Immediately following the State of the Union, the president will go on a three-day barnstorming trip to five politically important states. He and his budget are likely to dominate the news in each one as a result.
In the middle of this trip, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be holding an event in Washington, D.C., at which the Pentagon will reveal some of the details of the overall changes in Department of Defense spending priorities that the president and he announced several weeks ago. That will be big news in national outlets.
If the typical pattern is followed, there will also be planned leaks and selective releases of the parts of the budget that the White House thinks will be received the most positively.
Congressional Republicans will be hard-pressed to compete for attention with the staged White House events and will continue to have to fight hard to score budget points during this whole period.
For example, last week’s almost-certain-to-have-no-effect House vote to disapprove the administration-requested $1.2 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling not only got little serious attention, but the coverage it did get was more derisive than positive.
The same will be true over the next three weeks. The combination of the White House’s extreme advantages, the primary pulling focus away from the Congressional GOP and the fact that at this point in the year House and Senate Republicans don’t have their own budget alternatives point to a very strong start for the administration.
Rhetorically at least, it will allow the Obama 2013 budget to be better received than most analysts so far have said is possible.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”