As Dems Struggle to Redefine “Balance,” GOP Passes a Budget

And just like that one of the proud recent traditions of Congress bites the dust. In stark contrast to the last several years, the House and Senate have each passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year.

The bill, which will fund the government at levels reflective of the spending cuts contained in the budget sequester, received wide bipartisan support in both chambers. Of course that doesn’t mean the debating is done. Far from it. In reality passing the continuing resolution simply decoupled the budget from the threat of government shutdown.

“Passing this measure allows us to keep our focus where it belongs: replacing the president’s sequester with smarter cuts that help balance the budget, fixing our broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages, protecting priorities like Medicare, and expanding opportunity for all Americas,” Speaker John Boehner said of the bill.

The House of Representatives voted today to do each of those things by passing Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2014 budget plan. Among the highlights of the plan are a complete rewrite of the tax code that lowers rates and broadens the base, a market-based Medicare reform plan that bends the health care cost-curve, and pares back government spending to achieve a balanced budget within 10 years.

Now it is the Senate Democrats turn to vote on their budget plan, their first in four years. And boy are they upset about it. As Alan Ota and Niels Lesniewski report for Roll Call:

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House have worked in tandem to shield vulnerable Senate Democrats from tough votes that could provide opponents with campaign fodder. But regardless of those concerns, the Senate this week will finish its first budget debate in four years.”

Of course, there is one positive in all of this for Democrats write Ota and Lesniewski:

“Taking up the budget resolution before the White House delivers its budget allows Democrats to sidestep one potentially embarrassing vote by not giving the GOP time to introduce a version of the administration plan for an up-or-down vote.

During debate on a different piece of legislation last year, Republicans forced a vote on Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request, and they were able to trumpet the fact that the White House plan got no votes.”

On the floor today, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan laid bare the stark contrast Americans should look for between the Republican and Democratic budgets.

“This budget debate was constructive. It revealed each side’s priorities. We want to balance the budget. They don’t. We want to restrain spending. They want to spend more. We think taxpayers give enough to Washington. They want to raise taxes by $1 trillion—just take more to spend more. We want to strengthen programs like Medicare. They seem complicit in their demise. We see Obamacare as a roadblock to patient-centered reform. They see it as a sacred cow. We think national security is a top priority. They want to hollow out our military. We offer modernization and reform, growth and opportunity. They cling to the status quo.”

Sadly, on that last note Ryan was actually being overly generous. Democrats are certainly clinging to the status quo on anything that comes with an entitlement label, but on nearly everything else they’d like to take America straight backwards.

Their budget raises taxes by more than $1.5 trillion, despite the fact that they just secured a tax increase that will push federal revenue levels far above historic norms. It also increases spending by $960 billion, the goal of which was to completely wipe out any progress made by the sequester in limiting Washington’s growth. And it also includes $100 billion in new stimulus spending, because that worked so well to create jobs and jumpstart the economy the last time we tried it.

And despite all of that Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray had the gall to call their budget a “truly balanced approach.” Um…no, says Paul Ryan.

“They’re throwing new meanings to the word ‘balance,” Ryan said on Fox & Friends. “They say that they’re taking a balanced approach. The problem is that their balanced approach never, ever balances the budget.”

Which just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. At least when it comes to Democrats.