Friday, April 20, 2012

The Republican Media- No. 33

GOP TV's Brett Baier, on April 3 grilling White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, claimed “Senate Democrats have not passed a budget resolution in 1,070 days” and pointed to a 414-0 House vote against President Obama's budget.

The next day, Mitt Romney charged of the current presidential term, "President Obama has failed to even pass a budget."   The same day, Rush Limbaugh, intentionally or otherwise, misled his audience for the 72,313th time, claiming

What you need to know is Obama submitted a budget back in February. It went down to defeat 414 to nothing. The Democrats control the Senate. They could pass a budget today. Republicans couldn't stop them because you only need 51 votes to pass a budget.

You don't need 60, and the Democrats have 53 or 54 seats. They could pass it whenever they want. They haven't advanced a budget in three years, the Democrats haven't, because they don't want anything on paper for which they will be held accountable.

Finally (probably not, unfortunately) it was Corporate News Network's Maria Bartiromo, one of its reputed financial experts, on April 10 rhetorically asking chief White House economist Gene Sperling

“How tough has it been operating without a budget?     This administration has not had a budget in 3,000 days. Why is it that the president puts forth the budget and not even one Democrat bought into it? Was it so reckless in terms of spending that your party actually couldn’t even buy into it?”

Bartiromo has faithfully repeated GOP talking points before.     Still, as the late Carlton Fredericks often noted, ignorance is understandable; opinionated ignorance is not.      And each of these three ideologues (Romney, an opportunist) should have more of a clue than they have.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker explains that every year, the President proposes a budget, which is not a legislative package Congress is expected to vote on.        Instead, the proposals therein take effect only if (and when) both chambers

pass a budget resolution, which also does not have the force of law but guides the amount of money avaliable to the Appropriations Committees, in addition to setting parameters for tax and entitlement legislation.    The Appropriations Committees actually determine how much money each discretionary federal program will receive; that's the source of real budget power.

Failure to pass a budget resolution, reconciling differences between the House and the Senate, is not unprecedented.      A Democratic Senate failed to pass one for the 2011 fiscal year, just as a GOP Congress declined to pass one in 1999, 2005, and 2007.    

In each case, the Appropriations Committee still approved the revenues needed for government programs.

This year, Republicans put to a vote the President's most recent budget, which they knew they themselves would vote against unanimously.     Even so, they included little but final figures for revenue and spending.    As Sperling put it, "Republicans tried to put up a mock budget of ours, which was not our budget, it was not our specifics, it was not our details."  No doubt the GOP realized that most (all, as it turned out) Democrats also would vote against it, inasmuch as, in its abbreviated form, it did not include references to specific, popular programs, such as spending for highways, law enforcement, and education.

Instead, Sperling explains, "we told House Democrats to vote for... the budget that most closely resembled our budget," a plan authored by Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, and "it got overwhelming support."     Of course, Republicans rose en masse to oppose that proposal, soon thereafter opting for the proposal of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan.

Mitt Romney, throwing whatever he has against the wall in hope that something sticks, seems not to understand Congress does not pass an actual budget and that the President does not "pass" anything.           A prime-time Fox News broadcaster did not find it unusual that all Democrats in the House would vote against a budget he attributes to President Obama, one which was introduced by Republicans solely to embarrass Democrats.  

Rush Limbaugh spreads the most fertilizer.     He says  Democrats "don't want anything on paper for which they will be held accountable" while Republicans put up for a vote a (Democratic) budget, choosing to do so with few details.     It is the GOP's own wunderkind, Paul Ryan, who does not want to be "held accountable."     He boasts of a budget which (as a budget resolution) claims to close loopholes- but they are unspecified because they probably include, as Chuck Schumer argues, "eliminating or greatly reducing the mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction, the child tax care credit, the health care deductions that employers pay."    Only those things benefiting the middle class and the poor get sacrificed.

Limbaugh and Fox News are party propagandists and Romney will be its presidential nominee.    As a business reporter for CNN, however, Maria Bartiromo is expected not simply to recite GOP talking points.       And with her expertise in economics, hence a facility with arithmetic, she might be expected to realize that the "3,000 days" in which "this administration has not had a budget" would take us back roughly to January of 2004.

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