"In short, this document gives voters no reason to believe that Democrats have a viable plan for — or even a responsible public assessment of — the country’s long-term fiscal predicament."
Somebody must have realigned the planets. That's the only explanation I can fathom for the harsh criticism the editors of the Washington Post unloaded on the Senate Democrats newly released budget. The first budget Harry Reid & Co. has even bothered to introduce in four years, in case anyone is still keeping score.
The WaPo editors took some jabs at the House GOP's budget, as expected. But, the dissing of the Dems is nearly unprecedented.
The editors establish the foundation for their criticisms by citing a Feb. 28 analysis by William Gale and Alan Auerbach of the left-leaning Brookings Institute, as follows:
There has been halting but real deficit reduction progress in recent months. The United States faces no imminent budget “crisis.” Nevertheless, the economists write, “the 10-year budget outlook remains tenuous.” Even assuming steady economic growth, the national debt in 2023 will be twice as high as its historical average, as a percentage of the economy — and poised to resume rising. That long-term fiscal problem, driven by the growth of entitlement programs for an aging population, remains unaddressed. Dealing with it, Messrs. Gale and Auerbach write, will take tax and spending changes “several times the size of those adopted under the recent legislation.”
Thereafter, the editors unload:
Except for the part about no imminent crisis, the Senate Democratic budget recognizes none of this. Partisan in tone and complacent in substance, it scores points against the Republicans and reassures the party’s liberal base — but deepens these senators’ commitment to an unsustainable policy agenda….
It is on the issue of entitlements that the Democrats’ document really disappoints. There is literally nothing — not a word — suggestive of trimming Social Security, whether through greater means-testing, a more realistic inflation adjustment or reforming disability benefits. The document’s fuzzy call for $275 billion in “health savings” is $125 billion less than the number President Obama has floated.
As for the coming flow of baby boomers into Medicare, the Democrats declare that “new retirees deserve the same promise of quality, affordable health care from which their parents have benefitted — and it is the position of the Senate Budget that they ought to get it.” There’s plenty of excoriation for the GOP “premium support” plan. But there’s no explanation of how the Democrats would pay for their “promise” — nary a hint of the many cost-saving reforms that would extend Medicare’s life without embracing the GOP plan.
In short, this document gives voters no reason to believe that Democrats have a viable plan for — or even a responsible public assessment of — the country’s long-term fiscal predicament.