What's more, a couple of pretty important budget items are in serious trouble. Last month the Medicare and Social Security trustees reported that the funds for those programs will be exhausted by 2024 (for Medicare...that's just 12 years away) and 2033. The report said both programs are on "unsustainable paths" and Obama's Treasury Secretary admitted that ""The projections in this year's report are somewhat more pessimistic than last year's report."
But our elected officials must be all over this, right? They must be crafting plans to eliminate the deficit, balance the budget and save the Social Security and Medicare programs, right? That's what we elect members of Congress to do, so they must be doing it, right?
Well, not exactly. At least not in the Senate, where the Democrat majority has not passed a budget since 2009, and they're just sort of hoping you won't notice until after they're all re-elected or retired on those nifty Congressional pensions.
Yesterday the Senate was given not one, not two, but FIVE budget options to vote for, and a look at the votes makes you wonder how anyone in that body gets re-elected.
First, the Senate voted on the budget submitted by President Obama. It lost by vote of 99-0. That made for a complete sweep by Obama's budget team; The same budget was rejected earlier in the House of Representatives by a 414-0 margin. That's pretty impressive, really: In competitive, hyper-partisan Washington, the Obama Administration was able to create a unanimous, bi-partisan 513-0 vote for the idea that "The Obama Administration's budget sucks." Well done, boys.
The Senate then proceeded to vote on something called the "Ryan budget." This budget - largely the handwork of the House Budget Committee chair, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin - passed the House and provides for a restructuring of Medicare that involves giving seniors vouchers to purchase their own health coverage, thereby injecting some free-market competition into the process. I happen to think it's a terrific idea, but it's not everyone's cup of tea, and the Senate rejected it 41-58.
Then came another budget plan, this one put together in the Senate by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. I don't know many details about the Toomey budget, but it failed 42-57.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had a pretty radical budget that would have eliminated four different cabinet agencies: HUD, Energy, Education and Commerce. Again, that's something I think is worth discussing, but the Senate rejected it 16-83, and then another proposal by Rep. Mike Lee of Utah was defeated 17-82.
What's noteworthy about the votes is that not a single Democrat voted for any of the five proposals. No one in the Senate's majority party found a single budget proposal that they could vote for. That includes Minnesota's hapless Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. With these two in the Senate, the nation has suffered its first-ever credit downgrade, posted record deficits and debt and watched Social Security and Medicare move closer to the brink of collapse, yet they can't be bothered to vote for ANY budget that would try to restore fiscal sanity.
Of course the two will trot around the state this summer, bragging about spending several billion over here for light rail that nobody wants, or a few billion over there for combating non-existent global warming, but the question you should be asking them is this: What's your plan?
What's your plan, Amy? You didn't like any of the five budgets you were offered, so what's your plan? You've spent five years in Washington and handed future generations several trillion dollars in debt. What's your plan for getting out of this mess? Do you have a plan, or are you just going to keep voting "No" until - like Greece or Italy - we just dissolve into a pool of debt, with riots in the streets?
What's your plan?
Every parade, every press conference, every feel-good ribbon cutting Amy and Al attend, someone should be asking the question.
What's your plan?