By Alexis Levinson
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that President Obama has no opinion on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s assessment that not having a budget creates uncertainty and could damage the economy.
That should be a “national scandal,” according to Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who lambasted Senate Democrats and Obama for not attempting to pass a budget.
Johnson asked Bernanke at a Tuesday hearing if not passing a federal budget was a problem, even though there were spending caps in place from the Budget Control Act.
“Is uncertainty about the future of the tax code, government programs and so on a negative for growth?” said Bernanke at the Senate Budget Committee hearing. “I think it is, because firms like to have certainty, like to be able to plan.”
Carney was asked by Jake Tapper of ABC News about that comment, and whether the president agrees with Bernanke, or with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said it is not necessary to pass a budget this year.
“I have no opinion, the White House has no opinion on Chairman Bernanke’s assessment of how the Senate ought to do it’s business,” said Carney. “What the president believes is important is that the Budget Control Act that was signed into law last year provides the top line spending caps for the coming budget and he will obviously meet those in the budget proposal he puts forward.”
Johnson didn’t appreciate Carney’s remark.
“It should be a national scandal to think that the largest national entity in the world doesn’t even have a national budget,” said Johnson, “and one American party is afraid to show the American public what their plan to solve the debt and deficit issue is. It’s really jaw dropping.”
If it were a Republican-controlled Senate, Johnson opined, all the news outlets would be furiously covering the story.
“The comparison I would make is during the Iran Hostage Crisis, every national news outlet had a counter of the number of days that Americans were being held hostage in Iran. If we were a Republican senate, that’d be about the same thing –you’d see that 1,015 days behind newscasters,” Johnson said. “But nobody’s making a big deal because it’s a Senate controlled by Democrats.”
“The president, you can say, sure, he put a budget on the table, but it lost zero to 97 in the Senate last year, so the Senate Democrats haven’t had to put their fingers on any kind of financial plan at all when we’re sitting here running 1.4, 1.3, 1.3 trillion dollar deficits every year,” Johnson went on. “I think it’s outrageous. And I’m certainly trying to do everything I possibly can to draw the American public’s attention to that fact.”
“The president talks about being for the grand bargain,” added Johnson. “I’ve never seen it. And of course nobody has seen it because it doesn’t exist. It only exists in people’s imagination.”
A Republican aide had a similar take on the issue.
“When the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is telling us the lack of a budget — a long-term fiscal plan to get off our current path to a debt crisis — is harming the economy right now, one would think that would cause the White House concern. But apparently it doesn’t have an opinion,” said the aide.