WASHINGTON -- Congress will not pass a budget resolution this year because the issue of the soaring national debt hangs over every policy debate in Washington, House Majority Steny Hoyer said today, and it will be impossible to pass a realistic long-term budget until the nation's structural deficit is addressed.
"Our problem is structural--the product of a generation's worth of easy decisions," Hoyer said at a discussion about the national deficit, hosted by the Third Way, a left-leaning, moderate think tank.
Hoyer said today that instead of passing a budget resolution, the House is working to adopt a budget enforcement resolution, which will call for even more spending cuts than the president's budget. It will also, he said, reaffirm Congress' commitment to PAYGO rules and endorse the goals of President Obama's, an 18-member panel charged with creating a plan to bring down the deficit to 3 percent of the economy by 2015.
"It isn't possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget until we've considered the bipartisan commission's deficit-reduction plan, which is expected in December," Hoyer said. "I believe that Congress must take up and vote on that plan."
A traditional budget, by contrast, would also lay out the majority party's fiscal policy for years to come.
"This budget enforcement resolution will enforce fiscal discipline in the near term while the fiscal commission works on a long-term plan to get our country back to fiscal health," Hoyer said.
House Republican leadership pounced on Hoyer's announcement that a budget will not be passed, pointing out that Hoyer once called enacting a budget "the most basic responsibility of governing." The GOP critique came in the form of a mock cancellation notice, which read: "We regret to inform you that the congressional budget planned for fiscal year 2011 has been cancelled due to Washington Democrats' out-of-control spending spree."
The Democratic leader said correcting the longterm structural deficit means both tax increases and spending cuts on programs like Social Security.
"To share sacrifices fairly, and to be politically viable, the commission's proposal can only have one form: an agreement that cuts spending and raises revenue," Hoyer said. "We're lying to ourselves and our children if we say we can maintain our current levels of entitlement spending defense spending, and taxation without bankrupting our country."