President Obama dropped his fiscal 2015 budget proposal on Congress March 4 to a chorus of yawns and indifference. The budget featured numerous massive new spending proposals — almost none of which are likely to become law — along with proposals for tax increases on “the rich” and fiscally unsustainable deficits through the rest of his presidential tenure.
Even establishment press organs received the budget proposals with a reaction along a spectrum from yawns to cynicism about its deployment as an election-year wedge. Zeke J. Miller of Time magazine noted that Obama's budget was “designed to showcase the party’s focus on the middle class, while portraying GOP opponents as defenders of the wealthy.”
Obama's ability to force legislation through Congress ended with the Tea Party revolution of 2010 and Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives. But spending will continue to increase under the current budgeting process. Two-thirds of the federal budget is on fiscal auto-pilot as so-called “mandatory spending,” which includes Social Security, Medicare, most of ObamaCare, and most other welfare state entitlements.
The political odds of getting an agreement for cuts to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, or increases to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, is virtually zero.
Obama's budget message noted that “average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility remains stalled. Even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still are not working at all. Our job is to reverse these trends.”
But by his own yardstick, Obama's presidency has become one of diminished expectations.
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