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Obama Budget Resolution Success Must Be Striking Fear Into Republican Hearts

03 Apr 2009
Posted by Stan Collender

The fact that the House and Senate both passed their versions of the 2010 congressional budget resolution last night will likely be of grave concern to congressional, and probably a few presidential, Republicans.

The reason is not the substance of what was adopted by the House and Senate: that will continue to be rhetorical fodder for the GOP.

And it's not the fact that Congress looks like it is well on its way to getting a budget resolution adopted for the third consecutive year.  That's important, but mostly in an inside-the-beltway kind of way that won't be much of a topic of conversation beyond the blogosphere.

What's important about the 2010 budget resolution, and what has to be the primary concern for Republicans this morning, is that the Obama White House has shown that it knows how to win on Capital Hill.  The budget resolution was the administration's second major legislative achievement in 10 weeks.

The stimulus bill came first, and relatively quickly.  But the budget resolution fight was far more important because the vote was harder for most members of Congress and because it didn't shoot down the president's major proposals.  In fact, regardless of whether any of them actually get adopted this year, the budget resolutions adopted by the House and Senate allow all of the president's plans to move forward.  Some, because of reconciliation, will be easier than others.  But none of them were stopped yesterday.

But regardless of whether you like what's on the agenda, you can't help but be impressed with what the administration did to get the budget resolutions adopted in both houses.  A rookie White House in only its third month in office didn't just get the buget resolutions adopted by the narrow margins that have been typical of budget resolution approvals in the past, they had enough votes to let some Democrats who needed or wanted to do so to vote against them.  This will pay huge political dividends down the road for the White House because it made it easier for these Democrats to run for reelection.  This engendered some clear additional warm feelings, admiration, and loyalty from representatives and senators whose support the White House will need later in the year.

I was most impressed with both the choreography of the administration's effort and its willingness to do what it needed to do to get to this point.

The choreogrpahy began with the deficit reduction summit the White House held several days before its budget was released.  That made it possible for Blue Dog Democrats to get behind what the president was doing.  This is the group whose votes and vocal support provided much of the margin the White House needed and showed a level of Democratic unity that hasn't been evident for some time.

The willingness to do whatever was needed was again shown when the president made yet another trip to Capital Hill this past Monday evening to meet with congressional Democrats.  Many past presidents would have demanded that Congress come to them.  But the combination of Obama coming to the Capitol and what by all reports was an absolutely effective on-target presentation at the caucus very likely sealed the deal.

That fact that the budget resolution indicates that Obama understands how to work with congressional Democrats is what has to be of most concern this morning to Republicans.  The president has now shown a Reagan-like ability to make things happen and, between the stimulus and budget resolution, has some obvious political momentum as his substantive agenda is about to begin to be considered.

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