“America needs Conrad to stay on as Budget Committee chairma[n],” wrote Grand Forks Herald opinion editor Tom Dennis in 2010. Conrad was, at the time, considering a jump from his post as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to chairman on the Senate’s Agriculture Committee. Dennis wrote that American needs Conrad’s “leadership” on budget reforms. According to the Dennis, “No other senator has Conrad’s credibility in that regard.”
Flash forward two years, and Conrad’s “credibility” on budget issues – which some of us have always thought was bogus – has become increasingly suspect.
In fact, at TownHall, Tripp Baird names Conrad the worst chairman of the Senate Budget Committee in that committee’s history:
Imagine a fledging car company hires a new chief executive who is tasked with not only presenting a plan to turn the company around, but building support for the plan among key players in the company and then implementing the plan. The man is respected by his peers, and is known to talk a good game. He’s smart, knows how to work the media circuit and is seen among industry analysts as the guy who is capable of bringing everyone together. But several years later, the company is still struggling and his influence has been marginalized.
What would happen in the real world? The executive would be booted out by the company’s board and ridiculed by the media for his compensation package.
This composite executive is, of course, Kent Conrad.
Now, compare this to an executive who has all the same qualities, but is also a leader capable of rallying his company’s stakeholders around his plan and thus begin the process of implementing real change and turning around the company. This executive would be touted as a turnaround expert who can hold any position he desires.
This composite executive is, arguably, Paul Ryan. …
Our country is on the verge of going down, and unless you are a mindless political pundit, there is no denying that Senator Conrad’s tenure as budget chairman is an unmitigated disaster; in fact, he is the worst chairman in the committee’s history. Talking is not leading, and it is time the pundit class learned that lesson and began directing their praise to those who are willing to lead.
The problem with Kent Conrad’s “budget” or “fiscal” hawkishness is that it’s all a charade. Twice in his career Senator Conrad was the pivot point for a balanced budget amendment, and twice he withheld his support ensuring the effort to enshrine balanced budgets in our national constitution would fail. Throughout his career Conrad has railed against deficits, but only selectively. Bush-era deficits were often in Conrad’s crosshairs, but Obama-era deficits (several orders of magnitude larger than his predecessor’s) get only muted criticism from Conrad.
I’ve long said that the national budget process would be better for not including a mealy-mouthed, double-talking hypocrite like Conrad. We should all look forward to Conrad retiring and making way for someone who would do more about deficits than talk about them.