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Deal Trick Allows Congress to Delay Budget Decisions for Two Years

Here’s one more reason why many Democrats are privately loving the debt ceiling deal – it “deems” a budget for the next two years, allowing them to avoid a showdown like the one that nearly ground the government to a halt last spring.

COMMENTARY obtained a memo sent out by the Senate Democratic Policy & Communications Center, which shows Democrats raving about the budget gimmick (emphasis mine):

One important but overlooked element of the bipartisan debt limit compromise is that it greatly defuses the potential for intense budget showdowns over the next two years. 

The compromise expected to pass today, in effect, “deems” a budget resolution passed for each of the next two fiscal years. …

The effect of both facilitating the 302(a) allocations and establishing the security firewall under this debt-limit deal is that the legislation greatly reduces the odds of a budget standoff at the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.  While the various appropriations subcommittees will still need to reach agreement on how to meet their respective spending targets, and while it is always possible for congressional Republicans to try to hold up the FY12 spending bills over extraneous policy riders or other matters, the legislation significantly reduces the chances of a sequel to last spring’s government shutdown drama.

Nobody wants a standoff like last spring, but at some point soon both parties are going to have to make the tough, long-term choices that set our fiscal situation back on the right track. Some Democrats apparently want to avoid making these decisions, most likely because their favored economic policies – tax hikes and more spending – aren’t particularly popular with the American public. That’s especially true during a presidential election year, which is why they believe “deeming” the budget until after the 2012 campaign is so important.

This budget-deeming gimmick (or as one Republican Senate aide called it, “an Incumbent-Protection Program”) is one of the major reasons why ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions says he won’t support the deal.

“We’re getting pretty far away from the traditions of this body when you don’t publicly debate a budget, you create a committee of limited numbers of people to produce legislation that can’t be amended,” said Sessions in a statement last night. “For those reasons, I feel like as a senator and the ranking member on the Budget Committee who’s wrestled with this for some time, I would not be able to support the legislation. Though, I truly believe it is a step forward, and I respect my colleagues who’ve worked hard to try to bring it forward.”



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