, calling for a balanced federal budget, a reduced national debt, and an end to government bailouts and subsidies for private industries and interests. In the end, he won by a comfortable margin.

Rand Paul’s victory is only the latest example of the Tea Partiers successfully gate-crashing the official Republican camp. In Utah earlier this month, voters in the Republican nomination convention heeded the Tea Party movement’s urging to dump Sen. Bob Bennett. Dooming Bennett was his support for several big-government initiatives, most prominently the Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has also met with the wrath of the Tea Partiers, whose opposition forced him surrender the Republican mantle to Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio in favor of an independent run. Polls suggest he faces an uphill struggle.

While the Tea Parties have had their greatest impact on Republican primary races, Democrats have also born the brunt of the anti-incumbent backlash. In Pennsylvania last night, Republican defector Sen. Arlen Specter lost the state’s Democratic primary to two-term Rep. Joe Sestak, effectively ending his political career. Even in the absence of anti-incumbent sentiment, Specter’s was a tall order: He had to convince voters that his political conversion was a matter of principle rather than, as was apparent to all, pure political expedience. It was an obvious fiction that not even President Obama, who campaigned for Specter and even cut radio and television ads on his behalf, could make credible.

Even here, though, the Tea Party, or at least its brand of anti-Washington angst, made its presence felt. In his victory speech, Sestak sounded like nothing so much as a Tea Party candidate, as he hailed his win as a triumph “over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.” Of course, it’s a bit rich for a Democrat to style himself as an opponent of Washington, where after all Democrats control both houses of Congress. But such is the national mood that even the party in charge must distance itself from any association with leadership.

Arlen Specter meanwhile is not the only political veteran on the Democratic side, however recent his affiliation, to find himself out of a job for too-close a connection with Washington’s failures. In West Virginia last week, 14-term Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan became the first House member in 2010 to lose a reelection bid. Although he lost to a fellow Democrat, key in Mollohan’s defeat was his support for the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. It is a sign of perilous times ahead for the party that, even in a Democratic primary, support for the Democratic administration’s signature legislative initiative has become a political death warrant.

Still, that does not yet make the Tea Party and its small-government vision kingmaker in political races. While the influence of the Tea Partiers has obviously been important, the usual primary season caveats apply. Primary elections tend to draw a more ideologically motivated cohort of voters, and it remains to be seen whether the Tea Party will be a significant factor in the fall’s elections races. And yet it is becoming increasingly implausible to claim, as many in the prestige media have, that the Tea Party and the backlash against big government are fringe phenomena. As Rand Paul declared in his victory speech last night: “I have a message from the Tea Party. We’ve come to take our government back.” They will soon have their chance.

The Potty Parity Act–Question: What is the House of Representatives doing as unemployment approaches 10%, the deficit exceeds 10% of GDP, the public debt grows to unprecedented size for peacetime and Iran is about to get The Bomb?

The Potty Parity Act

Randall Hoven

Question:  What is the House of Representatives doing as unemployment approaches 10%, the deficit exceeds 10% of GDP, the public debt grows to unprecedented size for peacetime and Iran is about to get The Bomb?

Answer:  Addressing unequal restroom facilities in federal buildings with the so-called Potty Parity Act.
“The fact is, it’s not a joke. Not only is it not a joke to women, it’s not a joke to men who go with the women who have to wait while they’re standing in line.  It’s also politically very popular. It’s the right thing to do and it’s catching up with the cultural lag in our society.”  Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
The Potty Parity Act is bipartisan; it is being co-sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Of course, Congress has such housekeeping chores to deal with.  But surely, the bulk of its time must be spent on serious issues.  I report, you decide.  Here is the list of House roll-call votes in the last week.
  • 258.  Supporting the goals and ideals of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
  • 257.  Honoring the life and legacy of William Earnest Ernie Harwell.
  • 256.  Expressing support for designation of the first Saturday in May as National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Day to honor those who are serving and have served in the noble and self-sacrificing profession of Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the United States Armed Forces.
  • 255.  Home Star Energy Retrofit Act.
  • 254.  Home Star Energy Retrofit Act.
  • 253.  Burgess of Texas Amendment No. 4.
  • 252.  Barton of Texas Amendment No. 2.
  • 251.  Telework Improvements Act.
  • 250.  Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mothers Day.
  • 249.  Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 5019) to provide for the establishment of the Home Star Retrofit Rebate Program, and for other purposes

Congress sees no budget rush

Congress sees no budget rush
By: Jonathan Allen
April 12, 2010 04:16 AM EDT
Congress is poised to miss its April 15 deadline for finishing next year’s budget without even considering a draft in either chamber.

Unlike citizens’ tax-filing deadline, Congress’s mid-April benchmark is nonbinding. And members seem to be in no rush to get the process going.

Indeed, some Democratic insiders suspect that leaders will skip the budget process altogether this year — a way to avoid the political unpleasantness of voting on spending, deficits and taxes in an election year — or simply go through a few of the motions, without any real effort to complete the work.

