The incoherence of Kent Conrad 

North Dakota’s Senator Kent Conrad is the top Democrat in Congress on fiscal issues. He’s a self-styled “deficit hawk” who likes to perpetrate an illusion of being this independent voice for fiscal sanity in a national capital that has lost its mind on deficits and debt.

That illusion might be easier to believe if Conrad were, you know, coherent on fiscal issues. What do I mean? Take these two Conrad quotes from media sources in North Dakota both talking about the nation’s budget situation.

First, KFYR quotes Kent Conrad during a budget committee meeting saying that Obama’s budget is unacceptable:

"What has been outlined in the president`s budget for the long term cannot be the course that we take. That will simply add too much to the debt and we`re going to have to face up to that," said Conrad.

That does sound like fiscal sanity coming from Conrad who, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a member of the President’s deficit reduction commission, is in a position to know and do something about it. But then, there’s also this from Conrad also reported from a written statement yesterday in the Grand Forks Herald:

“We cannot afford to disrupt the frail signs of life we’re seeing by raising taxes or slashing spending right now,” he said in a written statement. “Additionally, if any recovery is to be sustained, we simply must begin to address our long-term debt and deficit.”

Just so we’ve got this straight, the deficits and new debt created by Obama’s are unacceptable according to Conrad. But, also according to Conrad, we can’t hurt the economy by raising taxes or cutting spending.

Now, all budgets have two parts: Income and expenditures. What Conrad is saying is that our budget is a problem, but we can’t increase income or cut expenditures. In essence, Conrad is talking about a problem budget situation that in his own words is unacceptable yet is also saying that we can’t do anything about it.

Am I the only one thinking that Kent Conrad maybe doesn’t really mean what he says about fiscal discipline? It seems to me that if our budget is out of control we need to do something about it now, not later. We’ve been kicking the can down the road on the national debt and deficits for far too long as is.

We can debate about whether we should raise taxes or cut spending (I’m with Governor Christie in New Jersey who says of his state, and it’s true nationally too, that we have “a spending problem” not a revenue problem), but Senator Conrad duplicitous comments amounting to the national debt being a serious problem we can’t really do anything about is nothing short of absurd.

Especially from someone as self-righteous about debt and deficits as Conrad is.

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Rob Port

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