Too many democrats aren't facing the budget issues. Their stance seems to be that all problems will be solved when we tax the rich and businesses at appropriate levels. This ignores the trend of the last 30 years to decrease the tax rates, but progressives are amazingly insular in their views. Worse still, they ignore the plain math involved. If they put together a budget, even if they didn't release it, it would be an enlightening exercise. But it would be harder to stay with the same talking points they've been telling their constituents.
I think the budget choices will loom large in the next election. The talk right now is jobs, joBS, JOBS, but there's no magic spell to make jobs appear. So the 2012 election, if it hinges on real issues instead of spin, will be about budget priorities and how to reduce the deficit.
The most recent elections actually had mixed results. Fiscal hawks won in the November elections, but special elections went to those who talked about protecting Medicare. So voters like fiscal conservatism in the abstract, by don't threaten their Medicare.
These results do not bode well for the next election. The message from voters is that if you talk generalities, you can win, but being specific about the pain is, well, too painful. This is the opposite of what we need. This spring, for the first time I can recall, budgets were the premier topic of political discussion. The people with the plans dominated the discussion because they were on firmer ground.
If the democrats want to be taken seriously, they need to show a plan. But if they want to get reelected, they better not talk about it, especially in House races. I wonder what they'll do? Actually, that's snark. I completely expect more of the same budget vacuum. Of course, even without producing a plan, they will get plenty of votes from their reliable constituencies, but they won't be doing the country any good by ducking the issue.
Democratic Budget Pie Chart
Update: 9/19/11 Obama finally released a deficit reduction plan. That's about 7 months after Rand Paul. I haven't critiqued it yet, but read my budget plan.
Now I've critiqued it, and even updated this post, finally on 10/31/11. (Snow, power outages, and official town postponement of trick-or-treating are keeping the tykes from my door tonight.)