By DAN CALABRESE

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin acknowledges that Washington’s profligate spending “has to stop” but predictably offers no time table as to when this might happen.

Want to know how serious congressional Democrats are about getting federal spending under control? Even less serious than you think, as evidenced by the fact that, in 2010, they have no intention of even trying to pass a federal budget.

Don’t do it!

Yeah, I know, this is a basic, fundamental function of the Congress. As Keith Hennessey, a blogger and former economic advisor to George W. Bush, explains, Congress is supposed to have a conference report on the budget finalized each year by April 15. It routinely misses this deadline, but typically gets the job done by mid-May.

It is not completely unheard of that Congress fails to reach agreement on a budget, particularly when the House and Senate are divided with respect to party control. But it’s totally unprecedented for Congress not to even try, and it’s all the more astounding when you consider that the same party controls both houses of Congress and the White House, and that you can bypass the filibuster for budgeting resolutions.
It’s not that they can’t pass a budget. It’s that they don’t want to.

This is big trouble for the country, for two reasons – the why and the what. What happens with no budget? As Hennessey explains, everything is ruled by continuing resolutions, committee chairman discretion and, worst of all, “emergency” spending measures. There is not even a mechanism that pretends to rein in spending. What do you think Democratic committee barons will do with that freedom? Exactly. Party over here . . . say what?

Now, why isn’t Congress going to pass a budget this year? Well that’s simple, even if it’s astoundingly brazen. The only kind of budget Congress would pass this year would have another deficit well in excess of $1 trillion. Democrats are in enough political trouble as it is without giving Republicans the chance to accuse them of passing such a reckless budget. So hey, let’s just pass no budget at all!

If you wonder why the legacy media are not calling the Democrats out on this, obviously media bias plays a role, but I think there’s something even more pivotal at work. Media no longer cover actual policy substance. Everything is politics to them. So when Democrats decided not to pass a budget because they don’t want to suffer the political consequences, the legacy media finds this perfectly rational. It’s not as if they apologized to BP, after all! That would be a story, because it’s politically dumb (even if it’s substantively defensible).

When Democrats do something politically smart – even if it represents a complete dereliction of their constitutional duties – the Chuck Todds of the world just can’t get too worked up about it. How else do you expect them to get re-elected?

It sort of reminds me of the old Mets and Phillies relief pitcher Tug McGraw, who figured nothing good could happen if he pitched to Willie Stargell with the bases loaded, and theorized it might be better to just stand on the mound holding the ball forever. As long as he didn’t throw it, nothing bad could happen.

Too bad it doesn’t work that way in Washington. At least there would be some virtue to having no budget if it meant no spending.

The North Star National