When Will This Madness End?

Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) was on Fox News this morning to talk about the payroll tax cut extension, and he asked “When will this madness end?” It’s a good question. The national debt tops $15.1 trillion, and we’re now increasing the deficit yet again, while taking away funding for Social Security, an entitlement that was already in dire straights. This after the Democrats claimed Republicans want to eliminate Social Security for making an effort to shore it up for future generations.

The Washington Examiner likens the budgeting process to that of a Banana Republic. I’m starting to think Banana Republics do it better.

But it also guarantees this whole sorry spectacle will be renewed in March 2012. Will Congress reach a permanent resolution of the issue then? Not likely. And even if it does, the tax code will still be jammed with hundreds of temporary tax provisions. The Joint Committee on Taxation says 84 tax provisions were scheduled to end this year if they aren’t renewed. That’s 10 times as many temporary provisions as expired in 1999.

While both parties are share responsibility for the debacle over the payroll tax cut, the Democrat-controlled Senate bears special attention. Under the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, Congress must produce a five-year budget plan every year. But in 2010, both the House and Senate failed to do so for the first time since 1974. After Republicans retook the House in November 2010, they got the lower chamber back on track by approving a 2012 budget plan this past April. No such luck in the Senate. It has now been 969 days, almost three years, since Senate Democrats have produced an annual budget plan, as they are required to do by law.

Senate defenders counter that it is often more difficult to get things done in the upper chamber. And it is true that the ever-present threat of a filibuster means 60 votes are required to pass most legislation. But annual budgets cannot be filibustered. Senate Democrats can pass any budget plan they want at any time by a simple majority. They have chosen not to do so. This failure damages the economic health and well-being of every American. Businesses don’t invest or hire new workers when they don’t know what their tax liability will be two months from now, let alone next year or five years down the road.

Read the whole thing. If we didn’t have such a compliant media, they would face scorn every moment of their lives. These Democrats remind me of suicide bombers running around threatening to pull the pin. They and the media tell us that if they pull the pin and blow everything up, it will be the Republicans’ fault for not meeting their demands. So the feckless Republicans cave, time and time again. In the mean time, the national debt just keeps on rising. And for what? What did they gain by giving in?

The House Republicans’ initial rejection of this two-month extension was therefore correct on principle and on policy. But this was absolutely the wrong place, the wrong time, to plant the flag. Once Senate Republicans overwhelmingly backed the temporary extension, that part of the fight was lost. Opposing it became kamikaze politics.

Note the toll it is already taking on Republicans. For three decades Republicans owned the tax issue. Today, Obama leads by five points, a 12-point swing since just early October. The payroll tax ploy has even affected his overall approval rating, now up five points (in six weeks) to 49 percent.

The Democrats set a trap and the Republicans walked right into it. By rejecting an ostensibly bipartisan “compromise,” the Republican House was portrayed as obstructionist and, even worse, heartless — willing to raise taxes on the middle class while resolutely opposing any tax increases on the rich. (Read More)

It looks like the madness won’t be ending any time soon.

Update: Related: Super Dupers Ignore the ‘Tea Party Budget’ and Reality. Be sure to read it.