It’s the end of budget season and there is now clarity as to what the Democrats and Republicans stand want to do with Uncle Sam’s money. However, there’s still no light on what the country’s actual fiscal policy will be.
President Barack Obama released his budget for the fiscal year 2014 April 11, following the Democratic Senate and Republican House budgets adopted last month. While each chamber declared the other’s budget “dead-on-arrival”, Obama’s plan received attention for a seemingly key area of compromise with the GOP.
The president extended an olive branch to his Republican foes with an offer of chained CPI as an entitlement cut. However, according to President Obama, chained CPI will only come to pass if the Republicans agree to tax raises. Speaker of the House John Boehner says this is a non-starter.
The offer of the cut has caused Obama to be attacked from the left and the right, with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, among those criticizing the president.
However, Walden’s criticism represented a break from the GOP. Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor both support the idea of chained CPI.
Outside of the proposal of chained CPI, which the president lays out in apologetic language with a reminder that it will not be accepted without revenue increases, there is little to suggest any agreement between the parties.
Obama and the Senate’s budgets want investments to jumpstart the economy and calculate $1 trillion in savings over the next 20 years from the Affordable Care Act. The House one repeals the Affordable Care Act as a centerpiece of their entitlement reforms.
Obama and the Senate want to immediately replace the sequester with packages of spending cuts and revenues. The House wants to keep the amount of the cuts the same but simply redirect them away from defense programs.
Nothing in any of the budgets will impact the public unless passed in both chambers of Congress. Right now, they simply provide political positions that can be used in elections for each party. The only topic where there was even a suggestion of agreement was chained CPI, where Boehner publically defended Obama.
This was smoke without a fire. The conditions the president set out for chained CPI are anathema to House Republicans. These budgets will not produce any legislation that can pass both chambers.
As statements of purpose for each party to run on, the budgets seem to fit what Republicans and Democrats are looking for. What they won’t achieve is any actual legislation and both sides seem to care more about the 2014 midterms then crafting a bipartisan budget.