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The Backseat Presidency

- April 4, 2011

Obama Has Failed To Lead On The Budget And Exploding Costs Of Entitlement Spending

OBAMA HAS SHOWN A DISTINCT LACK OF LEADERSHIP ON THE BUDGET DEBATE 

61 Percent Of Americans Disapprove Of Obama’s Handling Of The Federal Budget Deficit. (Gallup, 1027A MoE 4%, 3/25-27/11)

  • President Obama’s Poll Numbers Sink As Americans Realize His Failure To Lead On Solving The Country’s Problems. “Americans are giving President Barack Obama his lowest marks for leadership skills since he took office, with barely more than half of those surveyed for a new poll saying they see him as a ‘strong and decisive’ leader… The president’s lowest ratings were for having a clear plan for solving the country’s problems – only 36 percent said he has one, while 60 percent said he didn’t. Among Democrats, 62 percent said he has a plan, while 13 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of independents said the same.” (Jennifer Epstein, “Obama's Leadership Marks Slide In New Poll,” Politico, 3/30/11)

USA Today: "So Far, President Obama Has Passed Up A Golden Opportunity To Provide Leadership By Largely Ignoring The Very Good, And Positively Received, Work Of His Deficit Commission." (Editorial, "States Serious On Budget, Unlike Washington," USA Today, 3/6/11)

“Obama Is MIA On The Budget.” (A.B. Stoddard, Op-Ed, “Obama Is MIA On The Budget,” The Hill3/30/11)

The President's Budget "Would Do Little To Improve The Immediate Budget Outlook." "Obama's deficit-reduction strategies would do little to improve the immediate budget outlook. Obama projects that the deficit will hit a record $1.6 trillion this year - which, at nearly 11 percent of the economy, would be the largest since World War II." (Lori Montgomery, "Obama To Offer $3.7 Trillion Budget Blueprint; Deficit To Hit $1.6 Trillion This Year," The Washington Post2/14/11)

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank: "In His New Budget, Obama Kicks The Can One More Time." (Dana Milbank, Op-Ed, "In His New Budget, Obama Kicks The Can One More Time," The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

  • Milbank: "Obama's budget proposal is a remarkably weak and timid document.” (Dana Milbank, Op-Ed, "In His New Budget, Obama Kicks The Can One More Time," The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

The New York Times"What Mr. Obama's budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit..." (Editorial, "The Obama Budget," The New York Times, 2/14/11)

Los Angeles Times"The proposal was a remarkably tame response to Washington's fiscal problems, not the bold statement about belt-tightening that the White House had suggested was coming." (Editorial, "Obama's Overly Tame Budget," Los Angeles Times, 2/15/11)

Even Democrats Are Displaying An "Open Irritation" With Obama's Inability To Lead. "The open irritation with the White House comes just as Reid announced support for the Republican-led bill which passed in the House Tuesday and funds the government for another two weeks, while slashing $4 billion." (Manu Raju, "Democrats: Barack Obama Must Lead On Budget," Politico, 3/1/11)

  • "Democratic Senators Are Frustrated With The Low-Profile President Barack Obama Has Kept During The Rancorous Spending Debate Dominating Capitol Hill, Urging Him Tuesday To Take An Assertive Role ..." (Manu Raju, "Democrats: Barack Obama Must Lead On Budget," Politico, 3/1/11)

"At A Closed-Door Session On The Budget, Nine Democratic Senators Spent Parts Of The 30-Minute Meeting Whacking The White House For Not Being More Engaged, According To People Who Were Present." (Manu Raju, "Democrats: Barack Obama Must Lead On Budget," Politico, 3/1/11) 

AND OBAMA CHOOSE POLITICS OVER SUBSTANCE BY SITTING ON THE

SIDELINES ON ENTITLEMENT REFORM

“Obama Has Stayed On The Sidelines, But Both Parties Are Now Dragging Him Into The Game. Why Did He Wait To Follow Instead Of Leading?” (A.B. Stoddard, “The Entitlement Reform Question,” The Hill’s Pundits Blog,” 3/21/11)

 “President Obama Was Doing His Best To Run And Hide On Entitlement Reform, But His Cover Has All But Evaporated.” (A.B. Stoddard, “The Entitlement Reform Question,” The Hill’s Pundits Blog,” 3/21/11)

