One of the prices that the Democrats pay for having conservative chairmen of important committees is that it makes it even harder to accomplish progressive reforms. It’s a problem that Max Baucus (D-MT) is the chair of the all-powerful Finance Committee, and it’s a problem that Kent Conrad (D-ND) is the chair of the Budget Committee. Sen. Conrad isn’t interested in passing Obama’s budget.
“Anybody who thinks it will be easy to get the votes on the budget in the conditions that we face is smoking something,” Conrad said…
…Conrad joined Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), the top Republican on the Budget Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in criticizing the administration’s cap-and-trade proposal for not doing enough to counterbalance increases in energy costs that will be felt by consumers and companies, especially those in energy states such as North Dakota.
Conrad said that it would be a “distant hope” to expect the climate change plan to pass unless it includes help for industries that would be hit hard by limits on carbon emission production.
The North Dakota Democrat also knocked the Obama administration’s plan to cut subsidies for farmers with incomes of more than $500,000.
In one sense, Sen. Conrad is only talking about reality. He’s assessing the lay of the land in the Senate. But, as a fairly conservative Democrat who represents North Dakota, he’s also reflecting his ideological and parochial biases. He’s not acting like an ally on the budget. An ally would keep his concerns private and work with the White House to come up with compromises that can win over the needed votes to approve the budget. That is not what Conrad is doing.
The administration has said that it could save taxpayers nearly $10 billion over the next decade from stopping direct federal payments to wealthy farmers, but Conrad denied that the farm policies were not fiscally responsible.
“The Farm Bill was paid for. We made a lot of tough choices. We raised money. We made spending reductions,” Conrad said. “Those who suggest that was not fiscally responsible — I don’t think they’re very aware of the history of how we got a Farm Bill passed.”
Conrad said that he hopes the administration understands that “accomplish[ing] big things takes compromise around here.”
Rather than working as an advocate for the president’s budget, Conrad is working as an advocate for greenhouse emissions and Big Agriculture’s government subsidies. This is backwards.