There's another budget crisis in Washington, and it's unfolding inside the Democratic party. The Democratic National Committee remains so deeply in the hole from spending in the last election that it is struggling to pay its own vendors.
The Democrats' numbers speak for themselves: Through August, 10 months after helping President Obama secure a second term, the DNC owed its various creditors a total of $18.1 million, compared to the $12.5 million cash cushion the Republican National Committee is holding.
Several executives at firms that contract to provide services to the party -- speaking anonymously to avoid antagonizing what remains an important if troubled client -- describe an organization playing for time as they raise alarms about past-due bills falling further behind. And senior strategists close to the DNC say they worry the organization appears to have no road map back to solvency. "They really thought they could get this money raised by the summer," one said, "but the fact is, from talking to people over there, they have no real plan for how to solve this."
DNC national press secretary Michael Czin says the committee is working with vendors on a case-by-case basis to pay down their tabs. And filings show the organization over the last five months has made $4.5 million in payments to the Amalgamated Bank and appears to be hewing to a $1 million-per-month installment schedule now.
"While we work to retire our debt, we're not taking our foot off the pedal and are making the investments that will help ensure that Democrats are successful in 2014, 2016, and beyond," Czin said. He pointed to ongoing work by the DNC's National Finance Committee, which met over the weekend in Colorado to discuss fundraising strategy.
Sources close to the DNC say officials there have quietly laid the blame in part on the White House. It's no secret that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also represents an area around Miami in the U.S. House, lacks strong relationships inside the administration. But it's not even clear who at the White House should be minding the problem these days, following the exodus of President Obama's top political brains.
By the DNC's count, the President has headlined 15 DNC fundraisers this year. In an indication Obama is stepping up his commitment, two of those took place last week alone -- the first tacked onto his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and the second later in the week at The Jefferson, a posh hotel a half-mile north of the White House on 16th Street. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Read More: Fortune