Regardless of the reason, the announcement about the payroll tax cut didn’t just step on the GOP’s complaints about the Obama budget, it stomped all over them in heavy combat boots.
The constant payroll tax cut developments that occurred through last week also kept relegating any additional news about the Obama budget to the actual or figurative back pages. The testimony of administration budget, economic and Cabinet officials in the days after the budget is released usually keeps it alive as a story because additional details emerge, the complaints get heated and political sparring occurs as committees hold hearings. This year, however, those hearings were barely noticed.
The budget also disappeared in the sea of coverage devoted to the Republican presidential primaries. And, with the House and Senate in recess this week, the budget is likely to be completely off the front pages.
There will, of course, be more debate about the federal budget this year. But last week’s disappearing act means the debate will no longer be solely about what the president is proposing, as it typically is the week after the budget is released.
With a continuing resolution in place through Sept. 30, an increase in the federal debt ceiling probably not needed until a lame-duck session and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) assertion that the Senate will not consider a budget this year, the only major budget-related event between now and the start of fiscal 2013 will be House consideration of a budget resolution. But that debate will be less about what the president proposed than about what the Republican majority is proposing. The Obama budget will be only a part, and perhaps a small part, of that discussion.
So whether it was planned or lucky, the Obama administration may well have emerged largely unscathed from what usually is the toughest week of the year for the president’s budget. Because of this, by the time Congress returns from recess, Obama’s 2013 budget may have largely disappeared from view.
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.”