President Barack Obama’s budget isn’t going anywhere on Capitol Hill. Then again, it’s not really meant to.
The White House document — price tagged at $3.901 trillion — serves a different purpose. It’s packed with political messaging and some of the leading arguments from the Democratic playbook headed into the midterms.
1. A middle-class message
Obama’s budget represents a unifying document for Democratic priorities, full of issues that appeal to the middle class and reminders that the economy has turned a corner since the Great Recession.
Featured prominently near the beginning of the budget is a letter from Obama highlighting how his administration has presided over a solid number of new housing starts, rosy unemployment rates and a shrinking deficit.
“It’s a road map for creating jobs with good wages and expanding opportunity for all Americans,” Obama said in introducing the budget at a Washington elementary school.
It’s also full of red meat for Obama’s Democratic base.
Minimum wage increase to $10.10? Check. Big boosts to education funding? Check. Obamacare money? Check.
The proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit is also squarely aimed at the middle class — “Right now, it helps about half of all parents in America at some point in their lives,” Obama said. And to pay for it? “Closing loopholes like the ones that let wealthy individuals classify themselves as a small business to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”
His budget is also another chance to highlight the end of the war in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2015 by pointing to the potential cost savings. No matter that the Pentagon doesn’t yet have all the answers on the long-term costs as the U.S. keeps a contingent of troops in Afghanistan.
2. Glass is half-full
Obama’s budget is also an invitation for fact checkers — especially his letter to lawmakers at the start of the document celebrating just how great the country is doing after almost six years in office.
More than 8 million new jobs created in the last four years: That’s correct, except he’s counting from the low point in his presidency and leaves out how there are still 1.2 million fewer jobs than when the recession started in December 2007.
The housing market is rebounding: Sure, the trends have been good for many parts of the country, but market experts are also quick to note that the industry is really just getting back to where it was before the 1999 start of the up-and-down cycle. Some alarming signs are appearing, too, from rising interest rates to tightened inventory and new concerns about affordability.
The U.S. is a net exporter of oil thanks to a major spike in domestic production, for the first time since 1995: It is indeed a good time to be in the fossil fuel business, but that’s thanks almost entirely to private industry development and much less because of Obama’s policies… Read more.