Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Bad will the Budget Be?

The administration is making big policy for its base this week with the Keystone XL pipeline and the requirement that insurance companies cover birth control medications without a copay. At the same time, the administration is going around telling stakeholders and advocacy groups that they are going to hate the budget.

So how bad will the budget be? It has to stay within very strict topline contraints that were signed into law last year. Since medicaid, food assistance, and almost all other safety net programs cost more to fund during periods of high unemployment, the mandatory spending is going to cut into discretionary spending. The President's budget proposal is going to be the subject of sore disappointment.

Not that it really matters. Liberals wouldn't get anything better of an ideal budget that truly reflected American values, invested in the country's future, and put a little more life into an economic recovery. No matter what the President asks for, Republicans are still in control of the House.

We are seeing, however, that the President was serious when he said he would accomplish as much as he can by executive action alone. He has shied away from go-it-alone maneuvers, especially frustrating his base with the slow pace of legislating an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell. Now that the Congress is openly forcing him to act unilaterally (see: Keystone XL), the administration appears confident about their ability to do so.

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