Why should the fate of a non-binding budget resolution be of paramount importance to activists hoping for progressive legislative action? Because without a budget resolution, there are no budget reconciliation instructions, and without budget reconciliation instructions, there cannot be a reconciliation bill that can't be filibustered.
Congress can’t use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and the Senate don’t adopt the same budget.
Reconciliation was the only reason Democrats were able to finish health care reform or pass truly progressive student loan reform against unanimous Senate Republican obstructionism, since reconciliation bills can't be filibustered. Not creating reconciliation instructions would be an act of legislative unilateral disarmament.
Reconciliation is one of the best tools Democrats have to pass progressive bills, and that is why including reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution is so incredibly important. It could be used for wide variety of needed legislation. It could be used to pass jobs creation legislation, putting a price on greenhouse gas production, trying to deal with too-big-to-fail finance institutions, or improving the new health care bill (so much for lame promises of "fixing it later").
Not leaving themselves the option to pass a reconciliation bill with a simple majority in the Senate means Congressional Democrats have actively decided to give the 41 members of the Republican Senate Caucus a veto over every single bill going forward. It is spitting in the face of everyone who voted for Democrats expecting the legislative changes that they promised to enact.
If there is no budget resolution and Democrats complain about Republicans “blocking” a promise to the progressives base, remember: Democrats chose to give Republican their veto power.
One would hope Congressional Democrats would not shrink from their duty, and instead use this powerful tool to actually do their job of legislating. If not, all the Congressional Democrats should just stay home where they can spend more time with their families and let senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) run Washington on their own--because that is what will happen anyway.