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Posted at 07:10 PM ET, 02/10/2012

Obama does the least he can do on D.C. budget autonomy

Talk is cheap, Mr. President. (Susan Walsh - AP)
A John A. Wilson Building press conference has been scheduled for Monday morning to tout the fact that President Obama’s new budget is expected to include language supporting financial autonomy for the District government.

Before you start cheering, consider that the language is just that, language — and particularly meaningless language at that, appearing as advisory text that will get about a nanometer’s shrift in Congress.

As I noted in January, Obama continues to do the bare minimum expected of a Democratic president who can rely on the District for three electoral votes.

The Obama administration isn’t, for instance, proposing to include D.C. budget autonomy language as part of high-stakes negotiations with congressional Republicans on must-pass legislation. Nope, it’s offering exactly one paragraph:

The District of Columbia annually receives direct Federal payments for a number of local programs in recognition of the District’s unique status as the seat of the Federal Government. These General and Special Payments are separate from and in addition to the District’s local budget, which is funded through local revenues. Consistent with the principle of home rule, it is the Administration’s view that the District’s local budget should be authorized to take effect without a separate annual Federal appropriations bill. The Administration will work with Congress and the Mayor to pass legislation to amend the D.C. Home Rule Act to provide the District with local budget autonomy.

All the same, the something-is-better-than-nothing doctrine means Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and D.C. Vote activists will be giving POTUS a pat on the back Monday.

By  |  07:10 PM ET, 02/10/2012

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