Barack Obama certainly enjoys the trappings and perks of the Office of President. The actual job of being President, however, doesn’t seem to interest him. His desire to avoid being tied to any specifics of any proposal have caused him to do what no modern President has done. He is the first President since 1921 to abdicate the task of drafting a federal budget to Congress.
Congress established the modern budget process in 1921. Under the terms of the law, the President is required to submit a budget for the federal government no later than the first Monday in February. Obama has only met this statutory deadline once during his Presidency, a record worse than any modern President. Obama has missed the deadline 4 times. Prior to him, all the Presidents back to 1921 together missed the deadline twice.
Pentagon officials recently advised the House Armed Services Committee that the President’s budget wouldn’t be delivered until April 8th, a 9 week delay that trumps any previous delay. Worse, though, the long delay means that Congress will initiate its own debate on the budget, without input from the Executive Branch.
On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the House GOP budget proposal. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats will unveil their first budget proposal in 4 years. By the time Obama gets around to submitted his mandated proposal, Congress will have had almost a month to deliberate on its proposals.
As we’ve seen throughout his tenure, Obama prefers lofty rhetoric over the day-to-day give-and-take required to enact legislation. He spoke in general, focus-tested, words about ObamaCare, the stimulus, financial services regulation and a host of other issues, while leaving the gritty, horse-trading work to Congress.
After Congress had finished, Obama appeared on the scene, Zelig-like, to put his signature to its work. He probably scheduled the bill-signings around tee times.
One of the central jobs of the Presidency is to manage the Executive Branch. The Office is responsible for making sure federal agencies can meet their mission with the resources available. Obama, however, can’t be bothered to report to Congress what resources he believes the government needs to meet its mission.
We were told Obama would be an historic President. I don’t think his unprecedented abdication on the budget is what they had in mind.