Obama's Team

Posted: 03/26/09


"Bend but Don't Break the New Rules." As Congress Trims Obama's Budget the President Appeals to the Nation


In our Bend but Don't Break the "New Rules" weekly feature, focus is on the Obama administration's simultaneous effort to extend the powers of the Treasury while seeking to reduce the ability of Congress to trim the Presidential Budget. The method... a direct appeal to the nation. Not just any appeal. A nationwide town hall meeting enabled through a multimedia platform.


So what's the problem? Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike have heard the complaints of their constituents regarding the outrageous spending programs and reviewed the President's budget with an eye toward scaling back. Reportedly, the $250B for future bank bailouts was eliminated. No money was allocated for the President's energy initiative, Cap-and-Trade. The middle class tax cuts were removed from the budget and will expire in 2010. The $600B healthcare reserve also was not officially established. The House and Senate have called for a budget spending $3.6T, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Obama's plan spends $3.7T.


But what really happened? Congress put on a great show and kept things general in the way money was to be spent making few hard committments of funds. Both the Senate and the House made cuts but according to a MSNBC article, Sen. Kent Conrad, (D) ND, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said,


"We have made it possible for the committees of jurisdiction to do what the president is asking for on climate change, to do what (he's) asking for healthcare, on energy, and education."



Ken Strickland, reporter for NBC explains further:


"Writing the budget this way achieves certain goals. First, it keeps Democrats from backing themselves into a corner because some of them don't support all of Obama's proposals — there's wiggle room for compromise later on tough issues. And second, by not committing to hard numbers — numbers in the billions — Conrad's budget may be seen as more fiscally responsible and producing larger deficit reductions."


So why is the President "persevering" in a town hall style meeting when the amount of money cut from his budget is not that impressive in comparison to the amount being spent?


1. From the Senate and House point of view, when the heat is on it is important to look like you're making concessions to constituents. From Obama's point of view the "concessions" make him appear to have lost on energy, healthcare, and middle-class tax cuts. Although it is possible to reinstate the middle class tax cuts in 2011, and the "committees of jurisdiction" could still appropriate funds for energy, healthcare and education, it is the appearance of Obama's inability to deliver on these campaign promises that could hurt him in the future.


2. Although the President's priorities were not assigned hard numbers, the Senate and the House did approve Obama's 3.8% increase in the core defense budget which assumes $50B annually for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will not make the far Left happy.


So, truth be known Congress gave Obama basically everything he wanted but the manner in which they did it put the President in a bad light. Obama had to deliver the appearance of "perseverance" to keep faith with the masses. And, President Obama is good at appearances.


Contact: Representatives, Contact: Senators