Earlier this week, I did not jump on the bandwagon following President Obama’s nationally televised speech. As speeches go, it further reinforced the growing stature gap between Obama and the Republican Party’s insipid indecency as illustrated by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Nonetheless, my immediate reaction Tuesday evening was ,
“Obama's words and presence illustrated why I personally admire him but the substance of his administration's soon to be released budget are more important than this single speech. I still get a clinical thrill from observing how Obama's speeches impact others but I want to read the fine print of his budget proposal.”Well, we’re still awaiting the fine print to be released in the spring. In the meantime, the administration has released an encouraging blueprint. Their 142 page outline, combined with this morning’s weekly address (access the video above), suggest the conciliatory Obama from the stimulus debate has been benched in favor of a pugnacious liberal.
John Edwards could have drafted today’s weekly address and Obama’s proposed budget offers a transformational paradigm shift. From cap and trade with respect to carbon emissions to setting aside $634 billion for healthcare reform, there is much to like about this budget from the liberal perspective. Even better, Obama threw down the gauntlet with today’s weekly address when he said,
"I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:
’So am I.’”Thankfully, the president learned after the stimulus debate that he’s better served by establishing a high threshold at the onset of negotiations. Perhaps, the president also realizes that the public’s perception of him as “reasonable” following the stimulus debate allows his administration to take a firmer stand this time. That’s good because the stimulus debate is child’s play compared to the high stakes bargaining ahead.
Obviously, the budget Obama proposed will not be what ultimately passes through two houses of congress. Liberals don’t have a filibuster proof majority in the senate, Norm Coleman continues to tie up Al Franken in the courts and special interest money is flowing to conservative blue dog Democrats.
If so-called moderate senators such as Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman put up a fight, than Obama should be prepared to stare them down. I suspect it won’t come to that however with those senators. Of greater concern may be senators such as influential Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, who will protest cuts to agricultural subsidies – especially if he convinces any Democrats to join him.
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