What To Expect From the Coming Obama Budget

Posted: Apr 10, 2013 6:23 AM
President Obama is primed to - finally - release his annual budget proposal in just a few hours. Better late than never, right? There are some general rules to go by when anticipating Democratic budgets compared to Republican ones: higher taxes, more spending, fewer entitlement reforms.

Yet President Obama will have an advantage in the media: almost anything he proposes will be seen as a "middle ground," because the Senate Democratic Budget was so far out in left field it was difficult to believe they were serious. Even our own Guy Benson is prepared to offer a "qualified golf clap" if early reports for the President's budget come to pass. (Just ragging on Guy here, because I would too: C-CPI, for example, is a good idea.) Here are a few things to expect:

Obama will try to undo sequestration cuts - but may try to preserve some of them on the national defense side of the ledger. The Heritage Foundation writes that the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the President's defense requests, and that while they may be more than what would be permitted by sequestration, they'll be significantly lower than what would have happened if all of the sequestration cuts were undone.

Even President Obama doesn't think his budget will be a useful starting point for actual budget negotiations. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told MarketWatch that the President's budget is not a "starting point" for negotiations. In fact, the Administration seems to believe that President Obama's ideal budget is actually some kind of compromise, and that Republicans who might try to "take it apart" would be foolish. Apparently, this is supposed to be an all or nothing proposal.

Official budgeting numbers are not to be believed. Cato's William Poole writes in the Wall Street Journal that, due to scores of programs that are technically "temporary," the official budget baseline is out of whack. To supplement that, the official budgeting process scores a slow-down in projected growth as a "cut." To be fair, Republicans certainly claim "cuts" when they just mean "slower growth" - the Paul Ryan budget, for all that it's been savaged by some in the media, actually grows the spending in key categories like Medicare and Medicaid.

Left-wingers are claiming to hate the Obama budget. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called some of President Obama's proposals "misguided." Co-Chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Raul Grijalva called some of the policies a "nonstarter." The executive director of MoveOn.org called parts of the budget proposal "unconscionable." Either these left-wingers genuinely dislike the budget or they're politically-aware enough to be setting the President up as "triangulating" between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Regardless, while there may be aspects of President Obama's budget they won't like, it'll be hard to imagine these progressives disliking some of the tax increases that Obama will bring to the table.

The budget drops in just a few hours, and what's also important to remember is that it'll basically go nowhere. Both Republicans and Democrats on the Hill will make political hay out of it, President Obama will tout its virtues for a few days, and it will go away. Omnibus budgeting became passe a few years ago. This will be yet another wish list from the White House, and we'll continue to operate under a continuing resolution that mostly authorizes us to stay the course.

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