Stan Collender's blog
As I posted on March 1, the sequester -- the across-the-board spending cuts ordered by the Budget Control Act-- would only become real for most voters when the predictions of the impact of the reductions actually started to have a effect on their lives.
Although some people felt it almost immediately, any budget analyst worth his or her salt knew that the real pain was always going to come when federal programs that were labor intensive started to implement furloughs, layoffs and hiring freezes and the services they provided had to be curtailed. That was always going to take a month or more because of the process that needs to be followed to notify employees.
But the fact that labor-intensive programs didn't reduce services immediately when the sequester began on March 1 never meant that it wasn't coming. It always was and the protests that the White House was playing fiscal chicken little were simply wrong.
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who stopped being the co-chairs of a failed deficit reduction commission at the end of 2010, are at it again. At some point today they will unveil yet another B-S plan they say will reduce the deficit and debt to manageable levels.
Never mind that they completely failed in 2010 to get their own commission to agree to what they recommended.
Never mind that since the B-S commission failed, Congress has overwhelmingly rejected several efforts that supposedly were based on what the two co-chairs recommended.
And never mind that after these repeated failures neither Bowles nor Simpson have any standing to offer a a new plan that is so politically toxic it has no chance of (1) being taken seriously, (2) jump starting negotiations or (3) having any positive impact whatsoever.
Watching Bowles and Simpson fight for relevancy in the federal budget debate these days is a bit like a rock band from a previous era going on tour but having to play in much smaller venues because its audience is so tiny that the arenas make no sense.
I decided not to comment immediately on the Obama 2014 released last week because I thought the usual instant micro analysis of what the president proposed was likely to be largely besides the point..
The Obama 2014 budget has far less to do with what was proposed than almost any other presidential budget in history. It's real purpose...and value...comes from understanding it as a document designed to drive a wedge between House and Senate Republicans.
To a certain extent it's hard to understand why more of the people who comment on the federal budget -- that is, almost all of Washington -- didn't get the fact that the individual proposals in the Obama plan weren't the big story. Regardless of the reasons for it being so late (some were legitimate, some were not), a president's budget that's sent to Congress more than two months after the statutory deadline and after the House and Senate have already adopted their own budget resolutions should never be analyzed in the same way as other presidential budgets have been. It simply won't -- or can't -- have the same micro impact on the budget debate even if it was going to declared dead on arrival anyway.
The Obama fiscal 2014 budget will be released today.
Because of the White House-generated leaks about the Obama budget, it has already been denounced by Republicans for proposing revenue increases and by Democrats for proposing a change in the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security.
Because the House and Senate have already adopted their own budget resolutions, the administration's budget may not even be voted on.
It's not impossible; in fact, there are GOP plans in the works in the Senate to make voting on the president's budget part of any effort to raise the debt ceiling when it's reached later this year. And Democrats might want a symbolic vote on the Obama budget just so they can oppose the president's Social Security proposal.
This week's most frequently repeated description of the Obama fiscal 2014 budget, which is scheduled to be released this Wednesday, April 10, will be something close to "...which was sent to Congress more than two months after the statutory February 4 deadline..."
Yes, the budget is very late. Yes, this may be the latest any president has ever sent his budget to Congress since the Congressional Budget Act became law in 1974. And, yes, in spite of the fiscal cliff at the beginning of January and the sequester on March 1, both of which got in the way of the typical presidential budget formulation process, this extreme delay is more than just a little hard to fathom.
Having said that, the only real difference the delay to April will make in this year's debate is that it deprived House and Senate Republicans from declaring the president's budget dead on arrival in February.