Fresh Political Winds Are Blowing…

Remember Obama’s  laughingstock of a budget proposal for FY 2012? The one he unveiled on Feb 14 to an uncharacteristically skeptical press corps,  which ignored all of his own fiscal commission’s recommendations, made the financial crisis worse, and  Paul Ryan called an abdication of leadership?

A thoroughly disgusted Ace of Spades said at the time:

So, Obama, having abdicated his responsibility of prudence, leadership, intelligence or idealism (this either proves he is stupid or profoundly cynical), has forced the out-party House of Representatives to take a leadership role — a role for which they aren’t well suited, not because of a lack of individual ability, but because the Constitution is expressly designed for a government led by the President.

But that’s what the (expletive deleted) has decided to do — you guys propose necessary entitlement reforms; I’ll just demagogue against them and walk my way into relection.

Hows that strategy working out for him, now?

President Obama plans a Wednesday speech laying out new ways to cut the deficit and address America’s long-term fiscal woes, including entitlements, White House aides said Sunday.

“You’re going to have to look at Medicare and Medicaid and see what kind of savings you can get,” Obama adviser David Plouffe said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

That is a tacit admission by the White House that its 2012 budget plan wasn’t serious.

The P.O.S has already been thrown into the ash-heap of history.

John at Powerline writes:

That tells you everything you need to know about who won the standoff over FY 2011. Republican calls for a responsible budget are in the ascendancy, as the administration’s polling evidently confirms. You can draw the same conclusion from the evolution in Harry Reid’s statements about spending cuts, as noted by Andrew Stiles at The Corner:

Harry Reid, Feb. 3, 2011, on Paul Ryan’s initial offer of $32 billion in spending cuts:

The chairman of the Budget Committee today, today sent us something even more draconian than we originally anticipated…So this isn’t some game that people have been playing. The House of Representatives [is] actually sending us some of these unworkable plans.

Harry Reid, April 9, 2011, on a deal to cut $38.5 billion:

This is historic, what we’ve done.

When the Democrats are trying to take credit for spending cuts (much as President Clinton tried to claim credit for welfare reform, after vetoing it twice), you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

Investors Business Daily suggests that the same old same old “Washington fiscal fudge” is now longer operational in today’s political climate:

Democrats have wanted to let government surge as a share of the economy and eventually push up taxes to pay for that. But they’ve never come out with a plan to admit that. In the past, they didn’t have to. They used scare tactics in 1995 and 2005 to beat back GOP efforts to reform entitlements, while offering no long-term solutions of their own. But the political calculus has changed.

We already saw it during the fiscal 2011 budget fight. Obama initially wanted a $40 billion increase to nonsecurity discretionary spending. Then the Democrats wanted a spending freeze. On Friday, Obama hailed as “historic” a deal to cut spending by $38.5 billion. Even though Republicans didn’t get all they wanted, they got a lot, and won the rhetoric battle over the need to cut spending.

It will be interesting to see what Obama has to say on Wednesday. He will argue for higher taxes on wealthy Americans, as always, but those won’t come close to paying for surging entitlement spending. He will probably try to say just enough to sound serious without actually addressing the problem. Reining in government spending would infuriate his base while hiking taxes sharply on everyone to pay for those government benefits would turn off the rest of America.

But after Ryan’s bold proposal, the old Washington fiscal fudge may not work anymore.

We can always hope.

See also:

Michael Barone at Townhall:  Spending Cuts Are Hot in the Political Marketplace:

One of the things that fascinate me about American politics is how the voices of the voters as registered in elections and polls are transformed into changes in public policy. It’s a rough-and-ready process, with plenty of trial and error. But for all its imperfections, the political market seems to work.

Three developments during the past week illustrate this process — developments, not results, because each is part of an ongoing struggle that will not be resolved soon.

Betsy’s Page: Obama lines up for a Mulligan:

So expect a lot of nice rhetoric in Obama’s Wednesday speech and not a lot of substance. Obama has had his opportunities to address the deficit and he’s whiffed on all of them. Now he’s asking for a Mulligan because it’s dawning on him and the Democrats, as Michael Barone points out, that spending cuts are popular in the political marketplace. Obama and spending cuts aren’t a natural pair, but the Republicans have pushed him into trying to take a Mulligan on all his muffed opportunities to address federal spending.

Hat tip: Retired Geezer.

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2 thoughts on “Fresh Political Winds Are Blowing…

  1. “…the Constitution is expressly designed for a government led by the President.”

    I can’t imagine where Ace got that idea. There’s not one word of support in the Constitution for it and plenty against it. As we used to say about the whackier ideas of our colleagues in physics, it’s so bad it’s not even wrong.

    A parliamentary system such as Britain’s, where the chief executive is chosen directly by the majority coalition in the legislature, might justly be said to be “designed to be led.” A checks-and-balances system such as ours, where the three branches of government can halt one another’s initiatives but cannot compel them to act? No way!

    If the Founders designed the federal government to be anything in particular, it was to be slow to act. Every aspect of the design militates toward balkiness and a requirement for very broad concurrence, rather than alacrity or “leadership.” That that aspect of things has been downplayed in recent decades doesn’t alter its truth.

    The one aspect of the presidency that has some “leadership” character is that the president is the only federal official intended to serve continuously. Congress and the Supreme Court go in and out of “session” — and the “sessions” were never intended to cover as much of the year as they do today. In keeping with that, the president was tasked with the responsibility of “giving the Congress information on the State of the Union” from time to time, specifically because our legislators were expected to spend so much more of their time attending to their own affairs than to federal legislation.

    But that still doesn’t mean that the federal government is supposed to be “led”…by anyone.

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  2. I understand what you’re saying, Fran, but all three bodies are required by law to present a budget, and the president is expected to lead on this. (The constitution requires the president to carry out federal laws and recommend new ones). That’s why Senator Sessions released a statement, yesterday calling on the President to submit a new budget:

    Via the Powerline link:

    The President recently submitted a budget to Congress that was the most irresponsible spending plan any President has ever put forward. Today’s announcement that the President will deliver an address this week on deficit reduction is an apparent recognition that the budget plan he submitted to Congress, as required by law, fails to address our dire fiscal challenges. However, it will not be sufficient for the President to simply make a speech. Instead, he must fulfill his duty as president and submit a new budget plan to Congress specifically setting forth the changes he wishes to make to his previous proposal, including both mandatory and discretionary savings. The President’s vision, whatever it is, must be presented in a detailed, concrete form. CBO must be able to score it and I and the Budget Committees in the House and Senate must be able to scrutinize it. I am uneasy that this announcement has been made not by a substantive policy official such as his budget director or Treasury Secretary but by the President’s top political advisor*.

    By law, three bodies in Washington must present a budget: the House, the Senate, and the White House.

    *I love how even senate staffers get that word wrong.

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