  • Obama Is “Three For Three” In Ignoring Entitlement Reform. “Democrats said it was OK for Obama to punt on reforms of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid because Republicans would attack him if he went first. So he ignored the recommendations of his own debt commission's report, released the first week in December. Then he skipped addressing the thorny issue in his State of the Union address. Then he skipped the issue again in his budget. He is three for three.” (A.B. Stoddard, “The Entitlement Reform Question,” The Hill’s Pundits Blog,” 3/21/11)

Obama's Presidency Has Been Marked By A Series Of Politically Calculated Dodges On Tough Issues, Including Dodging Entitlement Reform. "He didn't want to get mired in legislative details during the health-care debate for fear of repeating the Clinton administration's prescriptive, take-ours-or-leave-it approach.He doesn't want to go first on proposing entitlement reform because history teaches that this is not the best route to a deal.” (Ruth Marcus, Op-Ed, "Obama's 'Where's Waldo?' Presidency," The Washington Post, 3/2/11)

The President's Budget Reflects The White House's Deference To Political Calculations Over Policy Solutions. "With the budget he is to unveil Monday, President Obama has not opted for the bold, comprehensive approach to reining in the fast-growing federal debt that his own fiscal commission has said is needed, now. That decision partly reflects Mr. Obama's characteristic caution, but also a White House calculation: that 'now' is too soon for the nation's political system."  (Jackie Calmes, "A Cautious Approach Seeking Bipartisan Appeal," The New York Times2/13/11)

  • A Senior Democrat Aide Called Republicans "Suckers" For Offering To Show Leadership On Entitlements. "'They are suckers,' said one senior Democratic Congressional aide of the House GOP plans to release the first detailed proposals to reduce entitlement spending. 'They have painted themselves into a corner.'" (Glen Thrush, "Has Obama Set GOP Entitlement Trap?"  Politico2/16/11)

There Won’t Be An “Obama Plan” For Entitlement Reform. “During his presser yesterday, President Barack Obama mainly characterized entitlement reform as something that wouldn't come in the form of an ‘Obama plan,’ but rather, through a process where all parties come together and have a difficult debate in the hopes that the ol' can do spirit of the lame duck session might manifest itself in a compromise where everyone gives a little bit of ground." (Jason Linkins, “Obama Hints At Priorities On Entitlement Reform,” The Huffington Post2/16/11)

"Obama's Budget Makes Clear That He Will Not Take The Lead In That Debate: It Contains No Specific Recommendations For Tax Or Entitlement Reform." (Lori Montgomery, "Obama To Offer $3.7 Trillion Budget Blueprint; Deficit To Hit $1.6 Trillion This Year," The Washington Post2/14/11)

CNN: "And because the president's budget will not address how to curb the growth in entitlement spending, there is little chance it would stabilize deficits beyond the next 10 years." (Jeanne Sahadi, "Painful Cuts In Obama's $3.7 Trillion Budget," CNN Money2/14/11)

Former Clinton Budget Director Alice Rivlin: "I would have preferred to see the administration get out front on addressing the entitlements and the tax reform that we need to reduce long-run deficits." (Lori Montgomery, "Obama Spending Plan Criticized For Avoiding Deficit Commission's Major Proposals," The Washington Post2/14/11)

The Washington Post: Obama Ducked On Curbing Entitlement Spending. “Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided.”  (Editorial, “President Obama's Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road,” The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

  • The Washington Post“The larger problem with the budget is the administration's refusal to confront the hard choices that Mr. Obama is so fond of saying must be faced.” (Editorial, “President Obama's Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road,” The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

Almost Two-Thirds Of The Senate Called On Obama To Work On Entitlement Reform. “President Obama came under new pressure Friday to broaden talks about government spending to include tax and entitlement reform. Sixty-four senators — 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans — called for the expanded talks in a letter to Obama.” (Erik Wasson, “Sixty-Four Senators Call On Obama To Take Up Tax And Entitlement Reform,” The Hill’s “On The Money” Blog, 3/18/11)

  • The Supermajority Was Reached In Under 24 Hours. “The letter was circulated by Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who were able to get a supermajority of the Senate within 24 hours. It urges Obama to ‘engage in a broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit-reduction package.’” (Erik Wasson, “Sixty-Four Senators Call On Obama To Take Up Tax And Entitlement Reform,” The Hill’s “On The Money” Blog, 3/18/11)

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