National Commentary

Obama’s New Budget: ‘DOA’ Yet Again?

nfbentonpicIt is yet again another a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington, D.C. that the presentation by President Obama of his 2015 budget could not make it above the front page fold in the city’s main newspaper, taking a back seat to such more important news as “Council votes to relax pot rules.”

Yes, what we all can’t wait to know, the top center of the Washington Post front page is instead dedicated to a run-down of the new pot law specifics for the nation’s capital.

Fortunately, the paper, one of the nation’s more serious dailies, is bailed out by the importance of the Ukraine crisis, such that the near invisible coverage of the president’s $3.9 trillion budget plan, taking up eight column inches (including headline) of the front page’s some 120 column inches, could be seen as justified.

But the main reason for the downplay has to do with perceived irrelevance. For you see, naturally, reporter Zachary Goldfarb’s story mentions in the very second paragraph that the budget plan is veritably “dead on arrival,” being “immediately rejected” by Congressional Republicans.

The reporter, himself, opines in the third graph that the budget plan “charts a course for Obama’s final years in office, laying out a familiar wish list of significant domestic initiatives that have been ignored.”

Ho hum, it’s all so tedious, so boring. (As an aside, let me say right here that anyone who makes the claim that anything at all in life is ‘boring,’ such an epidemic-like condition these days, needs a serious wake-up call, like a refresher on the Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or any comparisons between being alive and the alternative.)

Budgets on the local or regional level get more attention, but mostly because self-interest is a primary driver: is my child going to get a better education, is my street going to get a stoplight, is an affordable housing project going to be kept out of my neighborhood?

Few see or appreciate the vision, if there is one, in a national budget on such a massive scale, even though the president has tried making it crystal clear that there is a big one in this case. He has not failed to deliver on a set of budgetary initiatives to strengthen the middle class and curtail the growth of riches, at the middle class’ expense, by the super wealthy.

It is true that the stubborn resistance to anything Obama by the Republicans on the Hill represents a big stumbling block. But it is only as well-meaning citizens examine the specifics of something like this budget that they can make compelling arguments to their friends and neighbors to demonstrate just how immoral the GOP has become.

It calls for growth and job creation in advanced manufacturing, research and innovation, pro-growth infrastructure and government reform. It advances opportunity for all in tax cuts for working Americans, preschool for all, and job-driven training. It continues historic progress in the slowing of health care cost growth. It curbs inefficient and unfair tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest and ensures that everyone is paying their fair share.

It supports comprehensive reform of the nation’s broken immigration system, and it reduces the budget deficit to 1.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2024, stabilizing debt as a share of the economy by 2015, putting it on a declining path after that.

It targets the areas of the economy that spur growth and technological advancement, addressing the growing crisis of a collapsing infrastructure in the process.

It is a budget that were it adopted to any significant degree would genuinely improve the lives of a vast majority of Americans and escalate a sustainable growth path for the nation in the face of greater economic competitor pressures from abroad.

But we have become deadened to the bizarre reality – a new one, in fact – of an opposition party in Washington that simply says “No” to anything President Obama asks for, no matter how rational.

There is no game plan behind the Republicans’ obstructionism except to deny Obama effectiveness with a litany of unsubstantial ideological platitudes.