Just three days after the inauguration, a White House official told The Hill's Erik Wasson that the Obama administration would be nine days late in presenting its budget blueprint, going to Congress on February 13 with the multi-volume spending plan instead of the February 4 deadline set by federal law. This marks the third year in a row that the president has missed the budgetary deadline.
Well, yesterday, the deadline came and went, only this time White House press secretary Jay Carney informed reporters that the White House had no firm date on when the budget would be released, refusing to give reporters an approximate release date and turning to predictable talking points in which he bashed congressional Republicans, you know, the guys who actually passed a budget plan last year. From the White House website:
Q Jay, do you know when the President is going to send his budget, given that it looks like he's going to miss today's deadline?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have an update on the President's budget. I mean, I saw a tweet from the Speaker's office. The President has put forward consistently budgets that achieve what the American people overwhelmingly support, which is balanced deficit reduction, deficit reduction combined with investments in areas of our economy that would help the economy grow and create jobs. What he hasn't done is submit a highly partisan budget that has no support among the American public. That, unfortunately, is what House Republicans have consistently passed in the last couple of years.
So hopefully we’ll be able to change that dynamic. Republicans will agree with the President that we need to continue to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. As you know, the President signed into law nearly $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction, combining spending cuts with revenues and the interest saved from that reduction. And he's eager to do more.
Q Does he want to submit the budget before or after the State of the Union?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a date for you for when that will happen.
Q Is there a reason why he can't make the deadline?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have anything more for you on it. The President -- there’s a couple of things to be aware of here that might encourage you to focus on substance over deadlines and things like that.
He has a proposal that the Speaker of the House -- a budget proposal that the Speaker of the House is welcome to take up today or tomorrow, as he might wish, which represents balanced deficit reduction; would achieve, combined with all the deficit reduction signed into law already, achieve the $4 trillion magical target that would put us on a fiscally sustainable path for the rest of the decade. The President submitted, prior to that, a budget proposal that had within it both the principles of balance and very specific spending cuts and revenue increases that would achieve the balanced deficit reduction we need.
So the President hopes that he will be able to work together with Congress to achieve what's necessary here, which is removing the cloud of crisis, as he said yesterday, from the process of dealing with our finances in Washington; making responsible decisions based on compromise, based on balance, reflecting the will of the American people and the approach they want Washington to take, and ensuring that Washington doesn't inflict wounds on the economy at a time when the economy is poised to grow and create jobs, as it is this year.\
Reporting on the missed deadline in a page A5 story in the February 5 Washington Post, staff writer Lori Montgomery noted that "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is at work on a budget plan that would wipe out deficits by 2022 entirely through spending cuts -- starting with the 'sequester,' nearly $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts set to hit agency budgets on March 1."
"In a letter to Ryan last month, acting White House budget director Jeffrey Zients blamed the delay on the late enactment of the fiscal cliff deal, which had far-reaching effects on taxes and spending," Montgomery noted. While House Republicans have a plan and Senate Democrats are at long-last working on their budget proposal, by law "[n]either chamber can move forward with its budget plan... until lawmakers see the president’s request and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has a chance to check the administration’s math."
A media that took seriously its obligation to be a government watchdog and to hold the president to account would be critical of the president's perpetual tardiness and lack of leadership on something as basic as presenting his administration's federal budget proposal. Instead, the media continually attack House Republicans in general and Tea Party Republicans in particular as anti-government zealots disinterested in the nuts and bolts of governing.
You can't get more disinterested in the weeds of governing than a cavalier disregard for the need to present a budget on time, but don't hold your breath waiting for the liberal media to criticize the president for slow-walking the budget past the March 1 sequester deadline.