Battle Lines Blurred in Budget Fight
By Ben Pershing
When the budget fight comes to an end in the next few weeks, how will we know whether President Obama has won?
Yesterday, the House Budget Committee approved its spending blueprint along party lines, and the Senate panel is expected to follow suit today. Both chambers' bills scale back Obama's signature middle-class tax cut, pare spending on some domestic programs, provide little guidance on how to pay for health care reform, dance around Obama's "cap and trade" proposal and omit funding for any future financial bailouts. And yet, the administration has taken pains "to blur the lines" between its budget submission and the ones being considered on the Hill.
Some liberal groups are already unhappy about changes to Obama's budget, and are going after moderate and conservative Democrats on the Hill to pressure them to back the president. But will Evan Bayh or Mark Pryor be frightened by a TV ad campaign? Are they really in danger of losing their next Democratic primary over an arcane budget fight? After all, the budget itself doesn't actually spend any money or implement substantive policy changes. It's just a blueprint. Even if the final product of House-Senate negotiations includes few or none of Obama's signature initiatives on health care and energy, and doesn't forswear the accounting gimmicks he has railed against, the administration looks likely to just declare victory anyway and move on to the next fight.
March 26, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
Categories: The Rundown
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