What Obama didn't get from the budget process

Notice that the parts of the Obama agenda that didn't make it through are ones that would have raised money. The deficit looks like it is going to be even bigger than had been previously announced. The alternative is for a scaling back of his health care and other programs. Here is a recent article from the Associated Press.

To be sure, Obama's plans for global warming and health care are still so fuzzy that it's difficult to translate them into numbers in a congressional budget plan. And rather than muscle Republicans now, it could make sense for Democrats to hold off on detailed assumptions in hopes of building bipartisan consensus later.
Still, the budget proposal that Obama sent to Congress in February did present some difficult choices:
_Fewer itemized tax deductions for the wealthy, providing money to help buy health care insurance for tens of millions of Americans who don't have it.
_Cuts in government payments to insurance companies and health care providers.
_An expensive and highly controversial plan to combat global warming through a "cap-and-trade" scheme that calls for auctioning off pollution permits for nearly $650 billion. The Senate, during budget debate Tuesday, voted to instead devote any revenues from the scheme to help consumers pay higher gasoline and electric bills that energy companies will pass on to them.
Both the House and Senate budget writers, for the most part, ignored all of Obama's big ideas when crafting their fiscal plans, sapping his agenda of momentum.
Indeed, key lawmakers are already playing "taps" over his proposals to chip away at wealthy people's ability to deduct charitable donations and mortgage interest at higher rates.
Instead, they designed a host of so-called reserve funds that give some modest procedural help to Obama initiatives but do nothing concrete to really advance them.
As a result, lawmakers can cast symbolic votes in favor of Obama's agenda — even if those votes don't say anything about the depth of that commitment. In fact, they can at the same time say they are voting for Obama's agenda even as they distance themselves from key elements of it, like his tax increases or the higher energy bills that would result from his global warming curbs.
The detail-free approach protects lawmakers from difficult votes. Its defenders also say it provides lawmakers with leeway when writing follow-up legislation. . . . .

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home