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Eric G. Rinerson, Published June 19 2011

Sen. Conrad finally lives up to deficit pledge he made quarter-century ago

We’ve heard a lot from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., lately about wanting to control the deficit and get the country back on track, but that talk was belied recently when the senator, who is chairman of the “powerful” Senate Budget Committee, failed to bring out a budget. Again.

By way of explanation, he said he wanted to see what emerged from the bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden, but what he didn’t mention was that it has been more than 760 days – more than two years – since Conrad, generally described as a budget hawk, has brought out any budget at all that Congress could even discuss, debate, argue over, or maybe, just maybe, agree on.

Nor did he disclose that the U.S. Senate recently voted on President Barack Obama’s budget, which garnered zero votes, none from either party. This is a failure of leadership from the White House, but it is also a telling admission that the Democrats, led by Conrad, have no plan whatsoever to address the nation’s financial woes.

Our country is going broke, literally borrowing 60 percent more than it takes in. Our economy is tanking, but Conrad’s now familiar and predictable approach to deficit reduction is to lament the problem yet suggest no substantive solution except tax increases. Although most states have a constitutional provision or law requiring a balanced budget, including North Dakota, he has consistently opposed a balanced budget amendment for the nation. He, however, has never proposed where we might save, only where we might ferret out more tax dollars from working Americans.

Some of us remember that Conrad first ran some 25 years ago with a pledge to balance the budget or step aside. Instead of honoring his pledge, he exploited a technicality to run again and win. The budget wasn’t balanced then, and Conrad isn’t doing much to balance it now. It may be 25 years late, but at least he’s finally honoring his pledge.

Rinerson is an account manager.