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White House's 2014 budget to be tardiest of Obama's presidency

March 28, 2013
The Washington Times
Dave Boyer

White House aides refused to be pinned down Wednesday on the date that President Obama will release his proposed federal budget, but it’s now certain to be the tardiest spending plan of his presidency.

Federal law requires the White House to submit a new federal budget on the first Monday in February. While Mr. Obama has missed that deadline four out of five years, he’s never allowed the process to drag on as long as with the fiscal 2014 budget.

In 2009, the president submitted a budget outline on Feb. 26. In 2010, Mr. Obama actually met the legal deadline, presenting his plan on Feb. 1. In 2011, the budget arrived on Feb. 14 — a week late. In 2012, he released the budget on Feb. 13, again one week late.

But this year, a budget that was expected on Capitol Hill by mid-March now has been pushed back until April 8. That would be 63 days late, a record unmatched by any president. President Reagan in 1988 submitted a spending plan that was 45 days late.

Actually, April 8 is not a firm date, either. White House deputy press secretary Joshua Earnest would say only that the budget will come sometime during that week.

“I didn’t say we hadn’t set a date,” Mr. Earnest told reporters Wednesday. “I just said I wasn’t going to tell you what date it is. But it will be the week of April 8th.”

Alex Brill, a federal budget analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said the delay causes the president’s spending priorities to be less relevant with lawmakers than they should be.

“It’s ironic that the first time in four years the Senate passes a budget, and the administration has yet to even deliver one,” Mr. Brill said. “Ideally you get budgets from the House and the Senate, but those lawmakers have the opportunity to hear from the president in that process. That’s the way it’s intended to be, and that’s what I call presidential leadership on budget issues. And now we see exactly the opposite. He’s waiting, and it really makes the president’s budget fairly irrelevant.”

House Republicans approved a budget last week that would cut $4.6 trillion over the next decade, while Senate Democrats approved their own plan early Saturday.

As the administration’s budget delay deepens, Speaker John A. Boehner’s press secretary Wednesday called it “an historic failure of leadership.”

“As we continue to wait patiently, there remain many questions to explore,” said spokesman Brendan Buck in a blog post. “Will the president’s budget balance — ever? How many new job-destroying tax hikes will the president recommend imposing on American families and small businesses?”

White House aides have said the actual date of the budget submission isn’t as important as what the document contains. White House press secretary Jay Carney earlier laid some of the blame for the delay on the so-called “sequestration” budget cuts that took effect March 1, saying officials at the Office of Management and Budget had to devote some of their time to work on those across-the-board trims.

Also, the leadership of OMB is in transition, with Mr. Obama having appointed Wal-Mart executive Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients.

Whatever the outlines of the next budget, it’s sure to contain another whopping deficit. Mr. Obama, who pledged to cut deficits in half by the end of his first term, took office in the middle of fiscal year 2009, when the deficit reached about $1.4 trillion. In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the annual deficits were about $1.3 trillion. And fiscal year 2012, which ended last Sept. 30, saw a deficit of about $1.1 trillion.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the deficit for the current fiscal year at about $845 billion.

 

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