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Budget Brinksmanship in the Senate

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GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has seen and raised Harry Reid’s declaration that a vote on the budget passed by the House of Representatives which was designed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan would get an up-or-down vote.

Good for McConnell. Clarity on both the president’s absurd waste of time and on the serious proposal from the House will be very useful in the election cycle of 2012 and beyond. If fiscal reform is not forthcoming via debt ceiling maneuvers or stand-along budget and appropriations bills, the fiscal crisis that looms will be a career ender for every senator who voted no on the Ryan budget or yes on the president’s trillion-dollar deficit machine.

I discussed this with Politico’s Mike Allen and Mark Steyn yesterday. Allen asked me if I thought the Ryan budget was good for the GOP and I answered with a resounding yes, and that I thought any GOP senator who voted against it was injuring themselves deeply with conservative activists and Tea Party volunteers as well as the emerging majority in favor fo serious spending reform.

Mark Steyn got a question from me specifically about the Maine senators who are viewed as least likely to support the Ryan budget:

HH: Harry Reid has guaranteed us from China, where they’re locking up the house churches at this hour, that everyone is going to vote in the Senate on Paul Ryan’s budget. I think this is a huge mistake on his part. I cannot wait to see how people will vote on this. What do you think about his decision to let the Ryan budget come to a vote? And how do you think the ladies from Maine will vote on it?

MS: Yeah, I think this is the interesting question. You know, the movement in the polls, particularly among seniors, for example, who are important voters, shows that they understand the importance of the debt crisis that’s facing America. And so far, there’s lots of solutions out there to it. But the only solution within the legislative world of the Beltway is the Paul Ryan plan. And it’s a real challenge for these Maine ladies. But I’ll tell you this, people in Maine understand the country’s broke, and people in Maine understand that the sort of smilie face bromides aren’t going to cut it. So those ladies have a tough choice.

HH: And I think every Democrat on the ballot coming up in 2012 have a tough choice that Harry Reid is going to make them make now.

MS: Yeah, I mean, we’re spending a fifth of a billion dollars, we’re borrowing a fifth of a billion dollars every hour. And Harry Reid says there’s no crisis, that we don’t have to worry about this for another twenty years. That’s what Harry Reid says. I think if you’re borrowing a fifth of a billion dollars every single hour of the day, you need to start worrying about it right now.

Mark and I also discussed Sir Elton John’s emerging role at the heart of a vast international conspiracy, so read the transcript of the entire interview here.

But also take a moment to start calling your senators and urging a yes vote on the Ryan budget and a no vote on the president’s. The Hill switchboard is 202-224-3121.



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