Boldly Doing Nothing

Senate budget chief ‘delivers’

Rich Lowry

Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota is the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. That means he’s the Democratic point man for the absolutely essential work of not coming up with a budget.  Conrad has occasionally gone wobbly. Sometimes he has sounded dangerously close to betraying the cause that his party has entrusted to him.

A couple of weeks ago, the senator went on national TV to say he was going to have his committee “mark up” what he called a “10-year plan” — i.e., a budget. After briefly flirting with this treachery, Conrad came back to his senses and recommitted himself to his duty to remain resolutely budget-less.  He didn’t hold a markup at all, which is the time-honored process by which a bill is debated, amended and voted on. Conrad dispensed with all such fluff and minutiae. He offered his own plan, loosely based on the work of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction commission, shot down any foolishness about amending or voting, and pronounced himself well-pleased. Despite the angst he had caused with his loose talk, Conrad had delivered yet again — by not delivering a budget.