Paul Ryan is Right About the Democratic Budget

The Democrats need a budget resolution. Now.

Or lack thereof.  Wisconsin far-right Ayn Rand-loving Congressmember Paul Ryan has castigated House Democrats for not passing an annual budget resolution.

He is more correct than he knows.

Without a house budget resolution, you can’t have a general Congressional budget resolution.  Without a general Congressional budget resolution, you can’t have reconciliation instructions.  And without reconciliation instructions, you need 60 votes to pass anything through the Senate, given the GOP’s current unprecedented obstructionism.

You want a jobs bill?  You need a budget resolution.  You want a climate bill?  You need a budget resolution.  Reconciliation can’t do everything; according to the conventional interpretation, you can’t just throw general appropriations into a budget bill.  But it can do a lot.  Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit; extend unemployment insurance; give relief to hard-pressed state budgets (by changing Medicaid rules, for example).

Dave Leonhardt has a nice piece today, echoing the complaints of The Shrill One, about the seeming insistence on returning to the 1930’s.  That would be a disaster on so many levels.  But the best way to avoid it is a budget resolution. 

The Democrats need one.  Now.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

5 thoughts on “Paul Ryan is Right About the Democratic Budget”

  1. Jon Walker was all over this at FDL about 2 months ago.

    I wonder how reconciliation will play out in the future. How important was Senator Byrd in interpreting the Byrd Rule?

  2. Just wanted to point out that Paul Ryan's district has the highest unemployment in Wisconsin.

  3. Or alternatively you could break the back of the filibuster threat, by actually making the filibuster happen a time or two. But we wouldn't want to inconvenience 51 Democratic Senators for like 4 whole days in a row or anything.

  4. "Or alternatively you could break the back of the filibuster threat, by actually making the filibuster happen a time or two."

    No. You break the back of the filibuster by getting a ruling from the President of the Senate, Joe Biden, holding that the fact that the Senate "may determine the rules of its proceedings" means that the Senate may, in fact, determine the rules of its proceedings. More specifically, the Constitutional rule that the Senate "may determine the rules of its proceedings" takes precedence over any Senate rules about how legislation is to be considered, and that Constitutional provision may be invoked by a majority of a quorum of the Senate, at any time, to change Senate rules.

  5. Sebastian H —

    Robert Johnston is right; you're going to need a parliamentary ruling to do this. Under current rules, you can't make Senators actually stand there and filibuster: the 1975 deal reduced the cloture requirement to 60, in exchange for a virtual filibuster rule. But you are right on the need to change the rule.

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