6 Things About Obama’s Budget That Defy Partisanship

On this we can all agree: U.S. leaders aren’t up to the challenges they face.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting at the Capitol Hilton February 28, 2014 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Ron Fournier
March 4, 2014, 4:46 a.m.

Scores of stor­ies will be writ­ten Tues­day about the gen­er­a­tion­al de­bate over the size and scope of gov­ern­ment — and, yes, the di­vi­sions are deep, as evid­enced by Pres­id­ent Obama’s 2015 budget re­quest to pour more money in­to tra­di­tion­al an­ti­poverty pro­grams that Re­pub­lic­ans con­sider waste­ful, pro-de­pend­ency policy.

Here’s a short­er list of things that most Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans agree upon:

1. The post-in­dus­tri­al eco­nomy and the Great Re­ces­sion have cre­ated dur­able un­em­ploy­ment and so­cial mal­aise, with a grow­ing num­ber of Amer­ic­ans ques­tion­ing wheth­er they and their chil­dren still have the abil­ity to do bet­ter. In their com­pre­hens­ive ana­lys­is of the budget de­bate, Zachary A. Gold­farb and Robert Costa of The Wash­ing­ton Post wrote that both sides “seek to tap in­to power­ful anxi­et­ies about how hard it is for the av­er­age per­son to get ahead in today’s eco­nomy.”

2. While the parties dis­agree strongly on how to broaden the lad­der of suc­cess, both Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats sup­port the Earned In­come Tax Cred­it, a cash bo­nus of sorts for work­ing fam­il­ies. Obama wants to ex­pand eli­gib­il­ity at a cost of $60 bil­lion. House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an ex­cluded the EITC from his scath­ing re­port on Demo­crat­ic-backed pro­grams that he ar­gues foster de­pend­ency on wel­fare. “The con­sensus among stud­ies on the EITC is that it is an ef­fect­ive tool for en­cour­aging and re­ward­ing work among lower-in­come in­di­vidu­als, par­tic­u­larly single moth­ers,” the re­port says.

3. Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats also fa­vor tax­ing the ac­cu­mu­lated over­seas profits of glob­al cor­por­a­tions and us­ing the money to pay for in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects. Des­pite the con­sensus, such re­forms to the tax code are un­likely to be ad­dressed in an elec­tion year.

4. Obama’s budget re­quest is just two-tenths of a per­cent high­er than his 2014 budget of $1.012 tril­lion be­cause both levels were es­tab­lished in a White House-GOP House budget deal in Janu­ary. More broadly, lead­ers of both parties have cyn­ic­ally agreed to post­pone (at the risk of killing) ne­go­ti­ations to­ward a “grand bar­gain” that would at­tack both the na­tion’s $17.3 tril­lion debt and the an­nu­al de­fi­cit, which will top $500 bil­lion this year and is pro­jec­ted to skyrock­et in the next two or three years as an aging pop­u­la­tion gobbles en­ti­tle­ments. A re­spons­ible long-term plan would re­quire both new rev­en­ue (op­posed by con­ser­vat­ives) and curb­ing en­ti­tle­ments such as Medi­care and So­cial Se­cur­ity (op­posed by lib­er­als).

5. Obama’s budget is dead. It will be re­jec­ted by nar­row-minded con­ser­vat­ive par­tis­ans, just as Ry­an’s ef­forts will be de­nounced by stub­born lib­er­als. Both parties failed to re­cog­nize that ad­apt­ing to a glob­al eco­nomy, a tech­no­lo­gic­al re­volu­tion, and massive so­cial change re­quires in­nov­at­ive — even rad­ic­al — think­ing. Which leads to the sixth item of con­sensus …

6. Not un­like the chal­lenge fa­cing polit­ic­al lead­ers at the turn of the 20th cen­tury, the White House and Con­gress need to find the new for­mula for hasten­ing eco­nom­ic growth while help­ing people ad­just to vast change. On this most Amer­ic­ans agree: Their lead­ers aren’t up to the job.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4782) }}

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×