Regan LaChapelle, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would go only so far as saying that the budget “is on a list of things that are possible for this work period” — a reference to the window that opens when members roll back into town Monday and closes when they leave around Memorial Day.

Congress has failed to adopt a final budget four times in the past 35 years — for fiscal years 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 — according to a recent Congressional Research Service report. If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process.

The practical consequences of failing to produce a federal budget for next year are about the same as they are for a family that doesn’t set a plan for income and spending: Congress doesn’t need a budget to tax or spend, but enforcing discipline is harder without one. And, like a family that misses out on efficiencies because it hasn’t taken a hard look at its finances, Congress can’t use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and the Senate don’t adopt the same budget.

But there are political consequences to the budget conundrum, too — and for Democrats, they’re of the “damned if you, damned if you don’t” variety.

Republicans are certain to castigate the majority Democrats if they fail to put a fiscal blueprint in place amid a public backlash against spending and a torrent of dire warnings from economic experts about the consequences of imbalanced federal books.

But they’ll also call Democrats on the carpet if they approve a new budget that includes more spending, higher deficits or increased taxes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the government’s books must be put in order through tax increases or slashing spending for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off — until the day they cannot be put off anymore,” Bernanke said.

 

Similar warnings have been issued in the past week by Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who is an adviser to President Barack Obama.

But there’s little appetite for taking on these issues in an election year and plenty of ways for the minority party to inflict pain upon anyone who tries.

In the Senate, expedited procedures allow for relatively quick consideration of a budget resolution — no filibusters need apply — but senators may offer an unlimited string of politically charged amendments culminating in a vote-a-rama certain to provide Republican challengers with fresh campaign ammunition.

Just last month, when the Senate considered a fiscal 2010 budget reconciliation bill dealing with health care, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) tried to jam Democrats by forcing them to vote against an amendment that would have prohibited sex offenders from getting drugs for erectile dysfunction through the new health care exchanges.

And in the House, rank-and-file lawmakers are showing signs of political fatigue from a series of difficult votes, including enactment of the stimulus and health care laws and passage of a controversial climate change bill last year.

All of that raises this question: Why would Democratic leaders expose themselves and their rank and file to so much political risk, particularly when there’s no guarantee that the House and Senate could come to agreement on a final version?

After all, the budget itself is nonbinding, and the process to finish it is daunting: committee action in the House and Senate, painful floor votes in both chambers, negotiations to resolve differences if there are any and a second set of tough votes on a compromise version if needed.

Still, there’s an institutional interest for the budget committees in delivering a work product every year to demonstrate their importance. Even as most of the Capitol’s budget writers were tied up calculating costs and savings in the new health care law in the first quarter of the year, preparations for the fiscal 2011 budget were under way in both the House and the Senate budget committees.

Moreover, many Democrats believe they have a responsibility to at least try to put a budget in place.

Congressional aides said that Democratic leaders will have to make a decision soon after they reconvene this week about whether they can finish a budget before Memorial Day.

What’s lost in the absence of a budget, first and foremost, is the ability to write filibuster-proof reconciliation bills, which are the best vehicles for cutting spending or raising taxes in a highly partisan Senate.

In addition to reconciliation instructions, a budget also provides spending-control mechanisms, such as the 302(a) allocation that caps appropriations for the year, and can include “reserve” funds that grant lawmakers certain flexibility in budgeting for new laws.

But even if a budget isn’t in place, appropriators have tools at their disposal to implement an overall spending cap and individual suballocations for each of the committees’ 12 annual bills.

This Wheel’s On Fire For the Democrats, trouble is coming.

This Wheel’s On Fire

For the Democrats, trouble is coming.

BY Matthew Continetti

April 9, 2010 11:49 AM

As liberals engage in one of their periodic celebrations of how open-minded and intelligent they are, it’s worth taking a moment to assess just how bad a political situation they’ve created for the Democrats. Consider:

Gallup says the Democrats are at their lowest level of approval in 18 years.

The new Fox poll has Obama at 43 percent job approval.

The Pollster.com poll of polls has Obama’s disapproval at 48 percent.

Democratic congressmen continue to flee the sinking ship.

Nate Silver says there’s a better than one-in-ten chance that Democrats lose more than 55 House seats on Election Day.

Obamacare is no more popular than it was before passage (indeed, opposition is on an upward trajectory), and the idea of repeal is relatively popular.

Liberals tend to blame the economy for this horrible situation. But the macroeconomy is slowly recovering (GDP, stocks, and jobs are up), while Democratic fortunes continue to fall. Another tactic is to blame an “anti-incumbent” environment. But, as John Podhoretz points out, those incumbents are all Democrats.

Obama, Pelosi, and Reid misread the 2006 and 2008 elections and embarked on an agenda of which the public heartily disapproves. The stimulus failed. Government-centric housing policy has failed. Health care became law despite public resistance. The Obama budget projects massive deficits and debt far into the future. Taxes, regulations, and interest rates are all set to rise. Absent a massive change in policy and tone on the part of Congress and the White House, it’s hard to see how the Democrats avoid a very, very bad November. Of course the sluggish economy will play a role. But overall, it’s the agenda, stupid.