Instead of serving as a post-partisan president whose policies will yield a “net spending cut,” Barack Obama has become, in the battle of the budget, the most partisan president whose team have directed ever more spending to favored projects.
Now, while paying lip service to the debt (as the NRCC ad below indicates), the president and his fellow Democrats are playing politics with the budget:
Ad via Jim Geraghty. Instead of offering leadership on budget restraint, Obama, John Fund reports in today’s Wall Street Journal Political Dairy (available by subscription) is hanging backed and waiting for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to release a Republican budget:
President Obama has apparently decided to borrow some political plays from Bill Clinton, who after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections began running ads attacking Republican plans to reform Medicare. At the same time, Mr. Clinton focused on a series of granular policy initiatives — promoting school uniforms was one memorable example — that were politically safe and popular with independent voters. Mr. Obama appears to be following the same strategy — offering little in terms of policy substance, remaining disengaged in budget negotiations and waiting for Republicans to present a target for him to shoot at.
Democrats are going to attack “heartless” Republicans for wanting to cut popular programs as they pay little heed to Obama’s campaign concern that we’d been “living beyond our means.” Will Americans believe the Democrats’ rhetoric? Or will they look at the federal balance sheet awash in red ink and understand the need to cut spending?
Let’s hope that Republican legislators in Washington take a page from their counterparts in Madison, Wisconsin and stand firm in the face of, what is sure to be, blistering attacks from the Democrats, their allied interest groups and the media.
Should Republicans hold to their principles, they could both win the debate and finally start cutting federal spending. But, they have to stand firm.