Jonathan Bernstein Searches for Liberal Hack Economists
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Can't Anybody Play This Game? (Legislative Planning Department)

The first order of business of congress right now should be to set things up so that things that are good for the country can be passed in the lame-duck session in December or by the likely-to-be smaller Democratic congressional majorities next year. They are not doing that.

Ezra Klein:

Are Democrats setting themselves up for failure in 2011 by not passing a budget?: The most important job news of the day was... [a] vote in the House of Representatives last night... a "budget enforcement resolution" setting discretionary spending levels and making it almost impossible to imagine that any job-creation measures will pass in 2011.

The budget enforcement resolution... [tells] the appropriators how much money they have to spend, but it includes few details beyond that.... [N]o budget means no budget reconciliation instructions, and no budget reconciliation instructions mean no passing jobs legislation with 51 votes in the Senate. The 2010 elections, however, are likely to return a much-reduced Democratic Senate majority. As the situation stands, Democrats couldn't pass unemployment-insurance legislation with 59 votes, because they couldn't quite get to 60. If they have only 52 members in their caucus, they really have no chance. That's why setting down reconciliation instructions now was so important....

Senate Democrats are hanging this one on the House. "It was our intent in a budget resolution to include those instructions," Sen. Debbie Stabenow told me. "And we passed such a resolution out of committee." House aides retort that they were told Senate Democrats didn't have the 51 votes necessary to pass the budget on the floor, and in any case, it's not their fault that the Senate is paralyzed by the filibuster....

[T]he fact remains: By not passing a budget with reconciliation instructions this year, Democrats are setting themselves up for further gridlock and failure next year. If you can't get 51 votes for a budget when you have 59, you sure can't get 60 votes for controversial legislation when you only have 52.