House budget move kicks tough decisions down the road

House Democrats unveiled a budget document Thursday that
would cap discretionary spending at $1.12 trillion, $7 billion less than what
President Barack Obama proposed.

The “budget enforcement resolution” Democrats are
substituting for a traditional budget resolution doesn’t detail how record
deficits would be reduced, but sets spending levels below those proposed by the
White House and Senate. It kicks hard decisions about the budget down the road
to a fiscal commission.

{mosads}Democrats are expected to attach their budget document to a
rule setting debate on the war funding bill for Afghanistan. The House could
vote on that rule as early as Thursday.

The enforcement resolution is being used because
rank-and-file Democrats did not want to vote for a budget resolution that would show large deficits, particularly in an election year marked by worries about
the nation’s fiscal solvency.

The measure, written by House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.), calls
for a budget by 2015 that would be balanced except for debt interest payments.
This mirrors a goal already set out by Obama.

Spratt’s measure doesn’t say what policies Congress should
enact to reach that out-year goal, something past budget resolutions have done.
Instead, it relies on the White House fiscal commission, a bipartisan panel looking
at tax, spending and entitlement policies, to come up with a plan to halve the
projected $1.5 trillion 2010 deficit by 2015.

“While this resolution does not project the budget out over five years, it does
look to the future by assuring that the House will have an opportunity to vote
this year on longer-term budget proposals made by the president’s Fiscal
Commission and approved by the Senate,” Spratt said.

The White House panel plans to report out its recommendations in December.

Republican leaders have slammed the Democrats’ decision not to do a traditional
budget when deficits are soaring, seeing it as more evidence of their inability
to govern.

Congress failed to adopt a full budget resolution four times when Republicans
controlled the House, but on each of those occasions the House approved its own

Spratt’s measure would also increase funding for programs seeking to root out
waste and sync the pay-as-you-go law enacted this year with a previous House
pay-go rule, which was less stringent but still in effect.

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