Many Democrats say that they were impressed with Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday, outlining his budget proposal for 2012. They felt, with relief, that President Obama had finally listened to them and returned to his liberal political base.
They were charmed into forgetting that the speech was just a speech. Barack Obama has a habit of making great liberal speeches, and then following them up with right wing policies that don’t match his promises. As President, Barack Obama may craft a liberal-seeming budget, but that’s really just a press release. Congress will make the budget that it wants, not what Obama suggests. What matters with Obama is what he does as President with the budget that Congress presents him with. Will he veto a right wing budget with cuts to social programs, increased military spending, and a host of political riders advancing the right wing Culture War agenda? This week, President Obama is preparing to sign just such a budget, rather than vetoing that budget.
To suggest that this budget is a true compromise is to ignore its content, and to ignore the politics clearly shown by yesterday’s vote in the Republican House of Representatives to pass the deal. The roll call shows that, on budget matters, Barack Obama has aligned himself with the Republicans, not the Democrats. Less than 43 percent of House Democrats voted for the budget deal. Over 75 percent of House Republicans did. Only 35 percent of opposition to the budget deal was Republican.
This week, Barack Obama will sign a 2011 budget that pleases the majority of congressional Republicans, and angers the majority of congressional Democrats. Expect the same to happen with the 2012 budget that will come up for a vote in half a year from now.