The budget for 2012 proposed by the President doesn't seem to make any sense.
(Insert caveat - as a fed employee my comments here do not reflect any official position of the government or my office. My office may be OK in the proposed budget. Other agencies of the Department will suffer which will increase our workload as they reduce staff and reorganize priorities. And we will likely not be able to backfill as some of our seasoned attorneys go out on retirement. The pay freeze is OK if not great. We expect to get whacked more in the current budget still not enacted but going to Continuing Resolution probably with across-the-board cuts. How much is the only question. And shutdown is still not out of the question.)
The 2012 budget is a milk-toast proposal. Maybe it's an opening position with much more to move as negotiations with the Republican House get tough. Maybe it's the President's dodge to avoid the hard issues of entitlements and defense in preparation for the 2012 campaign. But as I said in my analysis of the State of the Union Address, the Prez may be stepping to the side to allow the House to perform its constitutional duty to initiate spending (or savings). It could be a cynical political ploy to force the Republicans to start the discussion on cutting Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and appear bad before the electorate. There is much criticism among the pontificators, on cable and the net, that he is not taking responsibility as a leader. But once again, my theory of a Con-Law Professor attempting to readjust the modern emphasis on the Executive Branch to place more responsibility on the people's representatives in Congress might just fit.
There are a few (here, here, and even a conservative hint here) who still think the Prez may have a grander strategy of possible quieter negotiations between the parties if Republicans take some grown up responsibility to address entitlements without a screaming match in public. We don't know what he and Boehner and McConnell discussed in their closed-door luncheon. But with closed-door negotiations between the parties, or even elements within the parties (blue dogs vs. lib Dems and tea partiers vs. establishment Repubs) the Prez remains a bit outside to be able to come in and mediate a workable compromise (or compromises).
And this is what the Prez said today (as linked above):
“If you look at history of how these deals get done, typically it’s not because there’s an Obama plan out there. Its’ because Democrats and Republican are serious about dealing with [these issues] in a serious way,” the president said. “This is not a matter of you go first or I go first,” he said before describing a goal of “everybody…ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn’t tip over.”
Who knows? But with this House led around by the tea partiers pulling it by the nose, an institutionally conservative Senate (not all the Republican Senators are as afraid of the tea party as Sen. Hatch - and there is still a slight Dem majority), something has to give somewhere somehow.
The first deadline for potential crisis is March 4 (ironically my service computation date) when the current Continuing Resolution runs out. Some people enjoy roller coasters. We'll see if we can hang on.
*credit where credit's due - some of my links came from Sullivan's The Daily Dish at the Atlantic. The thoughts are my own.