To AP's Taylor, Congress's Ratings Are 'in the Gutter,' and Harry Reid Is a 'Traditionalist'

January 29th, 2013 11:53 PM

An emailer who is a retired journalist wrote to me today about a January 27 Associated Press item by Andrew Taylor presented as an objective news report, calling it "Appalling ... the worst ever." If it's not, it's pretty close, though I'm not sure how any report on a single congressional action can top the comprehensive slop seen in the June 2008 classic titled, "Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control." Readers visit that linked article at their peril.

The AP report concerns the "no budget, no pay" provision added to the bill the House recently passed to increase the government's borrowing cap. Taylor's travesty reeks of contempt and imbalance. Several paragraphs follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

'No budget, no pay' advances despite reservations

In an earlier era, a move like the one engineered by House GOP leaders to pass a "no budget, no pay" measure probably would have been stopped in its tracks.

But with Congress' approval ratings in the gutter [1], House lawmakers pushed aside questions about fairness and constitutionality and tacked the idea on to an unpopular, must-pass measure to increase the government's borrowing cap.

The measure temporarily would withhold pay from any member of the House or Senate whose chamber doesn't pass a budget this year. The Senate is expected to approve it in the coming week, but only after leaders make clear they think "no budget, no pay" is rife with flaws and is not going to be repeated. [2]

... The proposal is a slap at the Democratic-controlled Senate, which hasn't passed a budget since 2009. Republicans advanced the measure as a one-year experiment rather than a permanent law.

The logic behind "no budget, no pay" goes like this: Passing a budget is the core responsibility of Congress, so why should lawmakers get paid if they don't do their main job?

... For Republicans, much of the appeal of the measure was that it was a rare opportunity to cram something down the Senate's throat. [3] Two years of polarizing battles over issues big and small have left little good will between the GOP-run House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In the Senate, traditionalists such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. [4], opted to set aside their concerns and avoid the task of beating back such an irresistible message.

... Boehner is promising that, unlike two earlier GOP budgets, this one will come to balance by the end of the decade, which could force Republicans to cut Medicare much more deeply than they have sought to do in the past. [5]

Congressional budget resolutions are nonbinding measures that usually sound more important than they really are. Often they're not followed up with binding legislation. While the House has passed budget plans, it failed last year to address several important pieces of bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate. [6]


[1] -- Gosh, Nancy Pelosi's Congress had approval ratings "in the gutter" for years, and no one at AP ever used such a guttural phrase.

[2] -- If it's so odious, why is the Senate expected to whine and then wave it through?

[3] -- This is supposed to be a wire service report, not an MSNBC rant. These days, it appears there is very little difference.

[4] -- I'd say Taylor is responsible for thousands of people losing lunch on this one. Harry Reid a traditionalist? The guy who, if he had his way, wold gut the filibuster? Give me a flippin' break.

[5] -- Uh, Andrew, the only people who have cut Medicare during the past several years are the congressional Democrats who passed ObamaCare -- to the tune of $700 billion. My emailer pointed out that Taylor presented no evidence concerning how much Republicans supposedly wanted to "cut" Medicare in the past, or allegedly want to "cut" Medicare now. I say it's because he's just making it up out of thin air.

[6] -- The only example Taylor cited via Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a law relating to violence against women. That's not unimportant, but where are the "several" laws to which Taylor referred?

My emailer is right to say that Taylor's report is historically bad, given how rife it is with partisanship and intemperance. Sadly, I believe AP can do much worse during the next several years -- and probably will.

Cross-posted at