Sunday, February 1, 2015

Obama's Campaign Budget

The president is clearly campaigning instead of governing; question is whether that's as responsible as it is politically adroit.

Obama's Campaign Budget

Here's a question. And even though I'm pretty sure answers will reflect feelings and alliances against or with the direction the incumbent president wants to take the country, I'll gamely ask it anyway.

Should President Obama have proposed a budget plan that could actually mitigate Washington's gridlock and drama or, as he did yesterday, issue a campaign document thinly disguised as a budget so he can contrinue to run for reelection against Washington?

Here's a clue. Gallup daily tracking polls show Obama's job approval rating at 46 percent. It shows Congress' approval rating at 10 percent. Since governing is all about politics and since politics is all about poll results, there's a strong practical case to be made that the president is playing smart-ball.

But is it responsible? Does it in any way reflect his 2008 campaign pledge to "change" the ways of Washington? Does it even begin to approach a promise he made in 2009 to cut the deficit in half in his first term?

The answers are obvious: no to the first (unless he meant "change" Washington by making it worse); and no to the second because the deficit in `09 was $1.4 trillion and today is $1.3 trillion.

Obama defenders argue the president's plan is responsible because it taxes the rich -- those making more than $250,000 -- which a majority of Americans support, and because it invests $350 billion in infrastructure to, he says, build for the future and keep the nation's economy sputtering toward recovery.

The problem, of course, is Republicans who control the House won't pass any of this because Republicans want no new taxes and much less spending and have the votes to back their wants. They already (cleverly) labeled the president's plan "Debt on Arrival."

So the stage is set, actually re-set, for more partisan stagnation and threats of government shutdowns throughout the coming campaign (the federal budget is due in October).

And the president is positioned to say he's proposing popular plans to move the country forward while the Congress, even as the economy improves, offers nothing but obstruction.

Meanwhile, the fractured GOP presidential campaign continues, providing the president with a widening lead in potential contests against any of the remaining Republican candidates.

So. Actually govern? Or keep campaigning? It's politics in America. You tell me.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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