What you're looking at is a view of today's Senate Budget Committee meeting, at which Chairman Kent Conrad conducted a faux "markup" of his party's FY 2013 budget resolution. The near side of the table is where Democrats were supposed to sit. Granted, this entire exercise was somewhat academic because its resulting product would receive neither a vote in this committee, nor in the Senate at large. Details! Throughout much of the session, all 11 Republican members were present to, you know, do their jobs. Of the 12 committee Democrats, no more than 3 or 4 were in attendance at any given time, according to sources inside the meeting. "[The Democrats] showed absolutely no interest in discussing our big picture problems or offering solutions," a GOP budget aide tells Townhall. "Those who were there showed up only to make a brief statement for the record, then took off. The photo speaks for itself." That it does. In fact, in this particular photo, every single Democrat seat is vacant, except for that of Chairman Conrad. What to make of this? On one hand, why bother participating in a total farce? On the other, these Dems could have at least feigned interest in a requirement of their own public service. Senate Democrats have effectively renounced all pretense of responsible governance. They have done so in an attempt to avoid losing their precious majority -- the very purpose of which, I thought, was to govern. We face a debt crisis that threatens to obliterate the America we know and love, yet an entire American political team has willfully and deliberately decided to eschew productive solutions in favor of sitting on the sidelines and shouting insults at their opponents.
"Give it a rest, Guy," I can practically hear you saying, "you've been beating this dead horse for months." Yes. Guilty as charged. This is a disgrace, and I'll keep flogging this story every chance I get -- especially as the MSM largely shrugs and offers its preferred party a pass. Here we have an entire house of Congress intentionally ignoring the law for political gain, as our nation approaches a terrifying solvency rubicon. Conservatives cannot, and will not, shut up about this. Parting thoughts: (1) Since the year 2009, not one single Democrat or Democrat-aligned member of the United States Senate has voted "yes" on any budget. They've refused to present their own ideas, of course, but they've also unanimously voted down every last alternative, from both Republicans and their own party's president. Think about that. (2) Here the Democrats on the upper house's Budget Committee, other than its retiring chairman. Name 'em and shame 'em:
(1) DSCC Chair Patty Murray (D-WA)
(2) Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has at least worked with Paul Ryan on a solid Medicare reform plan.
(3) Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is in a tough 2012 re-election fight.
(4) Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who also faces re-election this year.
(5) Sen. Ben Cardin (D- MD)
(6) Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
(7) "Moderate" Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
(8) Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
(9) "Moderate" Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
(10) Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
(11) Last but not least, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who did manage to find the time to blather on behalf of the defeated "Buffett Rule" on the Senate floor this week. During his speech, Whitehouse all but conceded that the measure serves no practical purpose beyond electoral positioning and "fairness:"
"The Senate Republican Leader has described the bill as yet another proposal from the White House that won't create a single job or lower the price at the pump by a penny. Well, the Minority Leader is absolutely right that the aim of this bill is not to lower the unemployment rate or the price of gasoline."
Party of ideas.
*UPDATE - Apparently today is day 1,085 without a Senate budget, not 1,086. In other words, as sure as the sun will rise in the east, this statistic will mature into accuracy tomorrow morning. Also, Politifact would probably rate this post as "pants on fire" false, due to this miscalculation.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography