So many times the budgets have been DOA (dead on arrival), so they didn't matter. The budgets were ridiculed, often well-deserved, and the real deals were worked out as continuing resolutions (CR). We've been funding our federal spending with continuing resolutions are several years in a row, and we've probably done that before under other presidents too. Big deal, what's the difference, meh...
This time the GOP is trying to make this budget matter. Their new stance is that the budget has to be something that can pass, so it will have to include enough cuts to satisfy the GOP-controlled House, and Obama will have to name the cuts.
Last year Obama offered a ridiculous, partisan budget which didn't receive a single vote (if that right-wing talking point is true). By the way, it didn't matter because the debt ceiling deal of August 2011 had settled the spending questions: there was going to be a CR describing the federal expenditures for 2012. It was settled, minor squabbles aside.
Obama's ChallengeSo, this year Obama has to decide:
- Is he going to present another partisan budget that goes nowhere, or
- Is he going to present a real budget that can be the basis of negotiations?
Equal Opportunity ChallengeIt's really too bad. I believe that the first party that develops a reasonable budget wins big for being realistic and credible leaders. They have a great chance to guide our governmental focus for the next generation. Yet no one is leaping up to do it out of fear of 'owning the cuts' and taking the backlash.
I don't think that's what will happen. The backlash won't land on the reasonable, it will land on the most unreasonable. The Dems won the 2012 election because they negotiated in 2011, and they showed that they were ready and willing to settle on a reasonable compromise. In the 2012 campaign, they sounded like they weren't going to reverse that compromise in 2013 if reelected.
The Republicans have yet to show that they will negotiate. They end up in negotiation, but too late, only after the Dems show they won't simply capitulate. It's no wonder the GOP didn't win the presidency. Who wants to give too much power to people like that?
So, Mr. Obama, please recognize that you can take that big step and grab the mantle of a reasonable, clear-thinking leader. You'll never have a better chance to do this, because, ha!, you've already been reelected. Do it. Lead on this one.
(Still not holding my breath. It's less than a 50% chance. Lots of room to be pleasantly surprised, though.)
Hasn't happened yet. Will it?