How Important Is Obama's Budget?

President Obama's budget proposal will dominate the news cycle today, but how important is the document, really?

It's worth keeping in mind that the administration's budget proposal is exactly that--a proposal, a suggestion of what the White House wants Congress to spend and what it wants Congress to spend on. The legislature controls the purse strings.

ABC's Rick Klein sizes up budget day as "that annual Washington tradition of making far too much out of a proposed budget that needs to thrash its way through a Congress that has its own ideas."

When President Bush submitted his budget proposal, along with much media fanfare, to a recently Democratic Congress, I asked Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) what he thought of Bush's budget.

"It's basically a meaningless document," McDermott explained.

Things are different with Obama in the White House, supported by a Democratic Congress that follows his lead and will likely back his priorities; Bush, on the other hand, faced a stalemate with Congress that dragged out the budget process significantly.

Democratic lawmakers, though they support the president, will have their own ideas, as Klein points out. They will fight to get pieces of the gigantic budget pie for the initiatives they care about. Politically, Obama's budget stands as a signal of priorities, and, as Obama presented it this morning, it was an opportunity to showcase the White House's new mantras of fiscal discipline and fighting waste, call for GOP support, and admonish Republicans for opposing pay-go and a deficit commission.

But the literal, bottom-line impact of the FY-11 budget will ultimately be determined by Congress, not today's roll-out.

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In