The White House’s budget is late. Here’s their excuse.

February 4, 2013

If you follow Speaker John Boehner's Twitter feed -- and you do, don't you? -- you got a lot of tweets Monday about how the White House's budget is officially late. Monday was the deadline, and there's no budget. Boehner was not pleased:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan wasn't any happier. "I’m disappointed the President has missed his deadline," Ryan said in a statement. "But I’m not surprised. In four of the last five years, he’s failed to submit his budget on time."

So what's the White House's excuse? In a letter dated Jan. 11, 2013, they told Ryan the budget would be late this year because of the "fiscal cliff." "Because [the fiscal cliff] was not resolved until the American taxpayer Relief Act was enacted on January 2, 2013, the administration was forced to delay some of its FY 2014 budget preparations, which will in turn delay the Budget's submission to the House."

That doesn't explain why the White House has been late in four of the last five years, of course. But it's hard to get particularly exercised over this. They've often missed the deadline by a bit, but they always turn out a budget, and Republicans always reject it because it includes, among other things, tax increases and the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act. So Republicans are demanding that the White House hurry up and give them a budget they can reject. The White House should, as a general matter, get its budgets out on time, but it's hard to get overly exercised over this bit of kabuki theater.

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Brad Plumer | February 4, 2013