Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no interest in resolving the looming debt and entitlement crisis. The Nevada Democrat would rather use the Senate chamber this week to kick off the 2012 campaign season, starting with a scheme to use the reform proposal crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as a tool to scare seniors. Mr. Reid calls the House budget a “plan to end Medicare.”
For the second year in a row, Mr. Reid has failed to produce a Senate budget. That means any member may bring a plan to the floor and get it passed with 51 votes. As many as four different budgets could be considered this week: Mr. Ryan’s; conservative plans from Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, and Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican; and President Obama’s 2012 budget. The Democratic majority is expected to vote down all of them, including the White House proposal.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer revealed to reporters that the true agenda was getting a vote on Mr. Ryan’s budget for use in political commercials. “To put other budgets out there is not the point,” the New York Democrat explained. The point is to “say the Republicans tried to end Medicare but a Democratic majority stopped it in the Senate.”
Just last week, the Medicare trustees announced the health care program has 13 years left before it goes bankrupt. The Democrats have yet to come up with any legislative solution to the problem. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, the other party isn’t even pretending to put principle over politics. “Democrats are apparently operating under the assumption that if they’re on the record opposing everything, it helps them politically,” the Kentucky Republican explained Tuesday. “We might not leave here this week with a solution to our nation’s looming debt crisis, but Democrats are pretty confident they’ll leave with some good material for campaign ads.”
The Washington Times’ Emily Miller asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor what he thought of the Senate leader’s scheme. “The other side has just continued to evade any solution,” the Virginia Republican answered. “Any time you even discuss Medicare or any health care entitlement, it is difficult, no question. But we are in serious times, and that is why we believe you have to lead.”
On the budget issue, the GOP has shown true leadership by risking its political future to do what’s right for future generations. If the Democrats want to be taken seriously, they ought to at least try to come up with a real budget of their own.