The announcement of the Obama administration’s 2013 budget appears to be going according to script.
First, the President announces a budget that he knows won’t pass and then, via White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, deceptively declares the problem is that it can’t pass the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announces that he will insist on a Senate vote, despite objections from the president’s own party.
Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives announces that they will pass a budget and the media pounces. This morning, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), the smart chairman of the House Republican Conference, appeared on CNN to bemoan our mounting debt and the president’s lack of leadership. From the start, everyone knows where this interview is going to go. The anchor quickly asks about funds for “teachers and job creation,” among other sympathy-inducing causes, and then asks the congressman, “are you against all of these things?” Anything but the most obvious answer makes Hensarling appear cruel and heartless, just like the media want Republicans to appear. If he had said “yes” to the cuts, what would happen? A respectful pause to reflect and comment on our priorities, problems and the choices we face, or a barrage of horror stories about Republicans wanting to coddle gazillionaires and abandon our schools?
None of the GOP presidential candidates really say anything. Again, our campaigns are disconnected from the problems America faces, so America’s government doesn’t face its problems. And the budget problem matters! Why don’t we fight over competing budgets rather than fight about who to blame for not having a budget?
Today’s budget announcement choreography is a perfect illustration of how gridlock equilibrium is sustained in Washington. This time it’s being perpetrated by the president, Democrats in the Congress, and the media. No one can blame today’s Republicans for this sad state of affairs.
Everybody knew the role they were supposed to play. Serious debate about the federal budget is on its way to oblivion at least for another year.